I haven’t posted in a while. And I missed my fortnightly slot over at Writers Gone Wild this week, too — intentionally, which isn’t like me. But honestly? I just didn’t have anything uplifting to contribute, and as it’s a group blog, I didn’t want to post something sad. But here on my own blog, now I’m ready to talk about it, I feel I can share with impunity.
I’ve always had cats, and since leaving home to go flatting, I’ve never been long without one in my life. Every time I’m cat-less, a cat in need of a home just seems to find me and I haven’t the heart to say no. Minnalouche was no different. We took her in as a five-year-old who needed a stable home where she was the only cat, instead of one of many.
Minnalouche was a purebred ocicat. She’d been named for a cat in a poem by Yeats, which was pretty cool, but Minnalouche being a bit of a mouthful, we opted to call her Minna.
A bit of research told us ocicats often have dog-like tendencies. So it wasn’t a surprise that when she finally got used to us and settled into her new home, she liked to roll around on the carpet like my family dog used to do. And when she was happy, she would wag her tail. Took us a while to figure that one out, and differentiate a “wag” from an “I’m not happy!” feline lash.
Minna had issues with food. She had no “off” switch when it came to eating. Meaning woe betide you if you left anything remotely edible out on the kitchen bench. Or on the kitchen table. Or anywhere, for that matter. A margarine container left in the sink would often be found on the floor the next morning, licked shiny clean. The cheese-topped rolls on the bread-board, your toast, your bowl of cereal — all were fair game. As were the neighbour’s dog’s bones. And anything thrown out on a back lawn for the birds. Like stale iced sponge cake, for example — and not a cake we’d bought but yet another stolen “gift” from a neighbour’s back lawn. (Have you any idea how much mess a piece of stale sponge cake can leave on your carpet by the time it’s been dragged through a cat-door and left under the dining room table?) And let’s not even mention the odd bird and cicada. Then again, she was pretty good at swatting flies in mid-air and eating them. And the occasional spider, too.
She was especially talented at letting us know in no uncertain terms when it was time to feed her proper food. She generally slept in the lounge area and for self-preservation reasons we learned to close the door into the hall leading to the bedroom areas before heading to bed. If we neglected to do so, her feeder would know all about it very very early the next morning. As soon as Minna’s hunger light went on she’d sneak into DD’s bedroom, jump on the bed, sit by–or on!–DD’s head, and chew on her hair.
If the door from the lounge was closed, no problem! Minna would insert her claws in the gap between the door and the carpet, and scratch madly at the bottom of the door… which is about on a par with fingernails down a blackboard. If that was ignored, she’d whack the door with her shoulder — at least we presume it was her shoulder! — and make it bang loudly until it woke someone up. As a last resort, she’d head outside, jump onto DD’s windowsill, and scratch her claws up and down the windowpane. Many a Sunday morning I’ve slept in and gone downstairs to “release the Kraken”… and timed how long it’s taken Minna to streak from the lounge to the bedrooms to wake her feeder up. A few minutes at most usually — pretty impressive considering DD’s a teenager who can ignore most things when it comes to sleeping in at the weekends.
Speaking of sleeping, that was Minna’s other favorite thing in the world. She could often be found snoozing like this:
Or like this:
And even this:
And as she got older, she snored. Loudly. And made a habit of sleeping on top of DH’s laptop mousepad when he was trying to work. She’d often “forget” how to use the cat-door and sit outside the sliding door, yowling for someone to let her in. Same when she wanted to go out. And if it was raining or too cold for her liking, we’d open the door, she’d poke her nose outside… and promptly change her mind. She was a quirky cat and we loved her all the more for that. We thought we’d be enjoying her quirks for a long time yet.
Recently Minna had lost a lot of weight in a very short time. On Monday I brought her back from a day stay at the vet, thinking that we were dealing with a couple of mild infections that antibiotics should clear up pretty quickly, along with diabetes. We all — vets included — figured that with regular insulin shots and lots of TLC she would have an excellent chance at living a long, happy life. But by Tuesday morning she’d deteriorated and I rushed her back to the vet.
Tuesday night it wasn’t looking good. Minna wasn’t responding to treatment. I rounded up the family and brought them in to see her… just in case things took a turn for the worse overnight and she didn’t make it.
She hung in there, but by Wednesday morning, she’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — something no-one couldn’t fight, least of all Minna. And we had to make the hard call: You know the one.
I drove to the vet and sat out the back in the hospital area and cuddled her for a long time. She buried her nose in the crook of my arm. The way she looked… it broke my heart. And then I carried her in to the consult room, the vet came, and it was over in seconds. She was gone.
The drive back home was really hard. Worse, was having to wash her cat blankets and cushions and pack them away, along with her food bowls and toys, so the kids wouldn’t be gutted all over again at seeing them. Her cat cage is still in the boot of my car. I can’t quite bring myself to take it out and find a place to store it.
The house is very quiet without her. I work from home so now during the day I’m truly on my own. It’s lonely. I miss knowing she was snoring in the other room, or sunning herself in a patch of sun in the lounge. I miss her.
We didn’t get to have Minna as part of our family for very long — just six years. But she will always hold a special place in our hearts.
R.I.P. Minnalouche. I hope you knew how much joy you brought our family. I hope you know that you were dearly loved.
THE CAT AND THE MOON
By W.B. Yeats
THE cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.