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The Day the Ninth Life Ended: Reflections on a Passing Cat

She could be such a silent ballerina of a butcher, a soft padded graceful skimmer across grass and weeds. It is unclear how many birds, mostly of the small peaceful dove variety, she took with her. How many rats she devoured in fits of ecstasy, only to then expectorate like an unhinged public school boy readying for college. If she had been human in that sense, she would have been a perfect addition to the clans of bulimic courtiers of Louis XIV’s court, overindulging and then relieving themselves for future courses. This was a cat knowledgeable of living and knowing how to live.

But Miaow (or Miao) – not exactly the most original of names – was an astonishingly beautiful feline. Siamese, noisy, at times almost irritatingly loquacious. Lean to the point of being bony, milk white, with rings of black on her tail. To see her move was to drink in the spectacle of a four-legged dance.

Metronomically, she was guided by movements in the kitchen, the point at which she acknowledged you, a mere serving human, as relevant. The fridge opened; the plates readied; the cat, at the ready, making a sharp pleading sound that wafted across the street to the neighbours. Drawers opened, cutlery rustled. A pose would be assumed beside the bowl: that of the Sphinx. There were no riddles to be solved here, though. The solution was food, pure and simple.

She was the runt of the litter, bullied and tormented by hierarchy and timidity. In her debut appearance, she seemed desperately parched and famine ravaged, her body a stretch of thin muscle over skeleton, age uncertain. She had made it down from a colony of other Siamese cats, tribal and keen to keep an eye on their lot. But her treatment was such as to make her flee – or at least consider wandering afar.

Even then, with her state and appearance, the sharpest of words from Hugh Hector Munro (Saki, to most) came to mind: “The cats of the slums and alleys, starved, outcast, harried, still keeps amid the prowlings of its adversity the bold, free, panther-thread with which it paced of yore the temple courts of Thebes, still displays self-reliant watchfulness which man has never taught it to lay aside.”

She eventually found herself occupying more and more time at an abode further up Casuarina Drive in a hot suburb of Townsville, North Queensland. She fled the Siamese realm that had bred and oppressed her. The new residence offered promise, a place of retreat with options: multiple bookshelves and books to hide in; rooms for sleepy seclusion; people to spoil her.

This was a place to conquer, with occupants to seduce. There was sanctuary, nourishment and, however promiscuous as she proved with her fidelity, Miaow always found her way back to the selected sanctum.

She loved invading the beds, spreading her rule of fur, and reigning across many a surface. During summer months, her warmth could be excruciating, sneaking under blankets, craving the contact of human skin. Fur mingled with sweat; whiskers and wet nose found contact with the human body.

Miaow was never one of those cats kept housebound in the torturous manner humans relish. The struggle between cat and human is waged on various fronts, but to do so in small confines is to endorse slavery masquerading as forced love. The instinct of these quadrupeds is to sleep during the day and turn into keen, devastating hunter at night, where they prey upon other members of the animal kingdom. In Australia, as with other invasive species, they were introduced, and have created their fair degree of ecological mayhem.

Her idiosyncrasy – and in this sense a truly peculiar one – was an inability to work out how the door flaps worked. Gloriously beautiful as she was, she was reliably unintelligent in some respects, forever proving that the aesthetic is ever its own criterion. This meant that we, as true retainers and porters of the feline world, would oblige opening doors at ungodly hours.

Then, on this day in January, her body was found, curled up against the wheel of the car. It was only slightly cool to the touch, the fur still shedding vibrantly, her black ringed tail showing a murmur of warmth. Her eyes seemed to flicker.

The previous afternoon, there had been signs of visible wear. The meowing had lost its richness. There was nothing in the way of banter, the teasing jump on the table, the pressing reminders for attention. Food was not sought. A booking with the vet was made for a morning check-up.

In taking her in and placing her on one of the beds, a trick was resorted to. Go to the fridge; take out some sausage; pan fry it. Let the smell waft with its resuscitating power. The body registered no flicker of recognition; the whiskers and mouth remained immobile, a deathly state petrifying. Not even the kitchen smells could spark the galvanic charge that would enable her to spring into action, stretch with admirable sleekness, and sing for her supper. She was gone, leaving her retainers to mourn and wonder.

