Sooky was a great ambassador. Resourceful. Always there for a stroke. She arrived with the family across the road and was with them for years until she couldn’t jump to the top of their front wall. She drifted over the road to mum’s place the year dad died. Great timing. Mum loved Sooky. The feeling was mutual. I have fond memories of mum preparing cat food. But Sooky was no vagrant scavenger. This gentle cat gave mum a reason to get up each morning . . . ‘To feed the cat’. When mum died nine weeks after falling and breaking her hip, I took over feeding Sooky. Her soft purring and good nature hooked me. I still miss her humanising influence. I fed Sooky for her final three years of life. She sat inside the front porch until I opened the door and she padded through the hallway, into the kitchen, and out the back door. This was her house after all. Sooky taught me how to more forgivingly connect with other humans. Ok, she did kill a bird or two. She was a cat after all. Sometimes she left a dead mouse at the back door. An atonement? Then she became ill. Went off her food. The winter weather was cruel for an old cat. She started living rough in the back garden. Stopped eating altogether. Just lay around. I made her a makeshift cat box. Fitted it with a small blue blanket. Placed her cat food dish in it. She would take a few mouthfuls to please me, I guess. On her final day, I placed the box with her in it, near a warming radiator. I went across the road to her ‘real’ owner. She understood immediately and called a vet. A knock at the front door. The neighbor held a portable cat box. We lowered Sooky into it. She was not agitated as her little mouth sucked in what air it could. The neighbor drove off to the vet. She returned with the cat box. Empty. We humans are privileged to make contact with animals not of our species. I am blessed to have had such an experience. Beautiful Sooky. Thanks for being my true feline friend.
I continue to be in awe that other animals tolerate human beings. No more clearly was this brought home to me than when Sooky the cat ‘adopted’ my mother and then when she died, adopted me. I guess that many tins of cat food along the way helped. But this cat was special and, under my care, taught me many lessons. I am not a cat person, but the experience of looking after this cat lingers with me still.
Martin Christmas is a poet, photographer, and theatre director with more than 100 productions to his credit. He has been published in several Australian anthologies, and overseas on-line literary magazines including Red River Review (the USA), as a Featured Poet; StepAway Magazine (the UK); and Bindweed (Ireland). He runs one to one poetry presentation workshops. His poetry books are Immediate Reflections, The Deeper Inner, D&M Between 2 Men (with Andrew Drake), and Random Adventures. He has an M.A. in Cultural Studies.