A TIM’ROUS beastie meets an unfortunate end at the hands of Ruth Walker’s cat, leaving Ruth to - quite literally - pick up the pieces.
Willow is the feline member of the Walker family. An undersized but otherwise thriving tabby that has survived three changes of name, two changes of owner and at least two traumatic litters of kittens, the results of which are, for the most part, residing peacefully in the herbaceous border (though one is in landfill somewhere – the children have never forgiven me for THAT particular misdemeanour).
She’s a timid little thing. Doesn’t like to go out much. And when she does, she’s back on the windowsill within minutes wanting back in again. Less lioness, more meerkat.
At 4am on a Saturday morning, I’m woken by an urgent scratching. This is not uncommon. She’ll start the evening in one bedroom, then make her way into most of the beds in the house before the night is over, a kind of Goldilocks of the duvet. Sometimes, if a door is closed, she will simply claw it into tiny shreds of sawdust and splinters until someone lets her out.
So I tumble out of bed, stumble to the hallway, and see a pair of bright, dayglo eyes in the darkness. I ruffle a furry head, open Son No 1’s bedroom door and stumble back to bed.
The scratching recommences. More urgent this time. Followed by a kind of miaowing I haven’t heard her make for a very long time. Long, low, soulful. Like when she’d lost one of her kittens, she’d wander around the house making this haunting sound, a teddy bear clenched gently in her jaws, where her baby should rightly be.
I already know what’s happened before I get there. I know it instinctively. Light on, the cat stops in her tracks, looks up at me with those big, bottomless eyes. In her claws, a tiny brown field mouse, eyes shut, chest unmoving, tongue out in a kind of comedy death scene – or maybe a last show of defiance.
Her eyes say: “Look Mum! Look what I got for you!”
My head says: “Yes, very good, now let me get the Marigolds before I have mouse innards all over my hall carpet.”
I pick up the poor wee tim’rous beastie. There’s no panic in its breastie now. Completely still, yet warm, it’s adorable – a perfect fluffy specimen of mousage. No blood. No apparent injuries. It’s a poignant moment, when vibrant life turns suddenly to death and nothingness. I feel sad for it, this wee moose. Almost shed a tear.
Willow, already bored now her prey is no longer wriggling in fear and false hope, has moved on in search of the warmest bed in which to spend the rest of the night. All that remains is for me to give the deceased a decent burial. It’s the least I can do.
I bear it down the stairs, carefully cradled in both hands. The kitchen bin is already overflowing. The fire’s gas, so a majestic Viking cremation is out of the question. And I’m not about to risk a flushing burial, which is the way the last dead pet went.
A green funeral seems most fitting. Environmentally friendly. It’s what the mouse would have wanted. So I chuck it out the front door for the foxes to fight over.