On Thursday we said goodbye to our family cat - Pickle. She was 21 years old and had been a part of our family for practically her whole life - we adopted her from a litter of abandoned kittens in 1993, when I was 8 years old.
She outlived both of our other cats - Dusty and Oscar - and definitely made the most of her 9 lives. She survived a minor incident with a car, getting trapped in a tree by her collar and losing the end of her tail to a door that slammed in the wind, as well as moving out of the house to live in the garden for more than a week when Oscar moved in after Dusty passed away.
She was sharp (claws) and fiesty (occasionally vicious) - not that she needed washing often, but the couple of attempts we made resulted in a lot of scratches and drawn blood (on our part) - medicating her was an equally trying experience! She loved to be made a fuss of, until she'd had enough and she'd turn around a swipe at you. But if you stopped stroking her before she wanted you to she would also grab your hand and drag it back to her. Trying to tickle her belly was the biggest mistake you could make and she would shred your hand.
She was loud, demanding and fussy. She could smell a chicken from a mile off and would be in the kitchen as soon as you took a tin of tuna out of the cupboard. She wouldn't touch raw meat and would instantly go off a brand of cat food if you decided to stock up on it - in the end she'd refuse anything but those very fancy small tins of cat food. She was very cheeky at dinner times and has been known to try and steal food right off people's plates, if you were foolish enough to let her close enough to your food and/or take your eye off her for a moment.
I'm not sure if that makes her sound awful! She was also so sweet and affectionate when she wanted to be. Such a big personality in such a small cat. She did let out her inner predator a fair bit when she was young and loved playing with and chasing toys.
She was never the biggest fan of strangers and would (almost) rather sit outside in the rain than be in the house if people were visiting. I always used to offer her sanctuary in my room and she learnt to seek me out if she was in need of a hiding place. I like to think we had a special relationship and that she loved and trusted me.
She was often described as a heat-seeking missile - she loved to be warm, either in the sunshine, in front of the fire or cuddled up with someone. She'd be into a warm spot someone had left on the sofa quicker than you could blink. On a sunny day she would slowly migrate around a room to maintain prime position in the sunshine. Of a winter evening, if she wasn't leaching heat from my dad she'd be happily curled up, or spread out, on a pillow in front of the fire.
She struggled with change generally, so when my parents moved to Wales five years ago and took her with them I almost offered to take her in myself as I really didn't think she'd survive the upheaval. Thankfully she proved me very much wrong and the move actually seemed to be really good for her. She completely chilled out, having been very highly strung and skittish previously, and became infinitely more friendly and less vicious.
She even adjusted pretty quickly when Pete and I moved in with mum and dad along with Alf and the two of them learnt to quite like each other, on Pickle's terms of course.
Unfortunately, she went blind quite suddenly about a month ago and had been clearly struggling more and becoming more unhappy with each week. In the end the decision was made that it wasn't fair to expect her to keep going any more and she made her final journey to the vets. I am so very sad to see her go, but it was the right decision to let her go in the end - she was doing little more than sleeping and eating (on and off), she didn't go outside or even move around the house very much, even the slightest move in a piece of furniture meant she would walk into it and she increasingly just didn't look comfortable or happy.
Having had her in my life for practically as long as I can remember, even writing this two days later is bringing a tear to my eye. Pickle cat was a very special cat and I will miss her very much.
Sorry to be a bit of a downer today.
Hope things are well with you,