The splendid M Ginger
Tuesday 14 May 2019 was a sad day in our lives, and especially for me. I had to have Monsieur Ginger (pronounced as if it were a French word – Jinjay), our beloved proud cat, put down. From a splendid 8.5 kg giant with the most splendid tail you ever saw, he shrivelled to a shadow weighing close to 2 kg in just over a week as he stopped eating or drinking and just slept and stumbled his way through his fading grandeur. It was, according to the vet, a classic example of a common end for cats and dogs as their kidneys fail. Finally I took the painful decision.
I brought him home and Madison assisted me while I dug a deep grave for him at the far end of our property, from where he can gaze over his hunting ground. Here are some of the comments from friends and family.
Chloe, who enjoyed him very much whenever she visited us, and who said that face could never belong to a female, and who was fascinated by the fact that he would get on your lap and prod your arm to get you to stroke him and not allow you to finish until he had had enough (but never hug him): Awwwww no. That is terribly sad. He was such a majestic handsome cat. With a captivating personality. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Wow what a loss. I really appreciate you letting me know.
Bridget: So sorry to hear about Ginger. Madeleine in floods of tears. Didn’t realise she was so attached. So sad to lose a pet. William wanted to know if we would go up to Napier for the funeral. And Madeleine wanted to know if I thought he was buried with the egg they buried that didn’t hatch. So so sad. Kids distraught. Gemma: Oh no. Poor Fat Boy. Sorry Pete. Dan: That’s terrible, I’m so sorry guys.
Mark, of whom MG was very fond – he invariably made a beeline for Mark’s lap when he visited us: O no. I know how you loved that cat as did I. So sorry.
Theresa: The first time I had a conversation with you outside of our regular cycling chats was when I approached you for advice on the tax implications of selling my house and investing the money. I came to see you at your office, still a small cubicle in the South Wing. M Ginger was sprawled over your desk. You formally introduced me to him and gently continued to stroke him while we chatted. Not once did you make an attempt at moving him off the keyboard and very gently pulled a notepad from under him to take notes.
He insisted on drinking running water and would nag and meow, always in a demanding tone, for someone to open the tap. While Gemma and Dan lived in our flat in Belvedere Flats in Fish Hoek and he lived with them. I would sit in my study in the flat early in the mornings and hear him meowing loudly at the bathroom door while Dan was performing his ablutions, demanding to be admitted and provided with a stream of water.
In both homes where he lived on a busy street, Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek and Sarel Cilliers Street in Napier, on his arrival and after his initial sulk at having been subjected to a trip in a car he went outside and watched the road and all the traffic for about five minutes. It was obvious that he then decided that the road was not for him and for the rest of his time there he never went on to, let alone across, the road. Such a clever fellow.
He enjoyed prowling around the garden of remembrance next to Belvedere, catching small creatures and climbing the trees. But he really came into his own in Napier, with a large garden replete with prey, and an unkempt jungle next door, and even at times the bushes and long grass on the far bank of the river when the water was low enough to enable him to pick his fastidious way across.
I used to love the way he prowled along, cool and in charge. It was almost as if he was playing the Pink Panther theme in his head.
He would choose various spots in the bedroom on which to sleep; the armchair, or the bed of one of the dogs, or the foot of my side of the bed, or sometimes alongside me. If I forgot to bring his food bowl into the room at night, he would often decide in the early hours that he wanted a snack and would hack at my face until I awoke and meow menacingly until I fetched the bowl.
In Napier he was able to prowl and hunt at night and did so virtually every night. We left a window open for him for this purpose. Every now and again we’d find a gift of a field mouse or better yet a mole on the lounge floor. I always made a big point of thanking him.
The arrival of Gin, a boisterous 3 year old dog who’d never before seen a cat, caused him some unhappiness and for a couple of months I had an interesting time keeping them apart until finally Gin got used to him and he became happy to hack at her snout when she got too close. On at least one amusing occasion I found them head to head with MG up on his hindquarters delivering left and right hooks to her snout. Most of the time he treated the dogs with disdain and would stroll past them with that splendid tail aloft, for all the world as if they didn’t exist. And he had the habit of sleeping on a chair or carpet or floor on his back with paws akimbo, totally vulnerable and utterly confident, sometimes even with his tongue hanging out. And I’m sure he took malicious pleasure in occupying their beds, even that of dear old Bella (who died about six months before he did and in much the same way) who was far larger than he was. There’s a lot more I could say about my beloved fellow, but these reflections will, I hope, preserve at least some idea of a very special companion.