Billy was one of triplet brothers I rescued back in 1996 from appalling squalor and living conditions. Billy and his almost identical twin, Joey, had beautiful ginger coats with darker ginger markings, white patches on their faces, chests, stomachs and paws. Timmy, their brother, was the same shade of ginger with identical darker markings but no white on him anywhere. From the back, I couldn’t tell who was who so I’d have to either call them by name or walk round in front of them. Billy and Joey were virtually impossible to tell apart but for the fact that Billy had a black beauty spot near his mouth.

Billy_by_Arlenes_AngelsBilly was the Cuddle King – he loved being cuddled. I only had to ask him if he wanted a cuddle or pat my lap and he’d come up onto my lap and wait for me to pick him up and hold him like a baby. He would curl up into a ‘C’ shape and wrap his front paw around my finger like babies do, and begin that deep resonant purr which got louder and louder. Then the chirrups would start and he’d purr and chirrup for as long as I’d hold him. We often sat for an hour or more like this before one or other of us – or both of us – fell asleep.

Billy_Timmy_JoeyBilly had a successful bi-lateral thyroidectomy on Wednesday, 27th April. He came through the surgery really well and I had hopes that he might return to the Billy he was before hyperthyroidism set in. He had lost so much weight before the operation and although his appetite didn’t decrease, I was hoping that he would start to put on sufficient weight to be healthy.

But Billy’s body was hiding a terrible, dark, secret.  When I got back from a 10-day holiday in the middle of May, I noticed that Billy’s abdomen was very swollen. On Friday, 27th May, I took him to see our vet who said that his abdomen was full of fluid. He booked him in for an ultrasound scan on Wednesday 8th June but over the weekend Billy’s breathing became very laboured and he was struggling. He would walk a few paces and then sit down, panting. It was quite apparent to me that he wouldn’t make it to the 8th June. 

My veterinary surgery doesn’t have out of hour’s surgery any more so I had to take Billy to another surgery a short drive from my house. He was assessed and I was told that he was very poorly. He was to be kept in overnight and the fluid in his abdomen would be drained to see what it consisted of and whether he could be treated.


The vet, Sophia, rang me about 30 minutes after I’d got back indoors to tell me that she had drained almost a litre of haemorrhagic (containing blood) fluid from Billy’s stomach. Then she told me that she had felt a very large tumour but couldn’t tell if it was on his pancreas or his liver because he still had some fluid remaining.

She told me that he wasn’t in any pain or discomfort and that she would make him comfortable for the night. Lawrence and I went there early on the Monday morning to spend some quality time with him before he was to be put to sleep.

Billy didn’t want any cuddles when I picked him up that Monday morning, preferring to lie on a little green fleece that Sophia had brought with him to the consulting room. So I crouched down and with my left arm around him, I stroked him with my right hand and told him what a beautiful cat he was, how he’d made me laugh most days, and what a privilege it had been to have him share my life, my home and my heart for the past almost 15 years.


He began to purr in the Billy way that I loved and I kissed him. He gave me a gentle headbutt in return and I knew we had said all we needed to say. He went with the quiet dignity that all cats possess and now the house is emptier and quieter without his awesome presence.

He will be sorely missed but I take great comfort in the fact that he is reunited with his brothers Joey and Timmy, and I’m sure that Garfield, Biggles, Charlie, Ellie, Ricky and Max, a temporary guest at the Daily Mews Mansion,  have all come to greet him and to gather him back to the fold.


Sleep tight, my little one. Mummy loves and misses you.

For stories featuring Billy click on the links below:

The Very Best Toy for Cats

"Of all the [cat] toys available, none is better designed than the owner himself. A large multipurpose plaything, its parts can be made to move in almost any direction. It comes completely assembled, and it makes a noise when you jump on it."

Stephen Baker

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