Reposted from 13 May 2011
Let me tell you the story of this black cat.
Thomas was in my life for 15 years, between 1973 and 1988. He had all his gear, and made no bones about asserting that. Fights were common between Thomas and the other tomcats in the neighbourhood, particularly in the months of March and November, when the females were in season. His wounds were nasty, because tomcats grasp each other round the neck and dig their claws in – leaving infections behind. If we could not find Thomas in the house, we only had to go after the smell.
Thomas was also a proficient catcher of mice, birds and rabbits. One rabbit was consumed under my parents’ bed at 3 am, from live. Ear piercing screams were replaced by bones being crunched. And a bloated cat lying prostrate on the floor, being unable to move. Thomas ate what we ate. We would give him balls of minced meat, and he would bolt after them into the garden, where we threw them. He was mad for butter, ate runner beans and cheese.
Thomas always had varying numbers of fleas. Consorting with other cats, particularly feral females, ensured that his quota remained topped up. On returning from holiday one year, the fleas jumped for joy. So, out came the fleapowder. I had to powder Thomas. Both cat and myself were quite ill as a result of the insecticide powder.
Thomas grew weaker through the first months of 1988, and we finally took him to the vet. His kidneys were failing and he was dehydrated. Returning from the vet, he was presented with a meal of boiled fish, which he wolfed down. Over the next seven days, he wasted away at a breathtaking pace, from muscular tom to almost kitten size. One Sunday morning at the end of May, he was so weak that he had been unable to jump onto a chair. He had spent the night on the floor, but on hearing us stir, he made his presence known. By 9 o’clock that evening, he left us and passed over the Rainbow Bridge. The next morning, his fleas had also left him. All 400 of them.