Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Farewell to Grum

I know realistically no one but me really cares about my cat, but today my cat Grum passed away from liver failure. I need to vent somehow and writing usually helps me. If you don’t care, or might care to much, feel free to not read. I just want to commemorate her.

A very young Grum, you can see some of the bald patches on her feet still

A very young Grum, you can see some of the bald patches on her feet still

She was the matriarch of my pets. Being the oldest of the cats she was automatically queen of the roost, but Grum started out as a stray kitten, too young to be separated from her mother, with ear mites so thick the insides of her ears were black, conjunctivitis sealing one eye closed and fleas so bad patches of her fur were missing.

Understandably she had no trust for humans. She gained the name Grum because she would hide brilliantly but you always knew where she was because when you walked past her hiding spot you could hear her grumbling, a little kitten thunder growl. I imagine she didn’t like the drops in her ears and eyes multiple times a day, nor the paste squirted down her throat, but as the time passed she grew her hair back, the inside of her ears returned to pink and she could see clearly out of both eyes. I don’t think she started to trust us straight away, but it came eventually.

Young Grum, all healed up and inspecting the world

Young Grum, all healed up and inspecting the world

She had faith in myself and TJ, and while the grumbling stopped for us, it didn’t for anyone else who came in our house. Grum didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t part of the family, a fact which lead her into danger only about six months later.

She was being cared for away from our house by a friend, and someone opened the door. Grum saw a chance to escape and took it.

We plastered the pet stores with ‘lost’ posters but heard nothing. A month later we assumed she had escaped into some of the near-by bush land and was living wild.

When my phone rang late one Sunday afternoon I debated answering the unfamiliar number – this was before the ludicrous telemarketers started using mobile numbers regularly, so I answered.

Someone had found Grum. The woman was the owner of a townhouse complex. Pets were forbidden in the complex and she’d been seeing the cat for the last three days and trying to catch her so she could scold the owner, but when she finally caught Grum she discovered the poor cat had tried to remove her collar and her arm was caught in the collar still around her neck.

TJ and I rushed over to pick up Grum and true enough, she had put one of her front paws through her collar while trying to remove it. Now the collar was cutting in under her arm and across her neck. The collar was cutting into her underarm. Her entire arm was stiff and she couldn’t move it. Her arm must have been trapped there for a while because her muscles had seized.

We took her to the after-hours vet, who informed us the only option was amputation.

Grum with her bandage while waiting to go to a vet who would listen.

Grum with her bandage while waiting to go to a vet who would listen.

Being the stubborn animal lover I am, I insisted he was wrong. True, Grum could not move her shoulder, elbow or wrist (or feline equivalents thereof), but the whole drive back from the townhouse complex she had been kneading TJ’s lap with her claws, ALL of them, including the injured arm’s. She has fine motor control, I argued. I took the vet’s painkillers but went back home to wait for our usual vet to be open in the morning.

I stayed up all night with her until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.

In the morning I went to the vet and told him my well-rehearsed speech about how she had fine motor control, so surely the arm was salvageable. My vet agreed, and showed me how to do her physiotherapy myself and told me it needed to be done five times a day. Lucky I was only a casual employee at the time and didn’t have a lot of shifts!

Grum, her wound healed, but her leg still not in full use yet.

Grum, her wound healed, but her leg still not in full use yet.

Grum put up with my bending her limbs with poise. She would watch me closely the whole time, but never complain nor bite and scratch me, only flinching when we reached her limits. She trusted me enough to know whatever I did was what was best for her.

After a matter of months it became difficult to remember which of her front legs had been the injured one because she didn’t even have a limp anymore.

Grum continued on to be a mum thanks to her time in the wild, and two of her daughters stayed on with our family (a calico we called Taruto after ‘Magical Nyan Nyan Taruto’ and another grey tabby(darker than her mother) called Miho). Sadly Grum outlived Taruto (a tragic thing for a parent to outlive their child) but she and Miho continued on, moving house with us countless times until settling here in this last house.

Grum rests on Xander's Totoro infant play mat

Grum rests on Xander’s Totoro infant play mat

Grum was not sure what to make of it when I had my own offspring, though she did thoroughly enjoy sleeping on several of his toys and mats even if she was smart enough to not remain in the room with him once he was old enough to walk over and grab her tail.

I won’t depress myself further or make you cry by going through the events of this morning, I just wanted to share the exciting life of a stray kitten who found a home and learned to trust. Grum had tough times in her life, but she knew that TJ and I were always there for her, scaring off the aggressive next-door neighbour’s cat when he’d jump into our yard and try to claim it and helping her recover from those harder times. Today it was just beyond our ability to help.

Goodbye Grum. I’ll miss you.


  1. Mary Tod

    Dear Kirstie … so sorry for your loss. I’ve had two dogs (no cats) and can still remember the emotions of losing them. Our lives felt empty without their wagging tails, delightful licks and playful games. I hope you the memories keep Grum alive and that you soon feel less sad. All best, Mary
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    • Kirstie

      thanks Mary. It is amazing how big a part of your life pets can become.

  2. Faith

    Oh gosh, I’m so so sorry! Grum was a very pretty cat. It’s so sad that you’ve lost your matriarch. It seems very lucky that you found each other 🙂

    I’m still upset about my cat, Chloe, who passed away two years ago, so I have nothing but sympathy for you. Be kind to yourself!
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    • Kirstie

      Thanks Faith. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get over it’ so to speak, she was too big a part of my life for too long. I imagine you feel the exact same way about Chloe, and many other pet parents about their precious pets who’ve passed.

  3. Talitha Kalago

    I’ve devestated for you. I lost my Fritz last year due to complications after a dog attack. I still expect her to be here sometimes and I still miss her like mad.

    Losing a pet is heartbreaking and my heart goes out to you and TJ.

    • Kirstie

      Thanks Talitha. The last two mornings I’ve woken up and felt unsettled because I know I’m not going to see her lying around the house anymore. I wake up feeling a little disjointed. I feel much better reading all these comments and seeing everyone has a beautiful pet who they miss terribly too. There’s a sort of comfort in shared grief(as morbid as that sounds).

  4. mum and dad

    It’s so sad Kirstie, we feel for you so much. Grum was very lucky to have had you for a mum, and owed her life so many times to you and TJ. Your love and dedication to her and your other pets is enormous. Stay strong.

    • Kirstie

      Thanks guys. I’ll miss her immensely but as you know, I’ve got a whole menagerie keeping me company as well. Miho is still looking around the house meowing each morning, I’m fairly sure she’s looking for her mum, so I give her a pat every time.

  5. meg

    Biggest hugs for my amazing sister she couldnt have had a better life than with you! She was gorgeous and will always be remembered. Lots of love meg

    • Kirstie

      Thanks Meggles <3

  6. Kath Lockett

    Ooohhhh, you’ve made me cry. Grum was clearly a one-in-a-million cat.

    I refuse to ever say ‘pet’ because they are so much more than that to us. They’re essential family members and with cruelly short life spans it’s a privilege to be with them and enjoy them for as long as we can. Hugs to you!
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    • Kirstie

      Thanks. You’re spot on Kath, it is a privilege to have them in our lives, they definitely enrich every day. I’m glad I had the eight years I did and wouldn’t swap them for the removal of the pain at all.

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