Even now, it is hard to remove the used towels, the blankets she made her own in furry conquest. There are the bowls of food – dry food – that remain haunting reminders. There are the bowls of water, one placed on the back patio that became, at various points, a birdbath and watering point for a range of other creatures, including possums and green tree frogs. There are the packets of frozen cat food with titles such as “Fussy Cat”. There is the fridge container, occasionally streaked with dry blood, where a packet of such meat would be defrosted daily.

If cats, as Winston Churchill observed, look down on people (dogs looked up at you; pigs did so on an equal level), there is only hope that somewhere, her essence is gazing downwards, proud. For now, the realm of death has another addition, and life, a numbing subtraction.

 

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69 comments

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  1. Anne Byam

    Having owned and bred Siamese cats in the distant past, and at all times, never without cat(s) in my life, this beautifully written story resonates very much with me.

    The sense of loss is barely describable. My own thoughts on the demise of a beloved pet is that they had comfort, love and peace during their lives, and were most likely spoiled a lot, but it is nice to think back to their whacky ways, their independence, and their – yes – love for us. It is also painful to remember. And that’s a strange paradox. But having given them all the best in life for a cat, I am comforted and am grateful that they have all passed peacefully to their reward.

    Thank you to the writer.

  2. Carl Marks

    I know. My old friend passed on four or five months ago and sometimes the silence around the house is deafening.

  3. GL

    Dogs have masters. Cats have servants.

  4. Patricia

    A lovely tribute to a wonderful friend. Thank you.

    Being a long term cat servant I have had my share of the essence and spirit of small furry bodies leaving to inhabit another realm.

    Each time a little bit of my soul goes with them into that special place where these beautiful creatures go after they have finished gracing us with their wonderful presence.

    And many tears are shed.

    When my last siamese died at 19 years of age I tearily rang work and told them that I would not be in that day as a close, much loved, family member had died. No one questioned me when they found it was my beautiful Daisy.

    I understand that they are free and wandering creatures but having lost a beautiful Devon Rex boy to a car and the guilt that I carried for months after, all my cats now are confined to the house and a huge outdoor enclosure which keeps both them and the local wildlife safe.

  5. corvusboreus

    So the owner of ‘miaow’ was aware that their animal was wreaking constant devastation upon surrounding wildlife, but felt that feline rights to unfettered liberty trumped any consideration for protecting native biodiversity.
    Apparently not letting a cat out to torture and dismember native birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians is ‘slavery’.
    The combination of birdbath and unsecured feline is an effective way of luring birds in to be slaughtered.
    This article provides a low-key illustration of domestic attitudes that have helped straya lead the world in wildlife extinctions.
    The death of a single feline is a heartwrenching tragedy, the uncounted tally of various prey it wantonly killed the merest footnote.
    I hope the author refrains from getting another cat.

  6. Barry Thompson.

    My thoughts exactly Corvusboreus.
    Build an aviary type of outdoor enclosure with climbing apparatus and other attractions.
    Do not let your cat roam outside at night.

  7. pierre wilkinson

    “Miaow was never one of those cats kept housebound in the torturous manner humans relish. The struggle between cat and human is waged on various fronts, but to do so in small confines is to endorse slavery masquerading as forced love. The instinct of these quadrupeds is to sleep during the day and turn into keen, devastating hunter at night, where they prey upon other members of the animal kingdom. In Australia, as with other invasive species, they were introduced, and have created their fair degree of ecological mayhem.”
    which just about sums up your article and the dismal attitude to biodiversity people such as you express in your mistaken beliefs

  8. Harry Lime

    Anyone ever seen the comic book “101 uses for a dead cat’? I was particularly taken by the one illustrating a pencil sharpener.

  9. Hotspringer

    To corvusboreus et al, the impact of cats pales to insignificance compared to the other introduced specie, homo “sapiens”.

