Last week we found out how Henry the cat made his way into the garden and now we find out more about his much younger girlfriend.
Henry would live with us for another three years and he had a wonderful life. When I was about a year old a wild black and white female cat who was only about a year old arrived in the garden.
By this time Henry was plump and healthy although he still looked as though he had been dragged through the mud and a hedge backwards.
He was obviously however a smooth operator and within a few weeks we had a new family of three kittens living in the garden and Henry made sure that despite his lady friend’s reluctance to go near the boisterous, year old, hairy monster I had become, his offspring were introduced early and became my friends too. This gave me even more opportunity to practice my Cat vocabulary and I actually became quite proficient.
Mate, you need a little more aftershave!
His mate would keep her distance from my mistress too despite Henry taking every opportunity to solicit massages and affection. However, when the kittens were about four weeks old they all developed eye infections despite the fact that my mistress had begun supplementing their mother’s milk with kitten food.
By this time Sally was working in the mornings at her business in the local town and she would get home about lunchtime. She never left me for more than three or four hours at a time and even though I am nearly ten now she still made sure that I was never left for too long without company.
She arrived home this one day to find the three kittens on the doormat. Henry came over as usual to greet her and she could see his mate pacing back and forth on the grass by the side of the garage.
A little bemused by this turn of events she went over to the kittens and realised that all their eyes were gummed up with infection. She opened the door and went inside for a cardboard box and she scooped up the three hissing and spitting offspring and popped them inside.
In the meantime I was desperately waiting to be greeted. I was now very aware of my place in this loving home and I knew that I was not supposed to leap up and down and shout loudly when either Sally or David came home. Instead we would go into the lounge to the ‘greeting rug’ where I would get hugs and a fuss made of me. I knew that the word hello meant a greeting and although I have no voice box and I used to try and do my best to respond in kind.
Sally put the box down on the draining board in the kitchen and then came into the lounge where I was waiting impatiently. After this greeting ritual was finished we both went back into the kitchen and I sat and watched the proceedings with excited anticipation.
“Well Sammy – I think I am supposed to do something about these guys and their eyes,” she smiled down at me.
She filled a small bowl with warm water and then tipped some fine white grains into it and stirred it with a spoon.
“Stay and watch your friends Sam, I’ll be back in a moment.”
She left the room and went upstairs to her bedroom and returned a few moments later with some fluffy white stuff in her fingers.
This went into the water in the dish and she gently picked up one of the kittens out of the box.
This was its first contact with a human. I had been introduced by Henry to the new family but had not been allowed to get too close. The kitten was not impressed by being separated from the warmth of its mother and chose to express this displeasure by hissing and trying to scratch Sally’s hand. Despite this blatant display of ingratitude she gently squeezed the warm liquid across both its eyes and then wiped away the accumulated crusted infection.
She repeated this process with the other two kittens and finally satisfied that she had done as much as possible she took them out in the box to the garden and placed them next to Henry under the bush. She stroked his head and he licked her hand in thanks.
For the next three days the kittens were waiting on the mat when Sally came home. On the last day she saw the mother deposit the third one on the mat before retiring to the bush where Henry waited. By this time the infection had nearly cleared from the young cats’ eyes and the next day there was no sign of them.
Apart from Henry the family stayed away from all human contact and when the kittens had grown they left to find territories of their own. Henry and his mate lived happily without any further kittens for the next three years until one day when my dear friend became ill. My mistress came home from work and Henry was on the doorstep. He crawled across to her and she picked him up into her arms. Although he had never been to the vet’s she placed him on the front seat of her car and raced him to the surgery.
The vet told her that Henry only had three teeth left and was at least fourteen years old. A very good age for a domestic cat let alone one that had spent so many years running wild in a farmyard and the countryside. The good food and affection that Henry had received in the last four years had made a huge difference and I know from my friend that they had also been very happy years spent with human contact for the first time, his friendship with me and his mate who had stayed with him despite their being no further kittens.
When my mistress returned I could tell that she was very sad. She greeted me on the rug as usual but there was intensity to her hugs and her emotions that I had rarely seen. There was water coming from her eyes and it made me feel sad too. She was kneeling on the rug and I lay down and put my head across her knees. We sat there for several minutes as she fingered the fur behind my ears.
“He was so brave Sam,” she began to talk as the tears dried.
“At the end he perked up and lay in my arms purring with his eyes wide open. I felt he was trying to say something but I felt the love in him and suddenly he was gone.”
I did not understand death as I had only known life and love with my pack and my assorted friends but I understood her sadness and it made me sad too.
The next day the black and white cat was gone too as if she knew Henry would not be coming back. For many weeks I would patrol my territory and expect my old friend to pop out from under a bush and accompany me as I checked the long grass in the meadow or the hundreds of bushes and trees in the garden.
©Sally Cronin 2009
If you would like to browse through my books here they are.
You can find all my books at these links:
Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin
Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.