Departed Friend Newsletter No. 26 Dec ’06

Tribute to Mr Darcy

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I have recently lost my darling Cat, Mr Darcy. I used to help out at Carol’s – (lovely Carol Cooper who runs Caring for Cats in Abridge) when I was not working and when he came in I happened to be working there. 

He literally broke my heart. He had been an unneutered tom and was found as a stray. He was blind in one eye and had suffered a broken pelvis that went untreated and had healed itself. His ears were infested with earmites and he was in a pitiful state. There was something so sad about him, and he was so poorly. For all that he was very nervous but for a cat who had suffered he had a lovely personality. Carol said she did not think anyone would want him because of his poor eye – but he actually was a very handsome cat. 

I couldn’t leave him there and took him home and slowly he gained confidence. I didn’t even know he was long haired, and then with good food he started to blossom and had the most enormous bushy tail and lovely black shiny coat. At one time the vet said he should be put on a diet as he weighed 6kg! I used to look forward to coming home from work as he would meet me at the door and he also used to “talk” to me.  He used to do so many lovely things. I don’t think he had ever been brushed before and he used to roll over like a kitten and kick his legs in pleasure.

Then about two weeks ago he was right as rain one day and the next he went into a rapid decline. He just slept all day and was very hot. I couldn’t understand how he   could have been rolling around in the sun one day and so lethargic the next. I took him to the emergency vet that night and they kept him in. Blood tests revealed he had feline FIV. They kept him on a drip and antibiotics for a week and I visited him each night and he got better every day and his temperature dropped to normal by the end of the week. I took him home on Friday and he jumped out of his carrier and rolled over on the floor as he was so pleased to be home.

From then on he went into a gradual decline and he wasn’t eating again and was sleeping a lot. On Wednesday he was “shutting down” again and I took him back to the vets and I knew he was dying.

They kept him in and did x-rays and scans to try and find out what was the cause of the infection, but then they rang to say his temperature was going up again and I had to say let him go as I thought he may start fitting. I went through agonies afterwards, beating myself up and trying to blame myself, but it appears there was nothing I could have done and the vet said it was kinder to ease his pain this way.

I just can’t believe he has gone and I can still see him sitting at the window and in the garden. I loved him so much and it’s very difficult. I only had him with me for two years and I wanted him to be cared for and loved for a lot longer. He was my little friend and my little angel. I hope he knew he was safe and loved and that I didn’t desert him at the end.

I went to see him on the night after he died and his fur was still soft and he had his big paws crossed. The nurses carried him to me laying in a towel and I stroked his dear face and nose and his paws and said see you in heaven Darcy. I took him home on Saturday and we buried him in my partner’s Dad’s garden, which is a gentle place and is full of flowers. He will not be lonely there as there are always people in the garden. I put a letter in his blanket and planted some mini rose bushes on top.

His little plaque will read: Darling Darcy. My little friend.  My little Angel. 26.10.06.

Sue Dobbs

The Victims of Scientific Dogma

by John Cowen

Further to my letter re the sad loss of so many animal victims to the dogma of flawed science in the vivisection labs, which appeared in Issue 25 of Departed Friend, I now produce a short article which I hope that many of you will agree with.  Not having any scientific or medical training I cannot argue in scientific terms, but will try to put my views from the moral standpoint.

There can be no doubt that it is morally wrong to terrorise primates by bringing them from their natural habitats to suffer severe harassment and cruel death in the vivisction dungeons of doom.  There is increasing evidence that these horrific experiments are of very little help to sufferers of various diseases and in many cases are a deterrent to recovery.  Yet Tony Blair, who promised a referendum on vivisection in his Animal Rights Charter, 1997, recently gave his support to the vivisection industry – which arrogance caused great anger to so many people.  He overlooks the fact that more and more people are questioning standard medicine and are turning to alternative medicine, which many find more beneficial to their health.  Alternative medicine is making great strides and would take even greater ones if Blair would give equal funding to their cause.  People say Blair’s love affair with the vivisection industry is due to funding and votes, and I don’t think that they are far wrong.