  10. wam

    My family are cat and dog people but I am a Maluridae lover and therefore a cat hater. In deference to me, the cats are house cats with access to a secure back yard during daylight. In my yard I trapped two and took them to the pound and have not seen a cat for nearly 2 years. ps I used to play poker on a pommie site and one guy had a cat on his head.. I casually said I have a uni-chum whose brother(walmsley) makes hats out of cats. Wow the worst abuse I have had ensued and I was left alone at the table when the other 8 took their stakes and left. Michael: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7076733/Catman-Kangaroo-Island-trapping-killing-feral-felines-20-years.html

  11. Keitha Granville

    I have been owned by many cats, currently 3 share their house with me. We live on a property in the country, and their hunting is amply satisfied with mice and rats in our barn. The occasional slow starling and a small rabbit on a good day is the sum of their devastation. None of those bother me at all. They actually spend most of their night indoors, often I shut them in, as they venture outside in the early evening for a mouse chase, and return before bedtime. Favourite spots of course include my bed. I do like cat enclosures, my son has begun a construction at his new house. So far only a small space but he has grand plans for climbing towers and platforms. Meanwhile his cats are supremely happy fur babies. Losing them, as we do since their lives are short, is painful, but I always replace them with another rescue animal.

  12. Kaye Lee

    I admit I can’t read the story. I am traumatised by the loss of every pet I have ever had. Because I cannot put anyone else in the family through it, it always falls to me to make that last trip to the vet. The last time I did it, I said never again, no more pets. Then my daughter came home with a rescue dog, soon followed by another. They are now, as always happens, integral members of our family. I will enjoy their company and not anticipate the pain I know I will feel when the inevitable happens.
    I am sorry for your loss.

  13. Michael Taylor

    Cats know things. Things I doubt there’s a scientific answer for.

    On the day our little Pomeranian died the cats knew that she would be passing. They never left her side that sad day. Our oldest cat – who adored the little Pom – never stopped hugging her.

  14. Michael Taylor

    To the cat haters commenting here, our cats have only caught two birds, which they brought inside to proudly show us their catch before letting us take the birds and releasing them back outside.

    To country folk like myself – who dwell next to paddocks – cats are quite useful. Nothing attracts snakes like a juicy mouse. By keeping mouse numbers down the risk of snakes entering the yard is greatly reduced.

  15. corvusboreus

    MT,
    I neither love nor hate cats: they just do what comes naturally.

    There have been numerous scientific studies on the high levels of depredation unrestrained cats have upon surrounding wildlife (particularly where suburbia meets bushland), and the deathtoll far exceeds the perceptions or estimations of most owners.

    Cats can have undeniable benefits as both companion animals and for small scale pest control in agriculture and shipping. (They have been historically anointed as sacred animals for a practical reason).

    However, the authors espousal of allowing their suburban cat out at ‘ungodly hours’ is situationally irresponsible cat ownership, and their decrying of owners restraining their pet’s killer instinct (ie: responsible ownership) as ‘torturous slavery’ is completely impalatable to those who value surrounding native biodiversity.
    “You become ultimately responsible for the behavior of that which you tame”.

    That said, hotspringer makes a very valid contextual point: a single human with a D9 dozer and DA approval can wreak far more havoc on surrounding wildlife in an hours work than a moggie could do in 9 lifetimes of predation.

  16. corvusboreus

    KL,
    Nowadays many veterinarians will do outcalls for euthenasia duties.
    Sparing a beloved companion pet a stressfully bewildering trip to the sterile strangeness of a surgery can help ease the inherent pain of ending a life for all the animals concerned.
    “…… passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by their loved ones.”

  17. Michael Taylor

    cb, in our council area it’s an offence to let your cats outside of your premises after dark. It doesn’t bother our cats – it’s impossible for them to get out of our yard anyway – and they keep themselves entertained by chasing moths.

    And despite having two cats our yard is a Mecca for birds thanks to us having lots of trees and a couple of bird baths.

    I like all animals, btw.

    As an aside, my neighbour was at odds trying to work out what was eating the plants in her front garden. She finally caught the culprit in the act: it was a kangaroo. Her dog, much to her annoyance, was more than happy to sit there and watch the roo enjoy its feast.

  18. The AIM Network

    The “Oscillot”. The best way to keep your cats from jumping the fence.

