Today my dad and his partner, Patricia’s cat, Lenny died. He wasn’t an old cat – only six years old. He was otherwise a healthy cat too. As black as a moonless sky. He’d never once been sick before; not even a hairball until late last week. When he was taken to the vet’s, they took blood and realised he was suddenly a very sick cat. Lenny went to the vet’s for an iv infusion and never came home.

Ahh. This has caught me in sadness. Unexpected because, although I’m sorry, I never knew him – except for pictures. And of course we tend to outlive our animals. This is accepted pet-caring advice. What caught me is the way my dad found him at the vet’s this morning.

Lenny was scared he said. A big, soppy creature full of love and concern – and he was completely lost. Boy oh boy. I have to stop and wipe my eyes at this. That visceral confusion and terror. I’d assumed Lenny just knew the vet’s would be a place he’d be safe in. Duh. To be so sick and so terrified at the same time – and with an animal’s sentiment – to just want to be home with the people and the place you love.

My dad has always been a champion of animals too. For him to see and recognise the feelings of his creature who he’d known since he was a tiny kitten dumped outside Patricia’s property in Colorado, saddens me even more. The battle of the underdog was my childhood experience – and it didn’t always go well. Creatures were saved, but some weren’t.

My dad did say he got Lenny to talk with him for a little while, though the cat was deathly sick. He said he tweaked his ear and Lenny knew who he was. He died as my dad held him. More crying. Get it together, Hannah. And then my dad went home, only to find Lenny’s sister, Marksie crying for her brother. I swear, could it get any worse? The cat sister was crying for her cat brother.

Animals never fail to amaze me. They offer a neutral ground in our human-based existence. For example, I jumped into the water this morning and saw a squadron of squid hanging out behind Quest. The yellow-tailed snappers follow us around as we swim around the boat. For me, animals can be vulnerable and loving as in the case of Lenny, but they are also otherworldly and free.

The freest thing I’ve ever experienced are Manx Shearwaters. These birds live on the wing and hang offshore in Borth in the summer, on the water’s surface. They gave me, kayaking past, an absolute feeling of what it is to be truly free. No room for sympathy of course. Manx Shearwaters have to find their own food and board and no room for sickness either. But there was a euphoria about them. They were happy. They were set to fly to the coast of Argentina, as the British summer was drawing to a close. Takes them about two weeks to fly across the Atlantic, never further than forty feet above sea level.

Goodnight sweet Lenny. Like Lulu says, having done Of Mice and Men this term, ‘You can tend the rabbits now.’

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