Last week I introduced our lovely new puppy Rex, just beginning his adventures in this world. Well, life has come full circle with the death of Missy. In this post I’d like to celebrate the life of a very special cat. This is her story. We run a small boarding kennel and cattery here at Pilyara, and one day fifteen years ago, a young couple arrived with a dog and six-month old kitten in tow, Max and Missy. They were going away for the Australia Day long weekend, and had booked their animals in for three nights. The boyfriend turned up on cue at the end of the stay – by himself.
‘I’m only collecting Max,’ he said.
‘Me and my girlfriend broke up. I’m taking the dog and she’s taking the cat.’
The girlfriend didn’t come for Missy that day, or the next, or the next … She didn’t answer phone calls. Weeks passed. I began to feel sorry for the half-grown black-and-white kitten, languishing in the cattery. I brought her inside. Missy was a nondescript little thing – quiet and shy, with a tiny meow. She fell asleep on my bed.
Nobody ever came for Missy. Lucky for us. Her unfailing good-nature soon won everybody over. The ideal cat – loyal, beautifully behaved and gentle as a lamb. Sometimes she would sway slightly when sitting, as if to some rhythm only she could hear. She never scratched the furniture, and always used her carpet post. She never made a mess and always used her litter tray. Unlike the other cats, she never scratched the kids during an over-enthusiastic hug, but patiently put up with their clumsy affection. She wasn’t a hunter.The native wildlife was perfectly safe around her. One day a mouse famously ran across the carpet and into her tail. Missy jumped a mile!
I became her favourite. Wherever I went, so did Missy. If I was writing in the office, or dining room or in bed, she was with me. If I spoke to her, she always responded with a considered mew. My youngest son, Tyson, dubbed her my writing cat. If I was stuck in my story he would say, ‘You need your writing cat,‘ and unceremoniously dump her on my lap. Hey presto, the words would flow. I began to believe it myself – that Missy was my muse.
She never cost me anything. She suffered no injury or illness, no expensive medications, or operations or special diets. She never caused us a moment’s worry, and gave our family enormous pleasure – a perfect life, well-lived. She even died well. That morning she had some breakfast, played with her toy mouse for a while, and went to sleep on the bed in the spare room. Fat and shiny, calm and happy as ever. Tyson went in to to cuddle her. It was still the first thing he did every morning, although he’s now nineteen. ‘Mum,’ he called, his voice urgent. I hurried in … Missy had passed away, still curled up in the blankets. Tyson’s tears flowed as freely as if he was four again. He wasn’t the only one. There was no sign of distress in her pose. Her expression was peaceful. She died in bed, in her sleep, which is more than most of us can hope for. She spared us that heart-breaking last trip to the vet, the sleepless nights because she was sick, the fears for her. She was simply there one minute, and gone the next – an angel even in death. Thank you Missy! Wonder if I’ll be able to write without you?
We have plenty of other cats and dogs to comfort us, but none like Missy. This post is to celebrate the life of a much-loved, humble little cat who we were proud to call our own. Missykins, you never put a foot wrong, darling! If I can live my life half as well, I shall be happy. Rest in peace. I miss you …