  19. corvusboreus

    MT,
    Kudos to your engineering ingenuity in cat-escape-proofing your yard: difficulty in preventing escapism (that climbing thing) is one reason why responsible cat ownership is such a hard ask.
    Breed selection is another consideration: novel constructs like poms and manx are obviously far less adept at houdiniism & avian predation than your standard long-legged short-furred mogs.

    BTW, interesting evolutionary thingy: over generations, in coastal areas through to dark-soil plains, feral felines tend to breed mainly tabbies & tortoise-shells, whereas out in the red-dirt country, gingers mainly predominate.
    I suspect wedge-tailed selection processes might be a factor.

  20. Michael Taylor

    cb, there’s been an interesting (but in a way disturbing) development in our garden over the last two summers: There has been an extraordinary shortage of insects, flies (I don’t miss them), and Christmas’s beetles.

    The spiders too have noticed it, as their webs are now larger – increasing the chances of catching the increasingly scarce food. There has to be a correlation, in my humble opinion: The climate is changing.

    As well as the above, our orange and lemon trees are bearing fruit earlier.

    Something is happening to our climate and nature is adapting to it. They see the signs that many humans don’t.

    The downside for me is that I keep walking into spider webs.

    The sight of me throwing karate chops into thin air must cause the spiders much amusement.

    At least we still have lots of bees. Zillions of them, so not all is lost.

  21. GL

    Michael,

    Where I live, about 22 klicks outside Launceston, I haven’t seen a single praying mantis (my favourite insect) or Christmas beetle in 3 years plus. Blow flies outnumber the smaller nuisances by about 10:1, even the butterfly population has noticeabley dropped off. There has been an increase in the number of jack jumpers, which is just bloody terrific for me after discovering late last year I have anaphylaxis and now have to keep EpiPens handy.

    I definitely agree with you about climate change and it’s not for the better.

  22. Michael Taylor

    Did I say “garden”?

    A mere faux pas.

    We don’t have gardens – we have jungles!

    As a bloke who grew up on a farm on Kangaroo Island I thus have a love of flora at levels that are off the charts. We have a number of “garden” areas and I estimate I’ve dug 400 holes for Carol to stick plants into.

    You could easily get lost in them. And it’s Club Med for the cats.

    Last year a flock of Eastern Rosellas cracked open every single almond on our miniature almond tree (well, it was meant to be a miniature, but it had other plans) and our cats just sat there and watched them. But I didn’t mind, as I quite like seeing birds in our jungles.

    Whoever thought I’d enjoy gardening! Retirement does weird things to you.

  23. Michael Taylor

    GL, if you’re ever up our way Carol would love some help pruning the roses. 😁

    As for Christmas beetles, I’m hearing a number of people say they haven’t seen them for a couple of years now.

    We still see the regular praying mantis, but only the green variety. Also saw our first legless lizard the other day – quite a large one, over six inches long – who wandered into the garage much to the amusement of our cats.

    One thing I have noticed: I lived in this town in the 1980s when transferred here for a few months and not once did I see a bin chicken/dump chook. 35 years later they’re everywhere.

  24. GL

    Michael,

    It could be worse, you could have a sudden unnatural urge to go and buy a flat cap and Volvo.

  25. corvusboreus

    MT,
    Observed loss of invertebrate diversity and biomass is a global concern.
    You are lucky that bees still abound around you, they are one of most worrying disappearing acts.

    Here in north coast NSW, christmas beetles have all but disappeared.
    The fireflies came more than a month ahead of shedule last year.
    Butterflies are still numerous but are notably reducing in diversity.
    Standard honeybees have drastically reduced in number (apiarists are hurting), although the varied local habitats still support a reasonable variety of native bees (eg blue-bandeds & teddy-bears)

    I suspect this is down to manifest climate change combined with other increasing negative environmental factors, particularly rampant clearance of muli-strata vegetation & the overuse of chemical this’n’thaticides.

    There has been an exponential growth in blueberry agribusiness around here, and the suite of chemicals they prophyllactically employ would hurt your head & turn your stomach (estuarine fishkills in farmed catchments are an increasingly frequent local occurance).
    Thankfully, my own catchment is thus far blueberry free, but DAs have been lodged & the local NAT state member is a vocal industry lobbyist.

