I have been putting off writing this post for a week, but I have to somehow honour — however inadequately — what our beloved cat Bella meant to us. Last Sunday, we had to take her to the vets to have her put to sleep at the age of 16, which was incredibly hard. She had been losing weight, and had little appetite, which wasn’t like her at all. Tests unfortunately suggested that she most likely had lymphoma and also thickening of her intestinal wall, which may have been related. The vet suggested trying steroids to see if that might pick up her appetite, allowing her to build up her strength and have a good quality of life for a while longer. It seemed to help for a bit and we hoped that it might be working, but then she gradually stopped eating, and nothing we tried helped. It was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make, but we had to let her go. We stroked her and held her as she departed her life, and told her how much we loved her.
She leaves a huge hole in our lives, as all beloved pets do when they go. I’ve been lucky enough to have had many special animals in my life, but Bella was something else. For a start, I don’t think I’ve ever met a cat who actively sought out eye contact so much. Usually, staring is an aggressive thing for cats, and they avoid a direct gaze. I’ve always been careful not to stare at cats, or to soften a direct look with slow blinking to indicate friendliness. Bella apparently didn’t know that this was what cats were supposed to do, and would look deep into your eyes (and soul), purring all the while.
She loved being close to us, and you generally didn’t need to be sitting down for more than a few seconds before she would curl up in your lap. Even though I know she’s gone now, in my mind, a ghost cat still finds my lap when I sit. I can’t stop expecting her to be there.
She was a very tactile cat. Even if she wasn’t on your lap, she would reach out a paw to make contact with you. When she was younger, she would lie at night on the bed, her chest resting in the palm of my hand, and her outstretched paw resting on my chest. We would fall asleep like that, each feeling each other’s heartbeat. She also loved to curl up with Mr. Bsag when he napped, tucked in tight against him, paw out to touch his chest too.
Before her illness, she loved food, and as well as sneaking the food of our other cat, Bianca, she would constantly try to steal ours. Toast, butter, corn on the cob, Marmite: all would have to be guarded vigilantly against a sneak Bella attack. If you left a glass of water alone, you would turn around to find a furry head stuffed in the glass, lapping avidly, despite the fact that she had plenty of fresh water of her own. I think that most cats give the impression of living their best lives, but Bella seemed to be a gourmand of life, embracing it with an enviable voluptuousness that was infectious.
So we are heartbroken, but honoured to have spent 13 years of our lives with her. Bianca is a more independent (in other words, normal) cat, but she has also been unsettled by the loss of her feline buddy, and is seeking affection more from us than she usually does. We treasure her because a house without Bella is almost unbearable, but a house without Bianca as well would be unthinkable.
RIP, Bella. Sleep well, most beautiful and best of all cats.
Edited 2022-09-05: There are good reasons for not writing while sad! I made a typo in the date in the photo caption.