Eight years ago my wife and I walked into the Cat Protection Society near our house in Sydney on a whim - just to look, we assured each other, and most definitely not to get another cat. Thirty minutes later we emerged with a box containing a tiny ball of scraggly orange fluff, a wee kitten we immediately named Hobbes. Circumstances had taken Hobbes away his mother far too early, and since I was able to work from home at the time the job of playing surrogate largely fell to me. I fed him, let him perch on my shoulder like a fluffy little malodorous parrot while I worked, and cleaned him with a cotton bud after his inept attempts to use the litter tray. He grew from a tiny scrap to a mischievous and energetic kitten, and then to a somewhat slothful but very handsome boy. Perhaps because he came to us so young, Hobbes never got on with other cats. He preferred the company of humans, and considered himself to be as much of a person as anyone else. The photo above is him in his natural habitat: draped bonelessly over my lap like a purring orange throw-rug, just being part of whatever conversation his humans are having.
About a year ago, Hobbes started losing weight. Truth be told shedding a few pounds would probably have done him good, but this was unexplained by any change in his diet. After a series of X-rays and a biopsy we got bad news: he had lymphoma. With chemotherapy he would have a year or so of high-quality life left, but likely not much more. Apart from giving him his daily pills, there was not much we could do. We treated him to his favorite food as often as seemed sensible, and watched carefully for the moment when the scales tipped and discomfort outweighed the joy in his life.
This morning Zoe and I took Hobbes to the vet one last time. He always hated being in the cat carrier, and would pace, tense and wide-eyed, ready to spring out like a jack-in-the-box when we opened the door. Today, he just seemed tired and sore, huddled motionlessly in an uncomfortable-looking crouch. We held him together as the vet gave him two injections - one to send him gently to sleep, and shortly after, another to stop his heart. Afterwards we brought him home and buried him under a cherry tree in our garden. Perhaps when spring comes, it will flower orange.
Goodbye, Hobbesy. Your family will miss you. You were a good, good boy.