In Remembrance of Blackie
Blackie died on 26 April, 2022, being almost 20 years old. Below is her life story, a picture gallery, and a poem dedicated to this special cat, written about five years ago.
Blackie was a gift from God. She belonged to our neighbor, Scott, across the road. Originally she came from a shelter as a kitten when the family’s previous cat met an untimely death in 2002 or 2003. We may have sighted her from time to time, but only met her after returning home from teaching overseas, in 2007. One day she appeared in our backyard palm garden and looked like she was trying to have a drink from our pool. I had pity on her and brought her a plate of milk.
As time went on, she would show up more and more. She learned that if she scratched on the side fly-screen door, we would let her in and perhaps give her something. For several years, she was just an occasional visitor, coming during the winter months and hardly knowing us during the summer. Then her visiting frequency increased and gradually she began spending more time with us than with her own family. She would pay a visit home in the afternoons for half an hour or so and be back to our house. Then even those visits became shorter and gradually ceased altogether.
Blackie became our “foster cat” and when the local Council introduced cat licensing and officers took to the streets to check if pets were registered, we felt we needed to do something. Blackie’s original owner was not planning to have her registered and was OK with whatever we decided to do. So in early 2021, we registered her and thus she became officially ours. Full adoption had been completed.
Blackie had a few favorite places during the course of her time with us where she enjoyed resting. They included the sofa, the floor by the living room full-length window/glass door, the sunny floor area in my room in the winter, a box by the window on the kitchen counter, under my desk or a small table next to it, on a couple of chairs, and the kitchen rug in front of the sink. Outside, she enjoyed the balcony and the staircase. In the backyard, it was the palm garden where we first met her, and an old lounge chair that I got for my sixtieth birthday, but which was now worse for wear. All these places, and others, no doubt still have her energy, and we feel that she is still with us, albeit in a different form.
Overall, Blackie lived a peaceful life, spending much time between her meals resting or sleeping. But her presence was calming and special. Jane Pauley is quoted as saying: “You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.”
Blackie was very predictable and had an accurate inner clock that would tell her when to show up in the kitchen to eat, when it was time to come in or go out, when to take a quick trip to visit home, and so on. She knew what she wanted and how to get it, and oftentimes she succeeded. When she didn’t want to be sent outside, she would get into a place that was for us inaccessible or hard to get to. If we were leaving the house and didn’t want her to stay inside, we would need to outsmart or trick her in some way – usually with some food.
Her behavior patterns changed over time, but she was always fun and lovable. The last few months before she died, she craved back-rubs. She would get into a certain position which signaled her desire for one. She wanted a back-rub first thing in the morning and several during the day.
Except for an insect bite on her back leg about three years ago, from which she recovered, she remained healthy throughout the time she was with us. She was aging gracefully and didn’t appear to have much if any arthritis. She would effortlessly jump onto the sofa and chairs, and down again. She remained spunky and quite active till close to the end. In the morning, when we let her into the house, after her morning back-rub, she headed straight to her bowl in the kitchen – ready for her breakfast When it wasn’t coming right away, she would jump up on a kitchen chair and look over the kitchen counter, as if to ask, “Is it ready?” or, “When is it coming?”
About four or five weeks before she died, Blackie began to eat less and chose a place to rest under a small table in my room as though she wanted to be left alone. She was also favoring her left back leg, which seemed to have become painful. In her walking, she would stop and sit down to rest every few steps. Then, about three weeks before passing she didn’t even want to come into the house and preferred to sleep behind a palm tree or under a cycad in the backyard. She didn’t even mind a bit of rain, though the overhanging fronds largely protected her. Gradually, she lost all her appetite – barely sniffing at her favorite cat food and turning away from it. She drank water, sometimes quite a bit of it, but finally, in her last week, she even lost her desire to drink.
During her last week out in the backyard, we would let her rest in the bushes during the day, but brought her to her favorite lounge chair which was cleaner and sheltered, for the night. She was slowly losing strength and could no longer make her daily trek across the yard to the palms. Finally, when the weather got cooler, we brought her back into the house. We made a comfortable soft bed for her on the laundry floor, where she just mostly lay, though she did move around a bit and with what seems the last bit of energy disturbed some surrounding shoes and garden gloves.
The last night before she died, we tried to give her a bit of water using a dropper, which was successful. Yet all the signs were there that she was dying – cold feet, twitching due to lack of food and glucose in her body, shallow breathing. Blackie died early in the morning on April 26 with her eyes open, still looking much the same as she had the day or two before.
We called the RSPCA Pets at Rest service to arrange for cremation. A lady by the name of Bree came the next morning to pick up Blackie. She gently put the cat in a padded basket, wrapped her in a blanket and placed her in the van. It was very touching and beautiful what tender loving service pets receive. But the thought came to me, that in some parts of the world, humans, created in God’s image, are treated much worse than that – how tragic.
