Elsie Rose died yesterday, Sept. 1st, peacefully with her family beside her. She is buried at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery in Eden. She is mourned. This was written last Sunday.
She arrived around my house in May fourteen years ago, a month after my old cat had died. I wasn’t looking for another one. But there she was, still kittenish, but past the fluffball stage. About 5 months old, the age of coming into first heat. And she did, in my back yard. Every tom in the area camped out there too.
She wouldn’t come near me, but one night she was in the narrow lane between houses and I caught her. She had a flea collar on, so she belonged somewhere. But no response to posters I put up. I’d been planning to leave Newfoundland. One new cat was more than enough. Kittens? No. So a quick trip to the vet.
Another cat, Spam, spent a lot of time at my house and hated her. He was twice her size and he would attack and beat her unmercifully. My vet said let them sort it out. Interfering will just make it worse. So I tried. It didn’t get any better. Even my next-door neighbour who did not like cats came over one day to try to save poor Elsie.
I knew why he hated other cats: my previous cat Cedric had made his life a living hell when he was a kitten. So he learned from her to hate other cats. Cedric, in her turn, had been found wandering, and in her new home she was bullied and terrorized by their cat. The cycle of violence perpetuates itself, and I thought for sure it would with Elsie after what she endured from Spam.
But in Elsie, nature overcame nurture. She is willing to accept any person or animal – even cats. She never let bad experiences with an individual affect her treatment of others. She likes or dislikes based on the individual alone, not her preconceptions of them. That, in my experience, is almost as rare in a cat as it is in a person.
I stayed another year in St. John’s after getting Elsie and acquired a pup in need of a home. She was fine with him, told him at the outset to mind his manners and he did.
Then we moved to Ontario. She was a perfect traveler, just zoned out in a Zen state in her carrier. She adjusted to new surroundings and to becoming an indoor only cat. My dad, not a cat person, loved her. He played yoyo with her for hours – dangling the string for her to bat and chase. When she’d escape outside, he could get her in with the yoyo string. She fell for it every time.
She is my last living connection with St. John’s. Jack has been gone three and a half years and now it’s her turn. My lady cat, Elsie Rose.