My cat died last month. His name was Nelson.
He was pretty old and had lived a full life, as far as cats’ lives go. I bought him from a woman outside Hammersmith tube station for an extortionate £170. She turned up cupping the tiny creature in her hands, sodden with rain. I pushed the cash into her hand, snatched the furry asset and drove off home in my car where I presented it to my wife as a birthday gift.
Nelson was frail and scared; the woman had assured me he was eight weeks old, but the vet said he looked no more than a fortnight. Too young to be taken from his mother. It seemed unlikely he would survive. But my wife and I nursed him diligently for those first few weeks and he fought through. I think that’s why I formed such an extra-special bond with him. He kinda thought I was his mum.
At the time, we had a couple of tough Russian blues living next door to us. They would jump over the fence to bully Nelson. Sometimes they would even enter our house through his catflap and make themselves very much at home. He was terrified. To be honest, so was I. Their names were Oscar and Archie and they reminded me of the Kray Twins. In the end, we had to move.
While the new house was being renovated, Nelson moved in with my mother-in-law for a while. But she had a malicious Bengal called Hector living next door who was even more trouble than Oscar and Archie. Hector terrorised Nelson throughout his stay. It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Finally, at the home we live in now, he settled. The local cats were generally respectful. They seemed to have a nice little feline community going, where bullying wasn’t an issue. Nelson was happy and calm. But one day during lockdown the back door slammed shut in a sudden gust of wind and caught Nelson’s tail in it. It was broken in two places. He had to be operated on twice. At one point it looked like he might have faced an amputation. They fixed him eventually but I’m not sure he ever 100 per cent recovered from the psychological scars.