This afternoon, I found a note in my mail bag informing me that General Kitchener (my landlady’s cat and my favourite of the animals on the farm) has passed away. The General (aka puss cat) had been ill for sometime and we all suspected he would not make it to winter.
Since last summer, he had been nothing more than skin and bone, but he carried on regardless, surprising us all by making it through to summer; however, a few weeks back he had an abscess on his face that seemed to overpower him. One of the boys insisted he not be put down but treated and so he was taken to the vet and the abscess duly treated and a strong, single dose of antibiotics injected.
A few days later, however, The General’s belly swelled and it was obvious he was not very well, as his eyes became very mucky indeed. The two Labrador ladies gave up their beds for him and would often approach him gently and nuzzle him and then walk away, whereas, previously, they would give him a wide berth as he could be quite intolerant and had, in the past, swiped the girls with his sharp claws whenever they approached. So, it was obvious he was not himself.
The General will be missed, as he used to come into my flat and would often lie on my bed snoring, very loudly, as I tried to watch television. I liked his attitude and I will never forget the first time I saw him: I was on my couch looking out the window one evening when I saw a black object moving quickly up from the trench and across the field. I realised it was the cat of which I had heard so much. Then, something surprising happened: five foxes came bounding over the mound chasing after him. I had my window open and he jumped up on the ledge. As he did so, I stood up; the five foxes noticed my presence, turned and bolted back across the field. Who knows what The General had done to upset them so and gang up on him, but he certainly didn’t seem afraid of the foxes though he did turn around and watch them scamper.
The General was a keen hunter bringing in squirrels, rabbits, rats and various birds. I think the only reason we have pheasants at the moment is because he was so frail this last year. He would often climb one of the horse chestnut trees at lunch during term times, and he would gaze over at the school across the fields as the children played. I often wondered what so fascinated him about them.
Now, he is gone and his loss will be felt sorely. My landlady says one of the farm hands has a pregnant cat due to birth in two weeks’ time; they are hoping to have one of these kittens. I can’t imagine any cat being like The General, though. He was unique.
Farewell, dear General Kitchener. Long may you hunt in the Otherworld.