I think I may be writing this as cat-harsis. (Thought I'd better get THAT one out of the way).
I'm going to have to revise my biography. We no longer have two cats as dear little Sweepy died this morning. He'd had a good innings and died in his favourite sun-bathing position in the garden.
He gambolled cutely into our lives with his brother Sooty 17 years ago. Their father was a Siamese and their Mum was a black farm cat. They were both jet black but with Siamese features and voices.
They lived quite happily in our old house which was spacious enough for them to avoid our old German Shepherd dog, Tilly. When we moved into our current, smaller house, the two cats took up residence in our shed where they seemed happier.
Sweepy was always the more "challenged" of the two cats - he was cross-eyed (often a feature of Siamese cats) and I presume that he saw two of everything. Poor thing always used to bump into the dog that WAS there!
He disappeared for about six weeks when we moved to Bournemouth and turned up miles away from our home in a desperately thin, hungry and dishevelled state. He made a full recovery after several days and nights of being hand-fed and wrapped up in a towel with a warm hot water bottle ... usually on my lap. His brother also disappeared for a while when we moved but he fared much better - on the flat roof of a "greasy spoon" where he was fed with chicken each day.
Over the past year or so both cats have been getting thinner and their jet black fur was liberally interspersed with the pure white tell-tale strands of feline old age. Sweepy, in particular, in recent weeks, had been staggering around - I think he may have had a stroke. However, he didn't appear to be in any pain and whenever we went into the shed, he still came to us for strokes and cuddles but today he ran out of energy and decided that he'd had enough.
I've surprised myself by feeling more than a little upset as the day has worn on. Not least because I fear that the end may also be nigh for his brother. Apart from when they both disappeared, they've been inseparable - always slept curled up together and now Sooty won't have his brother and playmate to keep him company.
In the great scheme of things, the passing of a cat really doesn't matter too much. Josh was far more upset when our old dog died. He chatted to me about Sweepy for about five minutes earlier today but then his new scooter took precedence and, of course, he has Ethel and Valerie, the wonder gerbils to take care of (or to watch whilst either DH or I take care of them ... I knew that would happen).
So the challenged little cat with the cheerful face and baby like miaow is no more - but I'll remember him.