Warning: this story has nothing to be with moving abroad!!

I don’t usually do personal posts on here but I thought that I’d share my Christmas story. It’s about my cat Polly. As you know she is pretty well-travelled, having moved with me by plane to Portugal and returned again by ship to the UK. She’s 14, nearly 15 but still very lively, loves to play, loves to hunt (including bringing dead rabbits back) and is full of vitality. She is my angel and anyone who knows me knows just how much she means to me and how much I love her.

Polly though has cancer, she has a lump on her leg and a lump on her back. They don’t bother her too much and she just gets on with life as usual. It’s a concern for me of course because I do not know how long she will be with me.

On the Friday before Christmas Polly started to become unwell, she looked in pain and was behaving very oddly. I was very worried. The next morning though she perked up and was her old self again. The behaviour came back later on Christmas Eve and in fact I spent all night awake with her as she battled against what looked like some kind of fit or stroke. She didn’t seem in pain but she was trying to hide and as the night progressed I realised that my worst fears were materialising.

When morning came, Christmas morning, I knew that I did not want her to suffer. She had been sick through the night and now couldn’t walk. She didn’t want food and just kept wanting more water and then throwing it up soon after. I was in tears as I made the emergency call to the vet to make an appointment to put her to sleep. I could barely speak on the phone.

All the presents lay under the tree unwrapped and the special breakfast lay uneaten as I left the house with Polly.

We arrived and waited for the vet to come and open up. She did and we went inside but I was in a bit of a daze, trying to fight the tears. I took Polly out of her basket for the vet to take a look while I gave the history of her illness.

The vet examined Polly and told me that she could well have had a stroke and that her condition was permnanent. It was just a matter of quality of life – basically how long would I let her life like this. The other diagnosis was that she had some temporary nerve damage to one of her ears, the vet thought that this was likely because Polly was always falling in one direction and her eye movements indicated that she was constantly trying to balance. The vet said that her two dogs had had this condition and both had recovered from it. Finally, I had some hope. Polly could have an injection to prevent any pain and another one to reduce the nausea she was experience. The vet told me that I was to give it a week to see if she improves.

Of course I decided to go along with this second diagnosis as it would give Polly the chance she needed to get back to her old self. We went back home with my heart decidedly lifted knowing that Polly was still with me and Christmas wasn’t ruined for me and my family, who for the first time in years were altogether.

Polly steadily improved over Christmas and Boxing Day. Her appetite has returned and she has even started playing again, jumping around and using her scratching post. She comes and jumps on the bed when I’m at my desk working and has started sleeping in my arms again. Her balance isn’t perfect, she still falls over when she shakes her head or moves too quickly but I have great hopes that she will be with me for a good while longer.

One of the most important things that came out of this almost-tragedy is that no matter how much people spend for Christmas, no matter what presents I get, nothing compares to the most important things – life and love.

Do you have a special Christmas story you wish to share?