Sunday, 7 October 2007

Gentleman Jaff With The Silky Fur

From the moment his eyes met mine, it was love at first sight, and I knew I’d take him home. I’m not sure if it was the streak of war-paint down his nose and across both cheeks, or the amazing colour of his eyes winking at me, which stole my heart.

He sat with his back to the cage, a look of disgust on his face, as if to say, ‘Why am I in this God-forsaken place? I don’t belong here, surrounded by all these mewing, scruffy specimens.’ But, in our local Cat and Dog Home is precisely where we found him.
When I squeezed my fingers through the bars to stroke him, he rose up to greet me, like the gentleman he was, and stood, tall and proud, on his very long muscular legs. His was a silky fur with soft downy fluff behind the ears. He looked every inch the thoroughbred.
For the past ten years he certainly kept the mice at bay at Barleycorn, though his favourite snacks were the voles. Hours on end would go by, while he sat, seemingly motionless, on the stone-dyke wall dividing the garden from the adjacent field, watching and waiting.
One quick pounce was all it took. Then he’d appear with his trophy, often on the doorstep, occasionally indoors, for me to praise him, after which he’d gobble it up leaving me a present of the entrails.
With his coat of thick fur and his large furry paws, Jaffa never felt the cold. Unlike our other cats, who were heat-seeking creatures, he would search out the cooler parts of the house for his catnaps, and on hot summer nights, he’d sleep in the barn, only appearing on the doorstep around five the following morning.
His morning routine would begin with a stretch of his long back, followed by his constitutional walk around the garden, where he would stop by his favourite log to sharpen his claws, and wander along the fringes of the pond to nibble a morsel of some couch grass or lap up a bowl of pond soup.
He was very much an outdoor cat, the Barleycorn garden being his jungle paradise. Here he spent his days vole watching, or hiding among the tall plants on hot days, or basking in the sunshine, or, in winter, skating across the frozen ponds. Here he climbed the rafters in the barn searching for mice. This was his domain where he was king of the jungle.
Six weeks ago, as we were preparing for a three-week trip to China, I became worried when I saw that Jaffa was drinking too frequently. A blood test confirmed he had diabetes. Just before we were due to leave, he had stopped being interested in food.

As we were going to China to celebrate the Tea Ceremony and Banquet of our elder son and his wife, I had no alternative but to leave Jaffa with the vet, who was sure she could save him. After all, he stood tall and proud, as always, and rose up to be stroked, and purred as loudly as ever.

To all intents and purposes he looked a fine figure of a puss. He wasn’t ailing or sickly. His kidneys were in good condition. But, on the morning I had to leave him with the vet, something made me run back in, open his carrier and cuddle him once more…just in case he didn’t make it.
I have relived that last cuddle in my mind many times since we came home a week ago, for, on our return, the sad news we received from the vet was that Jaffa had passed away a week after we left.
I shall miss stroking his silky fur coat; being serenaded by his purr-box song; his welcome greeting whenever I returned home; his close proximity whenever I worked in the garden, and the enriching pleasure of having him as part of my life here at Barleycorn. Ten years ago he stole my heart, and there he will remain.


Vole catcher,
Mouser extraordinaire,
Gentleman Jaff
With the silky fur,
He’s a puzzle,
Dainty eater
Friend of Rinks
Silky fur
Purr! Purr!


Katie said...

Cats lives are too short. Their only fault really.

What a great tribute to what seemed to be an awesome orange cat... I'm sorry for your loss.

Thanks for sharing.

Wanda said...

I don't know why I've never visited your main blog...! Maybe I didn't realize you had one until today when you mentioned it.

This was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful friend, loved one. How you will miss the Gentle Jaffa.

I'm so glad you have these pictures for your memories.

Love and Hugs

kate said...

I am so sad to hear about Gentleman Jaff ... he was a wonderful cat. He lived a good life and was much loved. It is so hard to lose one's cat - I still think of my Hazelcat every day and smile remembering her amazing presence and her antics. That's the good thing that we have - our memories.

You wrote a beautiful tribute and posted some lovely photographs of Gentleman Jaff.

Susie Q said...

I am so, so sorry about your beloved kitty. You have written such a lovely tribute and the photos are so special...I feel as if I knew him. I am thinking about you. I know this gets easier but their spirits never really leave us...always in out hearts.

You gave him a sweet life, one full of love.


Linda Lunda said...

Hello! This was a heartbraking story abaout a werry loved cat..... Some animals are so speciall .... as yuor Jaffa.
I want to thank you for visiting my blogg.
I hope you liked it even if it was not in English. My English righting is wery bad!

Linda Lunda said...

Me again..
Is it ok with you if I add you blogg to my blogg?? It´s so nice(your blogg).

