13 Years Ago…

This week, on October 23rd, was Gulliver’s 13th day of death and I wanted to remember him with this post.

He was our beautiful and very special cat, which Patrik and I adopted, when we were still living in Sweden.

That’s the story:

In spring 2004 Patrik and I thought having a cat would be nice and so I started to search in the internet for animal shelters. 

We didn’t have any particular ideas about the type of cat, I just wanted to have a black one and it shouldn’t be too young. We thought between 5-8 years would be ideal.

Of course there were plenty of black cats, of all ages and each with its own story. I clicked through them, thinking, when the “right one” appears, I’ll know.

And so it was. A picture of a huge black male called Gulliver caught my attention. Sadly, he was a bit older, than we were looking for…. 12 years according to the ad. So I continued looking for another, younger cat, but somehow always came back to him.

Well, it looked like he was THE ONE! 

I talked to Patrik and we decided that I would call the shelter and see if he’s still available.

Yes, he was. According to them he was an indoor cat, but probably would be happy to stroll around outside every now and then. That was no problem for us, since we lived in a very quiet area and we were willing to mount a cat flap for our new family member.

The woman also told us that the former owner got mentally ill and wanted to put him to sleep. Luckily, the vet thought differently. After all he was a healthy cat, a senior, but nevertheless healthy.  So, he contacted the animal shelter and they picked him up immediately. 

A bit hesitantly she also added, that he is actually not 12 anymore….he..erm…was 14 years now.                   Meant, since two years he was waiting for a new home.

That was a bit of an unexpected surprise, but Patrik and I realized that it was too late – we had already made up our minds: Gulliver would be our new companion! I mean who would adopt a 14 year old cat, when dozens of younger ones were available? The poor animal most probably would die without having experienced a proper home again! An unbearable thought…

So I called again and told her that Gulliver had found a new home with us!

Arrangements had to be made, since he came from Stockholm, 500 km away from Gothenburg, where we lived. Luckily, someone she knew was in Stockholm and would travel home – to Gothenburg – the next week and she would take Gulliver with her. Perfect! 

That meant the next few days I was busy with buying “cat things”, like beds, toys, a climbing tree, dishes, a sandbox, sand, food….you name it! 

And then finally, the big day arrived! Unfortunately, Patrik was on a business trip, but our neighbor offered to help me to pick him up.

When we arrived at the place, we both were shocked! It stank, it was noisy and in the apartment were 3 dogs and I don’t know how many cats. I wondered if the animal shelter knew about this situation…

The woman there told me that Gulliver was in the kitchen, so we went in there and saw a terribly frightened, black cat with huge plate-sized eyes. He hardly looked like Gulliver. Poor thing!

At least we didn’t need to convince him to step into the transport box, I bet he was glad to get away!

Back at home I thanked our neighbor and was finally alone with Gulliver. It was quiet in the house and I carefully opened the box. Of course I had some goodies ready and to my surprise it didn’t take long until he cautiously stepped outside and started to sniff the floor, the nearest furnitures and finally me. Boy, was I happy, he also followed me to the kitchen and even to the loo. Actually, he followed me everywhere, like a shadow! 

I started to pet him and he purred directly, lying down and even rolled over on this back. There I saw that his belly was almost naked, as were his front legs…at least it wasn’t bloody or inflamed. His whole fur looked greasy and was full with scall. These were obvious signs how stressed out he was – and probably since a while back!

A bit later I showed him his own toilet and his dishes, which were filled with water and food! To my delight, he used the toilet and ate a bit – always watching me closely.

When it was bedtime he followed me upstairs – totally as a matter of course – waited beside me while I was brushing my teeth and hopped on the bed after I was under the cover. He immediately rolled himself together and, being as close as possible to me, fell peacefully asleep.

Patrik came home the next day and Gulliver accepted him at once too – happy family!

The woman from the cat shelter called the same evening to tell me that she forgot to mention that Gullivers birthday was on March 30th 1990 – an important date of course!

However, Patrik and I agreed that we had never seen such a big cat with such enormous paws! He apparently was half Norwegian Forest and half common housecat. And his voice! It was impossible not to hear him. Even his purring was very loud.

Luckily, it was no problem, when we had to go working, due to his age he slept a lot.

We planned to keep our “panther” inside for at least two weeks, he should learn where his home is.

We also bought better quality food for him, than was recommended from the animal shelter. According to them he would eat anything…..

Patrik mounted the cat flap after a few days, but it seemed Gulliver wasn’t interested – it was still locked, though. It looked like he was happy enough being inside and to cuddle with us whenever he had the chance. 

After a week – the weather was gorgeous – we decided to take him outside and show him his new kingdom. At first we were a bit nervous, what if he ran away? But it turned out our worries were waste, he stayed with us and when our neighbours came to say hello, he let them pet him but always looked where we were. As if he wanted to make sure, we wouldn’t disappear or leave him.

Anyway, that convinced us that he would never run away. So we opened the cat flap and showed him how it worked…well, it turned out, he actually never used it. It functioned as his window. So while we were working he was inside and when our neighbor was home before us, she opened the front-door for him.

Funnily, every day, when Patrik and I came home, he was waiting for us at the corner, where the houses ended and the garages for the cars started. He must have known the sound of our car engine. 

