Requiem for Strawberry

[Picture of Strawberry from 2013.]
In memory of Strawberry

Strawberry passed away today, on the 11th of October 2021, at about 7:25am, UK time. She died of heart failure; she died in one's arms. It was quick and unfraught, and she was with her family until the end, as she had always wanted.

Only now does it seem obvious that she had almost certainly had a stroke some weeks prior, that had caused her mental and physical decline. Her mind had already basically departed a few weeks ago, which at the time I ascribed to dementia; but in retrospect, it came on far too suddenly for that. I had listened to her heartbeat with a stethoscope just a few days prior, and found she had a very irregular heartbeat; it had been fine a year ago, when I listened to it on a whim. In her final hours, her heart was running far too fast and too irregularly. She had started to suffer serious epileptic fits in the days previous, which were getting progressively worse. In the hours before she passed away, she began to suffer a neverending fit which lasted many hours. She ultimately died four hours before her appointment with the vet to end her life; I deeply regret I was not able to make that appointment sooner. I am deeply relieved that, as a small mercy for which I am incredibly thankful, I was able to find a way to stop her final, neverending fit after it had been going on for many hours. I came up with the idea that holding her upright might take some of the blood pressure off of her brain which was causing her seizure, in a kind of inverse of the recovery position. Incredibly, it worked; the seizures stopped immediately, as long as I kept holding her like that. I spent hours holding her vertically, where she was at least not in a seizure; rather, she seemed like she might be aware of her environment. Her heart wouldn't slow down; she was panting. But she did not seem to be suffering or in pain. Ultimately, when she did go, it was sudden and I think instant. She cried out twice terribly without warning in a sudden and final act; only in the following two minutes or so did we start to realise she was no longer breathing. β€œIs she breathing?” As I inspected her, we gradually came to realise that she had departed. She died a natural death, and it was ultimately quick and unfraught. She was with us until the end.

People who haven't owned cats probably don't truly appreciate the depth of personality and emotional complexity they possess. Kittens, while wonderful, are a blank slate; it is only in knowing a cat for many years that one truly comes to appreciate their personality, which for every cat is truly unique in its depth and complexity; it is no different, and the loss is no less painful, than knowing any person. Strawberry was an integral part of my life in ways I will never be able to describe, and her loss leaves a void which no other cat could fill. Ultimately, she lived to a grand age of sixteen, and lived a happy and full life.

Farewell, Strawberry; it was truly wonderful knowing you.