Gresley: In Memoriam

It was a year yesterday that we had to put our wonderful cat Gresley to sleep at the age of 11.

And tbh, I’ve struggled to get over him, which is why i wanted to write this post, so I could share with you exactly why he meant so much.

When my boyfriend and I moved in together in 2008, we decided we should get some cats. We both love dogs but our work situations would not have been suitable. I’ve always liked cats and A has previously had cats, so it seemed like a good plan.

So a few months after moving into our first home we took a trip to the RSPCA rescue centre , they have a room with these clear window boxes in where the cats sit-but the boxes lead to an larger individual outdoor area-so the cats have loads of space.

As we looked around, when we came to the last box it contained the most ridiculously cute cat I’d ever encountered. He was a little grey stripey thing that was sat in the window waiting for attention and as soon as he saw us he started playing frantically with his toys as if to say ‘Look at me! look how cute i am!’ . I fell in love at first sight, however my happiness was cut short because he had a reserved sticker on his window. And the truth is, I was gutted and I moped the whole weekend. There was another cat that A took a liking too, but i couldn’t stop thinking about this silly stripey kitten. However, when I went back a few days later, to my utter delight, the reserved sticker was gone! I literally jumped for joy, phoned my BF and ran to the office to ask for this kitty who was called Smokey.

It was approximately a week or so later that we got to take him, and the other cat we chose, home with us. Kaya was a lovely older cat, but very nervous and didn’t like being petted (however she eventually succumbed to our love and became a wonderful pet ( sadly passed away from an inoperable cancerous tumour a few years later).

We decided to keep Kaya’s name but Smokey was too cheesy , and A had a great suggestion of the name Gresley! The origin is Sir Nigel Gresley; one of Britain’s most famous railway engineers.

Gresley and Kaya

So first day at home he fitted straight in, when we gave him dinner he purred the whole time whilst eating and that first night (i reluctantly agreed that the cats could have access to the bedroom) Gresley climbed onto the bed and plonked himself next to my head and purred in my ear all night. He knew he had found his home.

smug cat!

He loved his home, he loved living next to allotments and had to prowl them every night to keep away intruders (I’ve since discovered that many more cats go on the allotments since he passed away). He adored being outside and no weather would deter him. If it was pouring with rain he would come in soaked to the bone and yowl until you got a bath towel and picked him up, wrapped him in a cat burrito and dried his fur!

He loved to investigate, everything was interesting-he stuck his nose in every nook and corner and loved to follow you around and get involved with whatever you were up to.

He would eat anything. His favourite human foods were pizza, prawns, smoked salmon plus anything dairy based. If we ate yogurt he would always lick the container clean and if i had an ice cream, like a Magnum, then he would sit there rather impatiently until i finished so he could lick the stick and i would always leave a little extra on there for him.

He was an absolute attention seeker, if you weren’t paying him enough attention then he would find a way to make you look in his direction- quite often by batting a piece of random paper to make noise or jumping up in your face and meowing,. His favourite trick was to yowl whilst you were having a conversation, and would only stop when you picked him up-he’d repay you by snuggling right into you whilst purring and usually licking your chin. He really just loved people. My neighbours say they miss saying hello to him in the morning. Every night when i came home from work, he would be there waiting to greet me at the door (even if A had already fed him)

My overriding feeling with Gresley is that he was literally one of the happiest cats on this earth partly because he’d found his forever home. He had humans who catered for his every need, a lovely safe garden and allotments to defend. He knew he was loved unconditionally and he returned that love 10 times over-he was always up for a cuddle and was so soft and pliable. He purred and snuggled and would lick my chin and nuzzle into my ear. Most nights he slept by my side, when he was not well he would sleep by my head like when he was little. If he was hurt he would come to me, rather than run away because he knew i would make him better.

But sadly we couldn’t the last time he was ill. He always had been a sneezy cat, so when in Spring 2019 he started sneezing more regularly i just assumed at first that he had worse hayfever. However, one day he had some blood around his nose and he started to have a snotty nose. So off to the vet we went, who assumed it was a form of cat flu returning. He gave antibiotics and anti inflammatories and we were to return the next week if no improvement. A few days later there was no improvement and suddenly his inner eye lid on the left became slightly visible. On returnning to the surgery, the vet had a good feel around Gresley and said there was a lump above his eye and thought it might be infection. An x ray was ordered but nothing was visible, same with an ultrasound. So we had to go to a specialist for a MRI scan. This sadly showed the truth of the matter, he had a tumour that was growing out from his nose-it has broke the bone too which is why there had been blood. Because of what they found in the head, they proceeded with a full body scan and found lumps in his kidney and lungs aswell.

Essentially we could have tried to operate to remove the tumour in his head but he still would have cancer everywhere else. It was hopeless.

