Monday, October 18, 2010
As a general rule, I don't like cats. I am allergic to them. They make me sneeze. They cause my nose to run. They leave hair all over everything.
In spite of all of this, when I was young, we owned a pet cat. Her name was K.P. She was white. She was okay as far as cats go. She developed skin cancer, and by the time she died, she had scratched both her ears off, and part of her nose. But we loved her, and I cried something fierce when she passed away. Though I've never owned a cat since...
My hubby is not a cat fan either. He used to joke (okay, maybe he wasn't joking) that if it didn't have a collar on, then it was shooting season if it came onto our place. Our place being over 20 000 acres of only us. So town rules do not apply in this situation. You can't go around shooting anything that purrs in a populated area. As much as hubby would like to. Feral cats are a bit of a problem out here in the bush. They kill local wild life and aggravate our working dogs. They're not good for much, except for breeding rapidly and carrying disease. That's why if they stand still for long enough, they will surely feel the wrath of the farmers. Especially MY farmer.
Once hubby was so excited at having found a feral cat sheltered under our house, that he dashed around like a mad man locating rifles and bullets and whatever else it is that you need to exterminate a wild cat. He raced around the side of the house, ignoring my request to just 'slow down and think about this.' I mean, it was all such a crazy rush!
One shot. No hit. No cat. It was smarter than the farmer, and took flight moments before impact. But what was the hissing noise we both heard now? On closer inspection, hubby had successfully taken aim at the water pipes under the house, one of which now had a gentle spray rising from the plastic tubing which once contained it. An eye roll was all hubby needed from me. He knew he was in enough trouble as it was. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you rush into something like this. I told hubby it was his karma. He told me it was all the cat's fault, and that next time he wouldn't miss.
But why all the cat talk if I don't even really like them?
This week my next door neighbours' cat died. His name was Albert and he was 14 years old. He was a big, grey ball of silky smooth hair. Distinguished, as far as cats go. I used to joke with my neighbour about keeping a collar on him - just in case. But Albert was really beautiful, and if he had ever wandered onto our side of the fence, hubby still wouldn't have shot him. He was regal almost.
Albert used to sit on my neighbours' office chair, and keep her company while she emailed and kept her records up to date. He put up with my 3 feral children (her children too, as well as many other children who were fortunate enough to meet him) as they pulled and pushed and prodded their way around his furry little body. We once fed Albert for a week when our neighbours were away. The poor thing was covered in burrs (the really sticky ones that knotted in his long hair until he was a tangled mess). I tried really hard to brush them out, but it was to no avail.
I don't think Albert did anything that was particularly astonishing. He had that 'old cat' thing going on for a while where he would lie around mostly, probably contemplating his life. But it was what he stood for that will be missed most by the family who have lost him.
My neighbour brought Albert home only 2 months into her marriage. Albert has been at the 'farm' for as long as she has, pretty much. Albert was there before there were kids. He saw two children born, and he watched them grow into little men. He saw them all through drought and through flood, and he saw dozens of other animals who passed through their lives throughout the last 14 years. Albert has been the constant.
And that's why his passing has left them all a little sad.
Albert has his own special spot in the garden now. And he's sleeping peacefully, and watching over them all. I don't know of anyone who didn't like Albert. Even CP liked him. And we will miss you Albert.
Thinking of you and your family today. xxx