A tribute to our sweet Oliver

This last week was one of our hardest since moving to Canada. We had to bid a sad farewell to our sweet kitty, Oliver.

We brought Oliver with us from South Africa and he was an integral part of our immigration journey.

When we first started thinking about emigrating to Canada, a big question we had was what to do with Oliver. Do we take him with us? Do we rehome him? It’s a big decision to make that comes with a lot of costs and logistics to organize.

I was initially okay with rehoming him – I felt that we needed to do what was best for him and I wasn’t sure he would be happy in Canada with the huge change in climate and having to be an indoor cat for 80% of the time.  Ivor, on the other hand, was determined to bring him along – he was his boy, his special cat, and there was no ways he was leaving him behind.

In the end we decided that we were bringing him with us. But because we had to move in with my folks for a few months while waiting for our visa, Oli had to go into kennels. What we thought would be a few short months turned into a whole year! Our poor boy was stuck there for months. But he was happy. He became part of the family at the kennels, earning a reputation as a sweet, gentle, big guy, and had a calming effect on some of the other animals housed there, including a wild cat and a litter of kittens that apparently adopted him as their surrogate daddy. The ladies at the kennels all doted on him and he was well looked after.

Roll forward a year, and we were finally in Canada and settled in a rental, so Oliver could FINALLY join us. We were so excited to see him and waited impatiently for news that he had landed. Ivor went to fetch him at the airport, and when he arrived home and opened the box, Oliver walked straight out and immediately made himself at home, as if we had never spent all those months apart. He knew exactly who we were – we were his family and we were finally all reunited!

Over the next few months, as we struggled through our settling process, Oliver played a major part in keeping us all grounded. The girls struggled with the move and he was always there to calm them down. When one of them was having a bad moment, he would sit with them and just his presence and a gentle rub of his soft fur did the trick. We referred to him as our therapy cat. Always gentle, always calm, and a healing presence in our home. He was always with us – whether we were sitting watching tv, insisting on sitting right in between us, or out in the yard or cooking in the kitchen, he was never far away.

When we moved to a bigger home with a back yard, he was so happy. He loved to sit in the garden, basking in the sunlight. The magpies hated him, and were becoming quite bold in their divebombing and screaming at him. Little did they know that he’d never do much to them – he was so lazy to climb trees of go after birds. I think he thought that was beneath him – he just couldn’t be bothered.

In the winter, he was becoming more brave to venture out onto the snow, creeping slowly across the ice to have a sniff around. It was quite amusing to watch.

Sadly, Oliver got very sick last weekend and after a lot of back and forth to the vet, we still never had any conclusive answer as to what made him so ill. He became very weak and it was clear that he was in a lot of discomfort and wasn’t going to make it. Those last few days were very tough as we watched our gentle giant fight for his life, until he was finally at peace.

Our family is devastated. He was not just a cat. He was an important part of our family and has left a huge hole. I keep expecting him to walk in the room, or when I wake up in the morning I look out for him. It is strange not having our fat cat around.

We have no regrets about bringing him with us to Canada, and we know that we did the right thing. He lived a good life and he was very loved and he loved us.

If you’re thinking about bringing your pets to Canada, don’t hesitate! Do it! You have no idea how much it will help in your settling and how it will make your house a home to have those special ones with you.

RIP sweet boy. You will be so missed!

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