Rumpelteazer: a cool cat remembered

Rumpelteazer, or Rumpy as he was generally known, was a big black cat that ran the veterinary clinic in Kelburn. Recently he died, which has caused much sadness in the 'hood, as he was an immensely popular and much talked about attraction at the clinic. 

He had his own box which sat on the counter and he was prepared to accept strokes from everyone who cared to bestow their affection on him. Like most cats it was always love on his terms, and if he was bored or couldn't be bothered, he simply stood up, arched his back and stalked away, as if to say, don't bother me now.

At other times he prowled the clinic, going wherever he pleased, and pretty much on his own terms, which included sniffing the pet boxes as animals arrived for treatment, leaping up onto the counter, padding the keyboard and nuzzling staff serving customers. He seemed well aware of his exalted position, although he always took it as no more than his due.

The name Rumpelteazer comes from from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats where it is generally thought Rumpelteazer was male because of the reference to him and Mungojerrie as "plausible fellows". Certainly the name did seem to fit this large black one.

In the stage show CATS, Rumpelteazer is usually depicted as young, high energy feline, who dances, prances and sings with Mungojerrie.  It's not clear whether the two are siblings or lovers.  Mungo Jerry was also the name of a British pop group which had a worldwide number one hit  with "In the Summertime" in 1970 and also some (lesser) success with "Baby Jump" and " Lady Rose".

I saw the stage show CATS in New York, many years ago, and although the production was superb, it struck me at the time as essentially a work of flash and no substance - no real story, but some well staged songs and dances. But that's Andrew Lloyd Webber for you.

Back to the cat in Kelburn. On the weekend I got a letter from the Vet Clinic to say that Rumpy was no more. He had been diagnosed with kidney failure about three years ago and had been on a special diet since then.

Since then he had been staying nights with Sefton and Vicki, the vets at the clinic but going to the clinic by day. On 14 June, the letter reports that "he had a massive seizure and died in Vicki's arms. Although he had lost a lot of weight and aged, he was roaming and climbing trees till a few days before he died."

Rumpy was, as the letter puts it so well, "one cool cat."

Isn't it interesting that the death of a cat can be of such significance that all the clients get a letter about his demise. We ourselves can be judged by what is important to us, and in this neighbourhood caring for, and about, animals counts.