Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tim's Legacy

Tim has left me, but he has taught me a lot in the 3 1/2 years he was with me.
He came to me when his previous family left the area and left him behind. I didn't want an animal because I have no income apart from a Government pension, but neither could I see this cat go hungry. So I called him Tim and we managed to get by with careful budgeting.

I suspect that at some time he'd been a feral cat, from some of his habits. He never slept in the same place twice, and feeding was a bit erratic at first, until I realized that he liked to eat *little and often*. But he was also a laid back character and never seemed to get cranky. Rather than lash out with the claws, if he didn't like what you were doing, he simply walked away. I saw him do this many times with young children who wouldn't leave him alone.

When Tim came to me, he'd never been inside a house, which led to some funny (for me) situations. The first time I used my hair drier in his presence, the poor thing freaked out. He had no idea what it was and was terrified. The only thing he didn't do was to climb the walls. He'd never seen a 3 bar electric heater either. But this time he was just curious. He walked around it, sat and stared at it from a distance, then got closer and closer, trying to get a scent of it. He soon decided it was harmless, and made the most of it.

But I started to look at everyday things in a different way. I don't take everyday things for granted anymore. I've dropped the "I have a right to....." attitude, and instead appreciate any small comforts I may have gathered.

Tim also taught me to look after my body and not take it for granted either. A healthy cat spends a lot of time caring for his body. Before settling down for a nap, he washes himself all over, and he does it carefully, gently, and lovingly. Every lick is a tiny massage and he pays attention to what he's doing, something most of us don't do. This performance can take so long that I used to wonder why he didn't get fed up and just go to sleep! But then when he woke up, he have to go through the same ritual again! He hadn't been anywhere, he wasn't dirty, but it made no difference. Same thing after eating. And a cat takes very good care of his back, again, not something we pay much attention to. Tim would get up, stretch with the front paws straight out and rear end in the air, then arch his back fully. Then he was ready to go.

In January, we had to move from our rented house because it was sold. That house was situated with plenty of space outdoors and no fences. It was a double block in width and depth. Tim was free to come and go as he pleased, wander along the street, sleep under my house or the neighbour's, and he was street wise and careful with traffic.
The new place is a duplex, still with garden front and back, but more private, with high fences at the back, which are no problem for a cat. I was pleased with the way Tim seemed to settle down, and he was indoors much more, but outside he never seemed comfortable.

We'd been here 6 weeks when he had his late feed and went out as usual. I haven't seen him since, and I was devastated. Four weeks have passed and I don't think he will return.

Tim hasn't been seen around the old place, and there were no signs that he'd been hit by a car. Cats have to be registered in Queensland, and he was wearing his bright red registration tag. So if Animal Control had picked him up, they would have contacted me. Tim has disappeared as if he never was.

But again, Tim has taught me something. I loved him dearly, and still do, but good food and plenty of love sometimes aren't enough. I believe he may have felt *caged* in his new surroundings. At the old place if he were outside, he had only to turn his head to see a long way in any direction, where this place is in a more suburban street. Tim needed the freedom of the wild in order to be himself, and to live the way he wanted to live.

So Tim has taught me to * love and let go*. He also showed me where I went wrong, years ago, when I tried to live as others wanted, no, demanded I live, and I was miserable. I wasn't *being me*. Where a dog will do anything to please you, a cat will never do anything he doesn't feel is right FOR HIM, and if you don't like it, too bad.

I'm sad Tim is no longer here, and I miss him so much, but I'm thankful for the time he spent with me, and lessons learnt.

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