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The Monochrome Cat

1990 - 2005

alice the cat

She came to me in 1990 after running into a friend's flat and refusing to leave. My friend could not keep her, and so I took her in. She was small, quick and smart as a young cat, and delighted in running after little twigs and sticks. I had a small piece of telephone cable outer sheath which she used to bring to me. I would throw it, preferably up the stairs, and she would dash after, attack it for a little while, and then bring it for me to throw again. We used to play this game a lot.
She graduated to chasing bits of string, and she developed a spectacular back somersault if the string was flicked over her head at just the right height.
When she was a little older, she took to sitting by my side whilst I was reading, and she slept beside me on the bed. She loved lying in front of the fire too, as all cats do.

When I moved in 1994 she came with me, and enjoyed a wide range of garden activities - there was no garden at my previous house. She loved running on the lawn, and had two favourite places to sit. One was under a fir tree on one side of the lawn, the other across the grass, between two holly bushes.

She was a most talkative cat, and used to make little noises all the time. She said 'prrrt' when she landed on things, and 'myak' when she wanted my attention. She lived in a shed, with free access to the outside world, and came inside the house when we weren't out at work. If she was in the house, and wanted to go outside for any reason, she would come to me and sit; look pointedly at me and make her little noise. I would then go to open the door for her. She was always polite, and rarely scolded me, although she did once bite through my thumbnail. It was my fault, as I'd just made a sandwich, and there was butter on my thumb. She thought it was a treat.

She would also sit outside the window in the morning and howl for attention. However, this stopped when we got another cat. Alice and Bonnington used to play together and scrap together like siblings, although they were not related. Alice had the upper hand though and Bonnington mostly used to do as she was told. Mostly. The sweetest sight was the pair of them knotted together asleep in a heap of cat. It was hard to tell where one started and the other finished.

As she aged, she became more timid, and had a strong dislike of strangers. She would run away to her shed if people came to visit, but would sneak out later and have a look around, wondering 'Have they gone yet?' She liked my father though, who fed our cats each day when we went away on holiday. She talked to him, and played a game where she would dash up to him as he put the food out, and then look at him as if to say 'that's not what I ordered...'

In colouration she was very nearly black, with white socks and a white chin, chest and stomach. In bright sunlight though, you could see that the fur was actually the deepest red-brown, with the darkest hint of tabby barring in it. She was not a pedigree at all, but a proper, practical, 'Heinz-57' cat. Beautifully natured, calm and friendly. Bonnington is a hooligan by comparison.

In September 2004 we returned from our holidays to find her suddenly looking thin, and suffering from diarrhoea. Under veterinary care, she was treated for an overactive thyroid gland, but the diarrhoea was persistent. It was treated symptomatically, but she was actually losing her bowel control, and we had to keep her clean manually. Her bladder control was also affected, and then gradually she started to lose control of her tail and back legs. She rallied a little over Christmas 2004 and the New Year, but went into a sudden decline on the 10th January. When I returned home from work on Tuesday 11th I realised that she wouldn't make it to her appointment with the vet. I cleaned her up and changed her bedding and made her as comfortable as I could. She died in her sleep sometime on the Tuesday night.

She was my friend for nearly 15 years, and the best cat anyone could ever wish for.

I'll miss her very much. Words can't express it.