If your are not a cat-lover then don’t bother to read any further.

In recent days my facebook pages have been filled with friends mourning the death of their favourite felines. We are not talking about maiden aunts or reclusive authors. We are talking about tough men who are on projects in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border retraining ex-Taliban chiefs in correct mineral extraction. We are talking about young revolutionary Marxists who have visions of more equable societies. We are also talking about people, rather older, but still young in spirit who having braved the rigours of WWII and quite unsentimental about their academic work have suddenly found themselves without their cat.

We all have to die – to go we know not where, to lie in cold obstruction and to rot  – as our greatest playwright and poet once put it, and somehow the death of a favourite animal brings this all the closer to us.

What is extraordinary about all this is that animals know, far better than we can ever know when their allotted span on this earth is over. In the case of the older person the cat paid one last midnight call to him – the changed hue of his fur and the strange look of his eyes – was a wordless message to say that this would be the last time the two would meet, at least upon this planet.

I don’t quite know what I would do if my favourite Napoleone disappeared. It’s another big bridge I’ll have to cross some time, I suppose.

All those friends whose experiences have been recorded in letters or in facebook just this one year have thoughts linger on those places favourite to their felines where they would have a cat-nap, on the way they would perform  individual welcoming “ballets” when their “owner” returned home, on their particular expression, on everything else a cat does so much better than a human – indeed on that supernatural bond of affection and empathy which humans have for too long forgotten between themselves.

Even the dead mouse presented to me by Napoleone this morning was a special token of this love. OK, the mouse was gone but it had gone in a dignified way, knowing my cat – been given at least a little chance to recover its life which now had joined those of all the other mice and those of all the other cats who have treasured our company in the same way that we have treasured theirs. May they have God’s light shine upon them and may their love influence our love towards all animals and sentient beings!



3 thoughts on “Catawailing

  1. Dear Francis,
    I sent a reply to your post of 25th January 2014, ‘Missing Felines’.
    – A poem by Toula Antonakos from her beautifully illustrated book, ‘Through A Cat’s Eyes’.
    Tonight when I read your post the poem ‘The Honourable Cat’ by Paul Gallico made perfect sense of this relationship we have with our feline companions;

    I am a Cat.
    I am honourable.
    I have pride.
    I have dignity.
    And I have a memory.
    For I am older than you.
    I am older than your Gods; the tree Gods, the stone Gods.
    The Thunder and Lightning and the Sun Gods
    And your God of Love
    I too can love
    But with half a heart
    And that I offer you.
    Accept what I am able to give
    For were I to give you all
    I could not bear your inevitable treachery.
    Let us remain honourable friends.

    – Paul Gallico

    My rock and strength in Italy will always be Pietro; – fell asleep 15th May 2012.
    Kind regards, Jane.

  2. My favourite author is Paul Gallico do read Jenney the Cat. Fulfills all my dreams regards adventures especially when I was a young girl great fun would have to reread it to recreate that great feeling of adventure! Seems odd that 3 of our friends all lost their cat this month but I feel that all should have a replacement cat asap as that is a good distraction from the calamity of the loss of the cat does not replace the loved one but is a good substitute and busies one considerably helping out the grieving process.

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