Then, suddenly, out of the blue, it was an evening like no other. My neighbour was at the door. “I have sad news,” she said, “I think your cat has been knocked down on the road.”
It was only a hundred yards but it took an eternity to get there. “Maybe it’s that other white cat that knocks around,” I said, hoping against hope. My neighbour said nothing. You would not mistake Scrappy for any common-or-garden cat. With his beautiful soft white fur and orange tail, Scrappy was a lion amongst cats.
I don’t remember very much of that evening after I got out of the car and recognised my old pal on the road. The man who must have hit him had stayed, which was a blessing — it meant that his body was more or less intact and I was able to scoop him up into my arms.
By this stage my son had arrived on the scene and somehow he got me and my little bundle into the car and back home again. I had kept it reasonably together in front of the ‘strangers’, but once inside my car with my son, I just fell apart. My heart was broken.
Scrappy was my first pet. We’d had a dog once when the kids were small — but I only really entertained him for the children’s sake. And, yes, various cats had landed at the door over the years, but after a few weeks my antipathy towards them drove them into the more hospitable arms of neighbours.
But Scrappy was my cat. He arrived in the garden as a stray and, despite my initial resistance he stayed, moved into my house and into my life. He spent the first years of his time with me sleeping in the shed, but his persistence wore me down and I went from someone who freaked at the notion of a cat hair on a cushion to loving the sight of him curled up on my bed.
As cats are wont to do, he had many adventures and brought many of them home. From bloodbaths of feathers in the bathroom, half ingested rodents on the doorstep and once, a rabbit dropped beside me on the couch. He chased sheep in the hedge and charged at cattle in the fields. He grudgingly accepted the arrival of the dog, but made sure she knew who was top cat.
I’ve written about many of these adventures over the years, but what is harder to put into words is the love. I loved him. Those quiet moments of cuddling and petting a cat don’t make for great lines in these columns, but like any love they are the bedrock of affection. Everywhere I look he is missing. Sitting on my bedroom windowsill in the morning, lurking in the bathroom while I’m showering, sitting patiently beside his empty breakfast bowl, sleeping on the warm bonnet of the car, wrapped around my neck in the evening. I am bereft.
Joe and Misses Kisses came to say goodbye and together we decorated stones to lay at his resting place in the garden. Friends too have been so kind. Especially friends who have themselves lost animals — even when I now realise that I didn’t fully sympathise. I just didn’t understand the grief you can feel from a loss of this kind.
Scrappy — aka Scrap the Mighty Hunter — is no more and I miss him to bits, but he has left me a legacy of love and memories that I will treasure forever.