People who follow my cat's blog will know by now that the cats moved aside to allow me to mark the passing of Kiffer Cat this morning. It is never the best way to start a day to come downstairs to see one of those who lives with you lying dead on the floor. It was quite a shock. Even more of a shock when I realised that he was still breathing. To the very last Kiffer's eyes were wide open and jewel like. But he had already used up many of his nine lives by the time he came to live with us.
So this morning I watched him die slowly, but I think painlessly. A gentle passing. I wanted to take him to my friend Kath who is a vet, but it was too early in the day and too late in his life. At the very last he took a big breath, a small stretch and then left his body and at first it was so hard to believe. Through tears he seemed to still be breathing but it was only hope that made it so and me not wishing to let him go. So soft, but cold.
Talked for a while with Hannah about what to do with him. Should we put him in a pot with a plant, but she said no, he would want to be free. I wondered about taking him up the hill, but then decided that this house, this garden were very much his so I tried to dig a hole for him. The trouble is there is not much topsoil here and an awful lot of rock. Still I dug away and thought of Kiff, independent, bossy, characterful Kiffer who started his life in St Davids where he terrorized the old woman he lived with ( there was something of the deamon about him) and where he was called Tango.
When he came to us, lifted off the streets and into my car, away from the dogs that had tried to kill him, the cars that had run him over and the lady who was much relieved, he loved the freedom to hunt the lanes for mice and rats, to walk the hill. He was the fiercest tiger when he had a kill. Sometimes, when we didn't do exactly what he wanted when he wanted he would look at you as if in his mind he could turn you mice sized and dangle you from his mouth and teach you manners.
When the hole was as deep as I could make it I went to fetch him. Now there was no doubt that he was dead and cold and stiff. The earth that fell on him was soft.
Some years ago I had bought a flowering jasmine. I love its sweet scent and delicate white flower. I had meant to plant it but year afer year had left it in the pot and each winter it died back and then came through again rich and green. It seemed fitting that this should now live as a marker to Kiffer's resting place as it also seemed to have nine lives, so I put this on top, and earth and stones and sat for a while with the other cats.
Walking on the airfield with the dogs this morning it seemed as if all the plants were heavy with sorrow and water. Then skylarks lifted into the air and sunshine came through and I stood for a while and watched a dusty blue butterfly.