George was special from the moment he was born.
I had adopted a stray who I called Prader Willi (because that cat ate EVERYTHING) She was pregnant and I was going to get her spayed when she had had her kittens. She had four kittens. One black, One black and white, one tabby and one ginger scrag end… it was love at first sight.
The kittens were sickly and the other three died during the first night. I got George to the vet and we had him on antibiotics, and God knows what else – he survived though. Prader Willi jumped through a window and scuttered off like a floozy.
George was the only survivor of the litter. He was a little scrapper too! He hurt his leg at a few weeks old. Either he jumped more than he should have done or his mother rolled on him. He was limping though so back to the vets we went. He’d done quite a bit of damage and the vet wasn’t sure if the leg was going to have to be amputated but I was adamant we held fire. It was the right choice.
George liked batting things about but he was little. He couldn’t play with heavier toys so I started skidding ice cubes across the kitchen floor. He’d use both his front paws to bat/dribble it across the kitchen, slamming the ice cubes into the base boards of the cupboards until they smashed. It was like watching ice hockey. Fast, exciting and bloody lethal! Then he’d sit and look at me “We need another puck mum!” He was like Wayne Gretzky.. But better – and cuter! That strengthened his leg muscles and totally rejuvenated his leg. Sadly while all this was going on I also found out he had FIV. I knew I wouldn’t have him for a long time. I was guessing about eight years which was the vets estimate too. I knew they’d be the best years I could make them though.
He wasn’t so keen on his trips to the vet but I’d stand at the window in the treatment room with him stretched across my arm and I’d rub his cheeks and sing “half a pound of tuppenny rice” to him while we watched birds and squirrels. The vet used to say I mesmerised him talking to him because if she left us for five minutes he was completely docile when she came back!
He was the gentlest cat I’ve ever known. He never once scratched me. He used to hold my wrist or finger in between his teeth but that was a cuddle. In the broadest stretch you couldn’t call it a bite. It was just him, getting as close as he could.
Oh and he could get close!! He would sit on the edge of the bath while I was in it and woe betide me if I went to the loo without him! There’d be a hairy orange arm swiping under the door trying to reach me. It was one of the few times he miaowed. He was a very quiet cat. If he made a noise I reacted because it wasn’t even a weekly occurrence.
He knew his name too. If I called him he came running. He was always at the door when I came home too. I learned not to bring shopping in when I first got home because I had to greet him first. I would come through the door and he’d be there waiting, quivering with excitement. He’d launch himself at me, totally confident I’d catch him and then we had to cuddle for a couple of minutes before I could get the shopping in.
I used to wear a necklace all the time. George used to sit on the counter and hook it and pull my face next to his to nuzzle. He loved having his face stroked. He’d pat my hand then my face to tell me to do that to him – he really was both smart and good at communicating. We had such a bond. I always knew what he was going to do next and he knew exactly how to manipulate me!
I learned never to underestimate a pissed off cat. ‘im indoors threw out George’s bed (because it was too small for him and he had a new one) George NEVER slept in a cat bed. He slept on me or next to me. He did like his cat bed though. He’d use it when his human cat bed (aka me) was shopping for cat food. I digress though.
‘im indoors through out George’s bed. George crapped in his shoe. Round one to George.
George always knew when I had a migraine or cluster headache attack. He wouldn’t leave my side. He’d pat my face every so often with his paw in a gesture of sympathy.
One time the land line kept ringing. Every time it rang he jumped off me and knocked the receiver off the handset before stalking back to me, very proud of himself. I’d have been thrilled with him if it wasn’t for the bloody noise it makes when it’s off the hook! I had to keep getting up to fix it!
George had a love/hate relationship with Princess PITA. Neither liked the attention the other got. She never did learn who was boss though. George would wait until she was watching TV and he’d go and sit under it. She’d start screaming “George don’t you bloody DARE!!” and he would stand on two legs, reach up and turn the TV off. I’d laugh helplessly every time and she’d accuse me of encouraging him! As if my little Prince of Darkness needed any encouragement!
He loved drinking out of my glass. That was one habit I wasn’t so keen on! He especially loved my iced tea.. at least he never tried to fish ice cubes out of it.
Milo – the fat farting beagle can be a grumpy soul at times. Sometimes he’d snap at the cats for no reason at all – just to be an ass. He met his match in George.
George would plot! He used to wait until Milo fell asleep on the floor and then he’d hop onto the coffee table and start pushing stuff to the edge. He’d stop every so often to look over the edge at Milo and check direction. He’d give it one final push and fly onto my lap and pretend to be asleep. Milo would be rudely awakened by a book or a glass landing on his noggin and no culprit in sight! I don’t know if George learned sneaky from me, or I from him but we were definitely the terrible two!
He loved plastic shopping bags too. I had to put one on the floor for him to run and jump into and skid down the hallway. We’d play that over and over! He loved little boxes too. He liked to walk around with a box on his head – he was a real performer!
He loved the little Stars and Stripes I got when I became a Citizen too. He’d knock it onto the floor so he could pick the stick up in his mouth and wave it imperiously.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him the OTHER King George was on the wrong side!
I could tell stories about my beloved boy all day – and you’re probably thinking I already have! But all good things come to an end.
I’d gone to visit my Dad in Ireland. When I got home I noticed immediately that George really didn’t look well. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks and I was shocked at how he looked. As soon as the vet opened I called then rushed him straight down. His kidneys were horrible enlarged and he was a mess.
We tried antibiotics and steroids, IV fluids, a new kidney diet – it was four days of thinking George might just rally.. oh how I was praying – but it wasn’t to be.
I took him home from the vets on the Wednesday night after his day of IV fluids. I’d asked her if she thought this was it and she said it would take a miracle.
George hopped up onto the coffee table, had one last drink of my iced tea and went and got back into his cat carrier. I knew he was telling me it was time. I laid on the floor next to him all night. Stroking his little face and playing ‘remember when’.
I called the vet in the morning to explain we would be coming in but not for more IV fluids. She was devastated too. She used to call him Mr George and I’d seen her sneak kisses on his head when she’d take him into another room for an X-ray or treatment.
So here we were. The terrible two were going solo. I knew George was ready for it but Oh God I wasn’t. I had to say goodbye to the most wonderful, funny, clever, loving cat I’ve ever known.
We had one last cuddle at the window, one last look for that darn squirrel and George looked up at me with his beautiful orange eyes and put his paw on my face.
It was time.
He laid on his blanket and I put my face next to him with one hand cradling his head. He put his paw on my face again. I told him I loved him and how he was the best and naughtiest cat ever and talked to him constantly while stroking him.
The vet was doing her thing. Her assistant and ‘im indoors were just stood there but all I was aware of was George. He was looking right into my eyes. The vet gave him the injection. There was a brief flash of green in his eyes and his eyes glazed over but I stayed talking to him and stroking him for at least another twenty minutes. I wanted to be sure the last thing he heard or saw was me telling him how very special he was. I don’t know how I was so calm because I was absolutely broken. The vet said he had 3 short but spectacular years on Earth and that’s exactly right. We did. He wasn’t here for all my life but I was here for all of his.
I miss him so much, he left such a legacy of love and humour that my family and friends miss him and his stories too. There will be other cats. George wouldn’t want it any other way – but there will only ever be one George.
3/18/2014 – 6/7/2017. That dash will last me a lifetime.