Chooni was my first rescue cat.
I was teaching at our local University. Every day I would stop and greet the girls in the office and over a period of time it became the norm. We would set the world to rights, discuss the merits of Bombay Sapphire gin as opposed to Gordons, the latest diets, holidays and what was in the news. Anything but work!
One day one of the girls asked me if I had cats. I said no and asked why…and there I was, reeled in again. Nicky had taken in a cat for the cats protection league (CPL) http://www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat and was looking for a new owner. It was a black neutered female that ‘had a bit of attitude’. I was okay at this point, not wavering or anything. I just said, ‘I’ll ask my sister, she has cats and loves them’. However, Nicky continued to tell an emotional story of the cat who had been found on one of the very busy avenues in our town, injured, pregnant and bleeding. She was only very young and obviously uncared for. Emergency surgery was performed and she survived but the cat now needed a home. Nicky couldn’t keep her as she already had one cat so the home she was providing was only temporary. I was shown a picture of this pathetic skinny thing and I felt so sorry for it I did say ‘if you can’t find anyone else, I will take her home’. Of course, that was it, the deal was done. Within a week we were cat owners.
And so began 12 years of Chooni (named after a nurse from the popular ER series). She was not an easy cat to get along with. To say she had attitude was an understatement. Her troubles of the past had obviously left their mark. She could not stand to be picked up and appeared to suffer pain if you attempted to do so. She was a very typical cat in that she picked the time when you could pet her. Her favourite time for contact was when we were in bed and she would come along and curl up on top of my husband’s head. She was a very fussy eater and we only had to shout ‘chicken Chooni’ and she would come running. No cat would move faster. Her love affair with chicken was total and we indulged her to the end.
Chooni kept on eating chicken. In fact, she began eating more and more of it but began getting thinner and thinner. I didn’t see it at first but when her coat began to dull and her energy disappeared, I looked at her as if I had never seen her before. The truth is, I don’t really know how long she had been ill but ill she obviously was and when I picked her up and she didn’t resist I was really alarmed and I took her immediately to our local vet. She said that Chooni had a gastric tumour and she was really beyond help. The vet said that it was usual for the cat to keep her appetite and instead of nourishing her, her endless eating was just feeding the tumour. Options? None, really. Take her home for a bit longer or put her to sleep now. I could not see her suffer. We had had her for almost 13 years and she had had a good life. I stood crying and held her while the vet administered ‘the injection’ and remembered…
It never fails to astound me the patience that cats have and their ability to focus on one task for such long periods of time. Chooni’s particular favourite was moles. She would sit for hours at a time waiting for moles to appear on the river bank or lawn and then she would pounce, play with them for hours and leave them for us to clear away. Her other favourite thing was mice and the sound of her crunching them on the patio was the most nauseating thing to hear first thing in the morning. I particularly detested the only bits not eaten which were left at the door each morning. Nothing worse then standing on a mouses’ stomach first thing! Perversely, watching her play with the mice she caught, was fascinating, amusing but cruel. RIP Chooni.