Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lancelot & Guinevere

 Lancelot taking his job as quilt inspector very seriously.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Lancelot, my black and white cat and his bad behaviour towards the kelpies.  Two days ago we found Lancelot curled up under a bush in the garden, dead.  He appears to have died in his sleep.  It was the day we had booked Guinevere into the vets' to be euthanased because the tumour on her leg had got to the stage where she couldn't cope anymore.  Thursday was a very bad day for me.  We buried them side by side - together as always.

Lancelot and his sister Guinevere were born on the farm at Spring Rock shortly after we took possession - a housewarming gift from their mother, Mum-Puss, I always thought. It was the first time in about 25 years that we'd had kittens in the family - I usually end up with older cats seeking a new home for some reason or another, and kittens were a novelty for all of us.  Both kittens soon wormed their way into my heart despite the fact that Guinevere channelled her feral cat father for the first seven years of her life and hated all human beings on principal. 

Lancelot wasn't the brightest cat we've ever met, actually I think he would have won the dumbest cat prize if we'd held a competition.  We put his slowness down to Mum-Puss's old age when she had him.  He used to constantly bash his head against the glass in the windows when he saw a bird outside, in his efforts to get at it, and my windows aren't even that clean!! It didn't a matter that his first, second, third or thirtieth attempt met with cold, hard glass, he honestly believed that if he kept trying the glass would disappear and he'd be able to bat the bird out of the tree or sky or where ever it was.  If he was outside and he saw a bird fly overhead he'd jump up with an outstretched paw, thinking he could bat it out of the sky. Maybe he hoped that's he'd learn to fly too - then watch out birds!  Needless to say, bird life at Spring Rock had no worries about Lancelot's presence here too.  The bell on his collar was really just for show.  Lancelot tried the patience of Mum-Puss regularly and there were lots of ear cuffings and harsh words spoken between the two of them at times, but more often they could be found curled up together with Lancelot enduring yet another face washing session.  Lancelot was a gorgeous, affectionate boy who I miss dreadfully.

Guinevere waiting for me to sit down so she can climb on my lap.

Guinevere, as stated, spent the first seven years acting more like a hostage than a member of the family.  I would pick her up regularly in an effort to show her I meant no harm, but no sooner was I upright after lifting her, than she struggled to get down.  I always let her go straight away, wanting to prove I could be trusted. I'm nothing if not patient.  Shortly before Mum-Puss died Guinevere suffered a reversal of opinion about one human at least.  After seven years of this, she finally decided to trust me.

At first she would sit on the chair behind me and gently touch her nose to the back of my head.  If I moved a fraction of an inch, she was off like a flash.  When I passed this first test over and over again, she surprised both of us by climbing down onto my lap for a second.  She didn't even have time to sit, she was gone so quickly, but the fact remained that she'd crossed a line that she couldn't take back.  I wasn't allowed to move or pat her and slowly she stayed on my lap a bit longer each time until she finally settled down and became my friend.  I was allowed to pat and pick her up after that and Guinevere became the most soppy, affectionate cat I've owned.  She still hated the rest of the human race mind you, but me she loved.  She would regularly insult friends and visitors who would see her nestled on my lap, looking the picture of a cute, affectionate cat, and come over to give her a pat.  She would fix them with a glassy stare, rise from my lap, and leave the room with her tail in the air, bristling indignation from every hair.  Visitors soon got the message - leave the tabby cat alone.  Shower affection on the black and white fellow or the ginger cat, but don't touch the tabby.  And that was fine with Guinevere too!

I have to lie down in the middle of the day most days because I have an injury to one of my discs.  I usually lie down and read for a while around 1.00 p.m. to rest my back, often nap, and recharge for the afternoon.  Guinevere always joined me and chose to have her rest snuggled up against my right side with my arm around her.  If I was late lying down, Guinevere would follow me around the house nagging me to come to bed.  On the days when I just couldn't afford the time to lie down, Guinevere's day was ruined.  She would eventually stalk off to my bed and have her own, solo lie down, but she left me in no doubt that it just wasn't the same.  When the two boy cats discovered our resting routine they decided to join in the fun.  Guinevere did not approve.  If one of the boys beat her to her favourite spot she would tackle the problem in a very pacifistic manner.  She wouldn't raise a fuss, show any temper or bad manners.  She would just lick them to death.  Well, not literally to death, but she'd get them in a headlock and keep washing their face until they could stand it no longer and left my side to seek dryer spots on the bed.  Guinevere would then settle in, sigh happily and all would be quiet for the remainder of my rest.  Resting without Guinevere just isn't the same.

So, I'd like to say thank you for sharing your beautiful lives with me Lancelot and Guinevere.  I will miss you for a long time to come.


Jane or Ozjane said...

Sleep well darling cats and I am sorry I did not get to meet you.
Moggie one and two will look after you...well I would watch out for Moggie Two but she may have been transformed.

Jenny said...

So sorry to read of the loss of your beloved cats. But you can take comfort from knowing that the life they had with you was the very best loving home they would ever have. They will be sadly misses, I'm sure. Take care.
Jenny from Kiwi-land

Lindi said...

I know no words that will take the pain away. 12 months on, and I still shed tears for my Minka.