    I would add that own conservation-based work (bush regeneration) is not entirely blameless as routine herbicide usage is pretty-much industry SOP, although i personally do what i can to mitigate against off-target damage through constantly assessing & improving process training & practices.

    Ps, any bushwalker who doesn’t enjoy their face being constantly spider-webbed quickly learns to automatically cut the air before them.

  26. Michael Taylor

    cb,

    You’ve clearly not had a spider the size of a coconut land on your face. 😁

  27. corvusboreus

    MT,
    No, not coconut sized, just the breadth of my hand (both golden orb in daytime & night spiders at night).
    I have not been bitten by either species, but have been envenomated by white-tailed, wolf and black-house spiders.
    Not sure how you deduced that my precautions against walking into webs came from a lack of personal experience with spiders.

  28. Carl Marks

    Michal, you have what is known as a “cottage garden”.

    Corvus is right, they DO do more damge than most realise, particularly those gone feral outbush. But we have been brought up anglophile, for most us, cats and dogs have been cognitively ingrained to be seen as companions since childhood.

    For reasons amply demonstrated most in a post from Michael Taylor earlier.

    And even feral animals pale into insignificance against the damage done by human ferals best represented by members of the ruling coalition in Canberra and their corporate mates and string pullers.

  29. wam

    sadly, corvus, if it was natural cats would be killing mice, rabbits and sparrows and there would be fairy wrens.
    But I lied with the awful word ‘hate’.
    We had a siamese sans souci, rama, a rescued flawed kitten from a show cat siamese blue litter, who lived as a house cat from 1970 till 1991, their daughter, princess, who graduated from kitty litter to using the toilet.
    Plus 4 rescue dogs.
    All deeply loved and mourned.
    ps
    I rescue spiders mainly huntsmen using a plastic bottle on the end of a broomstick and have never hated, in the extreme, any living organism.
    Of my race Churchill, Stalin, Hitler and Howard came close but the closest is scummo, a man that hit the loathing button at first sight.
    His wedge of labor may be desperate but brilliant, enough for a miracle win, by opening the way for the bandit.
    If it works and scummo gets a second term is there something between loathing and hating?

  30. Michael Taylor

    Carl, I wouldn’t call 400 trees, shrubs and bushes a cottage garden.

  31. leefe

    It’s rather depressing to see that, even here, anyone who brings up the devastation caused by free-roaming cats is automatically dubbed a “cat hater”.

    One does not have to hate a species, or even any one representative of it, to realise how much damage they can do. Keep your cats restrained, preferably indoors. Native species matter more than catering to the hunting instincts of your fur babies.

    (for the record, our family always had cats, and it’s only relatively recently that I’ve been without a dog of my own. But I can’t justify the harm they do, so it’s pet free for me now. The visiting birds and my resident blue-tongue – who seems to be about to give birth, judging by her girth – more than make up for it.)

  32. Michael Taylor

    leefe, I’m the guilty one. Saying “cat haters” was a bit extreme, and I wish I hadn’t said it.

    Pets, whether a dog, a cat, or whatever, bring me so much joy. The amount of which, is immeasurable.

  33. Carl Marks

    Well, a BIG corrage garden.

    Talk about cavill…

  34. Canguro

    ummm… Carl Marks… there is, in the horticultural realm, an actual defined descriptor of what a cottage garden is, and Michael is quite correct in his assertion that “400 trees, shrubs and bushes’ is not a cottage garden. Do your own research, but typically such a garden is “… a distinct style that uses informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, it depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure.” [Wiki]

    There’s no suggestion of cavil [single L) in his refutation.

  35. corvusboreus

    Cavil = petty objection.
    New learned word day = good day.

    Ps based on limited info provided, i would tentatively describe M&C Taylors’ yard as ‘mixed exotic/native large cottage garden’.

  36. Carl Marks

    Canguro, I stand by my comment.

    It is all relative- “traditional”, “informal”, “shrubs and bushes” (which apparently grow in gardens designated “cottage” and those who a given person may not neccessarily immediately define as “cottage”)

    Firstly, Michael says he wouldnt call this entity a cottage garden. But he is only one of many- others may differ.

