It’s not been the best of weeks. Sometimes it seemed like the worst of weeks. But feeling sorry for myself doesn’t help anyone, so I’ll not dwell on things, other than to tell you a little about my cat.
Miss T-Tail was so named because she was a tortoiseshell kitten, and her tail was so flexible it could parallel her back. Plus I loved Boeing 727s, the archetypal T-Tailed jet.
Actually, she was a white tortoise, meaning she had white paws, white belly and white bib. She arrived at my house in Sydney one Saturday morning, a surprise from my then girlfriend. I’d been away on a trip to London, and I remember the moment acutely. I had just come from a nice hot shower, and was in my robe, looking forward to days off. She then sprung these two kittens on me, one tortoise, one tabby. I was blown away.
The tortoiseshell immediately jumped into my arms and it was all over. The next seventeen years were spent looking after my furry friends, keeping them safe, reveling in their cat-ness, loving their unpredictable and semi-wild natures. Non-cat people fail to see just how human cats can be. They’re emotional creatures, albeit on a muted scale, but they’re direct too. When they want to be left alone, they’ll find a warm spot away from the action. When they’re hungry they’ll eat. And when they want affection, they’ll come and demand it from you. For clarity of intent in this area, cats are perfectly transparent.
Which is why I love them so. They’re independent…right up until the point that they appear from nowhere, jump on your lap and begin purring. When you live with cats for as long as I have, you begin to see that they like an hour a day with their human pets, but that’s enough. They understand that too much of a good thing is too much, and that we all need – cats and humans – to lead our own lives, to do our own stuff. Being social is good, but knowing your own company is valuable too. In that way, I’m completely cat.
Alas, we all grow old and die. Moneypenny, my beautiful silver tabby, passed away in May 2011. She was afflicted with a nasty kidney growth, that made her suddenly sick, and so we had to help her make a comfortable and dignified exit from this world. Miss T started losing weight about nine months ago. Like many aging cats, her kidneys were no longer fully up to speed, and so she needed some help. It’s a very common problem, given that cats derive most of their nourishment from protein, a hard road for their kidneys given the life-span of domesticated cats. In the wild, your average cat won’t last more than about seven years. Loved, healthy cats like Moneypenny and Miss T-Tail remain healthy for many years beyond that, but mortality eventually catches up with them.
After months of pills, steroids and daily sub-cutaneous fluid top-ups, it became clear last week that Miss T was no longer having any fun. Her spirit was strong. She wanted to jump and do all the catty stuff, but she was getting weak. Her weight was down. She wasn’t always using the litterbox. She wanted to eat, but just didn’t have the appetite. Most of all I was afraid she’d make one over-ambitious leap and come crashing back to earth once too often, as I’d seen her do increasingly over the last month. I just couldn’t be with her all the time. So the choice become obvious.
It’s been a rotten few days. When you’re used to having the companionship of a creature to whom you are so tightly connected, it’s a blow to have them taken away. It was always the right thing to do for her, a last gesture of love, but having her taken gently from this world is a brutal reminder that nothing is forever, that our love does not conquer all, and that some day the same fate awaits us all.
In the end, I’m just sad for me: Self-pity, like I said. T-Tail’s in a better place (I strongly believe that) and one day I’ll get to be with her again. It’s okay to mourn, to be maudlin, to take time. Life must go on, mostly because there is no choice. What I have resolved is to make the important things in my life happen. Gain financial independence. That is the key to freedom. The liberty of that kind of freedom means I can spend my time doing the good things that can make our lives soar, that put the negativity right in its place.
Funny how a ten pound cat taught me more about life than any human. Rest in peace, Miss T-Tail. Thank you.