A while back, in another time and place, Blackdog fell in love, in love with Little Black Cat. Maybe now, it's time, for me to tell her story.
"Small and black with belly so rotund and swollen, it almost dragged on the ground, she came to me; crept into my life. Willful and sleek, but most of all tiny, she let me share in the birth of her kittens, with a trust that was almost conspiratorial. She purred, mewed and growled herself into my life and affections, and then left me when she felt the call of the wild. Bringing back to me on her return, gifts of birds, mice and worse; parts of them. Sometimes still alive, I tried to rescue these unfortunate victims of her hunting, without offending her; not always succeeding, I must add. But she came back, squirmed onto my knee, digging into my thigh, with razor sharp claws, and then my chest, until I stroked her shiny, course coat. She often looked into my face, as if to say, 'why so miserable, so serious', I guess she knew.
She left me often, sometimes for long periods, and I fretted, searched for her, questioned neighbours and made sorties into derelict allotments. She always came back, looking askance at my effusive welcome, but devouring the 'fatted calf ' with relish, that caused my tear filled eyes to dry, and contentment, of a sort to be re-engaged. I was pleased that something so wild, so free could like me, even need me sometimes. It was a love affair; I worshiped her and she, well tolerated me. Her absences were painful; like those of an indifferent lover, but sometimes in the depths of my personal despair, she was a shining light of freedom.
Myriah was brave almost to the point of foolishness. With little regard for her own safety, she would take on opponents, so large as to dwarf her. Like a mongoose with a snake, she usually was victorious, due mainly to the ferocity of her attack, and swiftness of movement. When she became ill, I instinctively knew, though others chided me that little was wrong. It seemed to me she was dying; I could not let that occur.
I rushed to the Vet, and it soon became apparent that she had succumbed to that scourge of many cats; hyperthyroidism, making her heart race, and kidneys to flaunt their imminent failure. Fruzemide together with Carbimozole, brought her back from the brink, and after a short stay for intensive care, I brought her home. A regime of medication to keep her thyroid in check, then became the daily battle. Those tiny Carbimozole pills lent themselves to concealment within a small prawn, so I was OK mostly, but sometimes I did have to force them into her tiny throat, feeling awful at the need. Until the establishment of the regime, I had to keep her indoors and she hated it, constantly fighting against her incarceration, then disaster, she escaped!
I searched, the sun drenched summer streets, the byways and woodland nearby, for days, knowing that without medication, the hyperactivity would re-establish and she could die of heart failure. She was a hunter so I knew she would not starve, so I went out in the cool summer night to try and entice her to me. Once I almost succeeded, only for her elude me again. Then one day in late summer, word reached me that she had been seen in the nearby allotment gardens. So through the day, I searched long and hard. Through the nettles and weeds, of abandoned dreams of self sufficiency, I looked, calling her name. As the rain started to fall, that growly mew, so familiar to me, came back. At the base of an overgrown thorn bush, she lay, looking wild and unkempt.
It took many tries, but I caught her up in my arms finally. I held her tight and made for home, in fear of the squirming black bundle escaping again. With blood streaming from my arms and chest, I made it home. Capture complete! Imprisoned once more and with medication in place she calmed at last and ceased attempts to escape. The weeks turned to months and my shame at the incarceration grew; I had curbed this free spirit, but loved that she was safe.She often cried at the door to be freed, and one day, heart beating fast, mouth dry, I let her out, into the outside world again.
She ran out, and then stopped, just a few feet away, and commenced grooming herself. She seemed bewildered to be outside once more, and sat in the early summer sun, then wandered off to inspect her domain, without urgency. I watched her, pleased that she was calmer, less frantic, but slightly sorry that what I had done, was to tame her wild spirit. Freedom had been her essence and I had taken that away, but I had done it, to save her life. That did not sit too well with me. I knew that in humans, this protocol, was slightly resented, by recipients, because it robs them of their tendency to high activity. Many preferring to feel as they did before.
Myriah seemed to thrive, but one sunny Saturday morning, on arising I could not find her, and then heard her plaintive cries from the bathroom. She lay on the cold tiles, in a pool of her urine, her back legs unresponsive to her efforts of movement. A stroke! Holding back tears I dressed and rushed her to the Vet, in the vain hope that it may be temporary or curable. It was not to be; I should have known.
Almost in a trance, I listened to my voice, agreeing to end her life, to avoid the misery she was in, and then held her as the life slipped from her, as the drug infused into her tiny black body. I had loved her so much, but it was over. I dug the grave, beneath the oak my children had planted, from an acorn, years before. I let no-one else touch the spade, this was my duty, my penance, my tribute. Wrapping her gently in a clean towel, I laid her in a hole deep enough, lest she ever be disturbed, and stood back. It was a long time before I eventually filled the hole, wracked with sobs, misery uncontained, unashamed of my tears.
It was a long time, before the sobs subsided, and months before my grief was controlled. Tears would sting my eyes, whenever I thought of her for months even years later. She was just a cat, but had touched something in my soul. She had seemed to have sensed my misery, the depression that had stalked my life at that time. Tried, I mused, to show me a better way to live; freedom. I had loved her so much because she had been such a free spirit, unburdened by guilt or doubt, as I had been for so many years. Perhaps all these years later it would be fitting epitaph, for me to be free and to live life to the full. And so I did. Or at least I try to, every day for those that are left. I will never forget her."
I wrote these words, five years ago, as a tribute to my cat who died two years before. I have had nine cats and three dogs in my life and loved every one, and stayed with all to the very end. But none was quite the same as Myriah. I will have no more, lest they outlive me.