IN PRAISE OF MICHOU

My dear beloved Michou passed away on Wednesday, 22nd July this year. He was nineteen and a half years old. As I was holding him, Daisy the vet injected him, and through my sobs, to my delight and surprise, I heard him start to purr. So he died happy. It was all over in seconds.

In his prime

Michou was one year old when he came to me, very lively then, exploring everywhere, I never quite knew where he was. One day he disappeared and was absent for a few weeks. I was distraught and looked everywhere for him, posted advertisements and knocked on people’s doors. When I went away for a weekend I dreamt about him and that he jumped onto my bed. On my return home, I opened my front door and there he was!

The story was that he had been found in an empty house by two ladies who had come to clean it, they heard him mewing and finally discovered him up a chimney. By chance a neighbour who had my key was passing by. She went to my house and found one of my old hats with which they were able to entice him to come down. He was very thin and covered in soot. I was overjoyed to see him again, and gave him a thorough wash and shampoo. I don’t think he ventured so far afield after that, to my great relief.

In his young days he was a great mouser. Often I would wake up in the night to hear him scrabbling round on the floor chasing a mouse. Sometimes he would lay one at my feet, with great pride. But I never saw him catch a bird.

He was a gentle cat and quite timid. Often we were visited by a very bold ginger cat. Michou would not confront him, so I had to protect him by shooing Ginger away. Nor was he a sulky cat. When I went away he did not turn his back on me on my return. He loved his food and was not fussy, he ate everything. He was not a lap cat, and that was fine by me. He liked to sit beside me on the sofa when I was watching television.

I loved him best when he was curled up in a ball on the bed, a little bit of pink tongue sticking out, or when he was stretched full length outside in the sunshine in complete abandon, a picture of hedonistic bliss.

Sometimes he would sit still and remote, Zen like, looking into the distance. What was he thinking of I wondered. Nothing probably. This, we are told, is the ultimate wisdom.

So the years went by, he got older and sleepier. He had a few problems with his teeth, but otherwise kept very good health. He began to be not very well at the beginning of lockdown. He was already nineteen years old, so getting on, a hundred and thirty in our terms!

He started to lose weight quite rapidly, yet had a ravenous appetite. I knew the time had come when I would have to make a decision. My previous cat had died very suddenly, and I had not had that problem. A friend of mine told me that her own cat had died of cancer with similar symptoms, and she gave me the name of Rosemary Lodge in Bath where I could take him.

I made an emergency appointment, met the vet Daisy and her assistant Nathalie. After a brief discussion we made the decision to put him to sleep. It was heartbreaking, but it was the right thing to do. Even more so when I heard him purring as he passed away!

We love our pets so much, I think we do not realise how much they give to us.

I buried him in the garden and with my friend Ros we held a little ceremony, with some prayers and a few poems.

I end with a poem sent to me by a friend.

A Message Michou might have meowed

My dear friend, you knew from the start

that being your cat was my great art.

That’s why you won’t find it too hard

to feel me in your very heart.

It had become hard to play the cat-part,

so I thank you for letting me depart.

At home we cannot be apart.

NB. This will be my last post on michousgarden. I shall be starting a new one soon.

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