29 May 2011



We moved from Sydney and Newcastle to Melbourne in January 2001 into what is known as a villa unit. There are only 2 of these at our block in Preston, and ours is number 2 at the back and away from the street, which makes it quieter and more private.

Unit 1 is owned by the Victorian Department of Housing and is managed by North East Housing Inc. as transitional housing.

When we moved in to our house we discovered that Unit 1 had been and was being occupied by young men, some of whom were very suspect and some of whom seemed to border on the criminal element and may have been involved with drug dealers and similar sorts of people.

In mid-2003 a young man moved into unit 1 and straight away those who visited or stayed in the house were a very mixed bunch. However we didn't anticipate the event that happened on the night of 4 September 2003. The young man Daniel - the tenant - had recently acquired a very young kitten whom we had seen on odd occasions and whom we had heard miaowing pitifully when locked in the garage, which seemed a fair amount of the time.

We were watching television and when we turned it off at about 10.30pm we heard strange noises outside and went to investigate. What we found were 3 fire engines, 2 ambulances and a few cars and people gathered outside on the pavement and in the grounds of unit 1.

Those who got there before us told us that Daniel had come home from his place of work as a dj or equivalent, and must have gone to sleep leaving gas and/or a lit cigarette in the kitchen, and the whole kitchen area had caught fire and was raging inside the house. Finally the fire was brought under control, the fire engines departed, and the ambulances took Daniel away with smoke inhalation. The poor petrified kitten was wandering around outside and didn't know what to do with itself, and no one seemed interested in doing anything about it.

I said we can not leave this little thing to fend for itself and we picked it up and put it in our little garden shed at the back of the house with a bowl of milk and locked the shed so it couldn't get out. We had not owned a pet, nor had we any intention of acquiring one, but Daniel's cat had taken over our house and our hearts and we had a pet!

We called him Daniel's Cat because we thought Daniel would return for him, but Daniel returned for what for him were precious possessions and the kitten was NOT one of them! So his name became DeeCee - Daniel's cat.

From then on, until yesterday, 28 May 2011, when he was so ill that he couldn't go on living and we took him to the vet to be put to sleep, he was the third person in our house and our hearts are heavy at his loss.

We took DeeCee to the vet a few months after he came to live here to find out whether he was in good health, which he was, and we were told he was a male and needed to be desexed, so we made arrangement for it to be done and then we had him registered with the Council so he officially became our cat in every way.

A few months after DeeCee came to live with us our neighbours (not unit 1) acquired a beautiful ginger cat who was called Sam, and as Sam's owners were a young working couple without children at that stage, Sam became a regular visitor who arrived for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anything in between. Sam wanted company and food in equal measure, and although DeeCee made sure that Sam knew who was the boss around here and they had many fights, they almost had a love-hate relationship. Bu they made a very handsome pair as some of our photos show.

DeeCee gradually started being friendly to some of our friends and he quickly formed an attachment to Liz Ross who took this next photo in our garden when DeeCee had been with us for some months and was nearly a year old at that stage.

As DeeCee settled in to life with two old codgers he got used to his environment and started to grow into a substantial and well-fed cat with a beautiful fur which was initially called short hair but which turned into something much more magnificent. His fur was fine in winter, but became very hot in summer and he did shed some of it during those summer months. We started combing and brushing him and he just loved it, purring very loudly as he enjoyed being groomed. He never did take to cat toys but loved playing with pieces of string which were pulled along the ground or held above his head for him to try and catch.

We also made a tube of plastic fencing climber mesh and he loved creeping into it and playing with bits of string enticing him into or out of it.

One of the games DeeCee enjoyed was jumping onto the table in the garden with an umbrella hole in the middle and trying to catch a twig or finger poked up the hole from underneath the table.

When he decided he was tired of that game and had had enough, he let us know that he wasn't going to play any more and got ready to jump off the table!

