Tuesday 25 October 2011

RIP The Indestructible Cat

Sadly, I have to report that Scruffy, the Indestructible Cat, who earlier this year staged a miraculous comeback from presumed death, is no more. Last weekend her epilepsy worsened, with a succession of terrible fits (nightmarish to witness, but from which she bounced back with admirable aplomb) against which her medication proved powerless. We were forced to take the hard decision and take her to the vet for that last injection. She had a happy, mercifully fit-free, last morning in the sun - it was the very end of the great Indian Summer - and a wonderfully peaceful end.
I warned her the last time I wrote her obit, that I wasn't going to do it again - so I shall simply 'reprint' it here:

'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 on the sill. 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...'

It was written in an infinitely sadder context, but Jon Silkin's line perfectly describes the sense of loss: 'Something has ceased to come along with me.'


  1. Condolences on your loss, Mr Nigeness. My own little black and white cat, who arrived from the Protection League some 16 years ago, had her final injection in June this year. After a nervous start with us, she had developed into a sweet-natured, friendly pet, always on the lookout for a warm lap. Latterly, her demands for meals had become insistent and peremptory, particularly if she could smell cheese. I regret that I spoke to her sternly about the matter on several occasions. Now there is no yowling for food when I arrive in the kitchen and the making of the cheese on toast is a lonelier, quieter operation. I don’t think we are going to replace her.

  2. Thanks Mary - she sounds like a sweet cat. Cheese on toast eh? With ours it was always the smell of roasting poultry that got her going. Our previous cat had such impeccable manners that she would never start eating, however hungry she was, until she'd been stroked. Her version of saying grace, I suppose. Scruffy had no such compunctions...

  3. Ah, poor dear Scruffbag. She will be missed - all the way over here in NZ too. It's roasting poultry that gets our George going the most too, tho she also really loves yoghurt... She hasn't paid cheese much attention yet, which is probably a blessing considering her massive girth!

  4. Well, our Catherine was very partial to roast chicken too. But cheese was top of the pops for her. And only the best too. She would turn her nose up at mass-produced bland cheddar but a local vintage mature would drive her into a frenzy of desire.