For The Love Of a Cat

In this case, for the love of a chilled out and handsome little dude called Ziggy.

This is a very personal post and a somewhat cathartic one, as my husband and I had to say goodbye to our beloved Ziggy this week, who quickly became so ill he no longer would have had any quality of life. He was around 9 years old, a semi-longhaired tabby with a lot of Maine Coon in him. To us, he was our little Maine Coon and he was so different from the two brother tabbies we’d had before, Felix and Jasper. Not loved more, just different….all those amazing Maine Coon traits of sustained companionship, gentleness, endless curiosity and an innocent trustfulness. He inveigled himself everywhere into the house, garden, and out lives. He had us all to himself, getting plenty of petting and attention, and he was forever  exploring the world around him with his questing paw. He’d let you put your face right into his, he’d let you gently tug the tufts of fur between his pads, he let you get so close.

And now that he’s gone, he’s still everywhere, around every corner, tucked up or stretched out on his back on the bed, or on a desk top, there are sounds that makes you think he’s coming home through the cat flap. Or he’s sitting at the top of the stairs, or on his favourite windowsill. He used to come downstairs when you got home, he’d sit with you in the garden after coming to find you. He was everywhere and my hubbie and I are both aching for him right now. I suppose being a single cat and from a soft-natured breed he attached himself to us a great deal, and that is one of the reasons why it’s so hard not to have him here with us.

Unlike Felix, whose I always felt to be a wise ‘old soul’ and who I use for my Gravatar pic and the news page on my site, Ziggy was a more innocent young soul, who, with a distinct lack of fear, never imagined any harm would come to him and who was always exploring and trying new things. He didn’t understand when you were upset, he blindly ignored it..he just didn’t get ‘hurting’. And it really hurts he’s gone, because we thought we’d have a few more years looking after him. But as we all know – ‘that’s life’ for you and we have to roll with the ebb and the flow of it.

I believe the loss of a pet can be a far more painful experience that maybe is given credit for. Certainly the same process of bereavement takes place as for a human, the same working through of the loss. The same disbelief, confusion, the same searching for that physical presence. Only it can be even harder with a pet, because we project so much of ourselves into these animals that live by our side, we talk, they listen, they talk, we try to interpret. We invest so much love in them, and we invest in what I feel to be a much purer relationship than possible with humans. And that must be why it’s so painful in a deep and fundamental, almost primal way to lose that animal friend. There’s no emotional or psychological baggage to sort through, no long forgotten skeletons collapsing out of cupboards, no untold secrets being dragged into the light that makes grieving for a human far more of a complex and see-sawing affair. With a pet its just raw grief at the loss.
But Ziggy does has a little legacy left behind. A portrait of him I painted was published in a illustration magazine some years ago now, where ‘Ziggy, Maine Coon’ sits amongst Spring flowers; I’ve written a poem about him; and one day I plan for him to be the cool dude protagonist in a set of children’s stories if I can manage it.

And I want to end on a positive note, by asking what a pet, and in my case, Ziggy, can teach us about life.

He was always looking for a new perspective to view the world from – a good lesson to take on board.

He took delight in mastering challenges. Using his natural instincts to stalk prey. For a soft natured cat he was a talented hunter (not that we relished finding ‘giblets’ or live mice running around to be caught and freed once more). But he went for what he wanted with irresolute patience and used his abilities to the full, while undoubtedly having fun.

He had an endless curiosity about life – and it’s true that the older you get, the more it can all seem so mysterious, and nature so wonderful.

He taught the benefits of total relaxation and had no guilt over such ‘indulgence’.

He always kept some independence in reserve as a back up for his well being.

He lived life to the full, one day at a time.

(There’s a Buddhist monastery and visitor centre near us in Scotland, so my husband and I paid a visit yesterday and tied a ribbon in a wishing tree for Ziggy to be looked after. This was a lovely spiritual place to go and the ritual helped. And there were so many other pets with their pictures in cabinets by the prayer wheels, it took my breath away.)

 

For Ziggy

I wonder what you’re feeling
When you’re lengthened to full stretch.
I wonder what you’re thinking
When curled up in a ball.

When you’re warming by the fire,
And long gazing in the flames,
Or chasing in the garden
Some imaginary friend.

When clambering in the ivy,
Thickly growing by the door,
To catch the nesting sparrows,
Mischief teasing you once more.

As you track the warming breeze,
As you catch the dancing leaves,
As you climb up one more branch,
To swat the buzzing bees.

When you’re licking you all over,
Stroking out your streaming fur,
An act of great refinement,
Anointing yourself once more.

Ears pricked in concentration,
Whiskers twitching, wrinkled nose,
Then once the task is over,
You select your favourite pose.

And of course you love a petting,
Such a tactile little friend,
With me at your disposal,
To serve your every end.

When I look into your eyes,
So wide and golden, staring,
I feel I see behind them
And know you after all.

I know what you’re feeling
When you’re lengthened to full stretch.
I know what you’re thinking
When curled up in a ball.

Meet Ziggy (and I hope this is a positive post, rather than too sad a one).

ziggy

 

 

 

 

 

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About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Blogsite lynnefisher.wordpress.com Twitter @writeartblog Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnefisherheadtoheadhearttoheart/
This entry was posted in On Life, Pyschology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to For The Love Of a Cat

  1. Silver Hue says:

    Really sorry to hear about Ziggy. A beautifully written piece and for anyone who has a pet the emotions are so very recognisable.

    Like

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