Yesterday we met Henry’s family and found out more about his life in the garden. Today more cats!
Chapter Six – My Babies.
I was not the only one who was sad at the loss of not only my old friend Henry but also his elusive and stand offish mate. Sally decided that perhaps since I got on so well with cats that it might be an idea to have some house cats as a substitute. There was a cat sanctuary in the town and one afternoon, Sally duly arrived with a box and from inside came the unmistakable sounds of baby cats.
There were two “babies” as I came to know them, one mainly black with a white front and one mainly white with large black splotches. Sally refrained from naming them as she was more concerned that I would get on with them. Also being so little she did wonder how I would react to having cats actually in the house rather than in the garden.
I don’t know if it was because I had loved my old friend Henry so much but it was love at first sight. I was only just over two years old myself and still a puppy at heart and the antics of these two newcomers gave me much joy. Sally was a little concerned at first as every time she picked up a kitten it was damp, however she soon appreciated that it was simply my responsibility as a good dad kicking in. Cleanliness is very important as is making sure babies eat the right food.
Sally had brought back some specific high nutrient kitten food to build them up but like me the babies were picky and decided that my dinner was much more preferable. I was eating off a large plate at the time as I enjoyed pushing the bits I did not like off the edge and onto the floor. The second day my babies arrived they would join me on one side of the plate and gently help themselves whilst I ate from the other.
Sally had another concern and that was how I would react when my place on the sofa, next to her when we watched television was invaded by the lively newcomers. No problem as we would all curl up together with Sally stroking us all in turn and we spent those first few evenings in dog and cat heaven.
This next part will break your heart as it broke mine.
On the fifth day one of the kittens started to be very ill and Sally was very concerned. I was left with one of the kittens whilst Sally dashed off in the car to the vets in the town to see what the problem might be. She was gone a very long time and I and my sole charge lay quietly by the front door ears pricked for the sound of her returning down the long drive.
Eventually I could hear the sound of the engine in the lane and then the noise the wheels made on the gravel. I stood up with tail wagging as the kitten sat between my front legs. The door opened and I could sense Sally’s sadness immediately. She had water on her face and she did not ask me to go onto the “greeting mat” as we always did. She just knelt down and put her arms around my neck and whispered into my fur.
“I am so sorry Sam, the baby has gone, he was very sick”. I did not understand all the words but I had seen my mistress in the same distressed state when Henry had died and I knew that I would not see the baby again.
We had a subdued evening and we huddled together on the sofa with the remaining kitten receiving loving licks and strokes. Over the next two days I took particular care of my baby but on the third day she started exhibiting the same symptoms as the first one. We were both devastated and I knew when Sally left with her in a box that this too was another goodbye.
I did not understand of course that my two new friends had contracted the disease in the sanctuary where they had been housed side by side with adult cats. The reasons were not important as I had been dealt a heavy blow and I wandered around the house with their small blanket in my mouth and kept whining at Sally as she tried to comfort me, often with water on her face.
She never tried to replace them. I think she realised that both of us could not stand losing any more friends.
Over the years we did however continue to make friends with feral cats, particularly at our home in the south of Spain where they were plentiful and despite the language barrier my “cat” vocabulary came in very useful.
©Sallycronin – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009
I know that these last two chapters in my life have been very sad but I did have some wonderful things in my life that I will share with you next time.
©Sally Cronin 2009
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