They gave steroids to try and see if the lump could be shrunk and also some strong opiates but within a few days the tumour was still growing and pushing his eyeball out.

this was early on, I won’t share photos directly of his eye on his last days as it’s rather distressing

So the inevitable decision was made to have him sleep permanently, because without the painkillers he was obviously in pain ( on his last morning I found him cowering under the table- after coaxing him out and providing pain relief he was good again within 30 minutes thankfully)

Our last day, thankfully, was perfect for him. The sun was shining so bright and warm and we spent the the day in the front garden playing and giving him all his favorite treats like smoked salmon and all the Dreamies he could eat.He got all the fuss and love before our final trip to the vet.

my boyfriend wrote this

As i say, a year later I still miss him. He was truly one of a kind and i think i miss his almost constant presence and his natural inquisitiveness. I see photos and always laugh, he was a natural in front of the camera. We have since adopted Eddie who is sweet but like Florence- prefers his own company.

I hate being alone of the sofa with no one to cuddle me and I think the whole coronavirus thing exacerbated that feeling of loneliness. But time may change that as Eddie is only young. I also have to give kudos to Florence, she’s not a natural cuddler but after Gresley passed away she spent every single night on the bed with me by my side. And the same last night after i had cried my little heart out once more. I think writing this has helped me though by thinking of all the good things and times and why he was so precious. He’ll always be a big part of my heart.

one of my most precious photos


      1. 🐱Yoda has the normal weight of a castrated male. Its Angora cat coat has become splendid again. He found a girlfriend in the castrated wild cat, with the coat: “tortoiseshell”, that is to say black and orange. But he is dominated by a little 4 month old male! It is very informative to study a pack of 8 cats.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh my gosh you must be in heaven with all those personalities running around and clamoring for your attention
        Very happy to hear Yoda is healthy again and has a girlfriend! He needs to throw some charm my way so I can get a boyfriend !!!❤️❤️❤️😂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. i spent some of the morning reading about grieving for our pets, i was starting to feel ridiculous that after all this time I would still cry at the drop of a hat over him. But the articles I read helped me realise i’m not crazy and writing this post has helped alot. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I started crying when you told me about the post. I have read it about three times now with a huge lump in my throat.
    Gresley was your angel and you and A gave him the best life. His love and devotion to you will always be in your heart. Florence and I are not huggers but we feel your pain and she is your touchstone in so many ways.
    Beautiful honest post!! Well done love!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a beautiful post – for what sounds like a very special cat. Gresley sounds lovely, Rachel, with snuggling and waiting for you to greet you at the door. He seems to have been all and more than a beloved pet can be. And this post shows how much he was appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I dealt with alot of my grief at the weekend and feel I can move on more. Bit he was stupendous…I always said he was meant to live til at least 20 years old, so I do feel short changed! But he had a full and happy life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aww, poor Gresley and poor you. A sweet entry.

    I used to have cats when growing up and when we moved into our house with hubby we took a rescue cat too, her name was Sysi (coal) and she was 7 months old then. She passed away 3 years ago aged 21 and she was quite deaf and blind already but such a darling kitty.

    Someone said that the hardest part in being a pet owner is to let them go and that is the truth. Writing this has made me cry but it’s okay too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Poor Gresley… It’s hard to see them suffer… I love your boyfriend’s version of Gresley’s farewell words! I gave in to my daughter’s persuasion a few years ago and would have never thought I’d care that much for our cat… He belongs to the family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah it was a crappy ending to his well lived life. My boyfriends words were very heart rending and even he cried when he read it back! Pets are super special, we get such strong bonds and it’s worth the pain for all the joy they bring.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely tribute for such a lovely cat. I’m so sorry for your loss but remember, he had a perfect life with you and that is something beautiful to hold on to. (((HUGS))).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah thank you,it was really quite therapeutic to write this and the lovely comments are very warming. I read something today about grief and how you need to not let the sadness overtake all the good and happy things. x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful cat Gresley was. It was wonderfully moving to read about his life with you. I read it to my wife and I could barely get the words out as I was filling up with tears. Our 14 year old cat Billy had to be put to sleep three weeks ago after a short illness. Every night he would snuggle up on my wife’s lap and now her lap is empty. We buried him in the garden in his favourite spot and sowed forget me not seeds over the grave. The vets sent the seeds with a lovely condolence card. I still see him everywhere and like Gresley he will never be forgotten..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, he’s always there. Cats really are such special creatures. I used to say to him that he needed to live til he was at least 20…you just don’t expect them to be taken away so young like your Billy. I almost didn’t want another cat because I knew we wouldn’t get another like him. Admittedly I do get more sleep these days though! Gresley joined Kaya under the cherry blossom tree , he loved his allotments xx its nice to think of their spirit in their favourite spot ❤


      1. How lovely to think of their spirits together under the cherry blossom tree.
        I don’t think we’ll get another cat for a while. We did however go to visit our daughter today and see her and her three cats in their new house in Norwich. It was my daughter who chose Billy from a litter at a farm all those years ago. She’s 30 now. She was very sad to learn of his death. He might have died 2 years ago. One of his eyes was bulging dreadfully and it turned out it was cancerous and so it was removed. Having one eye never bothered him and he got around quite happily. I think you are right, cats should live to at least 20. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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