In many respects, Porton Down is the most demeaning of all to animals.   There is a 24-hour high security alert, and it is easy to understand why the Government are shaking at the knees at the thought of anyone finding out the full horrors of animal suffering there.  This is totally and morally indefensible.  Animals do not make wars; it is a human folly.   Why should weapons of destruction be tested on them?  They are not in the front line – it is humans.  The tests did not prevent many Infantrymen suffering from the Gulf War Syndrome, though of course the Government spinners try to play this down, but facts are facts.

It is purported that we live in a democracy but animal lovers have every right to question this.  Every time we protest at leaked outrages in the lab, we are met with standard waffle, which has no bearing at all on the subject matter.  How many such garbages with their sickening references to the 3 R’s, so-called vigilance of the Home Office Inspectors, and deepest regrets that it is all necessary, etc. have been consigned to the wheely-bins?  Nowhere is there any honesty and openness, and most certainly no respect for the integrity of those who give vent to their grief at the destruction of innocent life for the furtherance of darkest science, a science which is ever becoming more and more commercial and demeaning.

The situation continues to be more distressing to people with humane feelings, as the number of animals doomed to the heinous vivisection labs continues to accelerate.  The only way forward is to press the cause of alternative methods and medicine. 

It is encouraging that more and more scientists are openly opposing vivisection; it is discouraging that the clergy, who should be in the forefront of defending God’s creation, are by and large mostly silent.  It will take a united front with many upraised voices to get home to this ear-plugged Government that the present situation with regard to licences for animal suffering and death is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

Your Letters ………..……” *

Thank you for the lovely newsletters you send us… Your ref to Dr. Vernon Coleman books is also fantastic.  I love the books all about Alice’s Diary and cat lovers.  I haven’t read any of the vivisection books.  I know quite a bit about what goes on in vivisection labs and it makes me very sick with anger and feel very very strongly against it.  I can’t read the books as it would upset me too much but am certainly not ignorant about what goes on; the government hides very much where animal tests are concerned.  I used to go protesting in Huntington about Huntington Life Sciences and in Harrogate as they also have a hell building for animals.  I was very very pleased to hear that the guinea pig farm closed down recently.  You also ref many other lovely books to help with the bereavement.  One book I have recently seen in Cats Protection Xmas catalogue is ‘Weep Not For Me’.  I think there is also a poem called the same – maybe you could mention it in your next copy of Departed Friend.  (See book reviews in this edition – ed.) I hope you and your cats are well; we are very well and Serafina our cat is happy and loving her life here with her mummy and daddy.  Dr Vernon Coleman and his wife are obvious cat lovers and the books are brilliant and really lovely that they are written as a tribute to past feline four legged members of the family.  My mum is buying me 2 of the Alice’s Diaries for Xmas – can’t wait to read them.                                          Michelle Francis

Thank you so much for sending me Rainbow Bridge. It is so lovely it made me cry. I hope it’s true. Thank you also for the link to Catwork – what beautiful cats they are – and how lucky they are to be cared for like that. I only wish Darcy had had more time. I still can’t believe it happened so quickly and he is gone. If I had known I may have been better prepared.

Darcy came into Caring for Cats they cared for him, had him neutered and looked after his poor ears which were running alive with earmites. Both Carol and Jan are wonderful – and they do so much for cats, and never put a cat to sleep – rather they keep it on as a farm cat. But they are very limited for space but they do re-home a lot of lucky cats.

I went to the Cat House on Saturday, as I want to get another rescue cat (or maybe two or three!) but I just can’t do it at the moment. I think it’s too soon. I miss him so badly still.

I am going to contact Catwork again when I am not so busy as I still have unanswered questions about FIV that they may be able to help me with. In the meantime, thank you again for listening to me and helping me. There really are not many people out there who can even be bothered to listen, let alone understand.

 Kind regards,                                                  Sue Dobbs

Tribute to Kizzy

I have to write a sad story now about Kizzy who I would love if you could feature in an issue of Departed Friend. She was such a special and loving cat and deserves to be remembered.  Kizzy was Daniel my Fiance’s parents’ cat and was one of a litter from Saffie, a cat who they adopted as a stray who was pregnant at the time when they adopted her. Saffie is still well and living with Daniel’s parents. 

