Thanks to all who posted comments and thoughts on my blogging paralysis.
Today, I return to the blog with the familiar theme of mortality. We've not seen the little old cat Mima for three days now, and I think she has quietly gone away to die. Over the last week she was looking more and more uncomfortable, whether standing, or crouching. I'd not seen her curled up, or sprawling with ease for a very long time. She had had several more fits, and I believe they were starting to affect her synapses, as she'd stand still for a long time, as if trying to remember how to put one foot in front of another to walk. She was having trouble jumping up on to our knees, but still loved to be held and cuddled as always. She was still grooming herself, but was very thin. She'd walk around and around the room in circles; she'd forget to eat; she'd forget she'd eaten; and generally was not really herself. A few days ago I held her close and told her the day might come soon. She seemed, now I look back, to be fading away from herself.
It was probably kidney failure in the end. Or the simple task of moving her old body through the day just became too much for her. She disappeared on Friday night, but turned up again on Saturday. But Sunday morning she was gone again and there has been no sign of her. I imagine she is deep in the garden somewhere or under the house, just quietly crouching, head sinking down until it does not lift again. There was no point calling her, as she is completely deaf. And in any case, it's so clear to me that she has taken herself away.
I'm sad there is no body to bury. But I still see her nestled in the garden when I walk outside: amongst the gardenias; sipping from the fishpond; walking up and down the paths. And I am overwhelmed by the dignity of her going away to die, especially as this was an extremely domesticated cat.
She came to me when she was a mere 8 weeks old, in 1991. From the day I brought her home she was a cuddly, talkative kind of cat, who loved to be held, and to sit on you. She spent many a happy hour on my desk, and in my house in Brunswick used to play a game of getting around the study without touching the floor: bookshelf to desk to cupboard to mantlepiece, etc. When I returned from the supermarket she'd greet me at the front door then thunder down the corridor to the kitchen. This was in the days before the calesi virus, when rabbit was cheap and plentiful, and rabbit liver a Saturday lunchtime treat. When we moved to the shared house in Fitzroy, she was not made welcome by the resident cat, and kind of lived in the front room for a year, until she became the sole resident cat here.
Mima loved a party. I always expected her to disappear, but she'd sprawl on the floor in the middle of a group and accept adulation.
When she was about a year old, she got into a fight, and had a tiny abscess on one ear. I took her to the vet and it began to heal, but the ear seemed to be turning back on itself as the scar tissue tightened. I took her back to the vet, who kept her overnight while he operated, straightening out the ear and stitching it to a piece of x-ray film. A week later we went back. He removed the stitches, and everything looked well, until she shook her head and the tip of her ear fell off. He was very embarrassed; and it was kind of funny, but left her with a damaged ear that looked far worse than the original injury. I have told that story hundreds of times, now, to nearly everyone who's come to my house over the last eighteen years. I've probably just told it for the last time.
None of these photos captures the beauty of this sweet little cat, or her funny little ways. Perhaps she wasn't the prettiest cat; but she was a cat of great character, and a cat who seemed to want to be closely knit into the fabric of our days. The vet said to me a few months ago — and it was at this moment I began my mourning, I think — "She's been at your side a long time, hasn't she?"
Farewell, little Mima, beloved companion.