I can still remember the first moment I saw Toffee, 16 years ago. Her mother, Mrs Stripe, came through the hedge at our villa in Egypt closely followed by two 6 week old kittens, soon to named Toffee and Treacle. Toffee was a dark tabby and Treacle, coal black. I sobbed and laughed because I feared that I had scared Mrs Stripe away forever after trying to trap her. It was almost as though she said, “See, this is why I couldn’t be trapped, I had kittens to wean.”
Toffee was precocious and adorable. There were little dusty footprints all over our walls because she propelled herself with a back legs leap to chase everything from lizards to ping pong balls all over our Cairo house. The stairs were open plan and she would talk to us from the half landing, through the wrought iron banisters, with her head on the side. We called her ‘Little Eee‘ and thought she was the cutest little kitten.
When we arrived in Houston from Cairo, with three wild cats, I can remember the look of joy in Toffee’s eyes. “Mummy and Daddy are here with us!” Of all the cats she settled into our tiny one bedroom apartment with delight after leaving a luxurious four bedroom villa with gardens and staff. Eventually she settled into our forever house. That first Christmas in Houston was magical because we had snow and a ham dinner! Right to the end of her life, Toffee had a fetish for ham. I told her Allah was watching but she paid me no heed. Perhaps she was a pagan or Copt? For the last three years she has been a spoiled ‘only’ cat after the deaths of Mrs Stripe and Zhenny. Katniss joined our household for a short time and Toffee enjoyed their shared solitude.
Toffee had a serious illness at the beginning of this year and the writing was on the wall. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a feral Egyptian cat would live to 16 years old with almost perfect health. After a short but serious illness we made the sad decision to have her put to sleep on Tuesday 20 August 2019. That morning, I gave her an overdose of cat Xanax and Tuna. Her eyes started to dilate then she got the munchies. In between, she kept jumping on the couch to purr and cuddle with her mum and dad, each time stumbling a little more. Then we took her to the vet, feeling no pain. Her death was quick and we took her home for a quiet wake.
I laid her on her Tempur Pedic cushion, wrapped in her shroud and favorite blanket, then cuddled her for most of the day. She was so undomesticated that this was the first time in 16 years that I could hold her to my heart and tell her how much I loved her. Teddy dug a deep grave in our terrible forest soil. The heat index was about 108 degrees. With both people and animals, I can’t bury them until rigor mortis has set in, so Toffee sat in our living room until night fell. On reflection, it would be a tad speedy to bury a human any earlier…(some dark humor there and watch out, Teddy.)
Our hearts are broken, especially knowing that this was the LAST CAT. We cannot endure the worry of who would look after our animals in the event of our deaths, which will be sooner rather than later. I have always had a pet so feel bereft but also feel guilty about enjoying a litter free laundry room and a smell free house. We can go on vacation whenever we want but what we would do for one last cuddle or vocalization. As much as we enjoyed the other 10 pets we have had, Toffee was truly the best cat. Sweet-natured, loving and unique. My health has not been great in 2019 with a sad family funeral in Scotland and now Toffee’s passing. I hope she is enjoying catching neon colored lizards over the rainbow bridge and some kindly angel releases them, as Mummy did so often.
Isn’t there always an anti-climactic reason to laugh? The next day we noticed that an animal had dug up Toffee’s grave but hadn’t got quite deep enough. With a sigh, I put all the soil back and put a board over it, sprinkled with vinegar. That night we set out the camera, baited with an apple. A raccoon and baby possum visited, as did armadillos. We couldn’t get the armadillos on camera but turn the sound up to enjoy the summer cacophony that we attempt to sleep through. The most raucous noise is the frogs and the high chirrups are the armadillos. The baby possum has the starring role.
At least we will never be alone…