Sunday, 30 September 2012
She was three months old when she arrived from the guinea pig rescue centre (don't ask) in mid August 1996. Her ears looked too big for head and her tail looked like it probably belonged to a badger but I was immediately smitten.
Dotty was wilful from the word go, never quite getting that the bedroom was off limits or that kitchen work surfaces were no place for a cat. She did her best to ruin the rented flat in Walthamstow, pulling small strips of wallpaper off wherever she could get some purchase. She also brought the flat to life and became, very swiftly a huge part of my life. There was one notable day in those early years when she went missing. We were crestfallen we'd lost her. Eventually she was found trapped in a lock up. A borrowed sledge hammer and a smashed steel door later and she was free. If anything it just cemented how much she meant to me. Those who know me will be aware that a sledge hammer and I are not a natural mix.
She was a character throughout her 16 years and she never changed in disposition. Always talkative, even after she lost her hearing, she liked to be heard and very much liked to be listened to. She wasn't much for adventure, rarely straying beyond the back garden once I moved to Southampton. If she got bored of being outside she would, up until recently, move to the front of the house and bang on the front door to be let in. Proper banging. So much so that the metal skirt at the bottom of the door ended up losing one of its screws and will always hang at a slightly odd angle as a result.
There wasn't a mean bone in her body, she never once turned on me.
As she grew up she grew prettier and learnt how to play on it to get what she wanted. She hated me having a girlfriend, often trying to sit between us on the sofa or lay on pillows. It sounds odd but the last six months I'm glad she got my undivided attention. I think I owed her that after the 16 years she gave me.
People will say, "She was just a cat." I get that and I can't deny that the recent stroke my stepdad has had helps to put losing Dotty into some sort of perspective. However it doesn't devalue how much she gave me and brought to this house and the flat in London. I think the biggest compliment I can give her is that I never really thought of her as a pet. She was my friend.
The last three weeks had been tough, watching her deteriorate, seemingly pick up and then really go down hill on Friday. I'm pleased she lost her fight at home, while I was there to comfort her. Yesterday was hard, but I am incredibly grateful to have had her in my life she was an absolute pleasure to have known and I will miss her terribly.
We all know when we get a pet that this is part of the deal. It feels like a shit deal right now but I'm glad I made it 16 years ago. A part of me will never really let her go anyway.