Ever since I can remember, up until December 2006, we have had one. And, every single one has, as is true to its nature, owned us in a particular way.
We got her from Aunty Jean on the farm. When she came to live with us, at the tender age of six weeks, I thought she was the ugliest one of her species I had ever seen. Yet, as is often the case, she also experienced the proverbial ugly-duckling-to-a-beautiful-swan metamorphosis. She went from scraggly to stunning as she aged. She was a queen in the true sense of the word. Mom and Dad made the decision to spay her before she came into heat.
She had a disdainful demeanour, with that hint of humanity when she chose to allow us into her personal space. I’m honestly quite certain she was a British Monarch in her previous life. Either way she was Mom’s companion. And, even though Dad moaned and groaned about her, he loved her in his own special way. He would often feed her biltong when he thought no-one was looking.
There was a time in my life when I didn’t speak to either of my parents because of a man. It’s a long, sordid story. Enough said. Mom called me at work one day after eighteen months, inviting me for tea and a talk. I went to her and Dad’s house with much trepidation in my heart, not knowing what to expect. A tongue-lashing? An apology? It was a combination of both. We sat in the kitchen when she waltzed in and I said to Mom, “Where does that cat come from?”
“That’s Misty,” came the reply.
“Excuse me? That can’t possibly be Misty. Misty was scraggly with short hair.”
“It is Misty. I couldn’t believe the transformation myself. Even Aunty J said if she’d know this cat was going to turn out like this, she would never have given her away.”
I was stunned. She was the most beautiful Burmese cross Persian I had ever seen. Her colouring was dark, with a red sheen. Almost like a foggy sunset. She still had that snobbish cattidude, but it made her even more endearing. She was never a lap-cat at all. She showed no affection at all, unless she was out of sorts. She was the queen. The Lady of the Manor. We were her loyal subjects.
I moved back home in 2000. Misty remained a part of our family until December 2006. We moved to a new neighbourhood that November and she got into a scuffle with the ginger cat (now politely known as Misty Murderer, or worse, Voetsek!) next door. What hacks me off is that Misty Murderer came into our back yard, fought with her there, resulted in her death and still comes into our yard today. Had she been spayed, Misty might still be alive today. Shortly after that scuffle she became ill.
I was on holiday in East London when I got the tearful call from Mom.
“Misty had a fit my girl. She came up the stairs, walked up to Dad, rubbed up against his leg, let out a funny noise and just collapsed!”
Dad took her to the vet, where a number of diagnoses were probable until blood tests could confirm the exact illness. Tests were done and she was initially diagnosed with kidney trouble and treated for it. She got better, but relapsed shortly after.
She went back into Vet ICU and further testing revealed that she had contracted leukemia (aka Feline AIDS). It was too far advanced for the vet to do anything to save her. The vet explained to Dad that certain cats are carriers of the disease and transfer it to other cats during fights. Dad made the call to end her suffering and she was put to sleep. Mom was devastated. She cried for days. She still talks about Misty sometimes. She really misses her foggy sunset.
Every now and then I’ll be lying in bed and something will catch my eye in the mirror. It looks like Misty. And, if it is – I believe she is there to comfort Mom. I don’t think either one of them was ready to lose the other.
RIP Misty, old girl – you may be gone, but you’re not forgotten. You live on in our hearts.