There is often nothing as intense, endearing, not to mention downright wacky, as the relationships we have with our pets.
They tend to be a yardstick by which we measure our lives, defining and refining our humanity with companionship, cuddles and curve balls.
Consequently there is nothing as heartbreaking nor epoch-defining as when one passes on.
Now give me a moment as I choke back a tear and reflect on finding our old scatty cat laying distinctly inert under the car the other morning with a leg cocked in a fashion suggesting he’d become a Monty Python fan overnight.
A decidely John Cleese-style pose that triggered warmth and horror in the veins simultaneously.
I kidded myself that he was playing around even though the moment I’d spotted him I knew Osca had left the building.
I once wrote a column about this particular cat entitled “The too-dementional cat”, hinting not only at the multi-layered makeup of his personality but also his, what we might call, manic energy.
Old Osca was a rescue cat who’d had a rough start to life, was bat-shit crazy and carried “issues”. But over the years he’d started to mellow and we warmed to the lacerations, shredded furniture, wild Tom and Jerry-like vertical leaps to the roof at the sound of just about anything, and general bullying of our second cat.
In many respects Osca had been brought into the family pet program to fill what we thought would eventually be a gap in the cat roster.
Old Mish Mash, our original cat, is pushing 19, which is Bradmanesque in terms of cat innings.
Well over a century of human years, I’m unreliably informed, of sleeping on our couch, lap and head in no particular order.
We’ve had her innoculated, perforated, irradiated and generally investigated in efforts to keep her ticking over, because as the years roll by, she kind of helps us keep ticking over too.
Osca was supposed to fill the gap because if a cat was going to go, the smart money was on Mish. But no, as it turned out, Osca beat her to it.
What happened, we’ll never know.
I put him in the garage the night before as I’d done for over seven years, a vigorous healthy cat with ears bent backwards in the usual outrage that he should have to sleep in the garage. And woke up to find him …
Well, the truth is we didn’t find him when we woke. We didn’t find him until we got back from the airport where we were dropping someone off.
Everything had been going so well.
No meltdowns that we’d cut it too fine, no issues at security, we even managed to pay our parking before getting back in the car. The only query on return was, where’s Osca?
That’s when we noticed the unfortunate reality, which I’m trying not to dwell on by obviously dwelling on it.
The vet’s best guess is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Apparently common in cats, particularly big white scatty cats.
As I look back on his last night with us, I’m comforted that we all got a chance to spend some time with Osca on the couch, and be scratched. We just didn’t know it would be our last time.
And so like all pet owners in this situation, we move on, as you do, cherishing the memories that will remain forever, unlike the scratches.