I am saddened to report that yesterday the Evil Landlord had to take the unpleasant and necessary decision to euthanase Golux, as the cancerous growths on her nose were no longer responding to palliative treatment and were causing her distress. And while I haven't shared space with Golux for eighteen months, she was my kitty for fifteen years, and I am sad, and missing her with a new poignancy.
When I moved in with the Evil Landlord, late in 1998, I had only the one cat, Fish of lamented memory
and Death Star legend. The dreaded Thakky was responsible for our acquisition, several months later, of two kittens from Animal Welfare; she took us out there to select them, and paid for all the paperwork, as a house-warming present. (Best. Housewarming. Present. Ever.) We inspected cage after cage of wriggling kittens in various shades and at various stages of development. I wanted, particularly, one male and one female for reasons of personality balance, and at least one black cat because I missed Pixie and Polonius, the two black cats I'd owned previously. We found a small black female of approximately the right age who was the sole black spot in a seething mass of silver tabby/white siblings, and the nice schoolkid volunteer who was assisting us solemnly held up all said siblings to inspect their nether regions, finally handing over one he swore was male. The black kitten became Todal, and the tabby/white "male" Golux. The vet later, and with some mockery, disabused us of the "male" assumption, so it's fortunate the name works as gender-neutral. But I swear the initial gender mis-assignment somehow shaped her character, or at least those parts of it that were hesitant, thoughtful and slightly confused.
Todal and Golux were named from James Thurber's Thirteen Clocks
; the Todal is an agent of the devil sent to punish evil-doers for not doing as much evil as they should, which is everything you need to know about Todal the cat right there. (Favourite pastime: sitting on top of the bookshelf and knocking the row of yarn cones onto the floor deliberately, one by one). Tracy always maintained that we doomed her to that personality with the name, and we should have called her Cream-Puff if we wanted a less evil feline. By that logic we possibly also created Golux: the book-Golux is an odd, gentle, offbeat little character who's invisible at will, and whose essentially good nature is slightly hapless and bumbling.
Thurber's description says that "his eyes were wide and astonished, as if everything were happening for the first time", which expresses something of the sweetly naive element to Golux's character. I obviously chose the name because the kitten was fairly shy and retiring from the first, but either it was an inspired choice, or a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Or I over-anthropomorphise my cats. Jo suggested the other day that most people share space with slightly alien little cat-entities, where I have relationships with colourful feline personalities. It's a fair cop.) It makes me obscurely happy that if you do a Google image search for "thurber golux" you'll pull up a photo of Golux from this blog about two screens down.
Golux was a gentle soul, tending towards the solemnly thoughtful in her responses: she always had to think about things for a minute or so before she did them. She used to sit out in the back courtyard, watching the tendrils of water slowly creep across the paving stones from where I'd been watering the potplants. She could sit there for ten minutes at a time, her ears at an angle denoting extreme interest, but eventually all she'd do would be to put out a paw and touch the water, gently, in an experimental mode. She was, conversely, a talented sneak-thief, with an amazingly ability to climb onto the kitchen counter after food with such nonchalance
that I wouldn't register the movement despite being a few metres away and looking in approximately the right direction.
She was a very pretty cat; she had the dramatic Gothy eye-makeup which comes with that silver tabby coat, and her white bits - paws, shirt front, one front leg, as though she'd stepped into a paint pot accidentally - were always immaculate. Her little pink nose was inordinately cute, but of course ended up killing her, given its incompatibility with African sunlight. I was particularly fond of the black tips to her ears, which gave her a sharply defined silhouette - I think my header photo was taken by Dylan, it's one of my favourites of her because the tips are so clearly pronounced, like a caracal's. She always sat very neatly, with her tail curled around her feet.
She was very much my cat, although technically the Evil Landlord and I co-owned her and Todal; she spent a lot of time sitting on my desk, and she slept on my bed every night, usually joining me just after I'd switched off the light. She'd come through the bathroom window, and I could always hear her approach because she talked to herself, a succession of gentle, conversational, slightly plaintive yowls all across the courtyard, in through the window, and across the room to my bed. We used to think of it as her existential angst - sometimes she'd wander around the back courtyard meeping gently to herself for no apparent reason other than requesting from the universe some revelation about the meaning of life. If you put her in a box to take her to the vet (which was always difficult, her command of body language was exquisite and she'd make a break for it the instant you even thought
about boxing her) she'd commentate continuously all the way there in chesty, baritone, Siamese-sounding yowls. She always held a grudge longer than the other cats - days, often, before she'd forgive you for a vet trip or a de-fleaing. There were unfortunately a lot of vet trips, as we combated the cancerous spots as well as we could; we kept up the treatments over seven or eight years, giving her a lot of life she wouldn't have otherwise had, so I feel as though her final end was only after a hard fight in which we did everything we could.
I didn't take Golux with me when I moved out of the Evil Landlord's place: we knew she had limited time left, and I didn't want to put her through the stress of relocating her. I think it was the right choice, even though I missed her a lot. Eckie and Danielle gave her a safe and tranquil and loving place to end her days, and I'm enormously grateful to them for looking after her, and for making the difficult and necessary call to let her go. I hope that she enriched their lives as much as she did, in her quiet way, mine. The full quote from Thirteen Clocks
in my subject line is the Golux speaking, and reads: "I can feel a thing I cannot touch and touch a thing I cannot feel. The first is sad and sorry, the second is your heart." She did that.