It’s easy to slip into sentimentality about pets. So I’m sorry if this post is unusually maudlin.
I’ve just looked at our kitchen chairs to see if Fluff was in her favourite spot. It was an act of instinct. Then I remembered. Tonight is my first evening since Fluff lost her battle against the cancer that has ravaged her since August 2010. She died in our arms at the wonderful Straid veterinary clinic in Beaconsfield this morning.
Fluff was the first pet who was truly mine, unlike my childhood cat, Spot. She came into my life on Saturday 8 July 1995, and I still remember the drive back from Yate, near Bristol to my then home in Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire. I have two memories of that day: thinking the couple who ‘owned’ Fluff’s mother were both very good looking. And joining the M4 at the Bath junction happily knowing my new cat was in the car with me.
I would have collected Fluff a week earlier, but I was cycling my first ‘century’ – a 100 mile bike ride around Wiltshire.
Those first weeks were fun, if nerve racking. Several times I had to prise Fluff down from the porch roof. As time went by, I discovered wildlife in my home: birds and mice, dead and alive. I decided live birds were the worst. They took a lot of catching!
One Sunday morning in January 1998, Fluff came up to my bedroom. She was acting suspiciously. I immediately knew she had dragged some poor creature into the house through the cat flap. That evening, I saw something move as I watched TV from the sofa: a mouse! I tried and failed to catch it with a colander. (Well, what would you have done?) I didn’t see the mouse again and assumed it had escaped. Ten months later, it fell out of my sofa bed in the living room when I put it out. Curiously, it was perfectly preserved.
Fluff became a well travelled cat. She lived with me in Llandaff, Cardiff for two years before moving to Buckinghamshire. She loved holidays (often a month long) with Mum and Dad in Cardiff and Penarth. And she adapted to the extended family, as I moved in with Karen and when Owen arrived just after she turned 13. (She was very good at escaping from O!)
She wasn’t a typical cat. She was very affectionate and loved human company. She’d sleep on my bed when she or I wasn’t feeling well. She loved my dad, and always made a beeline for him – except on Mum and Dad’s last visit, just a week before she died. That proved that she was truly ready to go.
Fluff lived longer than we expected. She almost died the weekend of Owen’s christening.
That Friday night, 7 November 2008, she lay down in the garden and gave every impression of wanting to slip into an eternal sleep. (Her kidneys were failing.) Yet the wonderful team at Straid brought her back from the brink. In August 2010, we thought we had lost her. Yet Mark Carpenter and his colleagues at Straid helped her through it. We knew it was borrowed time, as our friend Deborah put it, but it meant Owen has true memories of his first pet. I can’t thank Straid enough for their magnificent care.
I’d also like to thank Marks & Spencer Money for its pet insurance. Unlike many policies, M&S covers continuing conditions year after year. (Disclosure: I was head of PR for M&S Money 2005-08.) This helped meet the cost of Fluff’s monthly injections, as well as the expensive treatment in November 2008.
Fluff, you enriched all our lives. Rest in peace. We love you and will cherish your memory.