Lucien (Lulu, Louby-lou, Lou), who died peacefully yesterday at the age of 15 plus, was a cat of many parts.
Grumplestiltskin, sleep-a-lot, loner, lounger, sybarite, guardian.
He was not a cat who easily showed affection like Marmalade or Ben. He was not a big greeter like Butterscotch who would roll over in the courtyard whenever we returned from an outing. Nor was he a cat that cared, in the sense that Pippa seems to care, when either of us are confined to bed and she decides it’s her duty to be with us.
He was a solitary cat, a cat apart, a cat set in his ways, a loner by choice–happy it seemed to spend hours curled up in favorite familiar places where he wouldn’t be bothered.
He wasn’t a tolerant cat either and could be the scourge of newcomers–prowling round the kitchen at feeding time like Bill Sykes in a black mood.
He was a “found” cat, who’d been separated from his mother too early–a rough start for anyone. After such a trauma, likely it was hard for him to trust anyone–one reason perhaps for all those years he spent in the garage with one sleepy eye on the cat-flap, guarding us from unwelcome guests!
It took him practically a lifetime to start cosying up on the sofa for a bit of telly watching in the evening rather than clambering arthritically onto the back of the sofa opposite, where his favorite folded blanket awaited him. For years no amount of cajoling would persuade him to change; he was a stubborn cat.
Meredith thinks that missing out on his mother’s milk for the vital first few days contributed to his physical difficulties later in life.
He arrived at the front door in a cardboard box. He sat nervously in the palm of one hand–he was so small–not understanding that he’d fallen in the butter dish, as a friend used to put it.
He’d been found in her garden by the sister of a friend who knew we loved cats and that Pippa had just had a litter. Perhaps, our friend thought, Pippa could be persuaded to accept a small addition.
Meredith tried adding him to the line of tiny mites who were suckling at Pippa’s teats–but she was having none of it at first and quickly shook him off.
Meredith tried again, but no go. A little while later she watched Pippa walk over to Lucien, pause, then step forward to clean his face–as if he were one of hers.
Pippa had had a change of heart and accepted him into her litter.
It was a significant bonding for both of them. They remained friends for life.
Pippa was Lucien’s only close relationship, though he spent years pursuing Butterscotch, apparently the love of his life, with no success.
She was disdainful of him, clearly regarding him as a parvenu and beneath her!
All this doesn’t make him sound much fun but he did have a playful side most often brought on when the sun shone.
Even last week when he was clearly fading fast–the vet on a home visit had told us to our relief that we was not in pain–he spent part of an afternoon outside, following the sun round the front of the house.
Lucien loved to lounge in the open air, albeit often behind a tree and close to the garage and sometimes, very occasionally, he’d forget himself, throw care to the winds and simply let it all hang out!
So why did we love him so?
We loved him for his difference, for his curmudgeonliness, for his contrariness, for his independent spirit, we loved him to be precise– for being Lucien and unlike any cat we knew.