Monday, June 18, 2007


Sunday Times. We had an excellent Sunday lounging round the house after the hectic running about for Nelsinho's Saturday party. After church in the morning, Steve and Celia, various other relatives and Nelson and Marcella came over. Natal is in the midst of it's rainy season and so we couldn't venture out even if we wanted to because the skies were hurling down torrents of water... a great excuse to sit back, finish off Nelson's birthday cake and watch Beckham leave the Santiago Bernabeu with La Liga trophy. It would have capped a perfect weekend except...

The short but exceedingly significant life of Perry "Muggins" the Gatinho, died 18th June 2007 aged 3 weeks approx. Last Thursday one of the Cultura Inglesa students found a very young kitten under a box under a tree outside the language school. Whoever left him there was smart as lots of kids pass by that way to and from the Cei and Floca schools. Sure enough, one of them picked up the kitten and came into Cultura. This "gatinho" eventually ended up on my lap, and in a moment of childlike compassion I decided to take the cat home without even consulting my wife (known for being less feline friendly). Perhaps, I still harbour some need to atone for my treatment of young cats when I was a kid (a story of which was quoted by my best men at my wedding).

I soon realised that looking after such a young kitten was going to be harder than I expected - perhaps, as a kid you forget the responsibility that comes with having animals if your parents are around. Anyway, after checking the internet and consulting Uncle Nelson's girlfriend (a vet), we got him a nice box and fed him formula milk through a syringe. He perked up well and soon began to work his charm on us, including my wife. By Saturday, after having cared for him for three days around the clock, I felt we should get him out of here to somebody else. Sadly, Brazil is not equipped with an RSPCA and we were a bit short of options on who to call... However, by Sunday I was amazed to hear a chorus from the family - led by Rachel! - suggesting we should keep Perry. Nelson seemed to enjoy him and he would be less of a pain to keep than a dog. Marcella (the vet) gave advice about injections and said she would help. So, I too became convinced - Perry would be our family mog.

But, alas, when I went to give him his 11pm feed he had become quite listless and lethargic. A bad sign, and despite various attempts to revive him, he passed away during the night. Cause of death unknown - perhaps he got a bit damp and caught a chill from all the rain.
Perhaps the thought of a life of being whumped and verbally abused by Nelsinho was too much of a shock to the system for young Perry. Who knows? In any case, I hope we gave him a better shot at life than he would have had. (I find myself being strangely philosophical as I write this: "Why did it happen? Was it the right thing to take him in? What if...? What does God think about the life of a small cat? What's the right perspective to have when the world, Brazil even, has much much greater problems and tragedies?")

So, here is a short biography of his accomplishments:

Perry was named after the Arsenal footballer of the same first name (Perry Groves). They have in common the same ginger haircolour. In his short career as a cat Perry survived the traumatic experience of leaving his mother aged only 2 and a half weeks. He also survived a 1 year old's birthday party, learned to feed from a syringe and contrbuted two chapters to a collected academic work on the price of fish in 16th Century Switzerland. He passed away in his sleep surrounded by his friends. R.I.P. Perry.