We got her from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in January 2000. “She’ll probably be scared when you first get home with her,” they said as they put her in a cat-carrier. She wasn’t. We opened the box in our living room, and out she jumped. Then she lay on her side to have her tummy stroked. No scaredy-cat, our Tess.
She was the stripiest tabby you’ve ever seen, small and daft, extremely friendly and cheeky. She’d do this cute begging thing where she sat up on her back legs and rubbed her front paws together, as if she was praying. “You could get her in a cat-food advert, doing that,” people said when they saw her.
She was there at the births of all the children, just keeping me company in that instinctive animal way. She knew something special was happening.
Everyone knew her, in our old road in Brighton. She’d be in and out all of their houses, begging for titbits, doing her cute party trick. “She’s too fat,” the vet complained and we had to put a note on her collar: Do Not Feed Me – Greedy, Not Hungry.
I think she liked living here. She liked lying on the sunny patio outside the kitchen, exploring the alley at the back of the house, sleeping under my son’s bed. She liked catching the rats from our next door neighbour’s compost heap and dragging them into our house. (I wasn’t quite so keen on that bit.)
But she went missing on Saturday night. We have been up and down the alley, calling her name, round the neighbouring streets too. Youngest daughter has been especially worried – she sees Tess as her sibling, the only person in the family she gets to boss around.
Today we called the Cats and Dogs Home and the vet to see if she’d been found. She had. She’d been hit by a car and killed.
H-t-b has just buried her in the garden. And I’m sitting here having a bit of a cry. And wondering how we’re going to break it to the kids. They are going to be so upset, I know. I can't bear it.
Goodbye Tess. You were such a sweetheart.