Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Gallant Gentleman Cat


Yesterday was tough. Monday January 21st was officially declared the be Black Monday - the most depressing day of the year, but yesterday had it beaten. And it wasn't helped by having been there before just a few months ago. Because yesterday we lost another cat. The next eldest after Bob and losing two old dear friends in 3 months is hard.


When Bob died in September, Anne McAllister wrote about him on her blog, She also mentioned the other cats and described black and white Spiffy (a bi-coloured magpie cat, he would have told you) this way:Spiff is kind and gallant and that about summed him up really. But Spiffy had been having trouble breathing and when x rays and examinations revealed a tumour blocking his windpipe and another growing in his chest, his age (16) plus the fact that the position of one of them meant that it couldn't possibly be removed meant that it was time for a gentle exit. One that fitted the gallant and gentle cat he was.



16 years ago the Offspring was helping out in the local RSPCA. When he came home he told me about a beautiful white kitten needing a home. Inevitably, I ended up in the RSPCa a few days later, planning on adopting the white kitten. I didn't. Inevitably the beautiful white kitten had already gone to a good home. But there, on the top shelf of a row of cages was a tiny, scruffy, smelly little black and white kitten, looking almost too small to cope with life. He had been found with his brothers and sisters in a sack in the river and only just rescued in time. 'That's the one' said the BM who was with me. And so Ivan came home with us.



Yes - Ivan. At that point that was what the Offspring named him. The Spiffy bit came later. He might have been tiny (then), too tiny even to really know how to wash himself properly, which was why he was bit smelly, but he grew. And grew and grew. He soon outstripped Bob who was just a year or so older. And he became a brave and loving cat - pretty Spiffy as the BM said. And the name stuck. So much so that when we took him to the vet the first couple of times there was some confusion. I had taken the originally named Ivan for his first injections, later the BM took him for necessary operation and said he was Spiffy. So for a while the vet thought we had two identical cats - one who had had all his injections and the other who had had 'the snip'.



But Spiffy was the name that stuck, the name that suited him. He was always second cat. Bob was the Alpha and all cats in the household knew that. But Spiffy didn't care. He was more than happy in the lower ranks. No responsibilities, no worries. He was free to be the gentle, easy going purrer that suited his nature. He was a warm and genial host to all vistiors, coming to greet them as soon as they arrived and investigating their shoes. Spiffy loved shoes - and feet - if he could sit at your feet and rub his head all over your shoes then he was happy. And if you had a handbag as well then he was in ecstasy.

Not being Alpha cat also meant that he had no trouble with new arrivals - there was young Poppy who later ran away because she hated the house move we made (a move that Spiffy of course took in his stride), there was Dylan and Sid. It was Spiffy who brought Sid into the house in the first place. We opened the door and Bob came in, then Dylan - and Spiffy with a (then) strange black tabby. You could almost hear him saying 'This is my friend Sid - it's OK if he stays isn't it?' And you just knew that outside, where they'd met, he would have told Sid, 'Stray are you? Well, not to worry - my humans are good with waifs and strays, they'll find room for you.'


Spiffy was also the schoolchildren's cat. The kids who walked past up the road towards the school were always greeted warmly by him and he knew just when to go outside in the morning and again in the afternoon to get the maximum number of strokes and head rubs from the maximum number of children. He could take any amount of love and fuss. When three special friends, Anna, Julie and Biddy, first came to stay and were all sharing a room, he soon worked out that if he visited when they were in bed, and lay across the middle one then he could also get the best possible attention from each one at either side. He was in bliss.

Spiffy loved a box - or a bin. It didn't matter if it was big or small, high or low, somehow he folded himself up into it and purred his delight. He loved Christmas when he could get out of his head on catnip and then sleep it off afterwards with his best friend Bob. He was the one cat who would accept things like wearing a fancy hat as part of the Christmas card - if his Mum wanted him to wear a hat, then that was fine with him. He was good with little people too - when Julie Cohen's almost one year old visited at Christmas he was there to greet and entertain. He understood that small people don't yet quite know the ropes and tolerated having his head patted and his tail grabbed with gracious equanimity.

Four years ago he was poisoned by something he ate or drank. He was very ill for a week but Michelle the vet looked after him and he came to adore her. Each time he went for check ups, booster injections, if he heard her voice he was up and out of the cat carrier. rubbing his head against her hand, wanting more fuss. Even yesterday, when he was struggling, as soon as he heard her his head came up and the purrs started. So it was a comfort to know that it was 'his vet' who could do the last thing he needed and help him out of his distress.


