On a sunlit winter's day in August 2016, we picked up a trapped cat from a feeder to drop off to our vet for her. Such a magical day that day, I remember it so well. The warmth, the sunlight, the ambience of everything but sadly for Faith she was given a death sentence.
She had been trapped at an abandoned house in Cabramatta, N.S.W and we agreed to pick her up and drop her off for desexing. After leaving the surgery a phone call from our vet asked if I had noticed her distressed breathing. An xray revealed Cancer had spread to her lungs from a mammary tumor. All I could think of was that it was too beautiful a day to die. Expecting euthanasia to be the only course of action, I was surprised to hear 'take her home for a few days of palliative care.'
And that was how Faith gained her other name...'that palliative care cat.'
At the surgery she was given an injection of steroid to stimulate her appetite but on my first visit I saw how flat she was. I wasn't sure how she would go at all.
The above photo is of her in hospital on that first night.
We took Faith home and set her up in a little wooden rabbit hutch in the lounge room. In the hutch part I made a soft warm bed for her to rest in private and in the front part put her litter tray and food.
Faith began to eat and rest alternatively. After a while she stopped sleeping in her private hutch and spent more time out in the other area watching us and the other cats.
A month later she asked to be released.
'No' I said, 'you don't understand. You are dying.'
'No' she replied 'you don't understand, I want to get out!'
So I thought about this and decided it would be nicer if she could spend some time on the verandah with the others before she died.
Faith put on weight so quickly that we feared she was pregnant. A visit to surgery negated that idea thankfully. It was observed that she looked surprisingly well.
Faith was, FIV+ and her age estimated to be ten years old. She was a very friendly cat so where had she been for so long? And how many kittens had she had in her life?
As time went on Faith seemed to improve so much that I began to doubt there was anything wrong! John was fond of repeating the quote 'rumours of my impending death are greatly exaggerated.'
With each month she gained momentum so much that she came on heat and we rushed her back in for surgery. Desexing and removal of the mammary cancer were performed and Faith sailed through it.
She had such a pretty face, was so affectionate but also revealed her 'other' side of Alpha female.
Poor timid Tinkerbell became picked on unmercifully. Screaming matches and attacks became frequent.
Finally when things became too serious we took Tink out to the new enclosure and her happiness with her new home was obvious until another prefect came along in the persona of Bryn. He ate her food just because he could, he stalked her so that she hid, a prisoner in her own quarters that we had to provide. Eventually though, after her initiation period Bryn accepted that poor girl and she was finally allowed to mingle and eat with the others.
Inside, peace reigned once more.
Last year Faith had the rest of her teeth out and chest xrays to monitor the extent of the Cancer. Apparently her lungs did not look much worse and my comment to the vet nurse that we had not expected her to live this long extracted this response:
'Neither did we when we saw the xrays of her lungs.
Last Sunday, just a few weeks shy of her third year with us, Faith, 'that palliative care cat' slipped quietly away.
During the early afternoon I went outside to sit in the sun to think. The day was warm and there was ambience and magic in the air, just the way it was that very first day that a girl called Faith crossed our path.