    Secondly , Michael said he wouldnt call it a “cottage garden”, he possibly could say, “at this stage”. he wouldnt call it cottage garden.

    Canguro, thanks for your cavil, it presented an opportunity to indulge in a favourite pastime of my own, some return hair splitting and quite elegant hair splitting, of my own.

  37. Michael Taylor

    Carl,

    I didn’t realise you’re a fellow lover of gardening.

    Here’s a bit of my jungle:

  38. Michael Taylor

    Gardening doesn’t cost much. Just a handful of plants every fortnight and after a few years… presto.

  39. Carl Marks

    Michael, good to hear from you so soon after my postings.

    THAT’S a Garden, marvellous,

    I live in the city in a reasonable two bedroom with a back yard I can tamper with, The lawn is cut regularly even though I am informed by those of a higher sensibility that I should turn this over to veges or gravel it. There is a cottag-ish garden rather than a weed patch like some of the neighbours.

    I don’t mind getting out for an hour or two working, can be therapeutic, didnt use poisons while the cat was alive and stubbornly persist in weeding the more gardeny bits by hand..

    As with most forms of work, I adopt the attitode that hard work never killed anyone,I especially enjoy it when someone else is doing it.

    But however, I have been determined to not to become the first..

  40. corvusboreus

    A vanity posting: a quick tour of a garden feature installed by the resident male satin bowerbird.

    There can be material benefits to not keeping a cat.

  41. Michael Taylor

    carl, we have a lawn near our fruit trees and vegie garden.

    The lawnmower died a month ago and I couldn’t afford a new one – nearly fainted at the prices I saw in Bunnings, then I noticed a Ryobi cordless electric mower which was a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the petrol ones so I snapped it up.

    Best thing I’ve done in years. Starts at the press of a button. Much quieter, too.

  42. Carl Marks

    Yes, electrics are cheaper. I have a Ozito the cost a $ 100 (or 150?? half a dozen years ago and at the moment does my lawn and a neighbours yard.

    The neighbour is a gem, but cunning. Bought me a tub of watermelon today, but was it a hint? . glanced over the fence, yes, an idea whos time has come.

    What a money saver, against what I’d pay for a local contractor. I still edge by hand but I am told it is good for the soul.

  43. Roswell

    Good for the soul, but bad for the back. 😁

  44. Roswell

    Not that I’m much of a gardener anyway. I could just never get into it.

    The extent of my gardening is mowing the lawns and trimming the edges.

    And I don’t have cats.

  45. Anne Byam

    Michael … I am garden green with envy at your beautiful garden, while at the same time I’m saying ” well done you “. Your photos are fantastic. You must spend a great deal of good time there, and gardens are such demanding masters … Always love Bunnings, I have spent so much time there in the past. I could well have taken a cut lunch. !! -:)

  46. GL

    Earlier this evening I discovered, purely by accident, a very funny BBC radio SF comedy from 2018/20 called The Quanderhorn Xperimentations written by Rob Grant, of Red Dwarf fame, and Andrew Marshall. It’s a very warped version of Quatermass and other shows and movies.

    I like it so much I’m now in the midst of tracking down and hopefully buy the The Quanderhorn Collexion.

  47. Anne Byam

    cb –

    My first comment ( the actual 1st comment here ) was written to pass on my empathy and understanding to the writer who had lost a dear dear pet.

    I live in an area ( the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria ) … which has strict policies when it comes to the keeping of cats, for which I am grateful. If a cat is found outside at night, a reportable offence, the owner is immediately fined. Most people know which cat belongs to which group of people. Also, all our cats ( and dogs ) here in Yarra Ranges Shire, have to be registered, and the fees for that reflects the advice to neuter all pet cats. Breeders I think come under a different set of fees / registrations.

    The people in this area who let their cats roam, ( not too many btw ), are the human nasties that aid in the destruction of wild life. Cats cannot help being hunters. It is not their fault, it is their nature – it is the owners who should wear your obvious intense dislike of felines.

