Eleanor died last night. Her owner buried the 20 year old cat in the garden this morning. We met both of them 2 years ago when we moved here.
Living up to her calico female cat reputation she was a fine killer of things despite having one toe where she was unable to retract the claw. While crossing carpeting every few footsteps she hesitated to unsnag herself. Despite the snaggle – toe she’d lived through tussles with critters bigger than herself that had required a few visits to the vet to repair teeth punctures to her body.
“There goes the great hunter to kill something.” My man would say to me from his perch on the deck overlooking the bottom field. I needed binoculars. But he has sharp eyes and a spent childhood on the Canadian prairies observing the finer nuances of nature. For him, watching the cat was a form of meditation. She was a skilled stalker of small, furry and feathered things. Her multi colored coat of orange-browns and tans and white slithered among the tall grasses of the landscape.
Her decapitated and often disemboweled presents stained red the rug in front of our door. Sometimes her gifts were still moving. It was difficult to avoid her grisly meal when she was having it on the deck outside the living room window. I heard the crunching of small bones as her sharp fangs would pierce the flesh and juices would spill from various body cavities.
Eleanor the murderer was also Eleanor the keeper of hearts. The geriatric cat arrived for only a visit that turned into three years and during a time of great upheaval for her mistress. Eleanor’s warm body and purring was comforting through changes that hurt.
We loved Eleanor for the deviously feline way she wound herself around our hearts. Eleanor had a chair he made comfortable with a soft blanket beside his in the computer room, but the minute he left his chair she would leap onto it and then firmly refuse to leave. One day I arrived home with a bag of cat treats and we both laughed when he held up a bag to show me. While Eleanor slept curled on the sofa where the sun lit on one cushion she just made our place seem more like a home. I’m grateful her owner shared her so well.
“There is no time like the present and there is no present like time.” She says, kneeling on the grass next to the garden and the freshly turned dirt. She buried Eleanor with grass reeds and flowers. I came just as she was finishing. We both wipe at tears. What a wonderful little cat. A small life who’s timely arrival was a present for all of us.