It isn’t often a cat of character and personality comes along and steals your heart, hard, Layla did just that.
She came to me/us at 6 weeks old. A tiny, slightly scruffy runt of an unwanted litter. I carried her home in my jumper, and with assistance from our vet, hand fed her, weaned her onto solid food, taught her to look after herself, and helped her to grow strong.
She nearly died from Feline Infectious Peritonitis when she was 8 months old and was one of the only 10% of cats that beat the dreadful illness that that is. She was a miracle cat in many ways.
We moved from our tiny flat to a house, when we realised that we needed more space with a baby arriving. She didn’t like that and tried to escape a few times before she was ready to learn to cope with having a garden. She soon learned that tormenting the neighbours dogs was a great activity and often sat on the fence with her tail just out of reach whilst our next door neighbour’s tiny terrier barked at her. She would casually visit their garden and eat dog food left out for them and their rather larger dog was terrified of her.
She didn’t like people, other than me. She gradually learned to tolerate the husband and at the end of her life adored him and wanted his attention a lot (she pined for him when he was hospitalised for ten days, and moped til he came home) and she certainly didn’t like children, at all.
In fact, when I brought our first baby, now the teen, home from hospital, Layla hissed, spat, growled and complained for weeks and refused to come near me or the baby for almost two months. She gradually relented but I’m fairly sure she never truly got over the arrival of not one but two children to disturb the peace and demand my attention.
When on a rather mad whim, I decided we needed another cat, and brought a rather lively, feisty tabby kitten home just in time for Christmas when our son was a baby, she was not amused at all, and it took her a long time to adjust to Jasper and his antics.
Always the head of the house. The boss. Grumpy, but beautiful. Hating people but loving cheese and curry. Insisting on accompanying me to the toilet and shuffling us to bed when she thought it was time.
She was a little frailer at her 15th birthday but in good health, although showing signs of arthritis in her hips and back. The vet said “she’s as tough as old boots for a cat that was supposed to die as a kitten”
She hated us going away and was always vocal when suitcases appeared and made it plain she was cross when we returned.
She slowly learned to tolerate the children, and in fact in her own way, loved our boy, in her own way. He was allowed to groom her, pet her and feed her. She didn’t let just anyone else do that. She sat on his lap and would find him for company. She enjoyed lockdown because we were home and she liked having us around.
In February of this year we noticed she wasn’t quite right. She wasn’t eating as much and was dribbling a bit. We took her to the vet who diagnosed her with a mouth sore and infection. We thought it was simple but unfortunately, it wasn’t. It actually was a form of oral cancer with a very low cure/recovery rate. The prognosis wasn’t great but we worked with the vet to make her time with us comfortable. I learned how to help her eat (it seemed right that at the end of her life I did what I did when she was a kitten) we kept her comfortable, and the vet was surprised by how well she was doing. In my heart and head as much as it hurt, we had a timeline, and I was not going to let her suffer. As long as we could feed her and keep her as pain free as we could, we would have time with her. I even stayed home from a family holiday to be with her, the idea of leaving her in her last days when she was so fragile just wasn’t one I could bear.
Unfortunately, the time came when the cancer was winning. She was done. The pain was too much, and it was time. I made the painful but right choice, supported by the vet, and my family to say goodbye and let her body be pain free. It was the hardest thing I have had to do in a long time. She fell asleep in my arms, and is now free from pain, and over the rainbow bridge eating all the cheese she wants. Waiting for me, one day, to join her.
She gave us 17 years of feisty, funny, a personality like no other cat I have ever known. She talked to us and was my almost constant companion.
As I said to her, when I held her and let her go, to rest from the pain of the cancer that had finally taken more of her than she had to give: this is not goodbye, my old friend, it’s just for now…
Layla 05/07/2005 – 22/04/2022 We rescued each other. There will never be another cat like her…