Pestilence Hill

Pestilence Hill 12/1996 – 12/3/2010

Skilled hunter, fearless dog fighter, extraordinary survivor and faithful friend.

Pestilence was a small cat with a huge heart. She always assumed that everyone she met was going to be her friend. Our first meeting was the day Jess and I moved into a flat behind where she lived and this little bundle of friendliness came bounding up to say hello. In usually anti-social manner Jess hissed and spat at her which was virtually sociable for her. I said hello and suggested she might like to avoid our place. As always she decided to do whatever the hell she wanted to do and when her people left her unfed while on holiday for two weeks one Christmas she just camped out at my back door until I fed her. It’s not in my nature to let an animal starve to death for the sake of 50 cents worth of jellymeat.  She was actually so underfed that I took for being about 9 months old until I recognised her.

After a week of that I finally gave up and let her in the house much to the disgust of Princess Jessica. It was at that point that I accepted responsibility for her and accepted that she was a member of my family. Her previous people came and got her five times before they worked out that she did not live with them anymore. I did nothing to encourage her to stay with me, nor did I do anything to discourage her. As far as I’m concerned cats are capable of making their own decisions and Pest had made hers. She immediately took possession of all she surveyed that Jess allowed her and then proceeded to kick the ass of her much larger brother who had beaten her up at home. She never bothered to weigh the odds before taking on anything that had failed to invitation to be a friend.

For eight years she chose to stay with me and regardless of how many times we moved or what new people she met, which was many for this extrovert, she never showed the slightest interest in moving on. I am fully aware that I’m not really the nicest person in the world and I have an almost unlimited capacity for not being able to get on with people. So being chosen as a suitable family by this little cat was particularly important to me.

I made sure that I never suppressed her courageous spirit and always allowed her to come and go as she pleased. She was kidnapped twice and at one point it seems someone made a fairly good deliberate attempt to kill her. In spite of serous head trauma and a suspected concussion she managed to get herself back home the next day after I had spent the night looking for her. On the occasions that I had failed to leave a ground floor window open she simply jumped from the second story so she could go visiting. Then coming home at dinner time to demand that I open the window that never should have been closed in the first place. Only she ever knew exactly what adventures she had experienced, but the evidence is she used up her nine lives on a regular basis and just started the clock again.

Earlier this week she disappeared and as I have long expected that she was destined to die by misadventure I was near certain that she was gone for good. It is a measure of her outgoing nature that the neighbours on both side of me asked where she was as they were both used to her visiting every day for second and third breakfast. Regardless of who she visited during the day she was always waiting on the drive for me at dinner time. If I went to the shops she would trot along behind me then wait on one side of the road for me to come back. If I was in the house she sat where she could see me and was against this showering thing but felt the need to oversee it anyway. For the time she was missing I would look for her on the driveway, then whistle for her. I would wake up several times during the night and she wouldn’t be on her blanket next to my head so I would go out and look for her. It was intolerable to me that she was gone without a chance to say goodbye and to maintain my part of the deal that I would take care of her. I spent two nights and three days looking for her and if I asked anything of the gods I asked for her return in whatever state.

In fact she turned up at the SPCA after having been mistaken by a random do-gooder of being a stray. She was happy to be home by it was clear she was not well and the stress of the three days in a cage had left her dehydrated as well as being withdrawn. This aggravated the other health issues of an older cat and this morning I was required to make the decision that is the inevitable result of opening your door to a single minded cat and allowing her to become family. She died quietly, still purring while I held her just after midday today.

I am sad that my small friend is gone but I am very happy that she got to come home again before she died and that I was her when she passed as I had promised her would be eight years ago. I won’t be looking for her on the driveway when I come home any more, I will wake because she not next to me, but I won’t go looking for her. I know where she is now and I am satisfied.

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21 Responses to Pestilence Hill

  1. AFSister says:

    aw… DAMN. Murray… I am so sorry. Damn it all.

  2. llew says:

    Aw bugger. I’m glad she came home too though.

  3. Madeleine says:

    That is so sad Murray but what an awesome cat and what a wonderful eight years you’ve had together. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Art says:

