I have a little cat. Her name is Boo and I inherited her about three years ago from a friend. She has a squashed up face and tiny little paws that look like they belong to a mini lion. Her fur is thick and creamy and streaked with lilac, and her eyes are wide and green, and sometimes look like she’s oh so much above the world and sometimes make your heart melt.
In the mornings, she clambers over me and lies down on my chest, tucking her paws underneath her and purring softly as I stroke her head. Some nights, I will wake up to find her curled above my head on my pillow, snoring gently. She lies, lazily, on the back of the sofa while we’re watching TV or sits, idly curious, on the windowsill so that we can see her, waiting, when we get home from work. Sometimes and often when it’s dark and the world is sleeping, we can hear her running around crazily, chasing something that’s not there and scampering up and down the stairs.
Over the past few years, Boo has come to mean more to me than I could have imagined. She has been an immense comfort when things have been shit. She has taken the edge off my loneliness when I was living in Kent and, then, when I moved back to London, has been my partner in crime. She has been warm and loving and affectionate when the world has felt cold. She has become both her own person, with her own little quirks and noises that I can immediately recognise, and, weirdly, an extension of myself. An anchor, of sorts.
Last week, Boo was diagnosed with cancer. And, overnight, it felt like the world shifted, slightly. Like everything moved off centre.
And, suddenly, there has become a before – and then an after. And I can not quite comprehend this.
Last weekend, Boo came home after a week at the vets. After Boo has a pink bandage around her neck with a feeding tube in it that we have to syringe liquid food into, six times a day, and a fortunately diminishing range of medications. She has a shaved patch on her stomach where they cut her open to see what was going on, and on her little legs where the drip went in the first time, and then the second.
At first, After Boo was also fragile and wobbly, each move an inordinate effort. She has become stronger, slowly, so that now she is sleeping on my pillow again and pushing her head against us when we feed her and bolting to the door, quick as lightening, once it’s all done. She is curious, again, and responsive, and we can hear her purring gently throughout the night, a sound that was loudly absent when she was away.
Yesterday, we started cat chemo which is, we have been assured, much kinder than human chemo. They have said that a positive result will be that she lives for a further 6-9 months –
And I can’t quite wrap my head around this.