Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Goodbye Toby

For a photographer, the above iPhone snap is pretty lame and I always intended to get my 'real' camera out and snap the new additions to our lives, but this Saturday that chance was taken away and this is the only photo I have of Toby. A sweet kitten whose life ended too soon.

When the kittens were first offered to us we hesitated; we were moving house in 6 weeks, was it practical but after much deliberation they arrived at ours on Friday before last, purring as their little box was lowered to the ground and they clambered out.

Toby and his brother, Pippin, were as different as too cats could be. Pip was big, animated, cheeky, loved to play, had a shiny coat and was full of beans. Toby was tiny, so skinny you could feel his bones and slept a lot of the time. Still, as the week went on he came out of his shell too - chasing Pip around the flat, jumping onto the bed in the night and purring during cuddles. We put his size down to being a late developer, and decided that all he needed was a little TLC.

By the Friday we'd begun to be concerned - he was eating and drinking but not put any weight on at all, and his behaviour certainly wasn't kitten-like and we resolved to take him to the vet the next week for a check up. By the end of Saturday he was sleeping all day, his legs were buckling underneath him, he wasn't interested in food - he just lay there and an executive decision was made to take him to the emergency veterinary hospital in Wanstead. Even as we clambered into the Addison Lee minicab we joked that we'd get a hefty bill and be sent home and told he was fine, but that was fine, at least we'd know he was OK.

The vet took one look at his eyes as he was slumped on the table and told us he was gravely ill - suspected deadly feline viruses such as FIP, FIV or FELV (I appreciate that's a lot of acronyms, but if you google them, they're all pretty bad.) We had two choices, we could have him admitted to the hospital, put on fluids, tested, treated and our vet didn't think he would pull through. Or we could have him put to sleep. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, I was in floods of tears. Joss tried to be rational but I could see he was breaking too. Our tiny, beautiful kitten was lying helpless on the table in front of us and there was nothing we could do to save him. we loved him already, but it wasn't enough to keep him safe. We had to put our faith in the professionals - I still wonder if we made the right decision.

The worst bit is that if it turns out to be FIP then it is incredibly infectious - we had to come home and work through the night to mop floors with bleach, sterilise their bowls and throw away his bedding and the cushion pictured, on which he has spent most of the week sitting on my desk chair. As Pippin is his litter mate it is likely that any virus inherited through the mother will be in him too, and there is a chance that Poppy could have caught it too. They are both booked for blood tests next weekend, so we're playing the waiting game, wondering if our two remaining, beautiful, healthy cats will be OK.

I was going to write a post, with gorgeous photos about how excited we were about the new arrivals, instead I'm writing this. So far I've used this blog to document happy things - weddings, engagements, family occasions and parties but I wanted to do something to honour him, something cathartic. We don't have children, so our kitties are our babies - we're beyond devastated by what has happened but each day, and with Pip and Poppy here; things are getting easier.


  1. Ellie, I can't tell you how heartbroken we are for you. Our cats mean everything to us so we empathise completely. I hope so much that the tests work out ok for Poppy and Pippin and that they are looking after each other. RIP sweet little Toby. Thinking of you. Love Lisa & Phil xxx

  2. Ellie I'm so sorry to read this. I had a little cry doing so so I can't imagine how you feel. My old cat Axl died many years ago of cancer and I still get teary thinking about her. I hope your other cats are ok. RIP Toby xx