04 November, 2015

CHocolat the CHatty cat from CHurch Street

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

He would have been nine years old.

When we said Hullo Chocolat he would answer. When I went to bed and he was curled up on one of the living-room sits Goodnight Chocolat and he would murmur back. In the evening when I was reading or tapping on the laptop, the cherry on top was Chocolat sighing - isn't it deluverly to be home, safe, warm and comfortable, with my family! At the end of the day we called him in. Either he came from the bottom of the garden chirpeling a long story all the way. Or it was a laconic 's OK, I'm here, and you can go to bed ...

I hear his toenails tapping on the laminate floor and expect to see him walk round the bookshelf. Or to hear him whup thru the cat door. We come home and look for the cats. We had to take the black cat shadow board from the windowsill - it made our heart turn over to 'see him there'.

Chocolat as a wary kitten in January 2007

CHocolat at CHurch Street in February 2007

Chocolat was 'born' in November 2006. Black tiny kitten played at night on a tarred road, hunting crickets. He used up 6 of his lives. Child’s fist sized patch of darkness, in the shade cast by the streetlight behind the veranda pillar. Last thing I saw as I peeked behind the curtain at night. First evening he joined our family, he slept on my lap. Never again!

Henry with Chocolat in February 2007

Henry brought him home. These people will be looking for a second cat soon. I am moving on.

As a boing boing kitten, he leapt onto the table as I ate my muesli, and swiped spoon, broken bowl, and muesli to the ground. Then he hoovered up the muesli, and taught us to serve a spoonful of yoghurt each morning. (Henry preferred strawberry yoghurt)

Showing his stripes in September 2007

When we moved to the new Porterville house, we kept Aragon and him in, until they knew where home was. Chocolat perched on the bedroom windowsill, yelling Out, Out, OUT! Half grown he had stripes on his chest, later he had scattered white hairs among the not black.

May 2008 on the jetty
(BeFunky Ink)

In the waterfall November 2008

Sadly, as a feral kitten, M’sieur Chocolat was in disgrace. He caught the first Lil Cuss.

2010 on his cat-sit

But I LIKE sitting in the rain! You know how your cat likes to perch uncomfortably on the corner of the fence, where he can survey the neighbours? The Ungardener made Chocolat a cat-sit in Porterville.

When asked – r u hungry Chocolat, he licked his lips thoughtfully? He sat at his dinner dish looking abstracted, and patient. Or shot through the cat door, like an Olympic sprinter as the starting pistol is fired! (Aragon goes through sedately, as befits an elderly lady). After dinner, as he walked away, Chocolat paused for an arabesque, first the right, then the left.

Gardener's paws in 2011

Chocolat with gardener's paws (me too). Stop FUSSing, woman!

2011 Chocolat

Once I woke early. Little voice saying - Is anyone there? Help! Fell out of bed, to find Chocolat looking irritably at the bulrushes. I saw a ginger kitten, cowering in the shallow water. While Chocolat stomped around grumbling - That bleddie cat is In My GARDEN!!! The ginger saga continued in False Bay as next door's cat fled up the lemon tree to leap, for her wall.

in 2012 at Elephant's Eye Light Railway

Waiting on the tracks so he won’t miss it, but he always
Had to

Aragon and Chocolat in 2012

To find the coolest place on a hot summer afternoon, follow the cats. A cat knows, heat rises, slate tiles are cooler. Lie in the shade, where you can catch the afternoon breeze. Chocolat below the Adirondack, from where he could watch the birds.

May 2013 with Elephant's Eye mountain

It’s enough to make a cat laugh, my father used to say.

Evening clouds in 2012

Walking home from choir practice, as I reached our entrance a pool of deeper shadow resolved into the unmistakeable silhouette of a cat, betrayed by the lion's ears. On the gatepost draped around the little seated concrete lion, was Chocolat. He escorted me down the long dark driveway. As I walked I talked to the cat (my mother said - that way you’re not talking to yourself!) Chocolat skipped down the driveway. I am safe home.

in August with the Ungardener

in September with me

He wouldn't eat and we went to the vet to get his teeth cleaned. Cracked tooth. Before the anaesthetic, tests. Anaemic. Leukaemia. Kidney failure. Time to let him go over the Rainbow Bridge.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer

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  1. I have edited this post from Chocolat's birthday in 2014.

