This morning I got the news that one of the pets at my other home had left us. It was an inevitable passing though, he was 20 years old, and when I saw him in May he was obviously on his last days.
Like most pets he was part of a family, he was always there, it is hard to remember a time when he wasn’t. He decided to adopt the family many years ago, moved in, took over and soon became a cherished family member.
And like all family members he had his foibles and his routines.
We used to joke about the discoloured wall roughly 30cm’s high where he used to rub himself as he walked. In fact he was famous for not being able to walk past anything without first rubbing himself against it. Then there was the morning water drinking session out of the handbasin. The water had to be the right height, and fresh and he would delicately lap at it. Nobody was allowed to use the bathroom while this happened, and he could drink for hours. At one point he was notoriously obsessed with his food, he would only eat “pilletjies”, and would look disdainfully at anything else. He was also responsible for the demise of numerous catnip plants, as well as numerous birds, lizards, mice and anything that caught his eye. He once considered taking on a Hadedah, but decided it was just too much of a mouthful
In his younger days he was a bit of a street fighter, coming home after an evening brawl with a sullen look and sometimes bleeding and battered. However, in his later years he really preferred regular hours, and would snooze the night through tucked into his owners shoulder or hip or wherever his new favourite spot was. He used to enjoy joining everybody outside when the sun was hot and there was a handy blanket for him to stretch out on. Although the blanket usually came out especially for him.
Like many cats he had an innate ability to decide to sleep wherever he could create the biggest obstacle or inconvenience, and often would turn up at the right moment to catch a nap on your chest or keyboard or foot. And once ensconced would rarely be disturbed. It was just how things were.
When I left South Africa in 2013, he was already thin and sleeping much more than before, and when I arrived in May 2014 for a visit I was shocked at how thin he was, and it was obvious that he did have very little time left. He passed on 20 days after I returned to the UK. I am glad I got to say my goodbyes to him.
The problem with a pet is that they are more than just pets. They are the part that gives unconditional love, and who listens patiently when you tell them all your troubles, although they often drift off for a snack in the middle of your woes. But they are always there when you need them. And when they leave us they leave a void in our lives. We expect to see them, to feel them, and to hear them. But they are no longer there. Your life is been enriched by them, and now it is saddened by their going.
I come from the school of thought that says somewhere out there your pets are waiting for you to come home to them, I do not subscribe to the notion that pets have no souls, they certainly have feelings and a personality, and often have a sense of fun. I like to think that if there is a place where they go to, I would like to go there too.
It’s difficult to write something like this, a kind of eulogy to a cat that belongs to a friend, even though I expected the news I was heartbroken when I heard it. I knew Dokes too, he sat on my lap many times, and rubbed himself on my legs, and ducked and dived when I wanted to take pics of him. I laughed at his antics on many occasions, and was amazed at how he could balance a straw on his head. He was the alpha male cat in the household, and whichever cat becomes dominant now will have a hard act to follow. I believe the other cats are lost without him, just as his human family is.
He is buried in the garden that he enjoyed. He may no longer be with us in body, but will always live on in our memories. Rest in peace you old street fighter, may all your days be full of sunshine and comfortable laps. Thank you for being with us for so long, we will miss you.
DRW © 2014-2021. Created 26/06/2014, images recreated 17/04/2016