On a hot night in early February 2001, two kittens were dumped over our fence. We were woken by their squawking the following morning. They were around 8 weeks old, one black and the other tortoiseshell. The black kitten hissed as we tried to get closer to them. Our children barefoot and with sleep in their eyes curled up with the kittens on the ground. ‘Please can we keep them,’ the kids begged.
Photo by Dorothea Oldano – unsplash
The dumping of the kittens occurred about 2 weeks after the inauguration of President George W Bush. The two events are not related to each other at all except perhaps for context. We called them Spike after a vampire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Seven of Nine named for a character in Star Trek Voyager. They soon became known as Seven and Spikey.
Seven died just after 9am on November 5. Two days after the US Presidential election. All those years and presidents in between. Bush, Obama and Trump. In Australia over the same period: Gillard,Rudd,Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison.
But cats don’t care about all that. Our kittens settled into cuddles and good food and sleeping on our beds. They developed personalities; Seven, the sweet sociable cat who loved a lap and smooches. Spike, like his name, was brittle, feisty and a loner. He didn’t seem to like any of us very much and avoided laps and human contact. He would scratch without much provocation, hide under a chair when we approached and enjoyed life as a loner.
Seven was a tortoiseshell. Once the vet observed, ‘She’s a naughty tortie.’ Apparently tortoiseshells are temperamental. Looking back, I can see this. Seven was sweet until she didn’t get her way which would result in meows of rage. Alternatively, she would either not move, not come when she was called or sit and glare. She would find her way back into your lap without you realising. She had a knack for that.
Spike hated us until he spent 7 weeks in a cattery when we were overseas. I think that broke him and he seemed to love us after that. His idea of love anyway which was disdainful toleration. If he was feeling very magnanimous, he would allow us to scratch his ears.
Spike died a couple of years ago. He’s buried in the front garden next to our old dog, Bronte. It had got to be a standing joke that Seven was outliving everyone.She had renal disease, a heart murmur and dental issues so was defying the odds. But she just kept going, happy to lie on her bed all day, drink the shower water and eat her kibble. She wasn’t very fond of our new dog, Lany, but they had reached some kind of understanding.
Photo by Erica Murdoch
We realised it was getting too much for Seven when she started to drag her back legs, her interest in food waned and her eyes seemed to sink back in her head. The vet didn’t say much except that we should take it one day at a time. That night, as we all snuggled with her we agreed that it was time to let her go.
Seven died just after 9 last Thursday morning. I had my hand on her head and made sure that I was looking at her when she died. That was the last thing I could do for her- just to be there.
As I left the room with her in my arms, a tradie wearing a fluro jacket walked in to reception carrying a terrified possum. The vet staff sprung into action ready to try and save another animal. I left quickly – a dead cat and a half dead possum was way too much.
We buried Seven in the front yard and have marked her grave with wild flowers. It’s close by where she used to sit in the sun and groom herself when she was a younger cat. She’s next to her brother, and Bronte. I’d like to think of the three of them somewhere, Bronte looking at the cats with contempt and the cats ignoring her as all three lie in the sun.