In his early days with us he found various areas inside the house where he liked to have his daytime sleeps, and at night time we locked him into the laundry with his litter bin and some water, but at times as he grew older he objected to being locked up and kept scratching on the door to be let out, so we decided to get some cat doors put into the outside laundry door. We did feel that at 3 years old he might already be too old to learn how to push the doors from the outside or the inside but the people at the cattery where he boarded when we went away for a week or two every now and then told us he was not too old to learn, and said we have to show him what to do.

It didn't take very long for him to learn how the doors worked and from then on DeeCee led a much more independent life, coming and going as he pleased, and sleeping in his laundry basket when he felt like it, otherwise sleeping in lounge chairs or on the beds in our other two bedrooms. He also found other odd spots where he would climb up and survey the world from his new vantage points.

However, our cat knew certain people in this house would obey his every command, and he learnt very quickly that if he was outside at the front end of the house and he didn't feel like jumping fences to come in around the back of the house through his own door, he could make noises on the screen door at the front door and it would sound like knocking on the door. His claws also sometimes got caught in the mesh of the screen door and we had to help him be released, but he had gained our attention and came in through the front door.

Inside the house he would also let us know that he wanted US to let him out through a door other than his laundry door and he always got his way!

Occasionally when I was working on the computer late at night and DeeCee had come in from outside ramblings and just wanted to relax, he would jump up on the desk and lie down and go to sleep. He could be a wonderful companion much of the time, and certainly wormed his way into our affections!

DeeCee was a wonderful mouser, but this had some dangerous problems when he brought mice into the house to show us what he had caught and which he had not yet killed, so when he opened his mouth they managed to escape and it took us days, sometimes longer, to set traps where DeeCee couldn't go himself and get caught, before we got rid of the mouse - or mice as happened on odd occasions.

The other side of the mouse-catching was of course that, being a cat, birds were his other target, and he brought birds, alive and dead, into the house.

On Monday morning 30 May 2011 we did our load of washing and took it out to hang on the line in the garden. Whenever DeeCee heard us doing the washing and going outside, if he wasn't already there when we took the basket outside, he would soon arrive and squat down and watch us till we had finished. He would then demand a period of play time with the string and the tube or he would come and tell us it was time for us to take him inside for some lunch, after which he would retire for his afternoon sleep.

This is how DeeCee was totally relaxed on our bed, showing us that it was his bed too!

In February 2011 some changes started happening which didn't quite register initially. It was summertime, and as usually happened every summer, DeeCee shed some fur and looked somewhat thinner. However, during the next few weeks he seemed to have lost a fair amount of weight and was thinner than he should have been.

By mid-March he wasn't eating his normal foods and just didn't seem to have the same voracious appetite he had had since he was with us. In April it became obvious that we would need to take him to the vet to find out what was wrong with him. He still had most of his normal energy and habits but there were subtle changes which didn't register in our minds that something was radically wrong. He seemed no longer interested, or able, to climb fences or jump up and down places which were his comfort zones.

We had our own health problems to contend with but finally got DeeCee to the vet in early May where he was diagnosed initially with a bacterial infection in his mouth which meant his gums were swollen and sore and bleeding which was why he was unable to enjoy his cut-up chicken necks every night. He was put on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories which we had to push into his mouth with droppers, and which he very reluctantly permitted us to do.

However, it was obvious a week later that all was not only not well, but getting worse. The vet gave him a more thorough examination and then did some blood tests which showed that he had very advanced lymphoma of the kidneys and would not live much longer. This was on a Wednesday, and the vet wanted us to bring him to be euthanased the following Monday or Wednesday and no later.

By the following Wednesday we just couldn't bring ourselves to have him put to sleep as he was still responding to us, still able to drink water and did not seem to be in any great pain.

On Saturday morning of 28 May 2011 we faced the inevitable -DeeCee had reached the end of the road and was in an utterly wretched, miserable and unacceptable state. We made an appointment with the vet and at 2pm DeeCee was given his final injection and went to sleep very peacefully, but not before giving us one silent miaow of recognition for the last time. It broke our hearts and the memory of that moment lives on!

This photo was taken in November 2010, one of the last ones we took, and he is buried just behind where Ken is standing with the piece of string, so he was with us when we hung out the washing on 30 May 2011.

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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm