Today we had to say goodbye to our eldest cat, Daisy, who has died at the age of about seventeen years. Her coat was dark tortoiseshell, and she had a distinctive ginger stripe on her forehead.
Daisy came to us for foster care when she was a young mother with three tiny kittens. Her previous owners had dumped them all at the vet clinic. As always happens with our foster cats, we ended up adopting her after the kittens were old enough to be rehomed and she had been desexed.
Daisy was a strong character, who liked human company but barely tolerated our other cats, and would attack any dog who visited the property. Her greatest enthusiasms were playing the piano, especially the bass keys, and licking the cream from our breakfast porridge bowls.
Her health had been gradually failing in recent months. Her kidney function was poor, so she was on a special renal diet and needed to drink a great deal of water, but still appeared to enjoy life. Yesterday evening she suddenly went downhill, dragging her back legs and hardly able to walk. We made the harrowing decision to book her in for euthanasia next day, and I did my best to keep her comfortable in a quiet room overnight. By morning she was semiconscious, and died peacefully at home a few hours later. It was a mercifully quick and natural death.
Now Daisy is buried in our garden along with the other cats who have shared our lives since we came to New Zealand – Cindy, Floella, Felix and Homer. We will miss Daisy very much but still have our two lovely four-year-olds, Magic and Leo.
Update one month later: I was very touched to receive, from our friends at Auckland SPCA, this photo of a new kitten with similar tortoiseshell colouring who has been named after Daisy and is now up for adoption.
I came home from the RototuaNoir crime writing festival in January fired with enthusiasm for working on my next novel. The story is inspired to some degree by my own life experience, involving some old family secrets, and set in the North Kent marshes
close to where I was brought up. Writing from my home in New Zealand I have rely on the internet to refresh my memories of these isolated wetlands beside the Thames estuary, a haven for birds and wildlife littered with relics of light industry. The video in this blog post by Carol Donaldson
conveys the area’s strange appeal.
The crime element of my new plot, which is purely fictional, is essential to the story but occupies a relatively small part of the text. This is in keeping with the trend, noted at the festival, for the term “crime fiction” to include much more than the traditional who-dun-its and police procedurals. “Crossover” books which combine crime with, say, the historical or romance genres or qualify as literary fiction are increasingly popular.
The characters in my new novel are also fictional, with the exception of rescue kitten Magic who plays a small part as herself. Despite its feline content, I don’t think the book will belong in the BISAC category of Fiction/Mystery & Detective/Cozy/Cats & Dogs, as it touches on some serious themes. I would prefer to see it coded as Fiction/Family Life or simply Fiction/Crime.
I hope the new novel will be published later this year. Meanwhile some of my earlier books are being discounted in the Smashwords sale from March 3 to March 9, so please have a look at this link and consider downloading one or more of them for less than the cost of a cup of coffee! They include the three 1980s medical crime-cum-black comedy novels I presented at the RotoruaNoir festival; the more recent Three Novellas set between England and New Zealand; and non-fiction books mostly on health-related topics.
Lastly, if you found this post through the “North Kent” tag, you may be interested in the new book Sunday’s Child by Jean Hendy-Harris describing some vividly detailed memories of what life in the area was like in the post-war years.