Saturday, 21 April 2018

Mo's Story

Warning: not my usual kind of blog, but it is me really, I promise..

I saw a tweet recently that said something like "I got a dog because I thought I wanted to receive unconditional love. I now realise I wanted to give unconditional love". Animals stir that kind of  emotion in you sometimes (well they do me, anyway).  Apart from our own stable of furries, the latest example for me was Mo, a Turkish Van cat (we think), who belonged to t'eldest and lived in Manchester. Not that he always did, and he was such a little character, it's worth telling him story.

It was last July when Mo, as he became, appeared at our house in France. It was a summer of waifs and strays, dogs mainly, one of whom also came back to the UK. But Mo was the only cat, and a shocking sight he was too at first - skeletal, thin and wispy fur, bloodied ear, folds of belly skin hanging down. Being completely honest, I wanted to have nothing to do with him, and to see him on his way. But he was a persistent little bugger, with a penchant for climbing on to the shoulders of anyone and everyone, and purring loud and long. I still wasn't impressed, but some of our summer guests took to feeding him scraps and morsels, and he began hanging round even more.

Then in August the Kinsey offspring came across for their annual visit to Le Millet. Georgina has always been a bit of a Cat Whisperer, and she and Mo (named by her and her siblings) bonded instantly. He slept in her bed at Millet (rather her than me at that time, it has to be said), generally went wherever she did, and there were one or two tears when it came for them to fly back to the UK.

I can't remember the exact point when we first mooted the idea of Mo coming back to live with George and boyfriend Tom in Manchester, but whenever it was, it was enough to get us both looking after him. He couldn't come inside; our own cat is not a good mixer. But fortunately we had our spare house, to which he could retreat and spend comfortable, safe nights on an old duvet. H fed him cooked and raw meat (which he loved), and he was soon putting weight on.

But he didn't seem particularly well or healthy. We didn't know his history at that point, but we struck a deal with George - we'd bring him back to the UK if we got him checked out medically, and there was nothing to prevent him getting a pet passport. So we did just that - or more to the point H did two 140 mile round journeys to a cat charity vet to do just that, and to our surprise and relief, there wasn't any reason why, with the right shots and pills, he couldn't get his passport. So on 27th September last year Mo became an English cat, coping admirably with his 14 hour journey from Brittany to Manchester, via Macclesfield.

Again, I forget exactly when we worked out Mo's history. It turned out that he'd belonged to a French family who lived about half a mile away, and who, when they moved out after a marital breakdown, just left Mo behind. This isn't uncommon in France, unfortunately. That was over a year previously - Mo had lived on the streets for a year. Or more accurately, in farm buildings and hedgerows, but never straying too far from his original home. Worse than living on the streets, however, he'd been badly abused by the children of the family before that; I'll spare you the detail.

And that was what made Mo so remarkable. Having been not only let down by humans, but actively mistreated, he remained so open and pleased to be around those that showed him even the slightest attention. He was fun, playful, and a gentleman. He never lost faith that some of us could be nice.

All went well in Manchester from September to February. Apart from having more toys and cat equipment than he could possibly use in a week, let alone a day, he put weight on, his fur thickened and became lustrous, and he looked well and happy - as he deserved to be, given the gourmet diet and level of attention he was receiving.

In February he began to lose interest in food, and to cut a long story - including two stays and many tests in veterinary hospital - short, he was subsequently put on a cocktail of drugs, and George had to feed him by syringe directly into his stomach, something which has been taking four hours a day in the last few weeks.

Through all this, Mo stayed Mo. He never stopped purring and nuzzling the vets and veterinary nurses who were treating him, even during some fairly invasive and unpleasant procedures. They too fell in love with him.

But it latterly became obvious he wasn't a well little fella. His stays at the vets confirmed hyper-thyroidism, though it was probably the also-confirmed feline HIV that caused him to really go downhill. I saw him last Sunday, and he still just about had the energy to come and sit on my knee, and purr, paw and nuzzle one last time. George took the brave decision on Tuesday that his quality of life was deteriorating quickly to the point where it was kinder to end that life than prolong it. And so Kerry the vet went round to their flat this afternoon, off-duty and a home visit - neither sanctioned by her practice, but another testament to how this cat got all everyone's skin, to see Mo on his way.`

I FaceTimed Mo and his humans last night, and I'm glad I did. It was lovely to see his little face. George and Tom have given him fantastic love and care throughout his all-too-brief stay with them, including George working at home the last three days of the week to just be with him. I'm so pleased that the little cat with the big personality knew warmth, comfort and company at the end of his life. He deserved it. Off you go little man; there's not many like you.

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