    There Deb in Alabama left this comment - I was struck by the fact that Henry brought Chocolat home shortly before he "moved on." I will never forget how, when I was a child, our big male black tomcat, who was so fierce even the neighborhood dogs cowered to see him, brought home a female kitten. He was carrying her in his mouth, and we could only guess where he found her. She had very long fur, and it was so funny watching him give her a bath. His tongue kept getting stuck in her fur. He made it clear he expected her to stay. Only two weeks later he was killed.

    Deb has a cat called Autumn http://debsgarden.squarespace.com/journal/2015/2/8/the-hunter-and-the-hunted.html

  2. A strikingly beautiful and sweet cat, I enjoyed seeing him in your posts and will miss him too.

  3. Diana, I am so sorry to hear that Chocolat has passed on. I know you miss him terribly. I always got special pleasure from posts featuring him. I love the 2013 photo!! Very sadly, our dear Autumn was bitten in the mouth by a snake and developed septicemia a few months ago. I still grieve over her. It was so painful I could not post about it. Thank you for linking to that post, however. I went back to look at it, and I had to laugh at her image. Definitely Autumn in hunt mode!

    1. So sorry to hear that. I remember following Autumn's story, choosing her name.

  4. I am so sorry about the loss of your dear Chocolat.


  5. Hello Diana! Reading this post put a smile on my face despite being bittersweet since Chocolat is not here anymore.
    He sure had a good life being with you. You gave him love and he gave love to you as well.
    Take good care of yourself!

    1. I'm sad to read that you have lost such a beautiful cat.

  6. A lovely post describing Chocolat, very poignant...reminded me so much of the personality in our lives, our little dog called Chocolate (Chocky)....I still miss her little face at the window when we came home.

    1. that's why we had to remove the shadow board

  7. Your love shines through this post. Chocolat was a lucky cat.

  8. So very sorry you lost your beautiful Chocolate Diana. You have created a fine memorial of him including photographs that made me laugh and look again and again. What a handsome kitty, sure of himself and his people. A gardening kitty to boot! Our dear animals just don't live long enough. And sadly, kidney failure is so often the case at the end for cats. Thank you for sharing his good life with all of us--clearly one lucky kitty. I will remember "over the rainbow bridge...."

    1. grateful to whoever coined that expression.
      So much kinder and gentler.

  9. Bittersweet. A lovely tribute to a fine companion. I've always thought chatty cats were the happiest in our company. It is so special, the bond we form and share in friendly conversation.

    1. Cats are particular. If you are too rude to greet them, they won't waste their words on you. Aragon does the silent meow, but Chocolat could conduct a whole conversation, or tell us a story.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. Pets are family and we mourn when they are gone. xo Laura

  11. Your love for Chocolat sings throughout this post and I wish you comfort from the multitude of happy memories. I think that you will find that whenever you are in your garden he will not be far away.

  12. What a beautiful and terribly sad post. I am so sorry for your loss, Diana. Chocolate has been a feature of your blogs all along. He will be missed by many.

  13. Diana, I am so very sorry, my heart goes out to you. He was so much part of your life, what a loss.

    There is a large chocolate colored hole in the blogging world, that can't be filled again.


  14. What a beautiful touching eulogy for chocolat. I am very sorry for your loss.

  15. So very sorry to read your news Diana, take care.

  16. What a beautiful post and a heartfelt tribute. I am thinking of my beloved Neelix kitty (1995-2012), and appreciating the animal love all 'round. Thank you.

  17. I know how hard this is. A cat I had raised from a 3 day kitten died of leukemia and it was devastating. What a loving, wonderful life he had with you.

  18. A poignant tribute to your friend, Chocolat, Diana. I feel I knew him, having observed him on your blog for so many years. He will be missed! P. x

  19. Diana I am so sorry for your loss....he was such a special cat with an incredible personality....I love this tribute. I will miss seeing Chocolat here.

  20. Diana, I am so sorry to read this. I will miss M. Chocolat; I thought of him as a frisky kitten still. -Jean

  21. Oh I am so sorry to hear this sad news. What a lovely post full of happy memories of your precious Chocolat.