We’ve had a sad few days here at the Gin Palace.
When I awoke on Saturday morning, my biggest concern was that we had to take the cats, Peploe?*, more generally known as Peppers, and his sister, Moneypenny to the vets for their annual check up and booster jab. Always placid, last year he was so nervous that he left sweaty little paw marks on the vet’s table. I wanted to keep him calm this year. That was what I was fretting about.
We picked up both cats (two from the same litter) just a fortnight shy of four years ago, so they are just under five years old. Moneypenny is small and was doing her best to make herself smaller and hide in the back of her travel case. It took her a week to become tired enough to finally zonk out and sleep properly when we got her home, and she’s always been a little nervy. Peppers, by contrast was larger, but in the rescue home, he was shaking with fear. I stuck my hand into his travel case to pet him and he came over and immediately calmed down. He just needed a bit of fuss.
I think it’s fair to say that we bonded there and then, so while we had intended to buy just one cat – preferably a middle aged lady or gentleman, who liked a bit of fuss and sitting on people’s laps, we ended up with two young adults, of about a year old. They were both lovely cats, with quite different personalities, and we’ve been very lucky. But Peppers was my special little buddy, in the same way that Moneypenny gravitates more to Elle.
At about 9.25am on Saturday, while we were still wondering how best to deal with the trip to the vet’s, Peppers was hit by a bus. There are only two consolations: it must have been immediate. The poor little soul literally would not known anything about it, and from our point of view, we *know* what happened and were able to retrieve him. There was no disappearance followed by weeks of frantic poster pinning and leafleting.
Peppers was the only cat I have ever known who loved belly rubs. He would hawk for them and berate you if you came up short. He would drop his shoulder and roll onto his back ready for a tickle. He loved having his chin tickled. His right upper fang always stuck out over his bottom lip in a rakish fashion and he could look like a slightly roguish kitten when he had a mind to. When he’d had enough fuss (for now), he’s bat your hand out of the way with his back legs, or of you were tickling his chin, he would gently push your hand away with his paw. There were never any claws involved.
He loved to sleep on our wheely case that we keep on top of the wardrobe, where he thought no one could see him. When he went out of the cat flap, he *never* quite managed to get his back leg in properly first time. And he nearly always tried to bury his food the first time around, before relenting and having a few mouthfuls.
We have buried him in the garden, in a nice shady place behind the camelia and places some small slabs over him so that scavengers can’t dig him out.
It’s broken my heart to put down just one helping of food the past couple of nights and we’ve not let Moneypenny out while she gets used to the new normal of being an only cat. You can never quite tell with them as they are such guarded creatures, but I swear on Saturday evening she kept going outside to see if she could find her brother.
Peppers was our lovely, affectionate, daft cat.
But he was also my special little Buddy and I miss him.
*Always with the question mark. You will understand if you’ve read Alexander McCall Smith