Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Florence Cat – a eulogy of sorts

Those who follow some of my other social media will know that Florence, our oldest cat, died two days ago at the grand old age of 17. I just wanted to write something about her so that the memories are preserved somewhere other than just our heads.

Florence and Zeb were both born on 11th July 2006. In late 2006, M chose them from a cat rescue centre near Ipswich and brought them home to our rented house in Stradbroke. They were tiny and afraid and hid most of the time for the first few weeks. When they started coming out into the open, Flo would always follow Zeb, and he became her leader and protector for the next two and a half years while he grew into an enormous black and white cat who dragged whole dead pigeons in through the cat flap (usually when we were out), while she just watched. They wore paths into the grass in those years. Unfortunately, Zeb died in December 2009, and the vet told us she was surprised he’d even survived that long because he’d been really badly abused when he was tiny. We all grieved, including Flo who lost nearly all her fur as a result. M, as always, found a way to deal with the grief and the fur loss.

And then we moved into our home for the next 10 years, Spring Cottage, and the morning routines for Flo and I started in the huge garden there – the walk out into the garden, the drinking of the rainwater out of whatever dirty containers she could find, and then, when my office was built, the meowing at me until I filled a bowl with water from the water butt and put it down for her. Or the smashing of the ice in the bowl on winter mornings. And she would visit all the bedrooms almost in turn, almost always ending up in C’s bedroom because it was the most quiet in the house and overlooked the garden. We must have thousands of photos of her wandering elegantly, tinily, athletically through our lives, making our lives complete, and teching us a lot about self-containment, respect, and unconditional love in the process.

Five years ago, Jam, the one-eyed kitten joined us, the mirror image almost of Zeb, and Flo was quite put out that she had to share her ownership of us with a kitten who didn’t quite seem to understand the order of things. After a few years, though, Jam had learned to copy Florence, down to the eating too much grass at once and throwing up on whatever clean clothes could be found. And when we moved up to Norwich, it was Jam who actually comforted a very scared Flo on the trip from Stradbroke to Norwich. And, oddly enough, it was then Flo who settled here more quickly than Jam.

We still think Flo preferred this house to Spring Cottage. And this is where she died, on my lap, in the garden she so loved in the sun she so loved, holding O’s hand. Her blood tests were those of a 2-year-old, the vet told us; it was just old age that took her. She was at last ready to go hunting with Zeb again.




It won’t be as if you’d
Never been, although
The box downstairs will
Soon disappear into the
Ground in this garden
You were so much happier
In than the last.

I think you know how
Much you taught us about
Kindness, unconditional love,
Respect, trust, and resilience
For over a half a marriage,
Four childhoods,
Real lives.

And now you’ve joined
All those innumerable friends
I miss, and whose memories
Make me cry and long, because
Time is not ours to control,
And memory isn’t touch.
The day will come.

R 25/08/2023 09:37

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