As far as we know, he never went further, or even down to the road. Which was fortunate of course! 

It was also quite funny to see, that small kids were afraid of him, his impressing size probably was the reason. As soon as he was outside, the kids moved out of his way. Pretty unusual, since other cats were picked up by them – if they liked it or not. 

After we’ve had him about two weeks I discovered some blood in in the sand box and immediately called the vet. We got the appointment the next day and it turned out that he had a very sensitive stomach. So we bought from the vet some special food for him. It also turned out that he was a bit overweight…. 11 kg was a bit too much, so he had to go on a diet. Approx. 9 kg would be ok for his size, according to the vet. 

A few days after we had started with the new food, the blood was gone and the bald patches on his front legs and his hairless belly started to look better! Some black fluff started to grow –  he looked much better all over. His black fur started to shine and the scall had gone already after the first day at our home.

Yes, he was blossoming and Patrik and I were more than convinced that we had chosen the perfect cat for us! Hey, and in the end he also lost almost 2 kilos, thanks to a strict diet.

In the summer of 2006 Patrik and I decided to move to Switzerland – he got a job offer he just couldn’t decline (and for me it was more or less OK too). 

So arrangements had to be done, like getting Gulliver chipped and vaccinated. He even got his own passport. 

During the summer Patrik and I had travelled to Switzerland, in order to find a suitable property we could rent – most of all it had to be cat friendly and no big road nearby. We were more than lucky, because we found the perfect home with a garden. A typical Swiss stile, timbered house, old but very charming! It also clicked with the owners at once! So when we returned to Sweden we had a contract in our hands!

To make it as comfortable as possible for him, we planned to take the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel, which would be an overnight journey. Naturally, we booked a cabin where animals were allowed. 

It was late afternoon, the 28th September 2006 when we left our home in Sweden and headed for the port.  It was an emotional moment of course, we both were sad to leave our friends and neighbors behind, but at the same time we looked forward to a new chapter in our lives, and me being close to my parents again.

The ferry left in the evening and after we made sure that Gulliver was comfortable and asleep on our bed, Patrik and I went to a restaurant for dinner.

Soon we returned to our cabin and went to bed. The night went quiet and peaceful – Gulliver even used his sandbox and emptied his dish.

In the morning we went to our car and after we left the ferry, we were soon on the motorway, heading south! 

At around eight in the evening we finally arrived at my parents place – it was planned to spend the first night there, since the truck with our furnitures, etc. would arrive the next day. 

Gulliver was tired – like all of us – but happy to be with us! I bet when we packed and emptied the house in Sweden, he was more than worried. As soon as he was with us in the car he calmed down and slept most of the time. He didn’t had to be in the transport box, but was free to move around in the car.

Well, the next day we got the house keys and started to furnish our new home. Gulliver stayed at my parents house, it surely was better for him.

In the evening we had accomplished the most important things, like arranging the kitchen and assembled our bed, the sofa and few more things and it was finally time to pick up Gulliver.

He was a bit doubtful but as soon as he found his dishes and the sandbox, he calmed down. Even more, when he discovered our bed. It didn’t take long until all three of us were lying in it and fell asleep.

Well, Patrik started his new job after 3 days and I was still at home, searching for a job and arranged our house. A couple of times I went out with Gulliver to let him discover the garden – with a leash.

But after a month he started to change within two or three days, and I had a bad feeling, something was wrong with him. He wouldn’t eat and slept more than usual. Then, it was Sunday morning, I called the vet, Gulliver was more or less apathetic and hasn’t been on the toilet since the evening before. We got a time the same day and we drove there, really worried.

The vet saw immediately that his kidneys weren’t working as they should and he gave him an injection, against the pain and that he could empty his bladder – which he did.

Back home he felt a bit better and even ate a little bit. We stayed with him of course and tried to make it as comfortable as possible for him.

Evening came and then night and we went to bed, taking Gulliver with us. I didn’t sleep well and checked on Gulliver several times.

The next morning he was lying in a corner and I had the terrible feeling, he was dying. I immediately called the vet again and shortly after we were on the road, hoping we could save our cats life.

After we arrived at the vets praxis, he gave Gulliver immediately a saltwater infusion and layed him under an infrared lamp. He told us, as soon as something changes he would call – and sent us home.

Patrik had to go to work and to keep me company, my mum had arrived at our home. There we sat, waiting and worrying….

After lunch the vet called and told us, that sadly Gulliver had died….he apparently just slipped away, while he was asleep…he was very sorry.

It was the most shocking news and I simply couldn’t believe! How could that happen? And how could I have left him at the vets praxis? Why didn’t I wait there with him? I must have been so sure that we would pick him up alive again….

The vet offered that he would arrange everything to cremate him, if this was our wish. Yes, of course we wanted that. So a week later we received Gullivers ash in a pretty urn. 

Nevertheless, me feeling guilty has stayed all these years. If we had known that he would die a month after we had moved to Switzerland, we would have stayed in Sweden for the time being. If I had observed him closer, I would have been able to get him to the vet in time, maybe to save his live…. too many ifs…..

At least his last two years he experienced plenty of love and all the care he could get. 

It’s a comfort, although a small one.

Gulliver is gone, but the sadness is still present. He surely will never be forgotten…..

Cats leave paw prints in your heart, that’s for sure!



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