My beautiful cat died this morning. He was 13 and we have had him since the day we returned from our honeymoon.
He has been declining recently but in the last two days it was clear that it was the end. He didn't eat, barely drank and by last night could move only one or two steps. I sat with him this morning - he was lying outstretched on the carpet exactly where we had left him last night. As I stroked him and felt his breathing become shallower he responded to my touch, almost purring but with hardly any voice and moving imperceptibly towards my hand. All around me the normal morning chaos of half term - Stan on a computer and Raff creating Lego brilliance. G is the most outwardly affected, but Raff in his wonderful sensitive way wanted to be the person to tell Stan, and now he is writing a poem to honour him.
I am lucky that I have never before watched the life go out of a sentient creature and I was unsure how it would be. I did not call the children to witness it and I am glad, because after he had stopped breathing his hind legs stretched out, twitched and relaxed as did his front paws and there were other movements which were just the last electric pulses passing through muscles which would have confused them.
Jambo was memorable for his panther-ness; extraordinary size and deep black glossy coat, and his voice and I keep thinking I can hear him yowling in his half Siamese way. In fact it was one long yowl that brought me to him this morning. I will miss him in the silence, even though as my friend and I agreed this afternoon there were days when his constant 'conversation' was wearing and we would squirt water at him. He would react by grumbling, squeezing his bulk out through his cat flap and sauntering all the way down the garden, muttering curses as he went. Most of all I will miss the way he would wake me by patting me with the utmost care on the nose or eyelids, claws completely retracted, entreating me to rub his head before settling down, often next to me on the pillow and purring like an engine next to my ear.