Julie our travelling vet came in the late afternoon and confirmed what we sensed.
Marmalade’s cancer had grown in his mouth and he was having difficulty breathing.
His quality of life had diminished significantly.
He would arrive at meal times as usual, showing initial interest but quickly change his mind.
We spent the afternoon with him in the garden. He’d responded, as he always did, to a call–
Mar! Marmalade! Marmadukey!–emerging from the shade and joining Meredith on the grass.
He was a companionable soul.
When we were still living in London in the nineties, he and sister–much missed Butterscotch–were boarded at a place nearby between our visits. We would arrive to reclaim them and it only took a couple of calls for him to come trotting keenly out of the bushes to greet his people!
He was a head nudger: Bonjour! Good to see you.
(It runs in the family. Mother of all cats Pippa says thank you for food with a nudge.)
Stretching by the cemetery wall after my early morning walk, I’d suddenly become aware of a presence.
Looking up I’d find Marmalade looking down at me from just above head height.
As I pulled myself level with his head he’d nudge my cap: Bonjour! Good to see you.
I’d be foolish not to think there was a touch of cupboard love involved as he eagerly followed me into the courtyard heading for the kitchen–but the greeting was genuine!
Marmalade liked his food…
–and not only his.
There was a bit of the cuckoo in him too.
Orphaned Lucien–the tabby–a lone spirit, has a talent for finding comfortable places to park himself.
Marmalade would see a snoozing Lucien, check out the spot and decide that his “brother” needed a friendly lick-bath.
He’d judge it perfectly and move in on the nicely-warmed space when Lucien had had enough attention.
Mar has not been himself since snow white Beauty died prematurely aged 4, two years ago, followed last year by beloved sister Butterscotch.
Beauty hero-worshipped Mar (eight years his senior) from the moment he arrived. Marmalade was happy to give in and accept he was adored.
It was a touching sight to see them cuddled up together in apparent mutual admiration.
Since losing those two close companions, Marmalade seemed lost.
Young Beau–full of beans–tried to jolly him out of the dumps with his gleeful leaps and japes but dear, tolerant long- suffering Marmalade found it all too much.
Leave me alone old boy, I need a bit of a rest you know.
He lost weight and started getting ill.
His face became distorted, his breathing heavy and his left eye wept.
He was losing his magnificence.
He could still respond to a call and enjoy a moment with his people.
This week he took a turn for the worse and we called Julie–not wanting to prolong his ordeal.
So hard to judge the moment….
We kept our arms around him as he faded, lying full length on the kitchen table.
We buried him under the trees in the garden–beside Butterscotch and Beauty.
It’s the dailyness of domestic animals that makes their passing so difficult.
We miss his nudges, his quirks and the unqualified love he gave his people–for fourteen years.
Adieu! Nous te remercions–Big Mar.
Click below for Meredith’s touching tribute to a great cat.