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Thursday, November 25, 2004


On the death of a cat, lady and pre-biblical warbeast.

Minka was the cat of all cats. Everything she did was more catwise, her catness was superior to any other. She was the best cat anyone could hope of meeting.

When we first met I was six years old and she was small enough to fit into my hand. I adored her from moment one, because of her white fur and her golden eyes. But also because she was smart enough, not to fall down when I threw her against the curtain to see if she would stick. Her reflexes were admirable.

As the young cat she inevitable grew up to be, Minka would slide out our garden door and not return for days. She was curious, even for a cat, but also wary and careful. And clean. From the day we showed her the first kitty litter she'd never go anywhere else. Except when we'd accidently lock it away from her, which thankfully didn't happen very often.

In the years to come she'd become a lady. A real lady. In contrast to most cats she never grew fat or lazy. After the birth of her kids she'd always be level-headed and attentive. Then there was this look that she'd give you when you did something silly. I wouldn't call it arrogance. Rather it was the adequate way a supreme being looked at clearly inferior creatures. Like humans.

But that did not in any way affect our relationship. In fact it was a very important part of it. As was her cry of joy, disappointment and anger when she registered my coming home at night. According to her I was always late. Same goes for the meals. Now, it's not like a cat demands its meals served by the clock, but they do have a very precise idea of when there should be food available. I must confess I did not alway live up to those high standards.

All in all our relationship worked out nicely, like a fuzzy clockwork. Most of it was about respect. I respected her needs and quirks, she respected mine. More than once I'd curse her for refusing the cat food I had bought tons of but eventually I respected her wishes. She got used to being alone most of the day while I was at work. And she accepted the fact that there were certain times when jumping into bed for cuddling was not welcome. She might have never understood why (possibly because it was beneath her to know these things) but the respected my wishes.

Like a lady she grew old. Her hair would fall out and eventually she had to live with blank spaces behind her ears. With age came deafness. Not that Minka minded much. Her line of thinking probably was that in her long life she had heard more than enough anyway. During that long life she had never been sick and never seen a doctor. Except for once, when her old bladder got infected, she peed blood, and we already expected to lose her. But she survived. Minka was a tough chick.

If it hadn't been for the last days. She became weak, slowly at first. Then it all happened very quickly. I came home one night and Minka had problems walking around. Now and again she would tilt to one side but catch herself in time. It got worse in the course of hours. When she seemed unable to move or even sit without falling, I knew that this was the beginning of the end. I took my blanket and a candle and lay down beside her on the carpet. It was a long night and neither of us slept. I remember her lying on the side, trying to find a sleeping position, but her head kept sliding off her paw. Her eyes never closed. Mine did for a few minutes when a soft noise woke me. It was Minka, gathering her last strength to climb into the cat house. I lifted her up, held her above the litter since she was too weak to sit. She excreted a dark bloody mess.

I wiped her clean and put her back on her blanket. I had brought her some water which she would drink until her head kept falling into the bowl and she choked on the water. There was nothing left to do. I talked to her and cried. I waited. Until what I considered a good time to call my parents and a doctor. It must have been around 07:00. My mother said she would pick us up and get us to the doc at 10:00. So I waited some more. On the way my mother suggested that maybe Minka could be fixed. Even to me it sounded desperate. The doctor did not even have to consider any options. She just murmured something like "oh my goodness" and prepared a dose of barbiturates. It would be quick and painless. Then everything became surreal. And I only remember myself crying, disbelieving, hurting.

Minka died in the morning hours of November the 12th 2004, the day after St.Martin's Day, at the age 20. She was buried next to a tree, in a friendly garden, by the man who loved her most. Her grave also contains two cent pieces, because you cannot be sure how cats deal with these things on the other side. She will be missed. She is being missed right this second. There is no cat like her and there never will be. I've known her longer than I've known my brother. It was the longest relationship I ever had with a female being.

If there is a heaven at all, then it must be for cats.

  I am quite convinced that this whole ringtone madness is actually a modern form of satire, and very soon someone is going to tell me, and I will be relieved.