He was a magnificent cat. As a kitten he climbed curtains and fetched rolled-up socks; later he liked nothing better than to climb onto my shoulders while I was cooking, or to prod me awake with a touch of claw. Like most Siamese he was people-focused rather than attached to a territory; he commuted happily between Bristol and Wales for a number of years, and the one thing guaranteed to annoy him was for one of us to go away for more than a day or so – on return, I would get roughly thirty seconds of relieved affection, followed by the cold shoulder for the next few hours, and on one occasion he even sprayed on my leg in fury…
He had his ups and downs in the last few years; a tendency to come down with pancreatitis, usually when we were just about to go on holiday, unless carefully nurtured with prawns and chicken, and the famous occasion when he got himself locked into the Methodist chapel down the road for the whole of Easter weekend. When he suddenly started losing weight in the autumn, despite retaining a healthy appetite, it was clear that something serious was wrong; we agreed that fourteen was a pretty good age for a cat to reach, and that he should be spared the sorts of tests and absences from home that would be involved in trying to diagnose and treat the problem. I didn’t think he’d make it to Christmas, but he soldiered on, as affectionate as ever, adored by the other cats, just older and tireder and with less inclination to be gentle when waking me up in the morning.
I was heading off to a conference for a couple of days before we left on holiday, so Anne was putting the cats into jail; on an impulse, I went back to kiss him goodbye, and that was the last I saw of him, as he took a sudden turn for the worse that afternoon and was put to sleep the next day. We hoped that having three weeks away might help both us and other other cats, and probably it did, but every so often in Budapest or Germany one of us would go very quiet for a bit, and the first thing the others did when they got home was rush round looking for him, wailing. They’re still very clingy. I don’t think it’s just that he was the eldest; he seems to have been as special to them as he was to us. Farewell, Basil.
Okay, this isn’t exactly the obvious place to publish this, but I’ve included some appropriate music – the second song isn’t about cats as such, but manages to encapsulate their attitude to life perfectly – and in any case I owe some sort of explanation of why I was in such a state at the beginning of the month…http://dl.dropbox.com/u/540143/cats.mp3%20