Today I finally picked up the saucer and washed it. It’s a pretty one, green and pink, the Indian tree pattern, quite a large one, so it held plenty of milk.
It belonged to the cat. She wasn’t allowed to have milk, because it disagreed with her, but after putting herself on a pure diet of fresh chicken and salmon, her delicate digestion appeared to be able to stomach milk. Whatever the vet said, her persistence wore me done, so when I had a cup of tea, she had her milk.
She died two months ago. I still see her sitting outside the french windows on the verandah waiting to be let in. I still hear the rattle of the cat door at night, and expect to feel a soft thud as she lands on the bed, and strides purposefully up to my pillow to stand on it and reach my drink of fresh water on the bed-side table. She had her own, both on the bedside table, and elsewhere, but she always thought my water must be better than hers. And she wouldn’t touch a drop until she’d seen me change her water bowl first thing in the morning. I constantly see the flick of her black tail out of the corner of my eye.
I heard a radio programme about bereaved cat owners. They all say the same thing. The cat stays around. All my dogs loved me devotedly and unconditionally. Why was it different with the cat. Why was I so grateful when she showed she did love me? Why did I put up with being bossed around?
After three days of not eating I finally took her to the vet, knowing the cancer had brought us to the end. I came home to have a good weep on the verandah, where she’d been snoozing before I put her in the cat box for her last journey. There had always been a cabbage tree just by the verandah, which from the day we moved here six years ago she had used as a ladder, scrambling up to the top, and leaping from it onto the verandah seat. It was looking old and rotten, and I used to look at it and think I’d have to put up a ladder when it had gone.
As I sat down I realised the tree wasn’t there any more. It had keeled over and fallen while cat and I were at the vet. Some say how spooky. Not for me. The universe had sent a signal. This was indeed the end. Nothing to reproach myself with. The timing was not mine but hers. But it still hurts. Requiescat in pace.
And now I ‘m going to make some supper on a cold winter’s night. Not much in the house, so we’ll have some comfort food with just three ingredients -a simple potato hotpot:
Peel and slice some potatoes, chop some onions, and chop up some bacon – the more you can afford, the better. Make plenty of white sauce, using butter and if you add a little cream, all the better. Then layer the potatoes, onions and bacon in a casserole or oven-proof dish, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour the white sauce over it, letting it seep down through the layers. Cook in a moderate oven for one and a half to two hours, testing to see the potatoes are soft. Eat with some green vegetables or a green salad. Cheap as, delicious, and filling.