Monday 7 March 2011

A Cat

Our cat has gone missing - by now, sadly, missing presumed dead. I put her out last Wednesday night and later she wasn't on her usual perch, on the sill of the little octagonal kitchen window clamouring to be let back in. Nothing to be anxious about in that, nor even in her absence the following morning when I got up. But as the day went on, and then the next and the next, it became increasingly worrying, and then more or less hopeless - she is epileptic and needs her medication twice a day...

Scruffy - a name initially apt but quite inappropriate for the sleek svelte creature she became - was a small black cat with a ludicrously long tail. She made her first appearance in our lives 10 or 11 years ago, yowling piteously from the side return of our then house. How she got there we never knew, but she was clearly hungry, distressed and very frightened of all human contact. After a while desperation drove her to take food from us, but she was still extremely wary, and remained very highly strung long after we took her in, taking fright at the slightest thing and dashing away to her hiding places. The vet reckoned she was already three or four years old, and had clearly been someone's pet, before presumably being abandoned.

When, a few years later, we moved house to our present home, this proved altogether too traumatic an upheaval for Scruffy, who took off for several days, before being spotted, bedraggled and forlorn, hanging around the old house. My son and I managed to cajole her into a carrying box and took her, yowling and protesting, to her new home, where she spent the next few days mostly cowering in the cupboard under the stairs. However, as she got to know the new house, she became at last a much more relaxed cat. With a smaller garden to patrol, no enemies among the local cats, and a house full of cosy nooks and corners, she began to give every appearance of contentment - and to be much more relaxing company. She was also good comedy value, with her strange outbursts of kittenish skittering and her way of mistiming a jump onto a chair arm or a lap and being left dangling by one paw - she never quite mastered the art of retracting her claws. She and I would have many fine conversations, though admittedly I supplied all the words...

And now she has gone, and how we miss her... Every time I walk into the kitchen, I instinctively glance towards that octagonal window, still half expecting to see her familiar shape. I think I hear her plaintive miaow or the faint tinkle of her bell or the soft thud as she jumps down from basking on a warm radiator shelf. Or I fancy I glimpse her just on the edge of sight. In the morning she is no longer there waiting at the top of the stairs when I get up, stretching herself for a good long head-to-tail stroke from me, before skittering down the stairs ahead, with breakfast on her mind. The other evening, coming up the road, I thought I saw her profile at a lit window where she used to sit - but no, it was the outline of a bush outside; she was not there, she is not here. Having come from who knows where into our lives, she has disappeared who knows where. Nobody in the neighbourhood has seen a trace of her, and there are no clues - but she cannot have survived this long without her medication. We can only hope it was a quick and peaceful end.


  1. So sorry to hear this, Nige. I was very upset when my last cat disappeared for four or five days. Luckily he was young and fit, and I found him starving and lost on an abandoned lot half a mile away after a long grid-search of the area. He leaped straight into my arms not too much the worse for his adventure. Anyway, I think of how fortunate I am to have had some wonderful times with the two cats I've had.

  2. Thanks Mark - yes they do give an amazing amount don't they, considering how little we really mean to them! As they say, you never own a cat...

  3. RIP Scruffy. She will be missed, and that was possibly the most beautiful obit I've read to a cat. I wish she could have hung on another 5 or 6 weeks!

  4. I am so sorry :-(((