On the Thursday evening, he had a strange turn. I thought he had a hair ball or something as he was shuddering oddly and I thought he might be going to vomit. However, he seemed to recover. At night, he went back into his lobby, which I was spraying copiously with Feliway as well as having a plug-in. It is supposed to relieve cat stress. However, maybe I gave him too much and he overdosed. I went to wake him up on the Sunday morning, to give him his breakfast and to clear out his litter tray. He was lying on his side. I called his name and he didn't move. It wasn't unusual for him to lie in that position but he would normally have looked up at my entry. I ran to find S. He went to check him and came to the same conclusion. Poor old Cuffer had died in the night.
S and his son, C, laid him out in his basket on the grass covered with one of H's towels. S had alwasy declared his hatred of the cat but as he was moving him, I heard him say "Come on, matey". I wanted to make sure that he was dead before we buried him, although he was cold and showing all the other signs of death. I then had to ring H, whose cat he was. S and C buried him in the late afternoon. He is under one of the trees, marked with a stone at present, but we will get my brother, the sculptor, to make him a proper headstone.
People who know me will know that I have hated the cat for years. He has driven me mad. He wasn't very domesticated and would wee and poo all over the place if not closely monitored. We bought him after an invasion of mice and, rather than catching mice, he filled the house with birds, frogs and more mice, dead and alive. He was extremely unfriendly, verging on the psychotic. If you stroked him for too long and he got fed up, he would practically have your arm off. But I spent the day in tears. He was 16, a good age for a cat, and had been diagnosed with a heart murmur about three years ago. The vet thought he was at death's door then but he survived the night and, although he slept a lot and wasn't very sprightly, he seemed none the worse for wear, even after my dad decreed that the expensive medicine was a rip-off and that we would buy no more. After all, he had only cost £3.50.
When we first got him, he wasn't litter trained. I took him to the vet for his injections and explained the problem. She said that cats normally learn how to use their litter trays from their mother and that this one obviously hadn't been taught. (The person we bought him from had been told that he needed to be separated from his mother early as she was struggling to feed him, which might explain his psychotic behaviour. Not sure what Freud would have made of it all.) Therefore, the vet went on to explain, I needed to take the role of his mother, who would have taught him how to use the litter tray by licking his bottom to stimulate him to go to the loo and then show him how to scrape up the litter. I should don some rubber gloves and...well, you can imagine the rest. I'm sure the vet fell about laughing with her colleagues the minute that I left the surgery, screeching "I've got another one!" I dutifully went home and pulled on the marigolds. Afterwards, the cat retreated to a corner, looking as if he'd been buggered. Which, in fact, he had. I only did it once. When he was naughty thereafter I only had to shake the marigolds at him and he was off.
We used to keep him in at night at first but the weeing and pooing was just so awful that I had to let him out at night. But we had no cat flap so I got woken up every night by the cat throwing himself against the door. I installed a cat flap. So I got woken up every night by frogs shrieking in agony (a horrible human-like sound) while the cat tormented them outside my bedroom door. Or by stray cats who had wandered in to destroy my front room. I locked the cat flap at night. Cuffer had a very small head and a very large body. "He's not fat, just big boned", H would say. The small head suggested a very small brain. After all, he couldn't get the concept of the litter tray. But, confronted by the locked cat flap, he turned into a doctoral level engineer and figured out that, by stripping off the rubber surround of the cat flap door, he could then bang it back and forth to make such a racket that I was forced to get up and let him in. I got no sleep for about the first ten years of that cat's life.
When we moved from this house and S, who is seriously allergic to cats, arrived in our lives, Cuffer had to go and live in the shed for a while until we moved to the Horseblock and my parents took over our house, the shed and the cat. So Cuffer moved back in with them. My dad, who had managed to murder every pet we ever owned, trying to gas the budgie in the gas oven and doing terrible things to a goldfish with a poker (not to mention the terrible tale of Tommy the Horse), called him 'bonnie lad' in his Geordie way and seemed weirdly affectionate towards him. The cat survived my dad, a rare feat for an animal in our house. After my dad died, the cat would curl up at my mum's feet. Terrified of most animals, she would talk to him and he gave her a focus in those first terrible months.
And now poor old Cuffer is no more. And, after sixteen years of having him in our lives and of being driven completely insane by him, I feel the loss and miss having an animal about the house. RIP Cuffer.