If you love pets like me, then this is a story you don’t want to put down.
When I was very young, I did not like pets at all. Little did I know that this situation would soon change with the arrival of our family cat.
The experience was, however, awful at first. It was evening when Mum walked in with a kitten barely a year old, cuddly and having a soft golden-yellow fur. Upon seeing it, I freaked and hid behind my elder sister. I was only six and hated the whole idea of having an animal in the house.
“It’s okay, Tony; the cat’s only too young and harmless,” my sister Maureen tried to assure me. I however colled around her more tightly and buried my head in her skirt. And then I heard her ask Mum, “What’s her name?”
“I haven’t thought of anything yet,” replied Mum, stretching out her arms and handing her the cat. “Call her anything you like. She’s your responsibility henceforth,” she said and proceeded to her bedroom.
I let out a huge scream when I beheld Maureen holding the cat in her palms, and ran away from her to a safer corner in the living room.
“I’ll call you Sussy, after my best friend in high school, and I’ll treat you as fondly as other members of this family,” Maureen whispered to the cat, and then she boldly said to the rest of us, “Sussy’s here everyone. Welcome her to the family with love. From now onward, she’ll be a sister to take care of.” My other siblings nodded.
Our sister! I didn’t quite agree with those words. In fact, the whole shebang about having a sister cat to treat fondly sounded asinine to me. And poor me, I was only too young and there was utterly nothing I could do to change my family’s decision. Besides, I had heard Mum saying before how she really needed a cat to scare away the rats in our grain store. So I decided to maintain my patience.
The next few days were horrible. Sussy tore the whole house with her foul-smelling craps which she made everywhere. I was angry with her and began to plan how I would scare her away. I told myself that if I found chance, I would drive her out of the house using my father’s club.
But it seemed Mum had a bad smell of my evil plan, for she told me after dinner, “Don’t you dare be selfish, Tony. If Sussy gets lost, then I know it will be your own undoing. So you too will have to leave. This cat needs a roof over her head just as much as you do.” I did not say anything. I simply took the gauntlet and waited for the cat to unleash more “demons” in the house.
But it did not go for long. Maureen took her responsibility seriously. She slowly and with much dedication taught Sussy manners.
She put some soil in a trough and made her learn that that was where to pee and make the crap. She taught her not to move around the table miawing when people were eating – had a seperate point in the house where she served her food. She also washed, combed and perfumed the little girl.
I noticed Sussy grow to love Maureen. She would stay around her when she was not in school and was available in the house. Her new manners were slowly winning my attention too. She was gentle and loving and knew the voice of everyone in the house.
As days went by, I ,of all the people in my family, fell deeply in love with Sussy and defended her like my own sibling. She too developed a liking towards me, one that almost made Maureen jealous. I’d spare some of my meal for her and play with her often after school.
I remember vividly one day when I came from school crying cause I had lost a special camera Dad had bought me. Dad was working away from home and loved to bring us gifts every month end. I had left the camera in my bag and went out to play with friends. When I returned, it was gone and everyone I asked said they had not seen it.
Sussy saw me crying as I entered through the gate and came fast for me. She rubbed herself on my legs several times and flang her tail around me as if trying to say, “It’s okay, dear. Stop crying. Stop crying, my brother.”
I had to stop and pay attention to her. She looked at me with gentleness and love. Oh, I felt my heart pound with rare warmth. It was then and there that I picked up the cat and began to stroke her fondly while smiling and nodding. I was impressed.
The years that followed, our relationship grew bolder. I would now even feed her food from my own hands, wash her and take her for a little walk. She became part of me and I became part of her.
“Now see, if you had killed or sent away Sussy, you wouldn’t be having such a nice friend. See?” Mum reminded me one day when she caught me playing with the cat.
“Yes, Mum. I appreciate your advice.”
Sussy soon attained physical maturity and found a rural lover. Seemed she had fallen madly in love with a neighbour’s cat who loved to visit. I noticed that, unlike in the past when the male cat would just come and leave, these days the two left the house together and Sussy returned some time later in the night. Other times, they would just be sprightly playing in the garden beside our main house.
We were soon full of expectations, the longing to see Sussy’s babies. But it seemed our expectations were getting too long to actualize, or perhaps it was just too early to expect.
A year later, she had not become pregnant yet! We started getting worried. Was Sussy barren? Before we could lay that down, the unexpected occurred, our neighbour’s cat was found dead in the forest. It seemed the boy had been attacked by a wild animal while roaming about. It was a real pity for us, knowing how the two cats spent some quality time together.
We accompanied Sussy to our neighbour’s house to stand by her as she paid her last respect to her boyfriend. It was so painful to me. Never in my life had I been so overwhelmed with too much emotions for an animal as I was for Sussy’s boyfriend.
Mum said we should give Sussy some time to recover from the incidence before looking for her a new mate. Personally, I felt it was ridiculous and unfair to “look for” someone a friend or a lover or whatever she meant by “a new mate”.
“Mum, isn’t that rude to say? To lie that it would be nice to fetch for Sussy a new… whatever you meant by that.” I made up my mind and objected.
Mum was not the kind of woman who was short of responses. She aptly answered, “She needs someone who can understand her feelings. Do you want us to keep her in here and just pretend she’ll be fine without interacting with creatures of her kind?”
I gave in quickly on my stance. Maybe she was right that Sussy needed to interact with fellow cats to develop her personality. A month later, Mum brought in a neighbour’s cat and the tussle that ensued between the two was intolerable. The male cat made too much noise in the house going after Sussy who, it seemed to us, hated him with passion. It was annoying and worrying all at the same time.
The cat left on its own a few days later. We did not immediately understand what had happened to him. But after a few weeks, we got an answer. Sussy was pregnant, finally!! It was everyone’s joy and relief to get to get to this revelation. We wanted her to give birth to several kids so we could just retain as much of her precious genes as possible. But when the time came for her delivey, she gave birth to only one daughter whom we named Lin.
When I turned eighteen, I left for my undergraduate studies away from my hometown. Sussy had grown so old that she could not even hear properly. Then one day a phone call came that she had left the house a bit and returned with a deep wound on her forehead. Oh my lovely Sussy, I pitied her. But even before I could process the message about her sickness, another phone call came the following night, that she had finally kicked the bucket.
My cell phone simply left my grip and fell onto the floor. I then began to cry, thinking of all the nice moments I had spent with Sussy and what a lovely kind cat she had been. I could not sleep, neither could I eat, till dawn arrived and I travelled home to pay my last respect to Sussy and express my condolences to her lovely daughter, Lin.
I consoled myself that she had perhaps done what God created her for and fought her last battle free and fairly. May her soul ever rest in peace.
🌷🌷🌷 To God be the glory. 🌷🌷🌷
Thanks for reading. Kindly let me know whether you’ve ever regreted losing a pet like Tony did.