Sunday, 24 April 2011

To absent friends

I wanted to write a little memorial to a cat who has recently died but in doing so I need also to mention the rest of his fur family. This fur family belonged to Serena, a friend of mine whom I've know for almost all my adult life. Serena is not her real name but it does describe her as a person and as a very calm, capable mother of two. Or at least she was until her daughter Serenity was born. Serenity is not her daugher's real name either but is a good pseudonym for the child with a name signifying calmness and gentleness who is a holy wrecking ball of a child who certainly knows her own mind and woe betide anyone who disagrees. I've only ever seen Serenity's charming side but know there is more to her. Serena once famously wailed that she thought with her first child she was a good mother but didnt realise till Serenity came along that actually she was a good mother only because her first child was a good baby! She underestimates herself hugely as she is a brilliant Mum but it is occasionally funny when she and her equally stubborn daughter lock horns with both determined not to blink first!

Anyway to the furry ones. Barney was a Birman and quite the most beautiful cat you could come across. He was a perfect pedigree and didn't he know it! His only flaw was that he had the eyes and temperament of a serial killer which was such a pity as he was utterly stunning cat who I'd have loved to cuddle. He was gracious enough to allow you one chance to stroke him before the second resulted in the 'death stare' which clearly communicated that if you kept annoying him when he was big enough he'd hunt you down and kill you...! I was shocked the first time Barney gave me the 'look' and Serena just laughed as he sometimes did this to the family too. Even as a kitten he was like this but it was thought that once he was neutered he'd 'calm down'. Nope, no chance, this was his default setting. He was more loving with Serena and her family but there were still boundaries. Unfortunately, just a few weeks ago he passed away at a very grand age and was the last cat the family had.

All of Serena's fur family have outlived their normal lifespan, probably due to the very good care they received during their life. The first was Magical who was a lovely timid little boy who was devoted to Serena. He had FIV but was a delicate, friendly loving little cat who was happy to nestle in my arms but each time Serena left the room his eyes never left the door and he listened for her every move. He died early but was very well loved and cared for by Serena and the vet and probably exceeded his lifespan under any other circumstances.

The next was Magical's sister, Tiny, a feisty jet black female who knew no fear. She was an elegant, no nonsense cat who took no messing from the boy cats Magical and Pudge but she wasnt above collaborating with them to get what she wanted. I watched one night as the three of them worked away to get a box of crunchies out of a cupboard with her directing, Magical casting fearful glances at Serena to make sure it was ok and Pudge taking the brute force option. She too lived a long and very pampered life.

Pudge was a huge black and white boy for whom the words gentle giant were coined. Just like pedigrees have breed standards so Pudge is my benchmark for a great cat. I have the utmost fondness for him and his sweet, gentle nature and I see a lot of his style in how Red behaves which delights me. Sadly on one occasion this was his undoing as he was badly battered, most likely by a vicious and violent neighbour who'd also assaulted Serena's partner. Pudge bore his injuries and treatment with absolute dignity and never lost his inherent trust in the kindness of humans. His only flaw, if it can be called that, was the nuclear strength smell of his poop. One night Serena and I were in her kitchen making dinner and chatting easily when one of the cats went into the hooded litter box. When she realised it was Pudge she started yelling grab your stuff, get out and throwing plates and food at me. I was quite taken aback and didnt quite grasp the gravity of the situation but once the smell exploded from the litter box I started scrambling for the lifeboats too! Pudge was in his 20's when he died and is sorely missed.

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