    Murray,
    Sorry to hear about your loss. I am not much for cats, but I would like to tell you about my only cat, Butch. I knew Butch from birth to death and everything that went along with it. He was my friend and I think he will be the only cat that I ever own. I’m more familar with barncats being from Illinois and raised near farms all my youth.
    I first met Butch the morning after my first sleep-over with my future wife. Waking from sleep by the mewing of a pregant cat that was owned by the aforementioned woman of the house, I said that that cat was making a lot of noise. We both crawled to the foot of the bed where, Gable, named so because of the size of her ears, layed on the floor mewing to kingdom come. She stood up and there still in the embroyonic sac lay Butch. She walked immediately away and went under the night stand to her birth the rest of her litter and left Butch there, still in his birth sac by himself. I took him up in my hands, removed the sac from about him and rubbed him vigorously until he began breathing and stuck him underneath the night stand with his loving mother.
    The next episode or second life was about 2:30 AM when my future ex-wife and I were awken from sleep with a crashing sound emitting from the living room of our new apartment. At this time in my life I often slept in the nude, I arose in a flash and was running to the living room and grabbed my trusty baseball bat as a weapon to beat off any predators who dared to crash in my window to get insidemy apartment. When I turned on the light I was shocked by the appearance of Butch with the cord to the lamp in his mouth thrashing about crashing into everything in sight. I got down on my hands and knees and grabbed about anything I could get hold of him and forced his clenched teeth off of the cord, while he was clawing wildly with his talons and he managed to get about 4 or 5 times across my chest and stomach. My darling future ex-wife then asked me why didn’t I just unplug the cord. There was a reason why she became my future ex-wife.
    His third life was lost at my new home in Dallas, Texas when sitting at the door and staring out the birds, which he often did, he suddenly bolted out of the door and ran outside! Lo and behold, he had never been given access to the great outdoors and when he ran past the overhang of the carport and looked up at nothing but sky, I swear that he died at that moment. Just imagine yourself being about 25 years old when you first saw the sky and were scared shitless by the vastness you saw overhead after being in the confines of your little 8 foot ceiling all of your life. He let out a howling I have never heard the likes of again in my life.
    Next I built my own home from scratch, it was a gem of a home, but like I said it was with my future ex-wife that this house was built with. Butch was a huge cat, he was weighed in a at 38lbs. that would be about a 25 kilos cat, he was huge, but he was a fraidy-cat. Whenever we had guests he would go and hide under the bed with his mother for the first hour and then he would come out, walk over to me and let everyone make a spectacle of him. Finally in his 10th year he developed feline leukemia and my daughters, Carrie and Laura were with me to his passing away.
    I know what you feel right now, but it will get better as time passes on. What you remember the most are the memories. Keep your memories of Pest, keep them near your heart my friend.

  5. Murray says:

    Thanks Art.

    I know when a cat arrives that the chances are that I’ll out last it so I do my best to make the most of the time we have together and try not to feel cheated when their time is up.

    The memories cannot be taken away.

  6. Big Bruv says:

    Murray

    My sincere condolences for your loss Murray, it was only 14 days ago that I lost my best mate to a brain tumour, I totally appreciate the hurt and sense of loss you are going through.

    Believe it or not it does get better with each passing day, nothing will ever be quite the same but the good memories slowly take place of the sadness.

  7. Megs says:

    my condolences Murray. Cats do leave a deep hole in our lives when they go, but we have their memories. You’ll find you will still look for her on the driveway, but smile when you do.

  8. BillT says:

    Promises made to the small ones are important, and the promise of love at the end is the most important one to keep. It’s your final gift to each other…

  9. Barb says:

    I am sorry she’s gone, but I am glad her last minutes were in your arms and not alone.

  10. Boquisucio says:

    Murray – Just when we all thought that the prodigal daughter had finally returned home, she made a quiet exit. At least she did so in the loving arms of her daddy.

  11. ZenTiger says:

    It sounds like your cat had a life worth being lived, and that was a story worth being told.

    My condolences.

  12. blaez says:

    my heart is with you

  13. In the Castle it is said poisoning is suspected-punji stakes are too good for that lot

  14. Murray says:

    Anti-freeze poisoning is evidently something of epidemic in out area. My neighbours cat disappeared on the same day and has not been found.

    She was still able to win her last fight and kick the ass of the cat that had thought to take her spot under the hedge.

    I believe that the arrangement between people and domestic animal is a divine covonant. To violate is an offense to the gods. No retribution I deliver will match what is coming to someone.

    That what stop me giving karma a nudge along myself though.

  15. Johnnieboy says:

    My condolences. Lost a family cat to cancer just a few days ago- a turkish van that I had practically hand raised until 7 years ago when I had to move in order to study. My depth of feelings took me by surprise- you don’t miss them until they’re gone sometimes, and I know that I will miss her and talk about her pretty much until I move on. I don’t have too many friends but she was one of them.

    Am now considering a similarly apocalyptic name for my next one 🙂

  16. Justthisguy says:

    Sir: I send you my most earnest condolences, with wet eyes.

  17. Mann says:

    Chum, sorry to hear.

  18. htom says:

    Murray, my condolences too. What a wonderfully told life. Thank you.

  19. Inventory2 says:

    What everyone else said, and more! Cats are wonderful companions; ours have just decided that the inddor sleeping season is again upon us, and a sense of normality has returned to the Inventory whare. There’s nothing quite like the warmth of a motionless lump on the feet in the early hours of the morning.

    Chin up Murray, and thanks for sharing the story.

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