Iffy 2003-2022

Iffy was the sweetest cat. She was our second rescue: we were driving to dinner one day 19 years ago when we spotted a kitten by the side of the road. We stopped, and the kitten ran towards us, and we realised its eyes were gummed shut with mucus, and we knew that it would get run over sooner or later.

So we canceled dinner plans and took her straight to the vet. Her first week with us was spent quarantined in our toilet, as we were afraid our cat Patch would catch something. Iffy spent that week meowing and insisting on being let out, though she quieted down when we had to give her eye drops and clean the mucus from her eyes. She seemed to understand and appreciate the care. In later years, whenever she felt scared, she would return to the toilet to hide, as it was the first safe place she remembered. 

The first night we let her out after her one week quarantine, she climbed into the bed and fell asleep in my armpit. That was the one thing Iffy loved most of all: cuddling in bed with a human being. She loved to sleep on top of us, or next to us, curled up at our feet or just resting her chin on you. She was the sweetest of cats, and never gave us any trouble - all she wanted was to spend time with you, preferably napping. 

In her youth, she was a fierce hunter, leaping high onto our walls to catch geckos; in her old age, she was less active, but still strong in personality: she took no nonsense from anybody. She didn’t need to swat at another cat that tried to steal her food: she would just glare at them, and they’d back off. I remember when we fed her the first time, she was meowing while stuffing her face with food, she was so hungry. She had a tough start in life: she was malnourished as a kitten, and she never grew beyond a small size (vets always assumed she was still a kitten because she was so small) but her spirit was larger than life. That’s why, when I painted my cat tarot last year, Iffy was The Empress, without a doubt.

Iffy was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, large cell lymphoma in the stomach. She fought so hard. It was clear she wanted to live - it was not in her character to give up. She endured the NK cell immunotherapy treatments, and the weekly chemotherapy. But in the last few weeks she started to lose weight and nothing we did could bring her back up. She still seemed lively and alert, and though she didn’t move much, it was as if she was marshalling her strength to fight on longer. This morning, the 18th of November 2022, I found her on the kitchen floor, having breathed her last sometime in the night. I’m quite heartbroken, but I’m also glad she’s not suffering any more. She made it to the grand old age of 19, and most of those 19 years were happy, aside from her rough start in life and the cancer that ended it. One of the last things I did for her before she was cremated was to clear away some mucus from her eyes, like I did for her all those years ago when she was a kitten.


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