Saturday, 24 May 2014

For I will consider my cat Geoffrey

This week I said a final goodbye to my cat Geoffrey.  He was almost exactly twenty years old and old age finally took too much of a toll on him.

He was a very fine cat,
He inspired art (my daughter made these tiles as a school project)
He was a warrior, only last year he fought off a german shepard and a staffie that the irresponsible owner was walking without a lead.  They attacked him in my front garden as Geoffrey had been sunning himself on the front step, out of sight of the road.  Geoffrey fought back and the dogs came off worse.  I thought it would be the end of Geoffrey too, but he recovered well and kept going.
He lived with several other cats through his time here, firstly with Claude and Emily who were already quite elderly when he arrived as a kitten.  He was a terror of a kitten!  Then after Claude had gone Geoffrey graciously allowed Austin and Lawrence to move in.   No matter how many cats he lived with, Geoffrey was always King Cat.  I still have Austin and Lawrence who are now themselves getting quite eldery as they will be 15 this year.  It has not been a healthy relationship between the three of them though.  Geoffrey would allow Austin to cuddle up and then bite and hit her and yet she always went back for more.  Lawerence on the other hand was always excluded, always on the outside of this couple.  Austin only ever took any notice of Lawrence when she wanted something.  No, not healthy.
I worried how Austin would react to losing Geoffrey as she was so dependent on him.  Austin, true to form, does not appear to have noticed yet, she does dance to the beat of her own drum.

Geoffrey accepted Chesney, the mad kitten that lived with us for a couple of years.  They reached an agreement where Chesney would not demonstrate too often that he was younger, fitter and fluffier than Geoffrey, King Cat would not allow that and Chesney appeared to give due deference to his age.

Geoffrey was not so accepting of the latest addition to the household though.  Bruce the new ginger cat seems to have arrived as Geoffrey was declining fast and I think he just had no patience left.  Geoffrey was increasingly uncomfortable and possibly in pain so it is no great surprise that he became intolerant.  Bruce just kept a healthy distance away from him to avoid conflict.  If he had wanted to Bruce could have flattened him with one paw, thankfully he didn't.

Geoffrey also had a favourite poem: Jubilate Agno Fragment B by Christopher Smart (1722 - 1771)

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his
way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon
his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the
beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider'd God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and
glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he
suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit
without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the
spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the
Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him
exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord's poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence
perpetually -- Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in
music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God's light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from
heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho' he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other
quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

I only became aware of this poem after I first got Geoffrey as a kitten, I have loved it ever since.

I will miss Geoffrey hugely, over the last twenty years we have been through a lot together, he's seen my children grow up and move out, he's moved house with me three times and he's observed much and commented little.  Goodbye Geoffrey Amadeus Kirk, you were a fine friend.

16 comments :

  1. Oh Alison I am sorry but it sounds like he had a long and wonderful life.

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  2. So sad. A lovely tribute to Geoffrey Amadeus Kirk. x

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  3. Very sorry to hear about Geoffrey. He certainly does sound like he was a fine friend. I'm sure you will miss him, but he obviously was a big part of your life and his memory will live on. xx

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  4. What a lovely tribute to a warrior cat. I hadn't read that poem before, am going to send it to a few (cat people) friends.
    Cathy

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  5. So sorry to hear about Geoffrey. What a great character and friend he was.

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  6. So rare to read a tribute that comes straight from the heart and avoids sentimentality. It's clear you had a really good relationship. A fine poem, too.

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  7. A great sorrow for you. My sympathy.

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  8. Dear Alison, you must miss him so much, what a fine cat he was and what a great tribute you have written xx

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  9. Sounds as if he had a rather wonderful life, but you must miss him, I am sorry.

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  10. That's a lovely tribute to a much loved part of your family. I can just imagine how missed he will be x

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  11. Dear Papaver
    So sorry to hear your news - as a cat lover with three in our family, I know how hard it is when you have to say goodbye.
    I love this poem too and on the blog, Spitalfields Life, there is an illustrated version which you might like to look at:
    http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/11/10/for-i-will-consider-my-cat-jeoffrey/
    It sounds as though your cat Geoffrey had a wonderful life with you.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Dear Ellie

      Thanks for your kind words. A twitter friend also pointed me in the direction of the illustrated version and I have bought a copy, it was exactly what I was looking for as a commemoration (though I will have to buy a plant too). It is really lovely, so thanks for telling me about it.

      thanks again
      Alison x

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  12. Wow Alison, what a poem. That man understood cats !

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  13. Thanks for all your kind words, it is much appreciated .xx

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