My Good Friend Digger

Digger was put to sleep on February 13th this year. That’s just a little over six months ago, but I haven’t felt able to write about it until now.
On December 27th a couple of guys came over to take a big, wooden work bench which I was giving to a neighbour who lives just up the street. On the bench was a heavy safe, around 2 x 2 x 2 feet, weighing at least 200 pounds. I cautioned the guys that the safe was extremely heavy, and that I wanted it put on a table a few feet away. Bad mistake on my part; they pulled it straight off the bench and it instantly dropped, landing on a corner on the floor making an extremely loud noise and causing the house to shake.
Digger was just a few feet away behind a closed door, where I had put him to keep him out of the way.

After they were gone with the bench I opened the door, and saw that he was very upset. A few minutes later, in the kitchen, he has panting very hard and very fast; a day or so later he started climbing into the kitchen cupboards opening them with his paws, something which he had never done before (*).
At that point I took him to the vets office, and they couldn’t find any reason for his strange behaviour. They asked me if he had had a shock of any kind, and I said no; my upset over his mental state and unusual behaviour had pushed the basic cause out of my mind.
I remembered, and sent an email correcting that as soon as I got home, but there was no reply; maybe I should have followed up on it.
He had by then stopped eating, and there was nothing I could do to help. I spent far too much money buying different kinds of extra-fancy cat food, hoping that he might at least lick the gravy off and get some benefit from it, but my efforts were in vain.
I took him to the vet again, and x-rays revealed that his lungs were surrounded by water, maybe a form of the pleurisy which I was hospitalised for when I was a boy soldier in the British Army. I have no idea if that was caused by his sudden severe shock, but the chronology indicates a distinct possibility.
I was told that was why he couldn’t eat; the water pressure inside him made eating very painful. There seemed to be nothing that could be done, and Digger continued to deteriorate. There were four possible causes for the water on his lungs, three of which were untreatable, so I asked if we could give him a course of treatment for the fourth, enough to see if there was any effect. We gave him special pills for ten days, but there was no beneficial result so I took him to the vet for the final time.
That was a very difficult six or so weeks for me, and I have not been able to write about it until now. I was an idiot to let the two guys decide if they could carry the safe or not, and if I had taken the table over to the work-bench when it occurred to me, Digger might still be alive today.
He was about three years old when I got him, and about seven when he died. He was a very friendly cat, and loved to cuddle and be close.
I just wish he could have had another few years.
Since then I had a marmalade cat called Rusty who didn’t work out, (he was given to me by a friend for free), and I returned him after three or four weeks.
On April 5th I got a marmalade cat from the City of Oshawa by-law enforcement and licensing people. They grabbed him off the street in January of this year for fighting, and estimated him to be four years old. He has obvious scars, and two places on his face where fur won’t grow and sometimes little spots of blood appear, and the vet suggested I put some Vitamin E paste on it every day. He was called Ricky, but I changed that to Scarface (!)
He is nothing like Digger and often resents attention, so I have seriously thought of swapping him for another cat. But I have learned to keep the attention mostly verbal, and he is improving. Hopefully things will work out.
Goodby Digger, I loved you dearly and I am so sorry about what happened. If only I had had the common sense to move the table up against the bench…
Once in a while, something happens which seems to be so horribly unfair, and this was one of those occasions. Digger was a friendly, loving cat, who did absolutely nothing to deserve what happened to him.
If only, if only…

Jeff Goodall.

(*) – See “My Cat Digger” here.