As friends already know, my much-loved cat Percy was taken ill late on Monday night and died early on Tuesday morning.
He had been very ill in December, and had a heart condition diagnosed then. His lifestyle changed, from being free range to being a house cat, on daily medication, ever since; and our excellent vet at Canonbury Vets had warned us that it was only a matter of time before Percy passed on.
In the middle of Monday night, we rushed him over to the 24 hour vets’ practice at Elizabeth Street (the journey was a nightmare, our minicab driver got lost and I had to direct him using googlemaps on my BlackBerry) but there was nothing to be done except let Percy go; and at about 3am he went to sleep as I held him. The vet could not have been kinder or more sensitive; and although Richard and I were very sad to say good bye to Percy it was absolutely the right thing to do. He was old and poorly and his time had come.
Percy was a great character. He was striking in appearance, pure white, with odd eyes, one blue and one green; and although in recent years he had become very affectionate, in his youth he could be quite aggressive, especially with people he did not know.
He even got into the gossip column of the then local paper (the Highbury & Islington Express) for biting Cllr Dave Barnes at a Liberal Democrat social event I hosted in Barnsbury back in the late 1990s. As Dave then embarked on a scenic route through several other political parties (including both Labour and Conservative plus a few others, some of them his own invention) it has been suggested that Percy was showing good judgement: I can’t possibly comment.
In the last couple of years, since I’ve been working from home, Percy and I have had a happy routine; he would come into my office when it was time for lunch, or a tea break, and nudge me until I led the way to the kitchen.
He was not one for boundaries in terms of food. He loved parmesan cheese sprinkled on top of his biscuits. When we first had Percy, the vet warned us not to over feed him and to stick to special food, because of his delicate kitten digestion. That held true until the time my then husband Paul left a chicken madras unattended: and came back to find a large portion of it gone, and a tiny kitten with red sauce all over his whiskers! Richard and I got used to ensuring that Percy was fed first – and then still having to ignore his imploring looks and nudges as we ate our own meals.
Percy would sit on top of the big old TV, often draping one paw elegantly over the screen. He would play with the landline phone cable, change TV channels by wrestling with the remote, and would also regularly climb onto one of our laptops – sometimes with unintended consequences, like the time he managed to reset my screen at right angles.
Although he was a largely silent cat, I shall miss his chirrup of greeting when he landed on the bed with cold paws after some nighttime excursion. And of course his famously loud purr, like a Geiger counter.
Percy came to us as a kitten in Barnsbury back in 1996 and had been with me ever since, through house moves, changes of job, and other upheavals. He was a dear old fellow and I shall miss him a lot. RIP Percy.