It’s been a very sad day for us, our dear friend Snowy has passed away to join the angel cats – and with tears in our eyes we are thinking of all the happiness he brought us and how much we will miss him. Snowy was a most handsome pure white cat with an unusual personality. He’d been in the sanctuary with us for the past ten years. We don’t know his age was but he was adult when he first came in. Snowy’s charming nature was the original reason for his salvation. He came from the woods at Sheepbridge and he’d been living wild there for some time. People commented on the white cat they saw flitting around in between the trees. It was a mystery how he came to be there as Snowy was nothing like a ‘wild’ cat and wasn’t into mousing or hunting or anything that would mess up his pristine little paws. Snowy was a true aristocrat and like comfort and routine and only the best. When a group of builders from London arrived complete with portakabins their mission was to construct new factory units. They hadn’t bargained on having a cat move in with them but that is just what Snowy did. Heating, warmth, beds to sleep on, loads of fuss and above all, good food and Snowy was in heaven.
Within a short time these burly men were fetching him chicken fillets and tins of salmon with saucers of cream for desert. They were far from home and families and Snowy had them trained – they petted and fussed and adored him. But all good things come to an end and when the work was completed it was time for the workforce to head back to the smoke. Snowy’s paradise home in the woods was dismantled and the men had to decide what to do with their feline friend. Thankfully, leaving him to survive on his own again wasn’t to be contemplated. Some of them wanted to take him to London with them but they were worried about him not settling in the city after all the space and freedom he’d had in the woods.
The first time we knew of the dilemma was when a couple of the blokes walked up the sanctuary drive, one of them cradling Snowy in his arms. We were told the story and asked if we would take him in. A list of his likes and dislikes came with him together with a carrier bag filled with salmon and canned chicken. “Oh, and he doesn’t like to be shut up. No pens, he wouldn’t stand it,” was the parting instruction as the men walked away. I swear they were wiping tears from their eyes as they went. I held Snowy in my arms but he was tensing up and the claws were coming out. ‘Why were his friends leaving? Where was he?’ Snowy had the most beautiful big green eyes and I knew the men were right and that he’d hate to go in a pen. I headed towards the sanctuary kitchen and put him down on the worktop, opening a can of salmon and putting it on a china saucer right away. Snowy began eating and I knew he was thinking ‘this isn’t so bad.’
Normally we keep new cats inside for anything up to two months but Snowy had the run of the place from day one. He’d said his goodbyes to his workmates and he seemed to know that the wild woods part of his life was over. Although he was a strong natured cat and didn’t allow anyone to take liberties, he was also affable and good natured. He liked the special attention we gave him and liked to think himself a bit more special than the others. We pandered to him, after all he did look like a pedigree cat so why not. In the early days we could possibly have found Snowy a new home but there never seemed to be the right circumstances for him. He did like lots of space, hated to be confined, didn’t understand cars and traffic and had no interest in being playful in order to amuse humans. Dogs he treated with absolute disdain. He tolerated children and smiled a bit when they stroked him but it was a bit forced and only to be polite. A few minutes and he’d had enough. He was a character cat and we adored him.
Pure white cats often have health problems. Is it because they are interbred? Or is it that such perfection has to have a flaw in some way. About four years ago Snowy began shaking his head and one of his eyes began running. The vet diagnosed a growth in one of his ears and recommended an operation to fix it. Was it the right thing to do? We operate on animals without knowing how much pain and suffering it will cause. We were told there was a good chance of complete success and so we went ahead. Snowy made a good recovery although he hated the collar he had to wear for several weeks. Snowy was soon back to his old self and enjoyed many more days in the sun. Last year the growth came back. This time there was no operation to make him better and he began to show his age. Our kind vets told us that Snowy wasn’t in pain and that while ever he was eating and enjoying life we should let him be. Snowy went on just fine until this weekend when there was a sudden deterioration. His eye began to run and for the first time he didn’t want his breakfast.
We guessed what the vet was going to say when he examined him earlier today. There was nothing he could do……… and the kindest thing was to ease him off into his next life………and so that is what happened. Goodbye Snowy, a cat in a million – it was a privilege to know you.