Friday, April 20, 2007

animal shapes

Everyone who has owned a pet has one thing in common - you can never be entirely cynical again. And you have to have a pretty hard heart to hear about another pet's death and not react with a surge of sentimental sympathy. My friend Dave recently had to cope with losing Outrage, his lovely dog of ten years, and has written a great post about it over at his Lever Pulled blog, which is well worth a read. I remember when my cat, Takis, died - I was about 17 or so and had had him for over a decade; he too had been getting increasingly ill over the course of his last year or two, but he died, not altogether untypically, because he choked on a bone from a bird he had thoughtfully deprived of life earlier that evening. I was at a party that night, and returned home to find him gone, totally unexpectedly. It was horrid, not least for my parents. Like Outrage, my cat had taken himself off to the garden - but he had returned for his last minutes, to curl up in my mother's lap.

I went to University a month or so later, and quickly - temporarily - forgot about my beloved Takis, caught up in the excitement of being away for the first time and able to drink all day. But back home, my parents missed Takis terribly. A month or so after that, I went home for the weekend, and saw exactly what they meant. The house was a lot quieter without him (and must have been quieter still with me away) but it wasn't just that - it was that a whole new empty space opened up in his absence. There was simply a cat-shaped hole in every room, below every bush in the garden where he had dozed.

Then, however, a strange and wonderful thing happened. I was sitting with my Dad on the back step on a sunny evening, one weekend, when we heard a scrabbling and a padding and looked up to find a beatiful, young black moggy strolling up to us. He lifted his head a little, as if to casually acknowledge us, marched straight past and into the house, and fell calmly asleep upon on the sofa. For the next three or four months the pattern was repeated every evening. He would turn up late afternoon, try to swindle my parents out of some chicken or cat biscuits we'd not got round to throwing out, and stay for an hour or two. He would clamber up onto my mother's lap, lay down, and then subtly reposition himself until he had inched up her torso 'til his forehead was practically touching her chin. At this point he would flatten his back, grab a tiny pinch of cloth from my mother's t-shirt, and start sucking, leaving a small round wet patch behind him. Anyone who hasn't owned a pet will, at this point, be thinking 'disgusting'.

Yeah yeah, but what do you know of love, say we pet-people...

A funny thing happened a few months later. Home for the weekend I realised that the sad memories of Takis had receded entirely, and only the happy ones remained. About a week later the little black cat, having helped my parents through that horrible period of their lives, stopped visiting.

3 comments:

Dave said...

Great post J, a bonafide feel-good story
- Forget all that politics cack you write about and give us more of this! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Uh oh. Dave. This is what happens when you upset Jonathan by telling him to write feel good stories. He gets writer's block. Jonathan....Jonathan....are you ok?

jonathan said...

Nnnn. Busy. Someone write me a guest post, quick.