Sunday, 1 April 2012

Tabs




My cat died yesterday.


This made me sad. And angry, because it's likely he died because somebody attacked him.

I'll try not to focus on that.

Below are scattered memories, pictures, tiny facts I can recall. I guess it's an obituary.

We bought Tabs from the tiler when I was five or six. We already had one cat, Suki, who'd been four when we got her - adopted her when her previous owners moved to a flat that didn't allow pets, but now wanted a kitten. He was tiling the hallway, big, red terracotta tiles with a snake-like, zig zag motif of mosaic around the edges in left over bits of blue and red tile. It was March, that much I can remember. It came up in conversation that we were looking for a kitten and he said that his cat and somebody else's (a family member? I don't remember.) had both had kittens and invited us to come and look at them.

When we visited the litters the first thing we noticed were the sneezy, runny noses (okay, second thing after the 'Kittens! Aren't they cute!!') - both the cats and all of the kittens had cat flu. I was very taken by a small black and white kitten, but my mother vetoed it due to the fact she didn't like black cats (a neighbouring one kept eating our guinea pigs when it could get into the cage) and it had pretty bad flu. In the end we picked a little tabby one as she was the least ill and very attractive.

At the time we were sold Tabs as being female. That played into my five-year-old doll obsession (aren't dolls always female?) and love of Beatrix Potter. The kitten was named Tabitha Twitchit for the tiny moment before we took her to the vets over the cat flu. The gender was cleared up pretty quickly and his name shortened to the more masculine 'Tabs.'

The most distinct memories from the following period are of what a good hunter he was. He'd bring in mice regularly, the occasional shrew (which massively upset my mother) and sometimes a bird (sorry ornithologists.) He had a few catches that were pretty impressive to me - a pigeon, an adolescent rat, and some that simply impressed on me - my favourite goldfish, Jewel, caught from the garden pond years after I'd presumed he planned to leave her alone after we transferred her from the aquarium she outgrew.

I remember sitting on our falling-to-bits sofa once and leaping up screaming and crying because I felt something alive move under me and for some reason presumed immediately it was a rat. I ran to my mother, sobbing and panicked (yes, I wasn't especially brave even then) and led her cautiously into the living room. I watched her carefully pull the sofa's cushions off and then jumped a foot when Tabs stuck his head out of a hole in the sofa. My cat, not a rat at all.

When we moved house my gran drove me to the new property with Tabs and Suki in cages in the boot. It was a cat chorus, the deep hissing and growling of Suki punctuated with Tabs' higher yelps. I remember feeling helpless; I hated that they were so scared. I missed Tabs awfully (I never had much of a relationship with Suki) when they were locked in my mother's room for a few days so they got used to their new home.

He always came when I called, and I often called. I wanted him more than my mother when I was upset, wanted to burrow my face in his soft fur and hide away with him under blankets when I was scared. When my mother had hypos (she's diabetic) he was always around, getting under my feet, wanting to say hello the ambulance crew and keep an eye on what was going on.

He was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but recovered well and quickly. I cried buckets at the time, scared I'd lose him, but he was a strong and healthy cat. He honestly looked the same at fourteen/fifteen as when he was five apart from having a bit more tummy. He never felt like an old cat, just a fit one that liked to try and eat my hair.

In a flash of blind rage once, I once threatened to kill a girl who threw a ball at him while we were arguing. I was quite a dramatic teenager.

Nobody touches my cat.

They did, though.

I think that's going to make me sad for quite a while.


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