1991 - 2011
Mr Ed. Our ginger ninja. What a good crack you gave it: twenty years!
I knew you belonged with us. I just knew it. Advertised in Saturday's paper as a 'runaway, free to a good home,' I pestered Mum like only a 12-year-old can for a whole week until she finally gave in. Okay, she said, I'll call. But don't get your hopes up, he's probably already gone, she warned. But I knew.
You were lucky to have been found by cat lovers along that long and dusty, scarcely-inhabited country road. Not so lucky that their dog didn't like you. You were forced to live that week on the shed roof with a constantly barking dog as your only company. They were cat breeders, those people who found you, and they gave you a cat breeder-type name: Swirly Ed, due to the patterns in your thick ginger coat. We screwed our noses up at the 'swirly' but Ed was perfect. Eddie. You made yourself at home straight away so that when Dad came home from work and saw you quite contentedly cleaning yourself on the family room floor like you belonged, all he could say was 'We have a cat now.'
It wasn't all roses though. How could it be, living with two teenagers who were convinced cats existed solely for their own entertainment? You suffered the indignation of being dressed up in baby clothes or when the season called for it, Christmas decorations. You gave as got as you got though, Ed; you had some spunk, you feisty redhead. Many an ankle latched onto, many an unsuspected attack. You had fastest right hook imaginable when you'd had enough of being petted. No warning shot from you. My high school friends were scared of you, you know. Probably from when they sat on those ugly cane stools we had at the old house and you would stand on your back legs to swipe at the backsides through the holes in the seat. Squealing high school girls, that'll do it every time.
You made us laugh - even though it was occasionally at your expense. Remember when we decided that you needed a bath? We fell about laughing, clutching our stomachs and gasping for air as you, looking like a drowned rat, stalked across the backyard, flicking your tail wildly and hissing every few steps. You looked beautiful when you dried but I'm not sure that was a consolation to you.
You must have loved the 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen' mentality that we had because you stuck with us for 19 years. Nearly two-thirds of my life. You got so old, Ed; when did that happen? Your lovely coat lost its shine, your white bits not so bright. No matter how much we fed you, you still lost weight. I joked that you had lost your mind because we sometimes saw you in the yard, curled up in the sun, meowing to an invisible companion.
We knew the end was coming, we used to pause by the window when we saw you sprawled out, just waiting for the rise of your tummy. We would let out a breath we didn't realise we were holding and then smile to ourselves. But on Sunday, I must have known something. I sat with you for a long while, making sure you ate your dinner and scratching that eternally itchy spot under your chin.
That was the last time I saw you, Ed. When you didn't show for breakfast, we felt mild concern but said you'd probably had a night out on the town and needed a sleep in. But not showing up for dinner? Unheard of. When you were a no-show on Day 2, we started preparing ourselves, bracing ourselves.
Dad found you, quite by accident, nearly two kilometers away. How'd you get so far?! For a cat who rarely left the yard - investigating what the neighbour's cat had for dinner the only exception - you certainly hoofed it along.
I thanked Dad for bringing you back home. He said it looked like you were sleeping and buried you in the backyard. I found these old photos and this is how I remember you.
The others loved you but you were always my cat, Eddie. xx