Blackie’s ashes will be delivered in a couple of days and will be scattered in the palm area in the backyard where she spent quite a bit of time, including her last days. While her body is gone, we believe that we’ll meet Blackie again in another life and another form.
Ode to a Black and White Cat
Our daily visitor’s a special cat,
No-one can really argue about that!
Across the road she comes to our side,
From the animals at her house she wants to hide.
Our neighbours do not mind,
By nature they are very kind.
About their cat being with us they are happy,
Their new puppy chased her and was snappy.
So the cat thought, this is no use,
And staying at home she did refuse.
She sensed there was love and kindness here,
Which to her cat heart sounded dear.
She has made herself at home before long,
Bringing us much fun and affection strong.
From early morning to late at night,
The cat is always a great delight.
She comes early in the morning,
Rattles the door with no warning.
Then gallops in through the door,
Sits and purrs on the kitchen floor.
Before long, she wants a snack,
We some cheese or meat unpack.
At times she gets some chicken meat,
A well-deserved and special treat.
We give bread to birds on the balcony,
This the cat thinks is a felony!
The birds sneak pieces with the cat in sight,
Yell at her, then take to flight.
The cat’s been seen enjoying the bread,
Who has ever heard of that?
A lovable, crazy cat she’s indeed.
Sometimes all she wants is eat.
She has a way to beg for a treat,
Our hearts melt and we give her some meat.
Other times the birds’ bread makes her happy,
And it then makes her quite peppy.
Her stomach seems like a bottomless pit,
Her diet a noble royal cat would fit.
This truly is a remarkable cat,
Few like her we have ever met.
Having relished the tasty food,
She might be in a playful mood.
It’s a nice way to start the day,
With some cat fun and watch her play.
We bought for her a scratching pole,
So in carpets she makes no hole!
With it she has lots of fun,
Cuddles to it in the sun.
Then she wants to go outside,
And under the palms she may hide.
Soon thereafter she’ll want to sleep,
Her favourite chair we let her keep.
Due to advancing age we say,
She will rest most of the day.
As she peacefully sleeps on the floor,
I know that one sad day she’ll be no more.
In a way, she mirrors human life;
But we won’t debate if cats have after-life!
All creatures go from youth, adulthood, to old age and death;
One day, we’ll each too on earth take our last breath.
It’s years since the cat came our way,
Yet it seems just like yesterday!
She was not always here all day,
This evolved with time in some way.
Even though she’s now a senior cat,
She still has spunk, we must admit that!
She eats and plays, and goes out and in,
Then she sleeps for hours, stretched out thin.
Or, on the floor curled up next to me,
She is a picture of peace to see.
One morning the cat’s meow was heard,
In she rushed with a dead bird!
A bit of shock, this was a topper,
From gift-giving we couldn’t stop her!
Another morning we were met
By the cat spraying the hamper wet.
This made us both quite upset,
So out was sent the naughty cat!
But we couldn’t long at her be mad,
So back came the cat, no more sad!
Somehow, the cat’s now our boss,
Without her, we’d be at a loss.
Who’d get us up early each day,
And stop us fall prey to the easy way?
From early morning to late at night,
This cat makes our life fun and bright.
She waits for us to come home from shopping,
And sometimes she keeps us hopping.
As in and out she comes and goes,
Watch you don’t step on her toes!
By closely watching our cat,
We are learning this and that.
It seems this cat has ESP,
How it works is a mystery!
She sensed when we had pain in heart,
brought us comfort, was real smart.
Peacefulness marks her whole life,
There is no unpleasant strife.
Another ability is her equanimity,
As well as the cat’s calm serenity.
Yet she remains alert and aware,
Knows what goes on here and there.
The cat is funny just by being,
This we are both daily seeing!
She gives us reason for frequent laughter,
We always feel good thereafter.
She now has less spunk in the morning,
But without her, life would be boring!
This cat has a special presence.
A mysterious inner essence.
At four o’clock in the morning,
Well before each day’s dawning,
The cat gently scratches at the door,
And a new cycle begins once more.
Sometimes it is well before four,
That the cat is scratching at the door.
Sleepily we ponder, ‘Should we let her in?’
Showing some grace, we choose to let her win!
She’s an extra special cat,
There is no doubt about that!
© 2017, Eva and Alex Peck
We found that this group gives an excellent, very respectful and compassionate service for pet cremation.
For a reflection on lessons for human life, see End-of-Life Lessons from a Dear Old Cat.
For the story how we were given a new cat to replace the hole left by Blackie, see Story of Whitey