That cute little kitten that makes your heart ache with joy grows into a much-loved family companion. And then, when you least expect it, your heart is broken into shards when tragedy strikes. Nothing can ever prepare you for the chasm of loss you feel when this tiny little friend is no longer around. Who would have thought that someone so tiny could leave so huge a void? 

Cats leave paw prints on your heart

 

Biggles as Queen MumBiggles was 11 when he went out for his early morning stroll. The alarm bells rang when I got up for breakfast and he wasn’t there eagerly awaiting his morning cuddle followed by his breakfast.

I gave the others their breakfast and then went into the back garden calling his name. There was no sign of him anywhere.

The others came out and followed me in a straggly concerned procession as I walked along the back alley that led to the local park.I called his name and listened for his responding miaow. Neighbouring cats came out to see what was going on and joined the file, the word hurriedly going from one to the other that Biggles was missing. 

I walked as far as the park but didn’t enter. I wasn’t sure if he came up this far and I didn’t want to lead my ever-growing feline procession into what could be unknown territory. So I turned around and slowly walked back home, still calling his name and stopping to listen in case he replied.

I reached the back gate and came into the garden, the cats hanging back to discuss the gravity of the situation with their neighbours. I hurried down the path hoping to discover Biggles in the kitchen happily eating his breakfast, wondering what all the fuss was about. I convinced myself that he’d been playing one of his hide and seek games which was one of his favourite ways of winding me up, and then he’d almost pee himself laughing knowing he’d got one over on me again. 

But the kitchen was empty and his bowl untouched. With a sinking heart I began to prepare my own breakfast but found I couldn’t eat it until I knew that he was safe.

Then there was a knock on the door. A lady I didn’t know asked if I had ginger cats and whether one was missing. She said there was a dead ginger cat in her back garden, and seeing the horrified look on my face, quickly added that it probably wasn’t Biggles.

She lived across the road about 8 houses down from mine. Telling myself it couldn’t possibly be Biggles because he NEVER came out the front – did he? – and surely 8 houses down was way beyond his normal territory for a neutered tom. Slightly encouraged by this thought, I followed this stranger over to her back garden and she showed me a ginger cat lying in a flowerbed.

From somewhere I heard a strange cry and screaming and the woman clutched me to her as I almost fell. Biggles, my Biggles, was lying under a beautiful fuchsia bush, with a small trickle of blood from his nose.

The woman’s husband carried Biggles back to my house where I laid him in his sunbathing box in my lounge. Garfield came over to look at his brother. His ears went flat as he sniffed him and he yowled loudly and ran out of the room.

Billy, Timmy and Joey, who were only about 8 months old at the time, came skipping into the room. They glanced momentarily at Biggles, before skipping on their way, seemingly oblivious to the concept of death.

Only Charlie didn’t come downstairs to say his goodbyes and this later caused problems, which needed the vet’s help, and several months of treatment.

I took Biggles up to the vet’s surgery and it was confirmed that he’d been hit by a car and would have died almost immediately. There were no marks on him so it seemed likely that he died of massive internal injuries. The vet gently washed the blood from Biggles’ nose and made arrangements for a private cremation the following week.

My son and I took Biggles to the pet crematorium in Cambridge which is next to RAF Duxford, an airforce base. The service, though very sad, was very dignified and we were treated, as was Biggles, with the greatest respect. While we were waiting for his ashes to be brought to us, two spitfires from RAF Duxford flew overhead and carried out some aerial manoeuvres, swooping, soaring round and round. As Biggles was named after the fighter pilot in the Capt. W.E. Johns stories, it was as if he had his very own fly-past. A fitting finale for a fine feline friend!

Another tragedy was to happen before Sam made his decision to leave his own perfectly good and loving home to take up residence with us. But that will be told another time.  

 

Pauline Dewberry 2002

Cat Calls - What's New Pussycat!!

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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