On Thursday we found out that our big, beautiful boy cat wasn’t just lost but had been run over. He’d been placed on the verge at the side of the road just meters away from our front door, but despite us searching we’d somehow missed his body. Funny how perhaps you don’t see the things you don’t want to see….
We’d had SlinkyCat for about 2 1/2 years – we adopted him and his sister when we saw an advert online stating that they were ‘free cats – victims of a divorce’. They were meant to be ours – both my husband and I are from divorced homes. As so it was, broken units coming together to make a slightly wonky, furry little family whole.
When we met them, the hubby fell in love immediately. They were brother and sister, and bengals. Lady was curled in to a tiny tiger ball of golden brown spots and stripes; Slinky was stretched out, a grey and black marbled beauty. One set of bright blue eyes stared up at us, a set of sleepy green eyes peeped open. And so SlinkyCat and LadyCat (or Simba and Nala as they were known then) came home with us to our London flat.
Now, initially, I didn’t really want cats. Moggies and I just didn’t get along. I didn’t really like them, and they didn’t really like me. But these two were a little bit different. Perhaps it’s the breed – bengals are notoriously playful, clever, naughty – and a bit more like dogs than cats. They lept about. They followed us round. LadyCat couldn’t get enough of the top of the wardrobe. They miaowed at you – and answered when you miaowed back. Slinky only drank water from the bathroom tap. LadyCat became a lapcat. Slinky loved a squirrel. They were both entranced with their DaBird toys. They slept on our bed at night and on us. I became used to their heavy warmth, the snoring (who knew cats snored) the crazy legs in the air sleeping positions. Little by little I was smitten.
When we moved to the countyside, we talked about how great it would be for them. Acres of land to roam about. Mice to catch. Room to stretch and grow. And for the last eight months they loved it. LadyCat found that she was an excellent tree climber and mole catcher. SlinkyCat patrolled the fields, saving his sister from the amorous advances of the farmers cat on several occasions. He’d wander off adventure-catting for a few days, but always be back, wailing for dinner and love.
He really came out of himself in the countryside. He was a big cat anyway (bengal boys grow large), but became sleeker and even more handsome. His personality changed too. He’d wake me up at night, huge eyes looming out of the darkness just to let me know he was back safe from hunting and wanted a cuddle. He’d roll over for a tummy stroke. He enjoyed an occasional paw massage. When I got up for work, he’d get up with me, waiting by the shower for me to start the day. He’d sleep forehead to forehead with my husband, paw in his hand. He’d meet me every day after work – a familiar thud as he jumped off the bed, and a loud miaow as he’d rush down the stairs to say hello and berate me for being out all day. I made up songs and sang them to him. He had a whole heap of different names depending on what he’d been up to; SlinkyMalinkyLongLegs, Pooh, Pookie, PookieMcDoukie, Slinkoid…silly names for the most wonderful of cats. Good natured, handsome, loving, a very special soul. My hubby called him ‘little brother’ – because that’s what he’d become.
He went missing on Monday. Nothing unusual about him being out for a few days, but by Thursday we were worried. And on that Thursday , we had a call from our neighbour. They’d found him. He’d been hit by a car and had passed away.The road we live next to is just a small country lane. But as such, people like to drive quickly down it. I was (and still am) so angry with that unknown driver, speeding and distracted for a second, just enough to hit him and extinguish the brightest of lights. I’m angry because he had a tag on his collar and yet they didn’t call to tell us that there had been an accident. I’m angry becase it feels like it wasn’t his time to go. I’m angry because there’s nothing I can do to bring him back.
But mostly I’m sad. Heartbroken in fact. We all are. LadyCat can’t stop watching the catflap waiting for him to come home. She’s prowling, miaowing, looking for him in the house. I can’t wash his blanket yet because it smells of him. We put his bowl away somewhere we can’t see it everyday and it made us cry. There’s no more morning greetings, no more nighttime cuddles. And for everyone who says ‘it was just a cat’, yes, yes he was. But he was our family. I saw him every day. I saw him more than I see my human family (apart from the hubby of course). And it hurts so very much that he’s gone.
We gave him the best of funerals, saw him off in true Bengal style. His ashes will be buried by the willow tree he used to love sitting under. The hubby thinks he’s gone to Valhalla, and is waiting for the Last Great Battle with the Mice. I like to think he’s in fields that last forever, sleeping in the sunshine with his spotty tummy out, snoring. He will never be forgotten.
R.I.P SlinkyCat. My most beautiful boy.