Two cats from the same litter with such different personalities. Amazing. We named them after herbs: Tansy and Chamomile, or Milly for short. They’d reached eighteen years and Tansy was blind now, but appeared happy.
Milly was a home cat; her sister always roamed. Tansy caught mice, rats, rabbits, birds, snakes and lizards, but still fronted up for her cat food and any leftovers we offered. Milly ate the entrails that Tansy deposited on the doormat, but caught few animals herself.
Tansy talked a lot and answered back when we spoke to her but Milly’s miaow was subdued. Tansy allowed her sister to take first place on Maurie’s recliner… and on Maurie himself. The sunniest place by the window was always Milly’s, and she had first go at the water bowl. Tansy ate bread; Milly wouldn’t touch it. It didn’t bother them that they were different; they had their own special place in their world and ours.
I wish I could emulate their comfortable attitude towards each other. I know we all have different personalities, gifts and callings, but I still compare myself with others. Why wasn’t I good at…or clever like…or able to do things as well as my friend…? And some people even compared themselves to me!
Tansy always came running at our call, but not Milly; she waited for us to find her. Her big eyes innocently said, ‘Were you calling me?’ One day she went missing again. It was my first day home from hospital so Maurie made another search and soon returned.
‘I’ve found Milly’, he said sadly. ‘She was stretched out in the fernery. I’ve buried her under the peach tree in the orchard’.
So I never saw her again. I said goodbye when I went up among the fruit trees and stood beside the fresh soil on her grave. No more stroking her soft fur; never again would I feel her head curled against my arm. As I meditated on her happy life with us, I thanked God for the way he provides pets for humans. We can learn so much from them. Like Milly and Tansy, we all need to accept the strengths we see in other people and not be discouraged that we’re not the same. I saw that God can use me when I’m relaxed about myself. He made me as I am.
During the few days before Milly died, Maurie had noticed Tansy sleeping close to her in the garden, something she’d rarely done since they were kittens. We think she knew her sister was about to leave her. Now Tansy was alone with us. We gave her extra strokes and cuddles, but she seemed to be failing. Her fur was dull and she looked vulnerable. I found it hard to believe that we might lose both of our cats in a short space of time. We used to wonder which would die first and thought Tansy’s adventurous life made her the likely one.
One morning eight weeks after Milly’s death, a kind neighbour rang our doorbell. He stood on the veranda holding a cat cage with Tansy inside. He’d found her at the back of his house with blood on her head and thought a fox may have attacked her. The Vet, another neighbour, said, ‘She won’t live much longer. Fifteen years is good for a cat; eighteen’s even better’.
Now Tansy is buried beside Milly: two herbs in our garden. We miss them both.