My first adult experience of the death of a beloved pet and came with Spider. Spider was one of the first two cats I got as an adult. As a child I’d had a cat but from the age of about 12 until I got my first home when I was 20, I had had to make do with smaller pets like gerbils, lizards and Hercules my duck.
I was sharing my new new rented flat with a friend I’d met at work and one day knowing my love of animals she came home and told me that friends of hers had bought two kittens (then called Guy Fawkes and Weetabix) as they had been born like many kittens it appears on November the 5th – Firework Night.
They had had the kittens for a few months but their landlord had decided he would no longer allow pets so they had had to take them to the rescue centre. My friend then beguiled me with tales of how kittens just like them often get put to sleep as noone wants them and as I didn't want the death of a beloved pet if I could do something to prevent it that convinced me to take them in.
I'd always wanted to help animals in need, but hadn't been able to for a few years so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to do something I'd always wanted to do - 'rescue' cats.
That night they arrived and I discovered they were already six months old. They were huge for their age and I could tell they were going to be large cats. I renamed them Spider and Moses and they lived with me in the flat for two years.
The flat was on a busy junction and so they remained indoor cats as I couldn't bear the idea of the death of a beloved pet of mine, only going out occasionally on a lead and harness, which proved interesting as they kept disappearing into bushes and tying their leads in knots.
After a few years I saw another kitten 'Geoffrey' in a run down pet shop looking thoroughly miserable and uncared for. I had already been thinking of getting a new kitten so 'rescued' her (yes Geoffrey is a girl! the name just suited her) and we became a family of 4.
They then moved with me into a small house which proved to be on a road far too dangerous for cats so we moved again into a large semi detached farmhouse with a huge garden backing onto fields where they were finally able to explore.
We lived there together for a few happy years but the more I lived there the more I saw dangerous speeding drivers rushing past us on the country lane in front of the house.
Every day when I came home I would see dead wildlife and neighbours cats started to be hit my cars, and I saw my neighbours terribly upset by the death of a beloved pet.
It worried me so much that I went out and bought many many fenceposts and hundreds of pounds worth of kennel wire and constructed a run for the cats that led off of the kitchen and gave them a good 50 foot square to play in safely.
A few years after that, I remember it vividly even now that Spider was sitting on my lap being even more loving and nudging than he usually was and I remember thinking what a lovely cat he was and wondering what the sudden display of affection was about.
The next thing I knew there was a knock on the door and my neighbour from across the road was standing there with a spade and I looked down to see Spider lying lifelessly on the end of it.
It felt completely unreal and I can remember glancing inside the house at the chair I had been sitting on expecting to see Spider sitting there looking out at me as he had been only minutes before.
My neighbour explained that he had just seen Spider get knocked down on the quiet road outside my house.
I remember feeling slightly annoyed that instead of just picking Spider up, my neighbour had chosen to pick him up on the end of a spade which felt slightly disrespectful for the death of a beloved pet. I felt like pointing out to him that this was still my cat and not rubbish to be shifted with a spade, but of course I said nothing.
As I lifted Spider from the spade my neighbour said 'He was such a handsome cat' and I was shocked by the fact that he seemed to be using the past tense already. In my heart I wanted Spider to just be unconcious and I suppose I still had hope that by some miracle he could be saved.
But my neighbour could see he was gone already.
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