8 June 2009
Our beloved old Persian lady, Twizz, died today. She was 16 and a half years old and, despite her age, which was quite an achievement for a pedigree, had been in rude health until about ten days ago.
She became rather lethargic and initially, as she was still occasionally eating and drinking, we blamed it on the intense heat. However, her lethargy didn't alter after the sun took a hike and so the Natural Blonde decided to get her checked over.
Blood and urine tests followed and it transpired that Twizz had an incurable kidney disorder. A day on a drip was required, which was today, but despite this her kidneys failed entirely today. We were advised that improvement was unlikely and took the heartbreaking decision this evening to let her go. I'm typing this with my eyes still red raw.
The NB got Twizz as a kitten and, despite being of a species renowned for conditional loyalty, Twizz barely left her side when they were in the same building. Twizz offered friendship and companionship akin to that of a dog. She got uppity if the NB left the room and didn't take her with her.
Twizz would lie on the settee next to the NB while she watched trash on the TV. She'd be in bed whenever the NB was, usually laid on top of her, and sometimes she would sit on me in bed, only to then sneeze on me as her big joke. She was remarkably good at sneezing by choice. She was fiercely loyal and expected reciprocation, so when we went on holiday and left Twizz at home in the care of a friendly neighbour, it'd take a good day or so of hurumphing and sulking after our return before she would return to her favourite knee.
She didn't exactly welcome the other cats into the household as each joined us, but didn't let it spoil her status in the house as chief lap occupier. She was never slow to bat away any other moggy looking for affection but at the same time would happily exchange sniffs and share plates of food with any of them.
Her finest hour came when we returned from holiday to discover that Harvey, our big wussy cream shorthair, was missing. My dad had been doing some work on our bathroom in our absence and a cat-sized hole was in the bathroom floor. We assumed Harvey had gone down there and refused to come out but we could neither see nor touch him to get absolute proof. Hours went by, and just as we began to worry that he had, in fact, escaped the house and we'd never see him again, Twizz calmly went upstairs, made an almighty racket at the bathroom door, and then came down again. She only made it to halfway down the stairs when this loud scrabbling noise sounded in the ceiling above us, and we rushed upstairs to find Harvey, petrified and admonished, clambering free.
Twizz was a speaker. The NB's name contains no hard consonants, and in a scenario from which Gavin Campbell would have got 15 minutes of Sunday evening airtime in the 1980s, Twizz was capable of coherently calling out the NB's name. Her mouthiness extended to her giving a grunt of disapproval if you told her to "get down" from a comfortable kipping position on the settee, to the point where we never wanted her really to get down, but just answer us back.
When Twizz was the only cat in the house, she reacted sportingly to the dogs. Initially, there was just my dear old collie-corgi cross, Paddy, who was a slow and dopey old thing but also the most docile and lovable animal. Twizz gave him a wide berth but occasionally snuck behind to sniff him, and a mutual respect developed between the two - he was there before Twizz, and she knew that - even though she generally made sure he couldn't reach her. When Paddy died, we brought him home and lay him in his bed. After his lifeless old body was handed to the chap from the dog crematorium, Twizz slowly walked over to the empty bed and lay in it, as if to say goodbye in her own way. Upon the subsequent arrival of Basset after Basset, she allowed one of them to give her a wash but otherwise did the batting away routine again, and the dogs soon learned that she was top animal in the house, queen of their growing pack, and she deserved space and respect. She got it.
Her sudden demise has hit us hard, but it's something you buy into when you commit to a pet. The presence of the other eight four-legged dependants will soon make us move on, but for the moment we're mourning a remarkable cat who brought so much joy to us. She was as much a member of the family as anyone could dare state about an animal.
I know of people who actively hate cats (mainly because they dare to defecate in their gardens), and plenty more people who just cannot understand the effect an animal can have on your lives. For more than 16 years of the NB's life, and almost nine years of mine, Twizz was the top girl. We loved her dearly, and we'll miss her.