Suzuki Lord


I remember the day we first brought her home. She sat on top of her tower in the dining room, a small kitten with ears as large as her head, and watched us anxiously.

She had so much energy. In the villa, she’d race down the central hallway, running along the books in a bookcase for the sheer joy of it.

She would sit in my room, at a second chair at my desk, and curl up into a circle of fur - a spiral of cat with grey and tawny underbelly exposed. She’d pretend to listen when you talked to her. She had her own chair.

At Okura on the hilltop she’d sprint across the back garden like a large rabbit, and when she came to the high wooden fence, she wouldn’t stop - she’d just jump, and scrabble her way to the top, somehow. I watched her do this many times and never understood how it was possible. Then she’d lean over the top and vanish over the side, with just the thud-and-tinkle of a landing cat.

Sometimes you’d hear the same sound when you walked into the kitchen unexpectedly. She wasn’t allowed on the kitchen benches, and wasn’t stupid enough to go there when she thought anyone would notice her.

In the mornings, I’d gently open the laundry door, and she’d be sitting on top of the highest cupboard, right up near the ceiling. She’d greet me with a chirp and a purr, then leisurely walk across to the top of the fridge, then jump down to the bench and then the floor. She’d rub right up against my legs, purr, and follow me out of the laundry. Breakfast would happen eventually, but for now she was content with the company.

The colour of her fur matched the grey wooden deck, and the grey wooden fence, and stood out against the lush greenery of the garden.

She sat regally, but didn’t walk like it.

She had a trick where she’d jump up behind you on a chair, squeeze herself into a sliver at the back, and slowly expand until you only had half the chair, and usually couldn’t reach the backrest any more. This was slow enough that you would forget it was happening, and keep focusing elsewhere.

We called her Suzuki - eventually - because she had a distinctive purr, like the deep throbbing of a motorcycle engine. She’d often share this with you when she was feeling relaxed.

At night she’d escape to the roof via someone’s window, and prowl around until she’d had enough. Often she’d do this without anyone noticing, and later she’d appear at my closed window - a pale shape with a plaintive miaow - and I’d have to take her to the laundry and disarm the house alarm.

She’d sit down in what Dad called “being a tea cosy” and camp out in one spot.

She liked a stroke but not if she didn’t know you. She especially liked it when she was eating; if you wanted her to finish the last few biscuits in her bowl, which she habitually left just in case, you’d follow her to the laundry and stroke her while she ate. She made a wonderful purr-gnash-purr-gnash noise, and occasionally looked up at you in gratitude. I can’t believe it used to be a chore for me. Whenever I returned for visits from Australia I’d make a point of sharing this with her.

She was a companionable cat, although much of the day was spent roaming her territory. She didn’t like sitting on laps much, at least in her youth, but she’d steal your chair and look owlishly at you when you tried to move her.

I miss her dearly.

Thanks to the rest of my family for looking after her when I suddenly packed up and moved to Australia - nobody really expected that. Thanks especially for looking after her in the last month of her life, when I couldn’t be there for her.