If we're talking of heroes then Spiffy was no James Bond sort of cat, no adventurer or handsome devil may care playboy. He was a Gary Cooper sort of cat, big, quiet, laconic and a perfect gentleman. A very gallant and gentleman cat. Even aging and ailing he welcomed Flora the Flirt into his home and tolerated her bouncing kisses, her pouncing on his tail with - I swear - an understanding smile. Yesterday when he wasn't in his bed by the fire, first Sid and then Flora went looking for him and were obviously worried when they couldn't find him.
I'm not surprised. They'll miss him as much as we will.

Second cat he might have been but never ever second best.
As the BM always said, he was a top shelf sort of cat right from the start.

25 comments:

Nicolette said...

You made me cry.

Poor Spiffy. He sounded so wonderful. And sympathies to you and yours, Kate. It's heartbreaking to lose a pet, especially one so beloved that has been with the family for so long. I can remember my tabby, Gemma, looking for Sophia, our Siamese, when she died. It broke my heart so see her looking in all the usual places...

Console yourself with your wonderful memories of Spiffy. I know you'll miss him lots.

Hugs.

India said...

Hugs Kate. Big, big hugs.

xxx

Kate Hardy said...

So sorry to hear the news, Kate. Sending you a hug and much love. You know where I am if you need me.

Rachel said...

So sorry, Kate. More hugs.
Rach.
XXX

2paw said...

Oh, such sad news, but I can see from your lovely tale of Spiffy that he lived a wonderful life and was loving and loved.

Anonymous said...

Another big hug Kate, so sorry again.
x Daisy

juliemt said...

Sending you lots of hugs on this difficult day.

Julie

carolwarham said...

So sorry to hear about spiffy. It is always so hard to lose a much loved pet.

Sandra Schwab said...

You made me cry, Kate. We had to put two of our furry babies to sleep last year, so I know how painful it is to let go of a beloved pet. And Spiffy sounds like particularly adorable cat. Big hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Kate, So sorry to hear your sad news. He sounded like a wonderful cat.

Hugs,

Chris.xx

Margaret McDonagh said...

So desperately sorry to hear your very sad news. Sending all thoughts, wishes and cyber [[[hugs]]].

Love,
Mags xx

CrystalGB said...

Kate, I am so sad to hear about Spiffy. (HUGS)

Donna Alward said...

Oh, huge hugs, sweetie. How very difficult for you. Sending you and the BM super-squeezes.

Anonymous said...

carolc said...

Kate,

I'm so sorry for your second loss so soon. Spiffy sounds like he was an amazing cat and had a very good life with you. It was a lovely tribute you wrote for him.

Sending you and the rest of the family huge hugs.

x

ilona said...

What a wonderful cat Spiffy was. My condolances on your loss. Having lost our dog of 17 year old dog Lucy on Christmas morning I know how you are feeling right now. Hugs to you and the rest of the family.

Biddy said...

So sorry about Spiffy. The Spifster always made me feel so welcome when I visited.

I'm thinking of you all.

Anne McAllister said...

Spiff was a spectacular cat. He was the embodiment of casual grace, of understated politeness, of quiet elegance. Definitely a top shelf sort of cat. In fact, for Spiff you would have to build the shelves even higher, in my estimation. But he'd just shrug and say, "Oh, no, no. Don't put yourself to any bother."

katie_s said...

Spiffy sounds like an amazing cat. Losing a pet is horrible.
Sending hugs, Katie

Teagan Oliver said...

I was working on the book all da and didn't get a chance to check my fave blogs til now. Only to find such sad news.

JuJu, Moose and I send our deepest condolences. Hugs from Maine.

Cryna said...

Kate Huge Cyber Hugs.....

I am so sorry to read about Spiffy. He sounds like a grand person, and one who will be solely missed. It is never easy to lose a pet, again I am so sorry that you have to go through this again.

lidia said...

Sending many Hugs your way Kate! Losing two pets within such a short period of time must be extremly devastating.

Spiffy had a wonderful life with you and your family. You'll have many great memories of him.

Ray-Anne said...

I seem to recall someone like Antonia Fraser saying that her idea of Heaven was to be reunited with all of the dogs and cats she had loved in her life in one huge happy home of warmth and sunlight.

Spiffy was one very special,lucky cat.

Anna Adams said...

Oh, Kate,

My heart is literally breaking for you. Hugs to you and yours.

Nell said...

Big hug.

Madeline said...

Sending Huge Cyber Hugs your way. Thank you so much for sharing your story of Spiffy with us.

 

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