    Foxes are way more a problem in this area than cats ( or dogs ). Yarra Ranges Shire do as much as they can to deal with the foxes but that unfortunately doesn’t work as well as we all would like, as baits cannot be put down which could kill the variety and abundance of wild life we have here.

  48. Anne Byam

    Michael,

    I was very moved by the photo of your cats being close to their friend, your darling Pomeranian as she lay waiting for her next journey.

    I had a similar experience when 4 of my cats, sat around as close as possible to my 5th cat who had so little time left. They did not leave her. That was so very touching, and while I was upset, I was also hoping ( and I do believe ) that she was comforted by their presence.

    A small story about one of my cats – a most unusual and wholly gentle darling. Thinking back on it, never ceases to amaze me all over again. A bird family was shepherding its juvenile which was just learning to fly, in our back garden. The cats were outside, with my dog who was with us. It was bedlam.

    While the parent birds kept my Burmese busy by bombing them, and Lachlan was going off his head, trying to stop them all – ( he knew ) … my little Oscar found the baby bird under a magnolia bush, and picked it up … ( ye gods ). I told Lachlan to quit his barking security detail, and – thinking it was all over for the youngster – called Oscar to come to me with his prize. And he DID. Softly across the lawn, ( the others were still trying to outsmart the parent birds elsewhere ) he came forward and ever so gently placed that little sweetheart bird in my outstretched hand. Upon which I took the little fella inside, and after a few minutes, out to the front garden where the parents would find him – And they did

    I was never so happy while at the same time amazed at what my little cat had done.

    Every word of this is true.

  49. corvusboreus

    Anne,
    I quote corvus: “i neither love nor hate cats, they are just doing what comes naturally”.

    If you bothered to read my words as written you would find that any castigation was directed towards the author for letting ‘miaow’ out at night full knowing that their cat was killing wildlife (which makes them one of the “human nasties” by your own definitive terms), and also at them suggesting that more responsible owners keeping their cats their inside was “tortuous” and “slavery”.

    If you wish to project your own assumptions onto others, then that is your own affair, but i suggest you try mindfully rereading to full comprehension before further slinging off at me.

  50. Anne Byam

    cb ~

    I did initially mindfully read every post you made. And I totally agree with you when you said :

    However, the authors espousal of allowing their suburban cat out at ‘ungodly hours’ is situationally irresponsible cat ownership, and their decrying of owners restraining their pet’s killer instinct (ie: responsible ownership) as ‘torturous slavery’ is completely impalatable to those who value surrounding native biodiversity. “You become ultimately responsible for the behavior of that which you tame”.

    It was the article itself I didn’t read properly. Was more intent on the suffering of the owner than anything else in my first post. Native wildlife means the world to me, and I would not allow my cat out to do the damage he obviously would do. So he is an “indoors” cat and will remain so – in the comfort and lifestyle to which he has become accustomed ( has he what ).

    I notice that you “neither love nor hate cats, they are just doing what comes naturally “… and yes, they are and they do ( except for my little Oscar cat – see above story ), although I rather think you are not overly fond of them. The use of words is often very telling.

    Perhaps we could agree that we both love all animals ( I adore them all myself ) and leave it at that.

  51. Michael Taylor

    Thank you for your kind words, Anne. They were appreciated.

    As for the gardens, we have 12 garden areas plus a lawn. And yes, they’re all jungles or jungles in the making.

    And here are a couple of our jungle animals…

  52. Michael Taylor

    I have a way with animals. They feel safe with me.

    Here’s a female fairy wren.

  53. Michael Taylor

    I have one of a sparrow too, but the file was too large to post.

  54. Anne Byam

    The pics are just BEAUTIFUL Michael. The garden behind your gorgeous cats, looks great . Making a fence look so good is a special ability. As for the fairy wren – how wonderful that she is nestling in your hand like that. Trust – beautiful to see.

    You really must have a wonderful way with animals and birds. Thank you for posting these delights.

  55. GL

    Michael,

    The closest I can come to the photo of you jungle critters is one of Miranda and Tickles when they “expired” in front of the fireplace and turned into furry heat sinks about five minutes after it was lit.

  56. GL

    GoDaddy keeps blocking a photo I want to add to a post.
    Block reason: Exploit attempt denied by virtual patching.

