We’re adopting a kitten from a wonderful cat rescue centre called The Kitten Inn next week, and it has made me think about my first cat, Dylan.
I moved out of Dad’s house and purchased my first home when I was twenty-three. It was a small, two-bed terraced, with a nice but lonely view of a granite quarry. I hated being the only soul in the house, and soon pootled along to the local RSPCA shelter to find myself a pet.
At the back of a cage in a crowded room, was a little black and white boy called Dylan. We locked eyes and knew that we were destined to fall hopelessly in love. Then he fell off his perch and that was that, he had to be mine.
Turned out he had annoying food allergies and a constant, loud meow that drove everyone mad, except me; I thought it was adorable.
In later years, my husband referred to Dylan as ‘Becca’s scabby little sidekick’, which I thought was harsh but fair.
One evening, Dylan didn’t come home for his supper. He didn’t turn up for breakfast the next day either. I left the house to walk to Regent’s College where I was on placement teaching English and Drama. As I exited our gate, a voice in my head, my voice in fact, repeated: don’t look right, don’t look right, don’t look right. And I didn’t.
I taught DH Lawrence’s Daughters of the Vicar, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and some of Stanislavski’s acting techniques to a conveyor belt of disinterested teenagers that day, all the while knowing that Dylan was dead and there was good reason why I’d told myself not to look right.
When I got home from school, I phoned all the local vets, and then I phoned the council.
‘Yes, I’m sorry,’ the lady on the phone said. ‘We did clear up a black and white cat from your street today.’
‘Is he dead?’
‘Can I come and get him?’
With admirable compassion, she said: ‘I’m sorry, but he went for cremation this afternoon.’
I’ll forever be grateful that she used the word ‘cremation’. It leant Dylan a bit of dignity, as if he’d been given a sort of funeral.
Sometimes, just one word used creatively and kindly can make all the difference.
P.s. I’m loving this challenge. I’ve discovered so many fascinating blogs and new writers to follow. Thanks to everyone who have left comments on mine. Here’s to a day off tomorrow though – Cheers x
See you Monday with an Elephant!