A very sad day today as our much-loved cat, Oscar, succumbed to the kidney problems that have been plaguing him for the last few months. In the end, this handsome cat (see below) was reduced to a helpless shrunken shadow of his former self. Death is rarely kind, but at least his suffering is over. For myself, I feel sad and inevitably diminished by this loss – we have two other cats, but Oscar was special….
A prince among cats……Oscar in happier days…..
Of course, the British are notorious for sentimentalising and anthropomorphising their pets and whilst I don’t think we are as guilty of that as some people I have known, it is true that we make a fuss of our cats – wouldn’t be much point in keeping pets if you didn’t. Oscar has been part of our lives for the last 15 years and I have to say that I have never known a cat so fond of human company. Oscar was like a bendy toy; he would allow people to pick him up, maul him around and generally behaved with a total absence of traditional feline hauteur. He forged a special bond with my Dad and would spend hours sprawled across his lap whenever he visited. There seemed to be no limit to the amount of fuss he would accept from us – in fact, we could never give him enough, so Dad’s regular visits were a real boon.
The story has been told over the last 24 hours or so about how Oscar actually chose us. We have bought all three of our cats from a woman who lives over in Quinton in the west of the city. We heard that she ran a refuge for strays at her house and were stunned to find that her council house had basically been taken over by cats. On our first visit, she apparently had 118 cats on her books and we relieved her of two of them. She was very keen for us to have a skinny white & ginger kitten (who we renamed Eric) and he has proven to be a great cat as well, albeit in a totally different way to Oscar. Eric is a ‘cat’s cat’ and still goes out scrapping with the local toms, returning with ragged ears and scratches across his nose. He grants his attentions to humans only sparingly, unlike Oscar, who was just a complete tart.
However, back in Quinton, this lady has had her garage and her back garden transformed into an elaborate series of pens and runs that were positively swarming with cats. Oscar was this fluffy ginger thing with bright blue eyes who was climbing the outer fence of his run, meowing furiously for our attention. As soon as we gave him some fuss he began to purr furiously; we had been interviewed and he had made his decision. We would do.
Amazingly, the Quinton cat lady had names for all her guests and Oscar was a name we liked anyway, but Eric was originally called ‘Simon’…..sorry, but all my cats have to be named after jazz musicians or United players – thus Oscar for Oscar Peterson and Eric who could be Cantona or Dolphy, depending on your preferences. ‘Simon’? I don’t think so…
At a time like this when everyone in the house is very sad, you can only console yourself with the thought that Oscar had a nice life, spent entirely under one roof and with a traffic-free green network of gardens to explore out the back of the house. I hope that he felt that his decision to choose us was a good one…..farewell Oscar; you were much loved and you will be much missed……