This afternoon, on my way to the baker, I found to my dismay that a neighbouring cat passed away on the sidewalk. He might have been killed by a car but -mercifully for passing children- of any sign of injury, apart from his pathetic remains looking downright and thoroughly flattened, nothing was visible. A considerate yet unknown person apparently had picked him up and deposited the small furry body on the soft green grass growing between the road and the sidewalk, then walked away. An elderly neighbour called the police for removal of the remains and was trying to find out who owned the deceased pet because it still had a fairly new and clean collar attached. The old man had stopped me because he wondered if I knew who might have owned the cat and also because he needed someone to listen to his story anyway. With the utmost respect for his age taught to my by my much beloved Mother, how could I not oblige ? And besides, I had known the cat: a gorgeous generously-pelted dark-grey orange-eyed ex-tom yet I never knew his name.
May the Goddess kindly keep his furry little soul in Her ever-loving embrace.
This sad happenstance comes with a grey-clouded day and a drizzle bringing a chill to everyone, so it has turned me melancholy indeed. But I remember. Oh yes, I remember. The same drizzle that had the baker complaining about the weather had so lovely adorned the pelt of the dead cat it had me pausing in bittersweet reflection. It was as if Mother Nature had deigned to caress him one last time and at the same time subtly enhanced his now-faded beauty for all to admire. Tiny tiny silver little droplets arranged on the unmoving pelt in a most decorous pattern like an epithet that cried out how preciously short our time is on this world and how beauty is but temporary. Tiny tiny silver little droplets arranged like a chilly-cold blanket on the lifeless form that had once been a living breathing exquisite and magnificent purring being. So small a life and yet… it had been the world to someone who had so lovingly selected a bright red collar with bright yellow and green spots to enhance this formidable beauty.
And a formidable feline he had been ! Oh yes I remember… Orange-Eyes proudly strutting along the sidewalk, on a leash with his caretaker. Not afraid at all of my late German Shepherd who was as always mightily interested in anything small and furry whose very form cried out to her fuzzy and eternally befuddled canine brain as being “puppy” and thus “something to be cuddled and licked and nuzzled to within an inch of its life” and would thus make her descend on the hapless furry being with all of her 45-kilo canine charm. Not an inch did he back away, but looked at her with those mesmerizing enormous orange orbs in which you could drown if you didn’t watch out. But just in case, just to be on the safe side, you never know do you, he had puffed out his grey coat to a respectable size anyway. Not in the least intimidating the over-maternal canine of course, but he couldn’t have known it. He did seem to recognize, however, the complete, utter and total absence of menacing growls and flashing canines (oh, was that a pun ?) and so he settled for being nuzzled. Only when the tongue came out did he respond in kind with his talons. Which made Critter reconsider immediately on her maternal devotions to anything furry and small. It was a tribute to her gentle character that a fight did not ensue, but it was in no small amount equally due to the cat’s cheerfully chubby disposition. And this would happen from time to time as chance had it. Purrs and head-butts ? Oh yes I remember.
We all have our time and place under the Heavens, and sooner or later we all have to say goodbye and venture out into the next adventure that is life on this crazy rock. And when that happens we happily leave the mortal shell behind and the being that is “me” or “you” goes on to whatever fun is to be had Elsewhere. However, those of us who stay behind for a little while longer are left with the sad remains and we wonder, we cry… and we remember too. I dread to find any of the feline denizens of the House of Chaos the same way one day as I have found Orange-Eyes today, for a car does not easily stop for a hapless feline crossing the road and despite a speed-limit of 30 kilometers per hour due to a school being at the end of the road the cars racing down our road rarely do so at slow speed. Certainly not the ambulances who need to reach the hospital in the other street as soon as possible. I can only hope I have taught my furry friends well, the Brothers have proved over the years to be wary enough of the traffic, and young Bean Sidhe at least seems suitably impressed by the roar and ruckus of the metal monsters to keep him frozen with frightened immobility on the sidewalk whenever he plans to cross the street and sees one approaching.
And now, I mourn for Orange-Eyes. Such a sad end to a life that hadn’t reached its natural fullness yet, for he was not yet old in years and bent under the infirmities and indignities of age. Would he have suffered ? I don’t think so: his eyes stared unseeing into an eternity we can only guess at, his little furry face not contorted with the agony of death-throes I have seen on other poor purrling’s faces. It must have been swift. Merciful.
I can only pray it was.
Now that we are on the subject of Those Who Are No Longer Here… This is a picture of the late unlamented Rataplan Frankenstein. He looked quite reprovingly at me: “Why use this silly lion picture for a mousepad when you have the Very Real Thing in da house ? Now gimme a back-rub with that mouse !”