Shortly after my return after spending Christmas with my family, I noticed that Bixy - who had appeared to be full of beans when he got home - was breathing oddly. Initial diagnosis from the vet was possible bronchitis or asthma. There was no improvement from the medication he was given and the next morning his breathing suddenly became a lot worse. I took him back to the vet and he spent the day in an oxygen cage, which helped slightly. Later I took him to Leeds Vet Hospital for overnight care and more meds; however, the radiologist who looked at his x-rays was able to identify severe heart problems: even if he had recovered this time (which was looking increasingly unlikely) the same thing would happen again in a few weeks time, and the best thing seemed to be not to allow him to go on suffering.
He died less than 24 hours after becoming ill, so at least his last illness did not last long.
He was a wonderful cat - not only beautiful but gentle too: he acted as mother to the two younger cats when they came into the family. It was amazing to see such a big cat (even when he was slim he was a huge cat) playing gently with Django when he was a tiny kitten, and grooming and curling up with Pepper within two days of his arrival. One of the last things he did - and he did it even when he was feeling at his worst - was to try to reassure the other two cats by licking them on the head. Oddly, they seemed to know he wasn't coming back even before I did. Since yesterday they have both been very quiet and have wanted to curl up with me whenever possible.
He arrived in November 1998, a young cat who had been taken into the vet having been found with a broken leg. Unable to find his owner they decided to treat him and try to find a new owner. We adopted him. He was described as an "interesting" cat by the vet and we soon discovered that meant trouble!
Ignoring the fact of his broken leg he insisted on plaguing our other cat mercilessly: in order to get enough sleep Hoagy had to hide and the quieter interludes were punctuated by the sound of Bixy yowling for him to come and play (he was called Bix after the musician Bix Biederbecke on account of having a yowl of three and a half octaves with blue notes in addition).
He wandered but not very far: we discovered this when he went missing, was returned by a neighbour whose cellar he'd got into, and was let out by my husband the following day - a series of phone-calls told us exactly what he was doing and where for the rest of the morning.
He loved company, human and feline, and possibly because of his size he did not seem to be aggressive - as far as he was concerned discretion was definitely the better part of valour: hostile behaviour in other cats was something he ran from. A beautiful gentle giant who will be deeply missed.