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Welcome back WG, though I'm so sorry it is such a sad home coming for you. The loss of your sweet, gentle Jaffa must leave such a big gaping hole in your life. Such a handsome boy he was and a very happy one too. His was a blessed life in his own little paradise surrounded by people who loved him dearly and looked after him very well. What more can a feline friend ask for?

Diabetes in cats is more difficult to treat than in dogs. Some cats respond very well to insuline injections, others not at all.

Rest in peace dear Jaffa!

Sheila said...

What a sad homecoming. I still miss my two and it's been several years. They find their way into our hearts and there they stay.He looked like a very sweet animal, and you are richer for having known him.
He will wait at Rainbow Bridge for you.

Wendz said...

Oh how sorry to read that.

martin said...

I am sorry for your loss of Jaffa. It would seem though that he had a wonderful life with you. And that is the important thing.

Green thumb said...

Jaffa looks so handsome with such a mature and thinking expression on his face. It must have been a great loss for you.
I do not know much about diabetes in cats, but it seems that even if Jaffa had survived, his life would not have been smooth. May God Bless his Soul.

Sandy said...

That is so sad!


Keith said...

So sorry to hear about Jaffa. My own cat, Sooty, (yes, he's as black as night and my "familiar") is now 17yrs old and only just begining to show his age. I realised that we have been together for one quarter of my own life! So you can work out how old I am. We have had a great time together and I'm dreading the day that he passes away, so I make the most of the time we still have.

shirl said...

Welcome back, Wildlife Gardener :-)

So very sorry to read you had such sad news to return to - you will treasure that cuddle. Instinct is a wonderful thing isn’t it :-)

helen said...

He looks like a big and beautiful cat. Always sad to lose them, take care of the good memories about him, I`m sure he loved you :)

guild_rez said...

Hello WG..
looking at your pictures, I can understand the pain you must feel.
What a wonderful cat, very sad indeed to come home and not seeing him again.

Barbara said...

What lovely pictures you post and what sad news you write. I am so sorry for you!

jodi said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend Jaffa. Cats leave pawprints on our hearts that remain long, long after they have left us, and we are forever changed by having been loved by them. Our eight kitties send along purrs of sympathy too.

Dawn said...

My sympathies to you. Jaffa was indeed a wonderful gentlecat and you gave him a beautiful happy life. I cried when I read your loving tribute to him. Such adoration between human and kitty is very special. May Jaffa frolic forever in the vole fields of heaven.


RUTH said...

What a beautiful tribute to Jaffa and filled with wonderful memories. How special that you had that last cuddle.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

So sorry for your loss, Wildlife Gardener. Gentleman Jaffa truly sounds like a remarkable cat--and I can definitely see why you fell in love with those twinkly green eyes of his.

SchneiderHein said...

It's so said that Jaff passed away. But this is a really lovely post of his life.
Silke & Wolfgang

Libbys Blog said...

Awwwww! Bless you! I know how cats can get under your skin! 10 years is nothing really, but he obviously had a very happy life! And you can't beat a ginger puss!!

Ruth Welter said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your little Jaffa. He was so lucky to have such a loving home as yours. Hugs.

Catherine said...

Jaffa was a beautiful Cat, I am sorry for your loss, I can't imagine the pain, for I to have had my heart stolen by our cat of 12 yr.s....I can't imagine loosing him. Your photo's are gorgeous, and you have your wonderful memories! I love the photo where he is setting on a picnic table, with the beautiful blue sky behind him, he looks as if he is reading a magazine...:)
So sorry again for your loss.

Nicole said...

So sorry to hear about Jaffa-it can be so hard to lose beloved pets. But he had a lovely life,and you wonderful memories and photos.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you, Everyone, for all your comments and kind words. I really appreciate them. Jaffa was greatly loved for his gentle ways, his individual charm and that mystical rapport we had with him.

smilnsigh said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It's never easy. But you have wonderful memories. And you have made a lovely tribute entry, to your dear pet.


Z said...

I'm sorry too. I still miss Chester, my setter who was just the same colour as Jaffa, after nearly four years. I can still see his eyes as I held his head as he died and it hurts just as much. You'll have another cat, you'll love him as much but he won't take Jaffa's place, just sit alongside him in your heart. Which sounds soppy and isn't meant to, but I can't think of a better way to phrase it.

Sally said...

Oh! I'm so sorry W.G. I miss my cats too. Jaff seems like a wonderful cat and I'm sure he was happy living with you. You were lucky to have had 10 years with him.

farmingfriends said...

The adventures of Jaffa are great. Lovely photos of a lovely cat.
Sara from farmingfriends

Dorothy said...

We have rescued 8 cats, and each one of them is so precious to us.
I am so sorry to hear about Jaffa..
what a handsome, wonderful cat he was.

I'm here from Ruth's blog, but wanted to tell you I love your blogs..they are eye candy!

Dorothy in PA, USA