Our little cat died.
In people years she was somewhere between 85 to 300, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but still it did. It was sudden and shocking and it left us feeling as though someone had poked holes in our hearts and then stitched them up with yarn, and stitched them up quite badly indeed.
When Jim and I adopted our three pets they were already a family, and they moved from someone else’s home into ours. We had wanted a small dog, so I went looking online for an older pug, or a dachshund, or something compact and furry.
Then I came across a picture of a basset hound with freckles on his nose. The ad said his name was Jed and described him as a small dog (he’s not) who came with two cats (Quigley and Ed) with whom he was closely bonded (he wasn’t). They ad said that they all liked to curled up on the bed together (no) and couldn’t stand to be apart (not quite accurate). They also said that Jed rarely barked, when in fact, he barks fairly often.
Once ensconced in our house we discovered the cats couldn’t stand to be around each other. While Jed and Ed romped around their new home, Quigley kept entirely to herself. It took a year for Quigley to allow us to pat her. And another year for her to come and sit on the sofa while we were there. The following year I got cancer, and after that she would come and sleep by my shoulder.
When everything was quiet, she would silently make her way over to me and place her tiny brown paws on my arm, and when that felt safe, she would allow herself to nestle close to my neck, and rest her small head on my shoulder.
|Jed the Basset|
After that, she was often beside me. She’d wait to see me sit, and she’d come softly over. Or in the middle of the night, on the way to her water glass, I’d feel her tiny weight on my chest, her whiskers brushing my cheek. When I typed on my keyboard, she’d rest her small body on my wrists. At times she’d pick Jim over me, watching as he’d cross his ankles on the coffee table, then find her way into a safe place on his lap. Sometimes Ed would jump up to join them, and she’d deftly leap up and dart away.
And then she stopped leaping. And then we knew that something was wrong and we brought a vet to our home who said that Quigley had cancer and there was nothing they could do. Not only were we sad, but also I knew that I’d let her down.
When it came to sitting on me, our tiny cat always knew the best place to be. She knew where I needed healing, and she knew where I hurt the least. She would come to me at the moments when I needed my tiny companion, and she knew those moments so much better than me.
Which is why, I wish I could have returned the favour. It was our job to take care of her and we didn’t even know she was ill.
So now there are the four of us. I expected to say that Ed and Jed had their period of grieving, but that would be right up there with saying the Jed doesn’t shed (he does). They sniffed her bed for a day or so, and then they got on with the business of being animals. My theory is that all along, they’ve known that she’d be leaving. They have the knowledge, just as she once did.
I’m so glad to have known her. Thank you, my tiny friend.