||[May. 23rd, 2013|07:36 am]
Toyah, Gingy, Meep. Toyah and Meep were our house cats for many years. They saw both kids born. The look on their faces those first few nights when we'd get up to heat a bottle at 3am for our daughter. Kitchen lights on, and two cats, staggering blearily from the bedroom, or kitchen chairs, wondering what the hell was going on, and why was that squishy thing making all that noise.|
The look on Toyah's face when we brought home the safety capsule, ready for TB's birth. She knew, she was almost sure she'd seen one of these before and it boded ill. She looked at it and walked off in disgust, obviously thinking 'Oh crap, another one of those noisy proto-humans'.
Meep loved TB. Or rather, his cot. All those bunnies rugs and soft blankets. As soon as he went in there for a sleep, she'd hop in and cuddle down at the far end of it. TB's feet flexed and waved like a flag even in his sleep. Maybe she got a back massage while he slept.
She quickly learned that when he started making his wake up noises and twitches, it was time to get out. We never had a baby monitor for TB. We didn't need one. We only had to see Meep shoot out of his room to know that he was waking up. She knew that if she didn't leave, he'd abruptly roll over, sit up, and grab, with a delighted: "Aaaaahhhh!" as though he'd just discovered a new periodic element.
The kids were pretty good with the cats. Both learned that if you grabbed or pulled, you got scratched. TG would howl and show me her boo-boo.
"So, don't grab the cat," I'd tell her. "It's your own doing."
Toyah and Meep grew into their teens with us, until we lost both of them within a couple of years of each other. Toyah to cancer, and Meep of old age. I came home one day to find her curled up in a cooling ball in the front yard, Spring sunshine streaming down on her.
TG was at school camp. The first thing she asked her father when he collected her off the camp bus that day was "Is Meep okay?" He didn't know. He said yes.
They came home. I had to tell her Meep had died, and that I'd buried her in the garden.
She cried a long time, for her beloved animal who'd become friend and confessor, secret keeper and sleeping companion.
A cat, who after many years of quiet aloofness, became her lap cat.
We were suddenly without cats. This could not last long, and thus began a long period of kittens and cats through the house before we settled on our current mob. Why so many? Several died. We had extraordinarily bad luck with black cats there for a while. Buffy was hit by a car, and Cherry managed to tip a stone bird bath on herself. Tishy escaped while at the local vet, and was never seen again, although we suspect she'd been two-timing us with an old lady who smelled of lavender.
Giddy, a beautiful grey, and brother to Tish, was hit by a trailer.
There are a few years there that seem populated by death, by loss. Hard on all of us, but TG was desperate for a companion animal, and amidst her own dreadful crises, needed something to hold on to. To have Tishy, her particular favourite, run away like that, my guilt knew no bounds. It was me who took her to the vet that morning. It was me who didn't notice the vet's back door was open. I let her out of the cat carrier blithely, and too late saw the open door. Even then, I did not grab her. She was out the door, and over the fence so quickly, she was like dark lightning.
I asked the vet to put out food for her.
"That attracts strays," he said.
"That's kind of the idea," I said.
We called, we searched, we did a Lost Cat letter drop for streets around.
When we moved from Fankhauser Drive, TG broke down.
"Now Tishy will never find her way home to us," she said.
I had to be strong, to say that she had likely found a new family and was cuddled up with them right now. Inside, I cried too, because new tenants would not know a skinny black cat, if she ever turned up, belonged to us. Tish was gone.