We will miss him sorely. He was beautiful, gentle, soppy, sweet, friendly, curious, happy, demanding, grateful, good company, soft, fluffy, cuddly, funny, sometimes grumpy or sulky, always a real Cat. He was our pet, our friend. He was a paid-up member of our Family and we all loved him very much.
Sherlock had been receiving treatment from the vet for kidney problems, for a couple of years. He also had high blood pressure, so there were tablets for this. Recently he began to have daily painkillers to help him with arthritic pain in his back legs. But otherwise, once the medicines were working effectively, Sherlock was a healthy, happy, normal cat of 15 years old.
The tongue chewing never really stopped, but it did improve, so that he did this quite rarely. The eye problem cleared up at first, but then seemed to come back again. I used the remainder of the eye drops, which did help. However, Sherlock then began to sneeze, sniff, lick his nose, groom his face and the eye flared up again, becoming runny and sore-looking. So we went back to the vets' in mid-December. The vet thought he might have cat flu, but was a bit concerned because the side of his face seemed to be swollen, although it was not painful. She gave him an injection of long-acting antibiotics, more eye drops and said that if he didn't improve, we should bring him back again.
Over Christmas, Sherlock seemed happy enough, though not too keen on a lot of company at once. He hid himself upstairs when all the family were here - but that wasn't too unusual, since he often did this when the small children were around (he was never fond of babies). He was eating well, playing his "morning game" (James giving him his meds, by rolling the tablets along the floor for him to chase and eat), exploring outside, drinking water - generally being "Sherlock", except that he was perhaps a bit more sleepy than usual.
But his face didn't improve. His eye didn't get better. If anything, the swelling was a bit bigger. Perhaps he had an abcess in his mouth or sinuses? We made another vet appointment after Christmas, to see the "eye expert" at the vets', who knows the most about eyes, faces etc. He had as good a look at Sherlock as he could, considering that Sherlock - our gentle, soft, silly old cat - was swearing and hissing at him before his carry-box was even placed on the examining table, for us to open it. It was agreed that, although the facial swelling didn't seem to hurt, it did need examination under anaesthetic.
Last Wednesday evening we dropped off Sherlock for an overnight stay in the vetinary hospital. He was given extra fluids, to support his kidneys (as happened when he had his teeth done in March), then on Thursday he was sedated and examined.
The vet called me, while Sherlock was under the anaesthetic, to say that it was a tumour. The tumour was in the side of his face, had grown behind his eye - which was causing the eye problems. It was also growing into the roof of his mouth. It was inoperable and Sherlock would die from it sooner, or later.
The decision was to bring him round and take him home to be nursed. He hadn't been showing symptoms of pain or unhappiness before the vets' visit, so I thought it best to give him the chance to live as long as he could; so long as he was able to still enjoy a good enough quality of life to make being with us worthwhile. We all discussed it and felt that, as long as Sherlock was not in pain, unhappy, suffering, we would care for him and nurse him.
That was last Thursday. He came home, seemed glad to be here and pottered about for a couple of days. However, he didn't seem to want to eat very much and didn't really bounce back from the anaesthetic (the vet said today, that he would have felt so much better in March, after painful teeth had been removed, that he picked up quickly and ate well because it no longer hurt; this time eating wasn't so attractive, he felt tired and unwell, so he didn't recover well).
By Saturday Sherlock was rather subdued. He started spending more time sleeping and less time in our company. He was less keen to go out. On Saturday he ate almost nothing, except a little tuna and drank very little, except for his morning "shower" - where he would drink the water from the shower tray - and some spring water from the tuna can.
On Sunday he was more subdued still and in the evening it became obvious he was suffering from serious constipation and pain in his abdomen, pacing around, crying etc. We did what we could to make him comfortable. Eventually he settled down to sleep and we left him in peace for the night.
This morning, Davey was up at 5am, for a business trip. He messaged me to say that Sherlock had not stirred from his bed - which he would normally do, so he could sit next to Dave while he drank his morning coffee. When I went down, he was still on his bed and didn't want to get up.
I warmed some skimmed milk and syringe-fed it to him. After that, he got up and stretched, took a bit of a walk around, had a short trip out the back door, then drank some tuna-water, before returning to his bed. He was obviously ill and very dehydrated. I rang the vet as soon as they opened for the day, then took him down to see the same vet as last week.
I had hoped that they could help him; that the constipation could be solved with a tablet or injection and that they could perhaps put him back on a drip for a day or so. I hoped to bring him home and keep him well cared for, while he recuperated. After all, he was fairly chipper when he went to the vet last week, so he could probably pick up okay and be with us for a while yet.
The vet was very kind, but explained that Sherlock's kidneys were failing. He would be feeling horribly ill - which was borne out by him growling and moaning if we touched him too much. In order to sort him out, they would have to give him more anaesthetic, which would kill him, as his kidneys couldn't take it.
I had to make the heart-breaking decision to let him be put to sleep this morning. We decided on an injection, rather than using a catheter in his arm, as that would be distressing and undignified for him. It would take longer, but I wanted him to die with dignity intact, with someone who loved him close by, to stroke him, talk to him, tell him how much he was loved, what a special and wonderful cat he was, how we would miss him.
So that is what happened. He had an injection and drifted into a gradually deepening sleep. I stayed with him until he was gone, then covered him with his soft blanket and left the vets by the back door. They were so kind; the bill will be sent on later, they will arrange a cremation and we will receive his ashes, so we can scatter them in his favourite part of the garden.
Those who've lost a person or pet who they loved, will know what I mean (Sherlock was a Person to us, not "just a cat"). There's a hole in the family now.
The comforting thing is that we have lovely memories, photos and stories about Sherlock, that we can look at, read, talk about. He'll never be forgotten and I hope that he'll be glad to see us again some day.
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In Memory of Sherlock Gillum
who peacefully fell asleep
10am, Monday 7th January 2013,
aged almost 16 years
Much loved, much missed.
"A Very Fine Cat Indeed"
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