Under The Plum Tree With Zeno

We’d only been married about five months when we decided to get a cat– or, rather, when I begged to get a cat, and Trev agreed. When we went to the rescue place, I had my heart set on finding a nice, placid tabby. The lady who ran the cattery, who was blowsy and faintly whiffy of sherry, had other ideas for us.

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She took us to a cage in a back room where the difficult cases were kept. The cats with missing ears, or exotic medical conditions, or laden with kittens were here. She lifted a scrawny, black tom cat out of one of the cages. He had both forelegs shaved from IVs following recent surgeries. He had a wonky eye, from being whacked about the head by nasty teenage boys. I was dubious, but she thrust this cat into Trev’s arms.

The cat immediately began to purr, surprisingly loud and deep. It butted its head against the underside of Trev’s chin. My husband’s eyes grew wide. His bottom lip may have wobbled.

“I like this one,” he said.

And so we brought home Zeno. On account of the abuse early in his life, he was weak at first, and although generally friendly, he was given to clawing people who tried to touch his belly. But he soon waxed fat, strong, and glossy, fed by our too-liberal hand and a steady diet of birds, mice, and treats from neighbors.

He was an accomplished sleeper,  turning up in unexpected places and in daring positions, as is the way of all cats. He enjoyed going out in the rain and would return, soaked and purring, looking for a lap to dry off in. He groomed himself obsessively, accompanied by loud smacks and grunts and snorts that led us to call him “the Pig”.

He was never once impatient with Eve, even when her eager, sticky little baby hands snatched at his ears or tail, and he always greeted visitors to the house by paying them the highest feline compliment possible: he would try to climb onto them and go to sleep. Midwives, mothers-in-law, and guys from the gas company alike got the chance to bask in his purr.

And he loved the garden, napping in the sunniest beds when it was pleasant, and behind the sage bush, or among the raspberry canes under the plum tree when it was too hot.

Zeno had been sick for about a month, and by this morning it was clear he was never going to get better. So we made the hard decision, and poor Trevor brought him home to the plum tree for the last time today. We will miss him very much.

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6 comments

  1. Awe, I am so sorry you guys. I am so glad that I at least got to meet him. He was an awesome animal!! He will be missed.
    xoxo
    Cat

  2. Oh my goodness, I’m so sad for all of you. Xeno was such a lovely creature. So glad I was able to meet him on a few occasions. Sending love. Can’t wait to see you soon.

    1. It’s okay, Joan, he wasn’t particular about the spelling, as long as you followed up his name with “Time to eat!”

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