by David Lowe
Yesterday at 5.45pm my cat Mittens was put to sleep. She was fifteen and a half, and arrived into my life aged eight via Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
When her previous owners got a new canine member of the family, Mittens was so terrified she refused to go inside, so she was taken to Battersea, no doubt hoping the next move would be to her ‘Forever Home’. And indeed it was.
On meeting Mittens for the first time, many people would remark on how beautiful she was. Naturally I’m partial, but she had perfect ‘Tuxedo Cat’ markings and bore an uncanny resemblance to the cartoon cat on the Felix ads. Any intentions of changing her name melted away when I first saw that face and those four white paws. Mittens she was, and Mittens she would stay.
Besides being a picky eater, there were lots of exasperating things about Mittens. Having been abandoned for refusing to come inside, she seemed to resolve, on arriving in West London, never to go outside again. Her first few weeks were spent under the sofa, from which she would only venture forth for food or the litter tray. In those early days, in one rare lapse of toilet etiquette, she did a number two in her cosy and expensive ‘Igloo’ bed. It ended up in the bin.
Slowly, however, despite myriad feline quirks and foibles, Mittens came to emerge from under that rather soft and cuddly black and white shell. Late breakfasts were deemed unacceptable, and come morning, the timid little puss who I first clapped eyes on cowering in the corner of a Battersea cat pen would circle the bed yowling ever louder for the first meal of the day. Her snoring was equally cacophonous. Declining to sleep in or on any of the cat beds I purchased over the years, her preferred place to slumber was on a pillow on the floor beside my bed. Many a night I had to reach out and give her a shake, so deafening was her nocturnal snorting.
Over the past year or so Mittens began to show her age. The human bed to which she sometimes retired became insurmountable and even the step to the terrace posed a challenge for those shaky little legs. Sure enough, she was diagnosed with arthritis and diabetes. It was the latter that took her in the end.
One day in and I wish I could say I was coping better. Everything serves as a potent reminder of Mittens’ absence. Those chinks of golden sunlight begging to be slept in, that wall corner which she rubbed so hard there’s now a hole in the plaster and the radio, once turned on each time I left her in the flat, which now remains off because there’s no one there to hear it.
The £50 Mittens cost at Battersea was surely the best money I ever spent. I implore anyone considering a pet to take the rescue centre route, offering a good home to an abandoned animal which really needs it.
And so with huge sadness it’s goodbye to Mittens. Thanks for everything and sleep tight. I hope cat heaven comes complete with extra strong catnip mice, a plentiful supply of your favourite duck and garden vegetables food and, of course, earplugs for everyone else when you’re snoring.