Farewell to our beloved visitor, Tom

Rita de Vries, visiting from Bloemfontein, bonded immediately with Tom.

Johan van Zyl,
Gordon’s Bay

Tom is dead. I had often feared for his life, with him scooting across the road like that.

On Wednesday August 7, a car ran him over.

I happened to go out of the house seconds after, and when I saw him lying prostrate in the middle of the road, my heart sank. It had happened.

Allow me to bring tribute to this so-called dumb animal whose short span of time has now been snuffed out.

What better way to do just that, than to remember him in life.

We had for the first time noticed this big bicolour lying about in various secluded spots in our front yard, quite a few years ago already. It always looked like it was sleeping.

We at first thought this was an animal who was sick, and these were going to be its last days.

Whenever we approached closer than a few metres, it would jump up and slink away. We could never come closer. We felt sympathy for this big cat who seemed to be so lonely and aloof. Then it disappeared for a few days and we assumed it had died.

But it returned, this time frequenting the back part of our property. It was skittish in the extreme.

We found that the cat would be approachable by our young granddaughter on some days, yet remaining extremely unresponsive to others.

I started to give it much attention, to the disgust of Wolkie, who still comes every day and whiles away her time in restful repose, either in my study or some other spot in the house.

In time I got the revelation of my life to experience this new cat in its true nature – more like an over-friendly teddy bear than anything else. Upon my examination, I found it to be an intact male.

I started to call him Tom, and one day patted my knee in invitation. To my surprise Tom knew all about hopping on to a person’s lap. He lay there, curled up, often turning around to bump his head against my hand for a rub.

This was in total contrast to Wolkie, who loves to be petted and stroked, but is no lap-sitter at all. Tom enjoyed every moment of attention and would not leave a proffered lap if he had the choice.

Tom sort of “lived” in our back yard in summertime. I believe he spent nights under the wendy house. Wolkie I know to have a home diagonally opposite the street to our address, but I knew nothing of Tom.

But he must have had some place to eat, because his tummy was regularly full.

Tom was a huge cat, with thick paws, a healthy coat, a thick muscled neck and large head. He did not seem to have any blemish or old injury anywhere. I started brushing his coat just about every day, and it really shone with health.

Tom did not do any kneading like some other cats, but he extended and contracted his front paws in rapt enjoyment of a rub, and those claws on one’s knees caused one to wince. But we endured it. He was a real glutton for attention, and sought me out every time I opened the back door to the yard behind.

In wintertime he would be snoozing on the “Welcome” mat outside our front door.

My eventual conclusion was that Tom had been raised in a loving home, where there must have been care and affection. Why did he now seem to be homeless? Why the frequent road-crossing? Who fed him, but whose home seemed not to be inviting enough for him to spend all his time there?

Now Tom, the big baby, who used to brighten our days by his presence, is no more.

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