    Michael,

    I enjoy going out the front and standing still and usually within a few minutes at least one large dragonfly lands on my shirt. So far over the last week I’ve seen four different metallic compound eye colours. Currently, under my window, I can hear the little juvenile pademelon I’ve named Tiny crunching his/her way through the handful of leftover duck seed and pellets I put out each morning for our three hopping cadgers.

  57. wam

    wow michael what a post. The pictures are terrific
    We are lucky enough to have one of the old nightcliff 1300 blocks and we have a willynilly no lawn ‘bush’ including 3 huge coconut palms, 3 large beautifully gnarled frangipani, a towering mango and, according to the gardener, the best tamarind tree in darwin.
    The latter, over the last 40 years, has spread a carpet around the pool. Each morning it is lovely to see new seedlings that have pushed their way up through the leaves.(sadly most are coffee bush so are killed)
    Two curlews have been raising chicks in the front yard for the last 3 years and scrub fowls have been building their mound in the back for years. At times the birds seem competing as to whose cries are the loudest. But there is no doubt the curlews’ cries are scary.

  58. The AIM Network

    GL,

    It should be OK now.

  59. GL

    And when the almost inevitable surge of new infections and deaths occurs who is this bloody cretin going to blame?

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-17/nsw-eases-covid-19-restrictions-face-masks-to-be-scaled-back/100839260

    Scummo is absolutely desperate to stay as Uncle Dear Leader Saint Prime Minister and doesn’t give a shit how vile and how low he has to sink to get what he wants. The Reichspud Warmonster just wants a war to show how macho and tough and manly he can be.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/feb/17/morrison-and-dutton-are-imperilling-australias-national-security-to-hang-on-to-power

  60. The AIM Network

    GL.

    The pictures have been added to your comment at 8:52 this morning.

    Thank you for sending them in.

  61. GL

    For anyone that looks at the two photos that were added to my 8.52 am post (thanks Michael) the one on the left is Miranda, our Norwegian forest cat, reprising her famous role of “Not dead, sleeping.” The second is Tickles and Miranda, the furry heatsinks.

    Both cats learnt early that the flying wildlife is well and truly off limits. Thankfully they are both cowardy custards and much prefer being in the house after dark.

  62. Michael Taylor

    GL,

    I would love a Norwegian Forest Cat. Apparently they’re enormous when fully grown.

  63. GL

    Miranda as a female is slightly smaller than the male and only weighs about 6kg. The following describes her down to a tee – “These cats are intelligent and alert, and they love human connection and affection. Though they crave attention, they’re undemanding and prefer to let you come to them. In keeping with their undemanding nature, Wegies are a quiet breed and don’t meow a lot like, say, a Siamese cat. But when they do meow, Kornreich says, their high-pitched meows sound almost like chirps—a funny contrast to their large frames.” Sometimes I think she is part barnacle because you can’t remove her when she is in smoochy mode.

    https://www.dailypaws.com/cats-kittens/cat-breeds/norwegian-forest-cat

    Have a good night all, I’m off to watch a couple of episodes of The IT crowd then it’s bed time.

  64. Michael Taylor

    Goodnight, GL. We’re watching Doc Martin.

    PS: Gorgeous cats.

  65. GL

    Michael,

    Talking about critters a couple of days ago just reminded me that we have seen a big decrease in the number of a type of grey Hawk moth (which type I’m not sure) over the past few years. Each year there seems to be less and less of them which I find rather sad.

  66. Michael Taylor

    GL,

    Not as many moths up our way recently, either. What I have seen a lot of though are wasps. Zillions of them making their mud nests on our wall.

    I used to be rather scared of wasps, then one day about 20 years ago I was enjoying a cup of tea on the veranda with an Adnyamathanha man at his homestead in the Flinders Ranges and wasps were buzzing all around us. He could see my discomfort. “They won’t hurt you,” he said. “They are our brothers and sisters.”

    The wasp was his people’s “totem”. Aboriginal people have an animal as their totem: one they are spiritually connected to.

    Nonetheless, I would have preferred it if his totem was a wallaby or an echidna. 😁

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