Out of the caged room wandered a tiny ginger kitten and nuzzled P’s leg. “He has made his choice.” The inside of his bat ears were green from microchip dye. He howled in his box on the passenger seat all the way home. He reprises this Allen Ginsburg-sized howl, learnt from early on, when he wants to eat or go outside.
We called him ‘Miron’ after Sean Micallef’s accident-prone, French plasticine figure, a terrific parody of the old ‘Red and Blue’ euro-trash TV show. We were then living in a rented, rambling pile on the side of a hill and Miron often disappeared into the snake-infested gully and creek at the back of the house. We don’t know how many lives he used up, but he always returned. Sometimes with a little gift – he was a good mouser. In our copy of The Literary Cat edited by Jean-Claude Suarès and Seymour Chwast, we have compiled “The Ledger of Death” where we have lovingly tabulated his kills of mice, birds and rats (last comestible – summer 2014 – nothing this year).
We moved to the flat, on the south side of town. Our new street carried more traffic than he was perhaps used to. One day, L and P came home from their day jobs, and while walking past the toilet door, out crawled the cat, dragging himself by his front legs. He gave us a wan look and made a little whine, as if to say “A little help….?”
He’d been hit by a truck. We found a tuft of his fur stamped into the road outside. Only later did we see that, after the impact, he must have crawled across the road and footpath, down our (gravel) driveway, into the house through the cat door, across three rooms (we followed the trail of blood) into the safe, cool, dark tiles of the lavatory, where he bled and gathered strength, alone and for god knows how long.
A couple of thousand dollars later, Dr Warren Foreman at Adelaide Animal Hospital had saved him, and apart from a slight ‘gimp’ in the back left leg when he leaps, you’d never know how close he came to using-up that 9th life. 12 years on, Miron has repaid us that investment, with compound interest.