When the time came for Saffie to have her kittens, she decided the place she would give birth would be Daniel’s bedroom as this was quite a few years ago when he was living with his parents Daniel heard Saffie whining and got a shirt and put it down so she had something to lay on and Daniel stayed with her and stroked her head.  She gave birth to about 5 kittens, Kizzy being one of them – possibly the last one to be born.  She was a tabby and when first born had a ginger stripe on her forehead that stood out a mile.  Because of this stripe, she was nearly named Gizmo out of the film Gremlins but the name finally decided was Kizzy.  It suited her well.

She was such a gentle and loving cat and always without fail came to greet you when calling at the house, so lovely natured she didn’t mind being dressed up like a doll but Daniel’s little girl Cerys (who is now six) would pick her up and try to put her in her dolls’ prams but Kizzy really didn’t mind she was so gentle and just looked up at Cerys as if to say ok get on with it then and didn’t mind Cerys picking her up and playing with her one bit; she even enjoyed it which is one of the reasons she was so special.  She always loved being fussed over and would jump on your lap at every given opportunity.

Sometimes Saffie and Kizzy would be sat on your lap at the same time as Saffie loves to be fussed over too and they would compete for attention but never fight.  They always got on, probably because Saffie is Kizzy’s mum. Kizzy used to wind Saffie up though probably on purpose.  Kizzy used to have a party trick where you would be stroking her then all of a sudden she would flop sideways on the floor; it looked so funny, almost like she had keeled over sideways.  She loved Daniel very much and he loved her very much and he felt a bond with her from helping her mum Saffie give birth to her.  She used to follow Daniel around the house like a little puppy more when she was a kitten but still when she grew up and was clearly always very pleased to see him.  When Daniel moved out, she then followed his dad around so much so she would sit by the side of the bath while he was in bathroom and do her party trick of flopping to the floor on her side. 

I can’t say enough how special Kizzy was – gentle, affectionate, you had to see it to believe how she was with Cerys she was amazing, she had her own unique special personality and was such a pleasure to be around.  As I said, if ever a cat deserves to be remembered and her lovely personality shared with readers it is Kizzy. 

She devastatingly died young – she was only 5 or 6.  We noticed a lump on her cheek so Daniel’s parents took her to the vet and tests were done and a small operation to remove some of the lump. 

She was fine within herself; she was eating and going out and running up the trees in the garden as normal and being her usual happy little self.  The result came back from vet that is was a tumour – an option was of having her sent away for surgery where they would try and remove it but this involved reconstructive facial surgery and Kizzy would have certainly gone through pain with it and as I said she was her happy little self, no change in her behaviour.  So we decided as devastating as it was that she was going to have her life shortened.  We would carry on as she was until the day came when she was unwell and nothing more could be done. 

The dreadful day came much much sooner than we all thought.  The lump tumour grew and she was clearly unwell.  It was all so quick – within about 6 or 7 weeks the tumour had grown.  We couldn’t believe it.  Why Kizzy?  It wasn’t her time.  Why such a beautiful cat with such a beautiful personality? So many cruel questions left unanswered. Why? 

The day came when we had to say goodbye – not forever though because she has gone to  Rainbow Bridge.  Kizzy spent all day that day sat on Daniel’s mum’s lap. Kizzy knew it was time to say goodbye.  Daniel’s mum and sister took her to the vets that evening and stayed with her until she passed to Rainbow Bridge in August 2006. 

Kizzy we love you and miss you intensely.  You are and always will be in our hearts. You were a very very special cat sweetheart and was cruelly taken away from us by an illness – again there are no answers to our questions of Why?  Night night sweetheart; we know you’re at Rainbow Bridge.  Although you would want to still be here with us and we want you back so badly, we know you are happy at Rainbow Bridge.  Lots of love and cuddles forever and always,

Viv, Angela, Daniel, Cerys, Leah and Michelle. xxx

Cerys & Kizzy – 2006

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BOOK REVIEWS

The Cataholic’s Handbook

by Vernon Coleman

This is another gem from the pen of Vernon Coleman.  As DF reader Michelle Francis rightly says in her letter, above, Dr Vernon Coleman and his wife are obvious cat lovers and the books are brilliant.  This book is dedicated to Vernon’s wife, Donna Antoinette, who says that Cats are God’s treat to all Uprights (the feline word for ‘human’ – first used by Vernon’s special cat, Alice, in her two books – Alice’s Diary and Alice’s Adventures.  Vernon Coleman has adopted and used it in her memory ever since).  The book is also dedicated, with respect and real affection, to all stray cats, all cats in vivisection laboratories and all cats who do not have an Upright whose love they can call their own.

