MERLIN (Maine Coon) 1985-1996

Merle, or Merly as he preferred, passed away today in an unplanned road accident.

I first met Merlin as a tiny kitten. I did not choose him, on the contrary he chose me by being the first of his brood to climb out of the box and approach me. He spent the first night with me in a state of ecstasy as expressed by his non- stop purr that continued until the early hours.

From the start Merlin established his personality as a tough tomcat. Stealing food from the neighbour’s dogs whilst the dogs were chained was a favourite pastime of the youthful Merlin. A playful and frequently violent young cat, he would terrorize every guest I entertained. Once when he was two years old he excelled himself by pursuing a six foot merchant seaman down two flights of stairs and then winning easily the resultant fight.

At the age of three the maturing Merlin moved with me to a small Welsh mining village. Although he had been happy as a city alley cat the wideness and the space of the Welsh country- side really put the zap on his head. He loved to explore, and one night he insisted on following me to the pub. No matter how much I threatened him with food deprivation he would not go home. All night in the pub I could see his little silhouette in the glass-paneled pub-entrance waiting for me to return.

He learned how to fully exploit his over-developed killer’s instinct in the fields of Wales. Mere mice and birds could never satisfy him so he developed this unique habit of mole killing and embarked on a one-cat total extermination policy for Welsh moles. He attacked this problem with a gusto that I have never before seen in all my years of cat friendships.

I cannot figure how he caught so many (although I did later learn that young moles travel *above* ground). He would leave them for me to share with him at the back door. One day he spied me disposing of the tiny rodential corpse by burial and dug the hideous thing up and re-presented it. After this I was more careful with the disposal. This incensed Merlin who decided that he would leave his gifts at the front door instead – thus shocking the milkman and ruining his shoes.

After several years as a country cat, during which time he put on a vast amount of weight and was enforced to diet, he came back with me to dwell in the sprawling city. One hour before moving home, and as if he had sensed the future, Merlin took off to settle accounts with the Milkman’s dog. This was a vicious fight that left Merlin badly wounded and unable to receive vetinary attention. At the end of this arduous journey he declared himself fully recovered and forgot about his wounds, making a speedy and full recovery.

He was back in the home of his kittenhood and he instantly re-established his position as the local Top Cat – the ultimate authority in feline policy. A public position that he held for many years.

During his many terms of office he adopted a benevolent police role, always willing to step into any domestic cat’s dispute and settle matters in his favourite manner. Well fed, arrogant, brave and now and again affectionate, Merlin served his role as a loyal companion in a remarkable and admirable way. He was loved by all and there are still many humans who bear the scars that he so joyfully inflicted.

Merlin’s greatest achievement came at the age of eight. He was basking on a third floor window ledge when a starling foolishly flew too close. With hardly a movement Merlin struck out a paw and bought a swift and untimely death upon the hapless starling and in so doing ensured himself a delicious meal. He became the only cat I’ve met who can catch a wild bird *without* leaving the house. In his life he rose to the rank of General.

His last year on Earth was not a happy one. He was a fighting cat and would not accept the inevitable slowdown of middle age. He started losing fights, losing teeth, losing claws and losing fur. His many minor injuries were beginning to mount up and he felt less and less inclined to waste time caring for his long and impressive mane. He had been suffering falls and it seemed inevitable that his vet would soon be proscribing the Big S-L-E-E-P. A decision that comes to us all in time and amongst the hardest we shall ever have to make.

I have a vague feeling that his death this morning was an act of suicide – although this in no way absolves the bastard driver that struck him down. All speed limits in cat populated areas should not exceed walking pace and I am a staunch supporter of the reinstatement of the ancient Egyptian Law whereby those found guilty of felixicide are publicly executed. All in all a violent but quick death seems to be the way he would have wanted it. He was always keen to administer natural justice to a flagging animal and I’m sure he would have been tortured by old age. He protected me from the awful business of euthanasia with a bloody, but instant and essentially painless demise.

I laid him to rest beneath his favourite bush. He would lie there ready to ambush every unsuspecting visitor that was foolish enough to enter his personal domain. Overlooking the front door and the driveway he held the perfect position to make a lightning attack upon the ankles then quickly retreat to the garage roof from where to gloat down upon his injured victim. He will now lay there forever, his four legged ghost biting the legs of all those who remember him.

I have marked his plot with a granite slab, inscribed with the simple letter ‘M’.

I will appreciate any e-mails of sympathy that you’d care to send to this address and they will be put on display next to his toys throughout the period of mourning. I shall place a picture of him on the WWW this week. I apologize for any incoherence in this post, I have been toasting his memory and I shall now shed a tear or two for my beloved friend.

Picture of Merlin Sitting on a Chair

Merlin, Maine Coon

Rest in Peace

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