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There are people who reshape the world by force or argument,
but the cat just lies there, dozing,
and the world quietly reshapes itself to suit his comfort and convenience.

—Allen and Ivy Dodd


Pushkin shared his life with me from 24 October 2001 to 9 January 2006. Although I had two other cats, the passing of this gentle and dignified character left a big gap in the household. I shall hold very good memories of him. Two quotes by American author Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) on the death of his beloved cat Calvin seem appropriate to 'Push', and I repeat them here.

He had the faculty of making us glad to get home.

He was always a mystery.
I did not know whence he came; I do not know whither he has gone.
I would not weave one spray of falsehood in the wreath I lay upon his grave.

More about Pushkin . . .

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Pushkin (previously known as 'Micky', which I didn't think suited him at all) was my third black, male, rescue cat and I took him in to join Ragamuffin (Rags) after the untimely death of Thomas. He was a complete contrast to the extrovert Rags: quiet, unassuming but very dignified; nevertheless he fitted in quickly and seamlessly with life at the bungalow and soon made himself at home.

Like Tom had been, Pushkin was a sun worshipper and loved to while away the hours sleeping outside when the weather was good; the garden-shed roof was a favourite spot, being both a vantage point and a suntrap. When it wasn't warm enough outside his position of choice was the back of an armchair by the south-facing lounge window, where he could catch any sun that was going. He became a familiar sight on that chair-back, with one or both front paws stretched out languidly. He loved a cuddle now and again; he would put his front paws on my shoulders and purr contentedly. He was such a gentle, and gentlemanly, soul — although like all his kind he did have his mad moments!

After the very upsetting loss of Rags in April 2003, Push was 'king of the castle' for a few months. In the summer, though, his quiet life came to an end when I decided to break the 'tradition' of black, male cats and took on two little 4-month-old tabby 'girls'. Called Maggie and Midge, and not from the same litter, they are as different as chalk and cheese — and they certainly livened the place up! As I write in early 2008 they have grown into large and handsome ladies. As can be imagined, two kittens tearing around after each other was not entirely to Pushkin's liking, but mostly he tolerated them with his usual equanimity and dignity. If an occasional 'bat' with a paw was necessary when they got too close or intrusive — well, it was only what they deserved! But cats in general are far better than humans at sorting out their differences and settling down to a peaceful existence, and as time went by and the kits grew up, life returned to 'normal'.

All went well for a couple of years or more, and then a routine vet visit for booster injections brought the news that Push's teeth were very bad and he had some gum infection. Almost before I knew it most of his teeth had been whipped out; I didn't feel I had been properly consulted. However, what was done was done, and after a few days he seemed to be coping all right. Not long after that, towards the end of 2005, though, I noticed that he seemed to be having trouble 'doing his business'. He turned out to be severely constipated, meaning that he couldn't eat much, as what went in couldn't get out. He rapidly lost weight and became quite thin.

To cut short a long and rather distressing story, after several treatments and temporary respites, the problem just kept recurring and the prognosis was not good. The time came, in early January 2006, when I felt that Push had been through enough stress and indignities. After an overnight stay at the vet's pending another examination the next day, I went to see him; he was so pleased to see me, making me feel awful as I knew it might well be 'goodbye'. The subsequent examination showed that indeed he was blocked up yet again, and I decided it would be kinder just to let him slip away and not be brought round from the anaesthetic.

As any cat owner having to make that choice knows, it was an agonising decision. Your head tells you you�re doing the right thing — at least, you hope so; your heart tells you you've let your beloved pet down by not doing more. Dear, gentle Pushkin is buried next to Tom and not far from Rags. All three of my 'black boys' are sleeping in the garden they so enjoyed.

It took me a long time to decide how or whether to find a successor to Push. Now a new era has started, with two new black, male kittens, about 4 months old when they arrived with me. The 'girls' were not thrilled . . . but that's another story!

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