Farewell, my devilcat

I collected Chenna’s ashes today, exactly three weeks after she signed out. Three weeks. Gosh.

Chenna with Mr Tickle December 2015
Chenna with Mr Tickle December 2015

I still think about her every day, because there is not one aspect of my life in this house that she wasn’t a part of. She arrived as a cute and cantankerous kitten within weeks of me moving in, and proceeded to make her presence felt each and every day.

She was the first thing I thought about every morning, as she sat on my pillow (or sprawled on me) and jabbed me awake.

She was the first thing I encountered every time I arrived home, as she waited for me, meowing, at the front door.

She was often the last thing I was aware of at night, as she snuggled against me in or on the bed.

This was her house, just as much as it is mine. From the beginning (for nearly 14 years), a whole end of the sofa was set aside for her use. During the day, she slept on a colourful cushion propped up for her comfort, positioned so she could see out the window. Sometimes she would squeeze half her body through the venetian blind, much to the amusement and joy of my neighbours (and the ruin of said blind) — presumably to catch a bit of extra sun.

(I’ve just removed the cushion and set the sofa to ‘rights’, after two and a half weeks of staring at her empty bed. Now my sofa seems too big.)

For most of her life she enjoyed complete run of the house and garden. I keep thinking I hear the distinctive clunking sound of her cat flap. That and her automatic cat feeder, which allowed me to program feed times and dispense measured doses of feed from a hopper, revolutionised my life. And hers too, I daresay; because she was much happier at home with no interruptions whenever I was away.

It’s no secret she wasn’t a particularly likeable cat — although I loved her. Even with me, she could get vicious, often without apparent reason. She was quick with her claws, unrestrained with her teeth. Some nights, she developed a fondness for attacking my bare feet — really painful! — and even though I could usually read the signs, it was often too late, and I’d be subjected to ninja foot attacks. My only recourse was to run and jump on my bed, but she was much quicker than me.

As for her relationships with other people… I cannot think of one person other than me that she liked (and I’m mostly sure she liked me). Some people she tolerated… barely. Most people she detested on sight.

But she was a tricky one. She was good at looking all cute and cuddly and luring people in, before flipping into a ninja attack. So many people refused to heed my warnings, only to suffer the pain of her disdain.

She definitely earned her nickname Devilcat, and my Diary of a Devilcat series of posts on this blog and earlier on her own blog Feline in Therapy (mostly 2007-2009) — were a lot of fun to write. I am so glad now that I’ll have them as memories.

I was probably the only one who ever experienced her affectionate side. And she was affectionate far more often than she wasn’t. She didn’t start off as a lap cat, but she made up for it in her latter years, when she would appear beside me as soon as I sat down… her little face peering up at me, then she’d leap up and nudge any obstacles away. (FYI it is a challenge to negotiate a lap cat and a laptop computer simultaneously.)

She also liked stretching out on my chest when I was reading in bed — not necessarily convenient, but it was hard to shove away a purring, warm, cuddly feline, gazing up at me.

Having her around was always companionable — whether smooching on me, sitting outside in the sunshine, sleeping the day away, greeting me at the door. Even when she was being annoying — waking me too early, nagging me for food, prowling all over my workspace, or leaving dead moths (or worse) all over the floor.

Chenna had her share of medical issues as well. From early on she was prone to urinary tract infections, although this was controlled with a specially formulated diet. Then there was her left eye, which changed colour from green to brown when she was still quite young. This saw us visiting animal eye specialists and contemplating the prospect of having her eye removed due to the risk of melanoma of the iris. Thankfully we risked keeping her eye and nothing came of it.

