Kit Cat

In the Summer of 2010 we noticed a very small feral black cat — hanging around the garden. Our other cats were terrified of it. It would race forward in attack — even though it was the size of a rat. It was starving, tiny.

My wife slowly coaxed it. First to eat, then slowly after many weeks she was able to pick it up. Finally she was able to use a flea comb to kill its fleas and then cotton swabs to clean its heavily waxed ears. My wife asked me to give her a name and I instantly came up with Kit.

But it was approaching the end of Summer and we had a dilemma. We couldn’t leave Kit out in the cold and it hated all our other cats. So we came up with a plan to convert the greenhouse into a shed. We bought some cheap wooden boards, ran electric cables up the garden, installed an electric heater and finally an improvised cat flap.

Every day my wife took Kit food in the greenhouse while I was away working in Manchester. I came home on the weekend and took over feeding and attending to Kit. Kit the former feral cat started to love human company. We put a wicker chair in the greenhouse and she would jump up from the floor, look into your eyes for twenty seconds, lie down and enter into a deep sleep. You had to spend an hour in the chair with Kit on your lap — staring into the darkness. This went on for weeks.

Finally my work in Manchester was ending. So with my final week to go as usual I got my clothes washed, ironed and ready for back to work Monday. It was a Friday evening and I awoke in the night — I imagined that Kit was lying alongside me on the floor. I got up slowly making sure I didn’t step on her. I examined the floor with my hand — but nothing. Then again Saturday night, same thing. I woke up thinking Kit was there. I switched on the light. But this time she was there. She had walked through the house, passed four very large cats without waking them up to lie beside me on the floor. I picked her up afraid she’d be discovered and there’d be a late night cat fight — four onto one. I took her through the house with some cat food — thinking she was probably hungry. The electric heater in the greenhouse was on and hot — so she lay down beside it and went back to sleep. I put the extra food alongside Kit and returned to bed. I had to leave the next day for Manchester.

I returned on Thursday, my last day of my contract. I came back late at night eager to go and sit with and feed Kit in the dark. Then my wife told me. Kit had died. She had died lying alongside the greenhouse heater.

I am writing this because I miss those quiet evenings sitting in the pitch dark in the winter in a heated greenhouse with a sleeping cat on my lap. But most of all I miss that twenty seconds of eye contact with Kit where she looked into your soul. For me it represented the purest form of love. A feral cat the size of a rat — that was once bad had become good.

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