July 07, 2008

Run out of instructions

The best way to define Moriarty (or Moe, as I called him), would be to tell you what he wasn't.

He wasn't a particularly social cat - with other people, I mean. When friends came around he would hide, usually. When my sisters kids came over he would leave the country for a few hours, appearing about 30 minutes after he was sure they had left.

He wasn't particularly well co-ordinated. I have video of him as a very small kitten trying to jump on to the settee. He started way too far away and only just managed to reach the seat of the settee with his claws, leaving him hanging there for a few seconds while he scrambled to get a purchase with his rear claws. Oftentimes he would go for a jump and underestimate it (particularly amusing when trying to jump up onto the kitchen cabinets!). His balance wasn't always the best either. He was wondering around the edge of the bath recently when he decided he wanted to turn around in a corner and head back in the opposite direction. As he tried to maneuver around he fell off the edge and into the bath. Luckily it was empty. He was asleep on the window sill last week, sunning himself in the glorious weather we were having. Being a cat, he stretched himself out, yawned and rolled over - off the sill and onto the floor. Twice. In the space of 45 minutes.

He wasn't particularly cat-like in his behaviour. He is the only cat I know that would run and fetch items and bring them back to you. I have footage of him fetching a small stuffed mouse and bringing it back, dog-like, over half a dozen times. People wouldn't believe this until they saw the video. He liked to watch the golf on TV (see picture). He was also the sort of cat who had an evening routine with me. I would bring the food up for him and his brother Zeke and put it in the corner of my bedroom. Zeke would immediately start to chow down so Moe would come into the bathroom with me. As I brushed my teeth he would always jump up onto the cistern at the back of the toilet and watch me. A stroke behind the ear would elicit a purr from him. Then Zeke would appear and Moe would go and eat in his turn. Then he would adjourn to the corner of the room where he would settle down to sleep

He wasn't a very demonstrative cat. At least he wasn't when there were other people around. Or even other cats. If Zeke was around, Moe would barely deign to let me stroke him, ditto if there were friends around that he knew. But when it was just me and him he became a different cat. Very affectionate, purring loudly and letting himself be stroked and petted.

He wasn't the Alpha Cat. That's Zeke. Moe was always second to have the food, second to chase the birds and small animals, second to get the cat toys and play with them and second to use the litter tray. He knew his standing in the hierarchy and he was happy with it.

But mostly he wasn't very bright. In fact he was slightly stupid. In a very endearing way. He was the cat who would follow the end of a piece of string around the floor for hours (shoelaces were his favourite), whereas Zeke would realise that the string was being pulled and go for the hand that was pulling it. Moe was the cat who would charge headlong up a tree, or into a dark hole, or even into next door's house before realising that it probably wasn't the brightest thing to do. Moe would go out into the garage, look around and investigate things and then realise that there was nothing new to investigate so he would come back and sit by the, now closed, door. But rather than meow or scratch the door to attract attention he would sit there. Sooner or later I would realise he was out there, open the door, and see him sitting just inside the door waiting. I used to think it was because he had run out of instructions. The same thing would happen if I went out for the day and left him outside. Regardless of what time I came back he would be sitting in the middle of the driveway waiting for me to return. He had run out of instructions.

He was a very good hunter though. In the last month he caught a rabbit (!), a couple of mice, a dozen shrews, a young pigeon, a blue tit, two frogs and a whole nest of fledgling thrushes. Some he would kill and play with outside, and others he would bring into the house, alive, and release. What hours of entertainment we would have trying to catch them!

I kind of think that his hunting ability and his lack of brightness were two contributing factors in his death.

In my mind he was stalking some small rodent, or maybe a bird, when the aforementioned target set off at some speed across the road outside my house. Being not-too-bright, he probably set-off at speed behind it at just the same time as a vehicle came roaring past. The feline/automotive interface is never going to result in anything good for the cat and I found him several hours later on the grass verge, apparently fast asleep. When I picked him up though, he was cold and stiff.

He's buried in my back garden now near the tree he and Zeke would play in. As far as I know he's still there, awaiting instructions.


  1. Sorry to hear about Moe.

    Lovely eulogy.


  2. Dear Gary, Hope you did get my message re the loss of Moe.My cat Scully ( Lisa of Kevin DB ex cat)is now happily living here in USA and is at the moment, getting her nightly exercise of chasing a jingly ball around the sitting room. She has settled extremly well into her new life as an American cat and has both Martin & I on elastic! She goes out occassionaly but because of cyotes, not far & I watch her very carefully! It would break my heart to loose her, she is part of my family and irreplaceable! x