Thursday, December 13, 2012

Adios, Fatboy, the cat with 999 lives

We got Fatboy and his sister in February 2000 from the free-to-a-good home box when he was about 6 weeks old. His sister died shortly after, and in time it transpired that what had probably killed her was a feline AIDS virus, which Fatty also had in his system. The virus was the defining feature of his life as it made him susceptible to illness and infection, especially in his earlier years.
Fatty and his best girlfriend ever

He liked to scrap with us as a kitten, and unfortunately for the Dearly Beloved in particular, this led to a habit of randomly slashing passers by, which he did for some years. Less so with me, as I was the one who let him under the blankets on cold winter nights.
When he was about a year old, he went missing. He was found down the back of the section a couple of days later with his tail broken. We kept him inside and although we shut the cat door so he couldn't push it out, he figured out how to put his claw under the flap and pull it then sneak out through the gap. He was gone for about six days, during which time we gave up and got Winkle:

Winkle's another story...but the day Winkle turned up we heard this almighty howl at the front door and there was Fatty. 
He needed surgery on his tail:

Over time the hate he seemed to have against the world didn't diminish. Here's what happens when Pets Go Bad:


Next, he got a lung infection. The vet took x-rays and had this very sympathetic look on her face when she showed me the x-ray, saying usually if you can see the second tier of airways it means they're full of water and the whatever-it-is is probably on the way out. You could see Fatty's entire lung system. When they went to investigate further, he jumped off he vet's table. I recall the vet saying 'usually when they do that we don't worry because they can't go anywhere. He took off out the door and we had to chase to get him back.' 
Somehow, he lived.
And not too badly, at that:

Chicken kebab? Why, yes.

Then there was the several operations to fix his eye. The feline AIDS had been instrumental in him developing an ulcer in one of his eyes. We tried several times to fix it but all that happened was I made a massive contribution to the vet's DNA replication's college fund. Fatty spent the rest of his life with no tail and a runny eye, and still got the girls:


Then came the fish bone incident. We knew something was up because he stopped eating and was having difficulty breathing. The initial examination didn't pick anything up but watching him shortly after I realised he had something in his throat and took him to the vet. They had to anaesthetise him to take the x-ray and while he was under they pulled out a massive piece of fish vertebra that had got lodged in his throat. It was about 8mm across and because it had been there for some days his throat had got infected and ulcerated. This required that he be hospitalised. When we went to see him there was a sign on the cage saying that he was only to be handled with a vet present. On the way out I mentioned to the receptionist that we had been to see him and she said "Fatty? He's a charmer". (Not).
In short, we could have painted the house or put another room on with what was spent in vets bills.
He was a major contributor to ridding the neighbourhood of rats. Incidents such as this were not uncommon:



 Finally, there were several years of peace and quiet and good health. There was a moment earlier this year when he got an infection that meant he needed to go back into hospital for a couple of days but somehow he stared down death yet again and bounced back. It was during this later period he terrorised Spider into treating cats with some respect. Fatty understood in a visceral way that the best defence is offence, and attacked Spider within minutes of him coming into the house for the first time.
But the latest brush was to be the last. Somehow, he injured his back left leg, and the subsequent nerve damage left him much restricted in his movement. An x-ray showed two lower vertebra had fused, and that this was also making movement difficult, plus the inflammation was causing him some pain. We had trouble medicating him because if he thought he was going to get medicine he would take off for a couple of days at a time, which he did. 
After a week of losing mobility in his hindquarters and not eating, we made the painful decision to put him to sleep. The hate was undiluted till the end: the day before, barely able to move and weak from lack of food, he sat on the inside of the catdoor and spat and hissed at the dog who was on the other side. This photo was taken a couple of hours before we took him to the vet, and he still looks like he's rip your liver out and eat it if he wanted. But he was still handsome :


Adios, Fatty, early morning philosopher, neighbourhood tyrant, and late night under-the-covers snuggler. We will miss you, my friend.