How Twiglet first came into our lives
We adopted Twiglet from an animal welfare charity in 2011. She and her sister had been adopted as kittens but returned at around 6 months old with no explanation. The moment we walked into their pen Twiglet barged her way out of the sleeping area, practically stomping on Tabasco, to see who had come to see her. From that moment onwards we were hers (and Tabasco’s)! With a mischievous personality and a “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” look she took over our lives. We had prepared a spare room for their homecoming, ensuring they had a safe space to get used to the house….Twiglet was having none of this and barrelled her way out of the room, laying claim to everything in the house! We could almost hear her saying; “mine, that’s mine, oh and that’s mine!”.
Living with mischievous Twiglet!
For seven years Twiglet lived life to the full. She had a tendency to remove items from their proper places and relocate them for you; sink plugs, charging cables, pencils and even money! On one occasion we had guests staying and she went into their bedroom and removed a £20 note, proudly depositing it in front of us all in the kitchen!
The first signs of health troubles
After returning from a late summer holiday in 2017 we noticed that Twiglet appeared slightly slimmer. Being an anxious cat mummy I immediately took her to the vets to have her checked over. Whilst she had lost some weight she appeared healthy, with bright eyes and a great glossy coat, and was continuing to enjoy life. Over the Christmas and New Year period of 2017 into 2018 we began to notice that she was not as interested in being around us and stopped sleeping on the bed.
As things got more serious
We took her to the vets again in early January 2018 and asked them to see if there was something wrong. She had lost some more weight so we decided to do blood tests. Whilst waiting for the results, which took a few days, she started to vomit after meals. We immediately took her back to the vets who kept her in for a day to hydrate her via intravenous drip and give her anti nausea medication. When I picked her up the vet said once the medication had kicked in she had eaten like a horse. Sadly this only lasted a few days. The blood test results came back and indicated that she was not absorbing the nutrients she needed, which is why she was losing weight. The vomiting continued, now with blood. However, there was no indication as to what was causing this. The tests showed liver and kidney function were normal. After several more tests, and a very distraught visit to the vets where I broke down, we decided to get a referral to the specialist.
In specialist care
The specialist was great, taking the time to sit down with us and Twiglet to help her understand exactly what was going on from our perspective. Twiglet was allowed to roam around her consultation room and despite being ill claimed everything as her own.
We agreed Twiglet would stay with them overnight so that they could conduct tests under general anaesthetic to try and determine the cause. The specialist said we would likely hear from her at the end of the day, even if only to let us know Twiglet was comfortable and give an update. When the phone rang at lunch time, after only an hour or two, my heart sank and I knew it would not be good news. The specialist said she was very sorry and that Twiglet had stomach cancer. I couldn’t even speak, I recall that I squeaked down the phone at her and burst into tears. My throat closed up and I couldn’t breathe. My husband took the phone from me and spoke to her. Her cancer was aggressive and terminal.
Bringing her home
The next day we picked Twiglet up and brought her home so we could care for her, administering palliative measures to make her comfortable. The specialist told us she could eat anything she wanted and that we would know when the time was right. We took each day as it came, giving her as much attention and love as we could, spending time with her and letting her eat ham; her favourite. After just ten days we knew the time had come to say goodbye to Twiglet. The hardest drive of my life took place on Saturday 10th February 2018, the temptation to just drive past the vets and not go in was immense. However, I knew we had to do the right thing for her. We were both with her at the end, as I looked into her eyes I told her how loved she was and that she wouldn’t be in any pain.
Despite the enormous sense of loss and grief we felt the seven very happy years of life Twiglet enjoyed after we adopted her became a focus for us. Going through this with Twiglet inspired us to start volunteering in cat welfare. The thought of a cat going through something like Twiglet did whilst living on the streets without proper care and medication really concerned us. All cats deserve a chance.