309. Gone

We lost our 12-year-old ginger cat Pastille on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

She didn’t turn up for the Tuesday morning feed, then later staggered into the kitchen, struggling to walk. She eventually hobbled into the garden, curling up listlessly in a spot she had never frequented. We knew the signs.

Before the light faded, we took her in, and she spent her last 30 or so hours either flopped on a blanket or spreadeagled on a wicker basket. Head drooping, occasionally taking small mouthfuls of water, almost zero interest in the morsels of food we offered. As we went to bed Wednesday night, I lightly tickled her under the jaw, as she liked. Just for a second, she rubbed her head against my hand. “Night night baby,” I whispered.

Maureen woke me at 6.30 a.m., sobbing. Pastille was beside the basket, body stiff. Best guess is she died of kidney failure. We buried her in the garden that afternoon, topped with a rose.

It wasn’t unexpected. Pastille hadn’t enjoyed the move to my Dad’s house a year back, and never settled. She looked permanently unwell and out of sorts in the more cramped environment. I’m so glad she exited relatively swiftly and without a major struggle.  

She came into our life in autumn 2010. Cajoled by our daughter, we bought brothers Pastille and Pippa, and another kitten, Bob.

When they played together, rushing up and down the stairs, Pastille always came off worse. Slightly smaller, and less inclined to fight-play. So I made Pastille a promise: “I’ll always look after you.”

These pics from that time had tears streaming from my eyes.

Pastille and Pippa both had a sex change in early 2012. Pippa became pregnant and then the vet, when neutering Pastille, noticed she was female.

Pastille needed the most love of our brood, which numbered eight at one stage. As she grew, she insisted on eating separately from the others. If the litter tray was unclean, she would shit on carpets and under beds. She has been cursed more regularly by me than any of her peers. At our last two residences, the others all ventured out into the fields at the back, catching vermin that they brought back for our inspection. Pastille stayed in the garden, and often the house.

When she was about three, she was basking alone in the sun one day when a monster farm vehicle came thundering past in the field at the back, spraying fertiliser. I watched her sprint at greyhound speed towards the house, and then take off through the air where the grass stopped. She hit the back wall of the house about four feet up in the air, and then stayed at this height, running round two intersecting walls like Spiderman, before dropping down to ground level and fleeing into the house. Amazing and hilarious.

A fragile, flighty cat, she couldn’t climb trees properly, somehow getting her claws stuck. She was often plagued by fleas, despite various medications. And generally scared of humans, most noises and perhaps life itself. She might be a doe if she reincarnates.  

Many times, when I’ve been sitting quietly, she would noiselessly glide into position next to me. Or tentatively alight on my lap, in her braver moods. A purring would slowly make itself known, rumbling away like the inner voice of the earth. Her love was unconditional, never manipulative.

In our last house she found great peace in parts of the back garden area that I let become a wild meadow, stretching out in sunny solitude for hours.

Now there’s a bowl less at feeding time, and a body less near the lounge windows where the light pours in throughout the day. I still whisper to her when feeding the birds, or sitting near her grave in the sunshine, with a cuppa. Never loved a cat like that one.

Life gives and it takes. Just over a year ago, we still had six of the original eight. Now just four are left.

The black and white Daisy refused to move with us to Dad’s house, shacking up instead with one of the neighbours. With Pastille gone, it feels as if a special time may be finishing.

In her lifetime, I learned Buddhist meditations. I started to walk out in nature for hours on end. Learned not to trust the TV. Wrote my book, ‘Out of Essex’. Finally realised that newspapers are rarely more than arse-wipes with pictures. Grew vegetables again. Learned transcendental meditation. Started my blog. Became a carer.

Pastille was my little friend during a fascinating and memorable time. I’ll always be grateful for her company. Maybe we’ll meet up again, down the road.

In the meantime, I walk to her grave each evening and place four heavy pots around her rose, as protection against badgers and foxes that might fancy a buried meal.

A promise is a promise.

12 thoughts on “309. Gone

  1. I gotta tell you, I didn’t want to read this, Kev, because your last post about your dad was called “almost gone,” and then when I saw “gone”…. well, you can imagine what went through my mind. But then I thought, that’s way too soon; if something happened to his pops, he’d probably write about it months later. So then I was sufficiently mentally prepared to enter the blog. Even so, the tale of Pastille’s life and death was poignant and sweet and touching. And man, you’re such a brilliant writer, Kev. “A promise is a promise.” I wasn’t quite mentally prepared to read this one either. But thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Currently, I have 3 hounds (or they have me), with an upcoming foster of a weim until a forever home is found. I never owned a cat, my mother had an issue, she didn’t like dogs either, but my dad insisted. I seem to be a cat magnet, per my friends. Some seasons I have pet squirrels, and foxes hang out in front yard. The winter ravens almost let me feed them nuts, and I leave water and treats for the deer…

        Liked by 1 person

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