She cried a little in the car,Yum-Yum, on the way to the vet's but responded to my many GoodGirls said, even so, she wasn't happy; not a car cat, her only trips had been to the vet and she didn't like me, anyway; she was mrs ishmael's cat, inasmuch as she was anyone's.
She and her brother, Co-Co, had just arrived one day, in the byre, their mother having been the second generation of feral cat to occupy that space, they were beautiful, like all new-born kittens, she ginger with a hooped tail, he dark grey with a white chest.
It has just become a fact of life, these past ten years, that we clean and renew their bedding, feed them, catch and drag them to the vets as and when and heat the byre on cold nights. There's an old Rayburn in there but I haven't been well enough to sort it out and so there have been a series of electric radiators plugged-in, through the winter months; crazy, but what can you do; anthropomorphy murders Reason.
When Buster passed away we tried briefly to domesticate the pair of them, have them indoors, and while I think Yum-Yum wanted to, her brother certainly didn't and he howled like a banshee if they were separated. I tried, one night, bringing him in to the kitchen but he ran around the walls and across the ceiling, like a demented cartoon cat.
We had compromised this last year by having a cat-flap fitted in the new, £600 back conservatory door and before I knew it there were beds and litter trays and feeding apparatus everywhere, and I couldn't even get to my saw, never mind use it; the whole place, packed with good quality, cased power tools, since my shed blew down in a gale, was impenetrable. I may as well just have had a wooden hammer with a loose head and a Quality Street tin of rusty screws.
I am however, relentlessly patient and where many blokes I have known would put, as they say, their foot down, big-time and evict the semi-feral animals, I just grumbled from time to time, well, probably more than from time to time but certainly not all the time. I'd never make a farmer, I squirm at the thought of poisoning wood beetles and since I stopped eating meat, a couple of years back, I have grown worse, if worse is the word, I dunno.
Yum-Yum, anyway, was diagnosed a year ago with something horrible in her mouth, after some antibiotics she picked-up for a while but had been almost imperceptibly going down hill for a few months; she still walked the garden, along the walls; she loved basking in the sunshine, she would still greet us imperiously when we arrived in the car and I had taken to buying her the very best cat food I could find, tiny little tins of what must have been the feline equivalent of Beluga caviar, at about a pound a gramme, which was varied with stocks of haddock and kippers from the freezer, dating from when we still ate fish. I never begrudge those expenses, I may have mentioned previously an experience I had as a kid, working in a hotel; the old battleaxe housekeeper, Margaret, every other lunch time, would buy from the bar a small brandy to take out; it was for her ailing cat, and I suspect a sip for herself, too. You may mock, young ishmael, she reproved me, but them no point in 'avin' 'em, me duck, not if you'm no' gonna look after 'em. I have never forgotten Margaret and her cat brandy. And my old friend, Hodcroft, the poet; we had a meeting scheduled one night, some pretend board meeting of a pretend charity; Hodcroft sent his apologies, which I, true to my then form, mocked; he had to stay home with his beloved cat, Sampson, who was dying. Sampson was one of those expensive -Ese cats, Siamese, Burmese, I dunno, who dominated Hodcroft, then a confirmed bachelor, completely, but he was right, of course he was, to comfort his companion animal as she died. I have never forgotten that, either, my crassness.
Yum-Yum's recent cosseting, therefore, owes much to people she never knew.
I speak as though her care was all my doing but it wasn't, it was mrs ishmael who worried and tended and fed both the cats. I think all I did was not be the sort of man I may have been if I hadn't met Hodcroft and Margaret and mrs ishmael and all those gracious enough to comment and guide here, down all these years.
Today's care, however, rightly fell to me. I soothed her in the car and I carried her into the vet's antispetic little room. I had expected her to show signs of distress but either her illness had made her indifferent to her surroundings or my attempts at trancing her out had borne some fruit. I learned some self-hypnosis from mrs ishmael, who, as well as papering the walls with degrees is a qualified hypnotherapist, and I learned some Zen just from being. Maybe it's just age but somehow I have learned how to share and spread a calm centre.
In any event, today's was quite the nicest and best of those experiences. I stroked Yum-Yum for five minutes - something she had never let me do - while the sedative worked, GoodGirling her constantly and then just a few seconds after the intravenous injection she very quietly just stopped living.
We will not, though, by her gentle passing, be completely spared Sorrow and Guilt.
Yum-Yum and Co-Co were like one animal, often curled-up together, tails entwined and although he would go roaming most days they were always reunited by bed-time. It's dusk, now, and he hasn't been since since lunch-time but I expect to hear him shouting soon.
I obtained a sedative for him from the vet, to be sprinkled on his food, for a while, to calm his anxiety; but his loss will not, like ours, be alleviated by Yum-Yum's gentle death; these two have been together every day of their lives and his loss, therefore, will only mirror that which we must all face, most of us, one way or another.
I'll go and look for him, try to ease his worried mind.