Tribute to Kublai

Kublai and co.

Johan van Zyl, Gordon’s Bay

Recently, in reaction to an article by Bolander editor Carolyn Frost, I paid a visit to the Cat Heaven and Cat Rescue Café in Bright Street, Somerset West.

The peaceful and entertaining time I spent there made me recall many past years of catty companionship.

Obviously I am one of a breed of humans who finds satisfaction in having members of the species Felis domesticus in close proximity, to the exclusion, sometimes, of Canis.

In like fashion you get dog people, too. They seem nice. Those who love both cats and dogs certainly are beautiful folks.

Like me, my wife is a cat person, and we have unconsciously handed down our partiality to pussy’s to our children, although one of our girls took a liking to a wiener dog later in life.

She and her husband went on to get a Basset Hound with a bark like a gunblast, finally settling for a family of Beagles.

But that happened much later; while the kiddies were still quite young we had this brace of cats who had decided they would make our home their domicilium of preference.

One of these was an exceptional cat who made a lasting impression on us.

We who got to love him willingly vouch that he was not ordinary. He was already fully grown when he adopted us back in 1980.

He appeared out of nowhere and called us into his service.

The other cats in our household he subdued without raising a paw. He was above fighting and squabbling. His presence seemed to be sufficient to bring them into submission.

He was the undisputed king of cats, at least on our property.

In considering that his authority was unquestioned and his position as top cat unrivalled, we thought of giving him a name befitting his regal bearing.

We saw that he had oriental blood, being half Siamese. So we called him Kublai.

This name should ring a bell with readers familiar with the history of the Mongol Empire.

It was not long before Kublai stole our hearts. He made it clear that we had become his close and dear friends.

Some neighbours on the block reported that he sometimes paid them visits, partaking of gifts of food and conversation offered him.

But it was on us he bestowed that full-time affection, often sidling up to us and gazing placidly into our eyes, purring loudly. He even demonstrated a profound degree of tolerance towards our little son, who sometimes tried to ruffle his composure.

How well we recall the priceless, unguarded instances when Kublai would forget his reservedness just for a while and cavort with us on the lawn. He would glare at us, inviting us to grab him, and then he would fly away at the last moment, leaving us clutching thin air.

We had the pleasure of being Kublai’s devotees for six years. He died just after five on a cold August morning.

He had been suffering from a kidney ailment, and the vet’s prognosis had not been promising.

That morning my eldest daughter was awakened by Kublai’s plaintive cries. By the time she had roused us to come to the cat’s aid, we were in time only to see him go. I buried him in our back garden. Our middle child was unashamedly heartbroken as I covered our friend with the loose earth.

When I returned to the kitchen my wife was standing there, cuddling the remaining cats in an effort to curb the real grief she was feeling. Well do I remember her exclaiming: “He was such a… splendid cat!”

There was no better tribute we could have brought.