The book is an entertaining mixture of quizzes (How well have you been trained by your cat? How intelligent is your cat? How much have you learned from your cat?), advice to Uprights (Thirty simple ways to make sure your cat loves you for ever), fascinating feline facts (Favourite proverbs concerning cats, Cats in films, 299 strange and curious facts about cats*) – plus a tour of Vernon Coleman’s Catland, a sideways look at Feline/Upright interaction, drawn in Vernon Coleman’s inimitable style – Catoons.  There are also some Word games for cat lovers, which will challenge your little grey cells over the holiday season.

*For instance, each nipple on a lactating mother cat has its own smell and, as a result, the kittens in a litter each become attached to one particular nipple.

*The largest litter in history was produced by an English female Burmese cat.  In 1970, 4-year-old Tarawood Antigone gave birth to 19 kittens.

*A Maine Coon cat from Chicago, called Leo, measured 48 inches from his nose to the tip of his tail, making him the longest cat in the world.

I have given a copy of this book to a Cataholic friend for Christmas – I know she will enjoy it.

Weep Not For Me – in memory of a beloved cat

by Constance Jenkins

illustrated by Pat Schaverien

This beautiful little book, with its exquisite illustrations, was written by the author to comfort her sister after the death of her 12-year-old cat:  In loving memory of Isolde – beloved companion of Mary Jenkins.

Each page contains the line of a poem, with an illustration on the opposite page.   The first lines read: 

Weep not for me though I am gone

Into that gentle night.

Grieve if you will, but not for long.

 The book ends on a positive note:

Please do not dwell upon my death,

But celebrate my life.

The layout of the book (a line per page, with sensitive etchings of cats, accurately captured in different moods and positions on the facing page) encourages us to pause and think about the meaning in each line before turning the page and moving on to the next.   This is a gentle bereavement resource, written and illustrated by people who understand.  It acknowledges our pain but encourages us to go forward and find peace.

For details of how to obtain these books, please see Resources section at the end of this newsletter.

Purple Poppies

Shortly before Remembrance Sunday, I got a card from my friend and DF reader, Caroline Turner, enclosing a purple poppy.   I am familiar with the traditional red poppies sold by the British Legion every year, to commemorate our war dead and raise funds for the families they leave behind, and the white poppies from the Peace Pledge Union – worn to commemorate all the dead and to renounce all war – but I had never heard of purple poppies.  Caroline explained:  It’s for all the animals that have been killed in war – they come from Animal Aid.  I then visited the Animal Aid website (see Resources section) and found out more.  This year, Animal Aid published a new booklet, Animals:  The Hidden Victims of War and issued a purple poppy to commemorate all the animals who have lost their lives as a result of human conflict.  They also laid a wreath of purple and white flowers at the Animals’ Memorial in London at 11am on 11 November.  While the human victims of war are traditionally remembered on this date, the millions of animals who have also suffered and died are rarely mentioned.  A minute’s silence was followed by a speech from Andrew Tyler, of Animal Aid.

An article in the Blue Cross Winter 2006 magazine, The Animals’ War, tells how the Blue Cross treated many dogs and horses on battlefields in the First World War.  The picture reproduced here, Goodbye Old Man,  by Fortunio Matania, was a bestselling print because it illustrated the real distress of soldiers when their horses were wounded or killed.  The picture, owned by the Blue Cross, forms part of The Animals’ War exhibition, at the Imperial War Museum in London until April 2007.   Horses, dogs, glow worms and ferrets have played a part in 20th century conflict.  Over 1 million horses served with the British Army in World War 1.

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