Up on Hazard Cat now. And you thought I just wrote about psychopaths – pah!
I’m updating this post because, actually, the story is pretty much fact rather than fiction. I have kept cats for many years and once had 13 Persians, part Persians, and odd mogs at the same time. Many were related as I bred Persians – at least that was the idea, although Eric the Ever Ready, a beat up wonky eared tom who camped outside my house, had other ideas. Of all of those, the only two who showed any real bond was a mother and daughter who were inseparable and, when the daughter died following a series of seizures, Cassie looked for her on their favourite chair night after night for months. She never sat on that chair again.
Monty and Muppet were not related. Monty is a double pedigree chinchilla/devon rex cross with elegance running through his bones. He struts and poses, patrols his territory; and beats into submission any other male cat he sees. So dominant, in fact that his brother left home and found himself another family down the road where he still lives, perfectly happily, and doted upon in his one-cat household.
Muppet was a stray or an abandoned victim. Found by a neighbour in the bushes, she was broken and paralysed, skinny and lost. Gradually, movement in her hind limbs returned but the tail, hanging limply, was set for amputation and only avoided this due to bits of it dropping off on the morning of each scheduled appointment for surgery. She was left with a palm tree plume that she held stiffly in the air and with which she swore eloquently at any slight admonition.
She and Monty became best mates. So unlikely a pairing was hard to imagine. Monty, master of his universe and holding the rest in fearful submission; Muppet, a skinny pixie who went on to become a two-cat-cat in a one-cat-pack. They crammed themselves into boxes and baskets that really only held one. He came to her rescue when she got into occasional spats. They groomed each other, purred, and held each other in platonic embraces.
When she became ill, Monty really did not know what to do. Perhaps she smelled different; I’m not one for anthropomorphism so I don’t believe he ‘knew’. Whatever the reason, he kept his distance as she went slowly down hill and was pretty much absent during the day or so before she died. When she had gone though, he howled and howled, and searched and searched. He had never sat on my lap but now he came up, stood on my chest and howled into my face. I was supposed to put it right. I should find her and bring her back. It was utterly heart breaking.
A year or so on, he has recovered, although at almost 16, he is an old boy and thinner. The stress of losing Muppet may have accelerated that. He sits with me much more but I feel as though I am second best. Not quite up to scratch, but good enough. Latterly, one of my other cats, a pretty little lass called Chaka who has always been rather insular and flighty, has persuaded him to be her best friend and now occupies the space on the sofa that Muppet once had. She is tiny. He has accepted her. But she isn’t Muppet and I think he knows that.
‘Glorious Eyes’ came out of that episode and is a bit of a proxy catharsis for a cat who can’t know what that is. Animals are extraordinary if you can only stand and watch.
7 thoughts on “‘When Glorious Eyes Close’”
Your story is beautiful, as is your post. I’ll be weeping all evening, but I can’t help but say thank you for sharing.
Thank you. Who knows what sense animlas make of death, if they make anything of it at all. There’s a cheerier story here, written in 2007, http://www.myspace.com/baybeeboomer/blog/282411020 which I might import for counterbalance.
Just to say it again here, it was hard to read, but thank you. What a great last line.
The story is powerful.
Thank you, Cathryn. Do treat yourself to the anti-dote – I do!
Very touching, Suzanne. My 2 are five years old now. They were litter mates and have been inseparable since birth. I can’t stand to think about how one would react if the other died.
If I’m being objective and not inferring emotions where there may be none, the loss for animals is about familiar patterns of behaviour that no longer exist. But that’s a hard position to hold when the searching, vocalisation, and demand are indicative of distress and look so much like the behaviour of a mother cat whose kittens have died. I’ll write about that one day, when we’ve all stocked up on tissues again 🙂
I hope you have a very long while before you have to think about how your two – or the one remaining – will manage when that time comes.
I have been meaning to comment on this, but life has gotten in the way. A lovely beautifully touching story. I do not anthropomorphise animals either, but I do believe they can sense death and even feel sorrow. Anyone who tells you they do not, has never seen footage of elephants visiting an elephant graveyard and watched their reaction (think it was good old Dave Attenborough who showed the footage I speak of)
Anyway,I adore cats, sadly, I cannot have any, as I’m allergic. However, my new abode contains a sweet tabby who belongs to my lovely landlady. Said green eyed tabby girl has taken to coming up to the top of the stairs to meow for me and then proceeds to purr so loud when I pet her, she practically snorts! So, life with “step-cat” is much better 🙂