Sadly, on Sunday 30 January, my cat, Patrick, went on his last adventure. He popped out through the cat door around 9.30pm, and never came home. I later learned that that he had been found dead in the neighbour’s yard upon their arrival home from holiday a couple of days after his disappearance.
I looked for him, of course, when I awoke in the morning and there was no sign of him. It was completely out of character for him to spend the night away from home. He just wasn’t that sort of cat. Nothing to do with superior cat morals, or anything, he just liked being at home. His adventures in his latter days mostly consisted of going down to the nephew’s garden at the back on the same property, and doing his business there. The nephew’s flat was Patrick’s and my old home. I knew that if I found him it probably wouldn’t be pleasant, but as it transpired I was unable to.
Then a few days later the nephew brought a flyer into me, which had been left in his letterbox, about a cat who had been found dead in someone’s yard. It was Patrick. The neighbours had posted their find on the Lost Pets Register, and a kind person had picked up on that post and decided to do a small leaflet drop locally about it. It didn’t occur to me to look on the register myself – duh! I contacted her, and she was able to let me know the address where he’d been found.
The neighbours had already buried him by the time I got in touch with them, but they assured me that he was in a place he wouldn’t be disturbed. They said there was no blood or injury on him that they could see, which might indicate being hit by a car. It was as though he’d just walked into their place and lain down and died. Patrick was 14 years old and had recently been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, which isn’t an uncommon cat ailment, and I’d been giving him medicine for that. It’s possible that some medical event related to his health issue happened quickly and unexpectedly, and he died as a result of it. That’s the scenario I’m going with, anyway.
Naturally, it has been upsetting, but I was also very, very grateful to my neighbours and the considerate leaflet-dropper, and thanked them a million times over for their kindness and thoughtfulness. These are the same neighbours I’ve had the odd contretemps with since I moved here. I ate some humble pie that day.
I inherited Patrick from my mother (since passed away) when she went into the rest home five years ago, so he’s been my companion for a while. His real name is Paddy, but ‘Patrick’ somehow fit him, too, and that’s mostly how I referred to him. I’ll miss him, even though he had a bloody great attitude on him (which I secretly admired, actually). Patrick was a bastard of an ambusher, too, and I don’t think there has been any stage in the last five years when my feet or ankles haven’t had a scratch on them. I confess I won’t miss that. Or maybe I will.
Losing one’s animal companion may not hurt the same as losing a human who is close to us, I realise. I say that from a place of knowing what it felt like when we lost our youngest brother in a motorbike accident 25 years ago – but we still invest a lot of our lives and emotions in our animal companions. They’re our buddies and fellow travellers in this world, and it’s a hard wrench to our hearts when they leave it. The gap they leave behind can be very big. I won’t get another cat while I live on a busy road, though. I knew Patrick was road savvy before I brought him home to live with me, which was why I was comfortable doing that.
Goodbye and RIP, Patrick. It was good to have known you – attitude, ambusher, and all.