Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Tale of a Kitty

One week ago at this time was the last time I saw our beloved Angus alive.

He jingled jauntily (with his little bell collar) out the back door after his early morning cuddle and his kitty-breakfast with Radio 4. I cannot remember if we had some sneaky kitty meelks or not (his papa did not approve of normal Hoomin meelks for the kitty, but Angus was just not a big fan of Whiskas feline milk products).

That evening, the only part I saw of his lovely shiny fur again was the top of his head which Eamonn allowed me to see from the pulled back towels in which our kindly neighbor had wrapped him. Eamonn prepared him for burial in Angus's favourite Virgin Atlantic blanket, which always went with him to Pennyback Cat Lodge -- where he spent his kitty holidays during any long-term Human Excursions from home. We buried him in the back garden next to the hydrangea.

This past week, I have been intensely consumed and utterly bereft and mournful in a ceaseless paroxysm of repetitive and self-absorbed grief. Yes, I am aware that he was a cat. Yes, I have felt quite selfish in my grief. But I have also been completely helpless to the wishful images of him popping through the front hedge to talkatively welcome us home from work; or stopping just inside the dining room door for a quick stretch on the rug (and a pat); or his companionable presence in the bathroom (with a little scratch on the jute rug and followed by a nose up in the air for a kiss); or his overt preference for the Right Shoulder Hang (rather than the Left) and the ages he would just allow me to carry him about like a human infant.

The thing I miss the most of all, though, is the daily 5.30a.m. purr and headbutt-to-the-sleeping-human's-chin session, which always ended with him curling up in my armpit and lying his head onto my shoulder for one more little doze. Even though some people may think he was only a dumb animal (as in, 'without human speech'), his absence has left a great gaping hole in our family. And I am so sad that Squeak will not know who it was purring through my tummy to him all these months; I am irrevocably convinced that Angus knew someone is in there. He would have been a magnificent kitty with a baby.

Today, though, I feel finally ready to heal. And my persistent belief in fate is edging very slowly back into the room in my head and bringing rational thought and emotion. This will be much more pleasant indeed for Eamonn, who has had rounded many corners this week to discover his wife weeping.

The tale of this kitty began on Christmas Day 2008, five days after our wedding in Louisiana. Eamonn spotted him down the alley on Magpie Road as we walked past on the way home -- so, naturally I had to go and pet the creature with the fur. He was quite thin and gangly and collarless. He came to our back door later, and we had some more pat-the-kitty time -- outside, of course.

For days, he kept coming back to our door, despite a lack of food offerings. It was really extremely cold during January, and he was so scruffy and weedy (not a fortuitous combination for someone who is trying to keep Amrie from giving in to strong feelings for animal welfare). The night that it snowed, Eamonn relented and said Kitteh could come in... BUT ONLY for the one night and he would go STRAIGHT OUT at dawn -- the crack of.

Eamonn claims that he was the First One to give him food  -- some smoked salmon scraps left over from breakfast one Sunday (gruff exterior, indeed). Kitteh had become a regular visitor for about 2 weeks.

We asked some of the neighbours if  they knew where he came from.

We looked for signs of 'Lost Cat', but I was too righteously judgemental (and cowardly) of animal husbandry in our neighbourhood to put any 'Found Cat' signs up of my own.

We put a collar on him, in the opinion that if he belonged to someone, they would perhaps say, 'Oi! Who has put this collar on my animal (which I do not care for properly)?' and perhaps reclaim him as their own. This did not happen.

Kitty pretty much made himself at home at 112 Magpie Road from this time onward (including inside), and he was always allowed inside for bitterly cold nights (the bathroom doorway was a good lying spot as the heating pipes were under the floor). Particularly useful for maintaining body heat is the Leg Stretch with Toe Separation (as demonstrated).

Observant readers may also recall that Meester initially was interested in zee feesh, but fish really are kind of boring, and when you can't actually poke them, they are no longer in the danger zone and survived quite safely and happily through the initial Kitteh Months on Magpie and the move to La Village. Besides, there were more fascinating creatures to hunt here -- things with fur and feathers and tiny tails and beaks and squeaks.

Angus loved People and loved visitors (and even tolerated grasping and waddling small people), always making them feel at home and helping to warm (a small portion of) their freshly laundered and made-up bed. This is his most uninhibited welcome to his last holiday houseguest, Hiroko...

Apparently, he was run over on The Common (where it is impossible to go more than 20 mph -- oh. the irony.) and was found right afterwards by a kind soul who came round to the Main Road since she knew that one of our houses had a black cat. Our neighbour was home and went to collect him in a basket. At least Gillian spared him the indignity of lying in the sun all day.

The heartless, soulless person who hit him didn't even stop.


erasmus (aka jiva) said...

:( He was an exemplary companion. much sadness here to for you.

Backpacker 1984 said...

Such a sad time :( just always remember the happy times and be sure to tell his tale to Squeak xx Hayley xx

Joy said...

Oh that must have been such a shock. We had to have our favourite kitty put to sleep earlier this year and I totaly empathise with every word. I hope you can take comfort in the memories when things are less raw. I had a tattoo of my cat a couple of weeks ago, thats how much my `just a cat` meant to me. Hugs my dear. It gets easier. xxx

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