This week I had to say goodbye to a very close companion of mine….. my cat John has gone to pussy heaven to join his friends. He was 19 years old and time just ran out.
John was quite a character. He came to us a week or so after my husband suddenly walked out on us, and he was the only ray of sunshine in a very bleak situation. I have had cats all my life, but this little kitten had such a ridiculous sense of humour that just when there was nothing to even smile about, he would make us burst out laughing. He seemed to have such a deep knowing that I really think he saved my two daughters and me from sinking into a bottomless pit.
My friend found him, a tiny kitten, trotting down the middle of a busy road with his left eye hanging out. She stopped her car, and carefully opened the door to catch him. He simply jumped in and rode home with her. The damaged eye was removed by the vet, and he seemed to be completely unaware of it missing.
My mother had come over to Malta to help us pick up the pieces of our lives, and her answer to most things was a new kitten. She had been a top breeder of Chinchilla Persians years before. It was one of our cats that the evil Blofield stroked in the James Bond film – and ours that adorned Kossett Carpets!
My friend heard that we were looking for a kitten and we knew he was just what we needed. My sister chose his name – she said, now that there’s no man at home, you can open the door and shout ‘Hello, John!’ when you go in. And that’s exactly what we all did, for 19 years.
The following year we found another kitten, exactly the same colour; tabby and white. She had a massive infection in her head and took quite a bit of nursing, but she pulled through. Unfortunately she lost her right eye in the process. We called her Buffy, and our two one-eyed cats were inseparable. She was quite shy, so not many visitors met her. John, however, met everyone at the door and always made his presence known. Buffy died last summer, and I think John just wasted away afterwards.
It’s very strange at home now. My morning routine of feeding, changing water bowls, cleaning cat trays, giving John his meds, has all changed. I only need to make my own tea. My daughters both left home years ago and it has dawned on me that this is the first time in over 40 years that I am not responsible for anyone or anything else. I can go away for the weekend or even a month or two and not have to ask people to move or pop in to look after the cats. Freedom! It’s taking a bit of getting used to, and I do miss my cats, but it’s also feeling strangely liberating.