Extra random memories of Chenna (to be updated as they come to me): her black fluff smeared over my chairs (and its subsequent removal with lint cloth)… the sound of her jumping off furniture… the sound of her simply walking across the floor… her enjoyment of tuna juice… her love of escaping out the front door and scampering around the driveway… the fact I always walked around with scratches over my wrists (they have, alas, all healed now)…

The myriad tiny adjustments I would make to accommodate her: turning my toothbrush to the wall so she wouldn’t brush against it… putting my devices out of the way so she wouldn’t sit on them… never leaving food uncovered on the bench unless I actually wanted her to lick it up…

When I received the news about Chenna’s condition three weeks ago, after several weeks of knowing there was something wrong, I wept and wept. (I had no inkling it was something so serious.) Then I sat down and wrote her final devilcat post. Then I curled up beside her in my bed until it was time for her final appointment at the vet.

She purred and let me stroke her. That was our farewell.

I made the decision to end it straight away, as she was so sick there was a good chance she’d simply die in my bed at any time. That, I wasn’t prepared to deal with. And I didn’t think she should have to either.

I spent a lot of time crying (well, bawling) in the days that followed — when I rang the vet to arrange for her to be cremated, when I received a card from the vet with Chenna’s paw print on it, when I packed up her stuff strewn about the house.

When some amazing friends presented me with the following bespoke graphic illustration of Chenna in a frame. (Designed by Rachel Rule, The British Rule (etsy shop).)

Graphic illustration of Chenna

And I wept today, when I collected her ashes from the vet and donated her leftover food. (And, of course, while writing this post.)

After three weeks, the intensity of the grief has ebbed. Most of the time I can think about Chenna without weeping, or only weeping a little. Most of the time her absence seems almost a quizzical thing, something just a bit wrong, a bit weird.

But I’m still sad. A bit flat. I miss my little devilcat animal companion terribly.

Farewell Chenna
Farewell Chenna

20 thoughts on “Farewell, my devilcat

  1. Such a sad thing, but I’m glad you have so many good memories of her, and I’m especially glad your vet took good care of you, both before and after she was gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ellen,
    It’s Rachel, the one who made your illustration. I’m deeply touched that something I made brought you a little piece of well deserved happiness at such a sad time for you. I do understand, I grew up with cats and have three myself right now. I’ve only once had to go through something similar, and it was the worst weekend of my life.
    Your little companion will live on in your heart forever.
    Kind regards
    Rachel Rule

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So wonderfully expressed, Ellen, and I relate so much to all of it! My cat Slinky, who passed away in 2010, was quite a little terror and quick with claws and sometimes teeth. But she loved me (or I thought she did!) and we had our own relationship. For a long time after she died, I sometimes thought I felt her coming up behind me in the kitchen to rub against my legs (her way of telling me it was time to eat). They really are so much a part of the fabric of our daily lives and it’s so hard to let go — their absence truly leaves a void. Best to you as you grieve, and I love the illustration of Chenna, it’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always loved hearing about Devilcat. Her badness always made me chuckle. I once had a an orange Tabby “bad cat” that I loved deeply…despite her scratches and stalking when she was hungry. I can’t remember what his original name was, but it became “Rotter,” a slightly softer version of “rotten cat.” So I can imagine how much it hurts to lose Devilcat. You have good memories…despite the lonesome house.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a touching post. I got a little emotional reading this, thinking about the passing of my own devilcat. I have her pawprint as well, framed on the wall with some pictures of her. I’m sorry, I know it’s tough. Please take care of yourself, too; I fell into depression for awhile after.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – but I hope I dredged up some happy memories for you. Perhaps I should put up some photos as well. It’s amazing how our animal companions worm their way into our hearts. XO


  6. Honestly, but I feel like a big fat creepy jerk for reading and commenting on this terribly bittersweet post a month after the fact–particularly when you’re just likely starting to feel a bit more pulled together. The truth is I saw this title nearly a month ago now and the “Farewell Devil Cat” immediately made my heart stutter and sink. I quite loved your devil cat posts and I wasn’t at all ready to face the thought of The End.

    Hoping life has been comforting to you, Ellen, and that the clouds are lifting. We’re all going to miss that spunky little stinker.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barbara – thanks so much for your kind words. It’s been amazing to discover how many people that cantankerous kitty touched through this blog. She’s been gone almost two months now, leaving more of a dull ache than the initial sharp pain; but, yes, I am starting to feel more together. I hope all is well with you too.


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