We lost ‘our’ cat, Fat Cat, last October.
When I say ‘lost’, as far as we are aware she is safe and well. She wasn’t really our cat – she belonged to a neighbour, though she spent more time with us. The neighbours moved house, and had the audacity to take their pet with them.
Fat Cat moved in with us in spring 2013, not long after we moved in ourselves. She’d invite herself in – one night we even went up to bed and found her already curled up on it. We received that “yeah what” look so perfected by cats (and teenagers, probably) – and that was that.
We became her surrogate slaves.
She’s a beautiful cat, very affectionate and a real cuddle monster. When I was pregnant with Hugo she would wrap herself around my bump – I think she knew there was a baby in there, that she could hear his heartbeat. She has been a real comfort to us since Hugo died – I’ve written about her before – but just to give a brief precis she would demand a morning cuddle in bed, demand cuddles on the sofa (no matter whether or not I was trying to read), and demand I stop working on the laptop to give her a cuddle.
Not that I minded these demands: her purr is soothing, as is stroking her rich fur. She’d also have a way of looking at you that felt like she was looking right in to my soul.
She would spend most of her time with us. While we didn’t directly encourage her to come in to her house (she would just come in if a door or window was open, and if not sit outside a window meowing loudly and piteously until we let her in), we didn’t exactly discourage her either by providing love and fuss.
But as they say cats choose where they live I think it was a mutually agreeable situation. We have lots of love to give and needed comfort, and Fat Cat loves affection and had lots of love to give too.
Fat Cat became a member of our household. When we went away for the weekend she sat outside in confusion and even followed us to our car. A friend checked our house when we went on holiday and Fat Cat bolted out to see her, I think hoping she was us.
We even received the ultimate acknowledgement of cat love – birds and mice in various states of existence. One of the funniest memories is of her miaowing at the window (it sounded very strange because she had the bird in her mouth) desperate to be allowed in to give us her present. It obviously wasn’t funny for the poor bird.
Fat Cat had an amazing ability to sense spiders. She’d bat them until they no longer scurried, but would then be disappointed that her new toy no longer moved. I’m terrified of them, so her dealing with the fearsome arachnids was like she was earning her keep.
Being such a beautiful cat, she was much photographed by both Martin and me. She was generally pretty placid and chilled out, making it easy to get good shots of her. This made her a regular and much-admired feature on my Instagram feed too.
Fat Cat was good company, and such a comfort especially in the early days of our grief. She would never ask us awkward questions, or have any expectations of us other than love and cuddles.
So when we didn’t see Fat Cat for a couple of days we we were worried. We went around to her real owners’ house on the next street and were gutted to see the ‘Sold’ sign. Her family moving house was never a consideration, it never entered our heads.
I went home and cried.
We were hoping she might reappear, but she didn’t. I even got in touch with the estate agent, knowing they couldn’t give me any information about where the people had moved to but briefly explaining that their cat would be a regular visitor to our home, and we wanted to check she was ok. Not knowing anything about the family or where they had moved to, we were worried in case she had been given up to a rescue. Happily (or not so much for us) the estate agent reported Fat Cat is alive and well with her family in their new home.
Martin and I wonder whether she has suckered a new family yet – she’s that kind of cat, using her charms and trying her luck to get what she wants.
Her absence was felt acutely for a good few weeks after her family moved – we had been so used to her routine, her company, her comfort.
There is a happy end to this story – Fat Cat made us realise we needed to be official slaves to a moggy of our own.
We’d like to introduce you to Oscar.
Last week, we adopted Oscar from a rescue charity. About a year old, he was found abandoned in a bin and is named after the Sesame Street character. He’s black with a little white bib and is so bold and confident it’s like he’s lived in our house forever. The early hours of the morning are a great time to play, apparently, chasing his little ball around the wooden floor of the bedroom and tunnelling under the duvet to attack my feet. Oscar is my little shadow and follows me around everywhere – when he’s not getting in to mischief, that is.
He is kind of like a toddler in cat form – you can psychoanalyse that if you like. We both love him already.
Thank you Fat Cat for all the comfort and entertainment you provided. It feels a bit like you are the Littlest Hobo, there to help Martin and me through the most difficult times imaginable.