Eric came to us with his sister Sookie back in November 2009, two little bundles of fur, who hadn't had the best start in life. We had been toying with the idea to get a kitten for some time, so when a friend posted on Facebook that a home was needed for two little abandoned Kittens, we put our hands up. It seemed meant to be, and we got two for the price of one, as they couldn't be separated.
We fell in love with them instantly. Despite their rough start they were affectionate little bundles of fun, if riddled with fleas and suffering from diarrhoea. Nothing that a check up at the vets, some tender loving care and a change in diet couldn't cure mind. Never having had kittens before we were in for oodles of fun. (Our previous cats had all been adult rescue cats) I don't think we have ever laughed as much as we did in those fun filled first few weeks.
Eric and Sookie had very distinct characters. Eric was so easy going you could literally do anything to him and was always up for a cuddle. His sister Sookie is more aloof and sometimes contrary. She also loves her cuddles, but only on her terms and the only person she has really truly bonded with is our 18 year old son. She spends hours cuddled up with him on his bed.
Eric however loved everyone and never strayed far from home. He would be the one to plonk himself on the key board when he wanted a cuddle, curl up with you watching the telly, stalk me on the loo every time and wouldn't leave until he had a cuddle. He also LOVED water. If you let him, he would literally join you in the bath. A leaking tap would provide hours of entertainment and the amount of pens he spirited away defies belief. For some reason only known to him, he used to love chasing pens around the room. And one of his favourite sleeping places was the top of the boiler!
When I fell pregnant with Markus he went through a rather peculiar phase of wanting to hump everything in sight - despite having been neutered as a kitten. A particular favourite were my shoes and the loo roll. The amount of times I would come across him and the poor traumatised loo roll you would not believe. I felt like apologising a few times I tell you ;-)
Fortunately this was a short lived phase and he settled for simply shadowing me and plonking himself on my bump, whenever he was able, until Markus started to kick him off anyway. I reckon Markus and him would have been the best of friends....
Just like Tj and him always were. The things he used to do that poor cat and Eric wouldn't even as much as miaow. I think he actually thrived on all the attention. Our German Shepard cross was another firm friend.
Yes they are playing in that picture. :-)
The minute you walked in the door Eric would be there, saying hello, winding himself round your legs until he had a cuddle. Our eldest has fond memories of Eric greeting her when she stumbles in worse for wear in the early hours of the morning.
He was simply put a very special, adorable cat and a much loved member of this family, full of life and mischievousness and he is leaving a big hole behind.
Which brings us to the events unfolding yesterday. He had wolfed his dinner down Saturday night, settled down for the night in the living room and went out in the early hours of the morning, as he does. Kiyo alerted us to something being wrong about 10.30 in the morning. Eric was lying on his side on the patio, with Kiyo nudging him and licking him and Eric just calling out and looking pathetic. We brought him in and he couldn't bear weight on his hind legs at all. Our first thought was that he must have fallen off the roof (we live in a bungalow and he is forever scrambling across it). We did wonder whether he had fractured his pelvis, but he could move his hind legs and his tail and there were no obvious breaks, nor did he seem in pain when touched. We assumed he must have badly bruised something and kept him propped up on a cushion and keeping an eye on him. He was with it and seemed himself, even managed to crawl off the cushion a few times, land on the floor and then look at us sheepishly to be picked up.
We wanted to take him to our own vet come Monday morning, so opted to just wait. However, towards the evening, things changed. He would jump up in the air for no reason, snarling and hissing and then settle down again. Then he had a fit, followed by another an hour later. We were getting really worried by then. He also started calling and seemed in a lot of pain. When he had several fits minutes apart, with his whole body going rigid, we rushed him off to the Vet hospital, twenty minutes drive away. Those fits were the most horrifying thing ever to witness and will haunt me for a long time.
He settled down again during the drive and was floppy when we got there, unable to bear weight on his legs and not very responsive to pain tests. The vet was stumped. There were no visible signs of any injuries or trauma. Eric was however severely dehydrated and shaking and very cold. This was when the vet first mentioned poisening. Something that hadn't occurred to us until then. Eric did eat anything off the floor. We always joked he was species confused and used to think he was a dog.
In the end that is what killed him. Someone in our close neighbourhood must have put some sort of poison down and Eric ate it. He never stood a chance, from the minute he did that. The vet gave him a less than 50% chance of survival as his condition was so poor and we didn't know what sort of poison he had ingested. To say we were shocked was an understatement. To top it all the insurance had lapsed and we had not got round to renewing it (stupid, stupid, stupid!), so we were faced with a huge vet bill. He gave us an estimate of £483.00 with no guarantees that Eric would pull through.
Needless to say we had to give him a chance and we signed the papers and he was whisked away to be put on a drip and to check his kidney functions. If they were failing it was decided that we would put him down, as he would not be able to recover from that.
The vet promised to have preliminary results within 40 minutes and we had only been home a few minutes, before the phone rang. Initial results were promising.His kidneys had been affected, but he was a young, fit cat and he should pull through. The electrolyte levels in his blood were sky high, which was causing the paralysis and fits, but they were starting him on drugs to counteract this and he was responding to the drip. This was all caused by whatever poison he had ingested. So we were more hopeful.
However the early hours of the morning brought another phone call from the vets. Despite the meds the levels were not going down and he was going into kidney failure. The only option was to put him down :-(
So Tony legged it up there as fast he could, held him whilst he went to sleep and then brought him home. I will be eternally grateful to my husband for acting so quickly. He managed to get Eric back to us in time for the high school children to see him. Eric was still warm and just looked as though he was sleeping, so everyone in the family had a turn holding him and saying good bye. Our eldest son even made sure that Sookie could say good bye to her brother in her own way. She sniffed him, nudged him, licked him and then went her merry way. I am sure this will help her as the two of them were extremely close and she had been hovering by his side anxiously the day before.
Tj, being only three couldn't understand why Eric would not wake up and our ten year old broke down in floods of tears and sat with him for ages. Such a tough lesson to have to learn.
Our six year old broke down in tears at school and is now star of the day for being so brave. So not only do we have to deal with our own, very real and raw grief at losing Eric, but there are also the kids.
By the time I came back from the school run, Rigor Mortis had already set in and he didn't look like Eric any more :-( Again I was grateful for Tony's quick thinking, which meant that the children at least could remember him in a good light. For our part we wrapped him in a fleece blanket and Tony made him a coffin and Eric is now buried next to the decking, where all the other pets have found their final resting place.
We have lost plenty of pets to old age over the years and that was bad enough. But you almost expect this is going to happen and it's easier to accept. To have a perfectly healthy, young animal snatched from us in such a cruel way just isn't fair. And it's also extremely difficult to explain to the children :-(
However life marches on as it does and Eric will never be forgotten.
So RIP Eric and thank you for being such a big part of our lives for the last 1.5 years. I just wish it could have been longer....