The moment we have dreaded for such a long time happened this week. We sadly had to say goodbye to our precious and lovely pet cat, Darren. I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to actually do a blog post – its not like he’d ever actually read it. The point of a blog is to document what happens in our family though, and the direction I’d like to take this blog more into over the coming months. Darren was such a big part of our lives for almost 18 years that I couldn’t mark his passing without looking over his best bits.
Mr C and I had only been living together for 2 months when we made the decision that we needed a cat of our own. Our friends that lived next door had a lovely old cat that came to visit often, but we felt the need for our own addition to the family. We headed off to the Dogs & Cats rescue home on 18th August 1999, having no idea at all how to look after a cat. There were a few kittens available including 2 little black & white kittens, brother & sister that had been found by the roadside and were 8 weeks old. We could have the pick of whichever kitten we liked but the decision was made for us when one of the littlest came to me and gave me a cuddle. He would later become Darren – we like to think he chose to live with us. His sister (who we have decided over the years, must have been named Doreen) was also taken home the same day by another family who looked just as excited as we were. (Darren was actually Darren Andrew, because even cats should have a middle name?!)
We were not at all prepared – we had no food, no toys and no cat carrier so our little Darren had to travel home on the back parcel shelf. (Before the animal activists start contacting me, I know this isn’t right & we wouldn’t do it again). He was such a tiny ball of fluff but very cuddly right from the start.
As most pet owners do, we were very strict about him not sleeping upstairs and never going on our bed. This lasted about 24 hours. How could we turn away those lovely eyes? Those first few weeks were a learning curve. Darren wasn’t allowed out for about 12 weeks while he accustomed to his new home – He used to wake us up by nibbling our toes in protest.
Once he was allowed out, he loved his freedom. He would visit the neighbours and we later found out that he would eat in at least 3 different houses. Definitely a sociable creature.
He has ‘helped’ the girls with their homework, ‘helped’ wrap presents and ‘helped’ with the gardening. When we have looked through photos this week, we’ve discovered how often Darren features in our family pictures.
One bank holiday, we noticed he hadn’t come home the night before. at 7am, Mr C was climbing over the fence into the nearby allotments armed with a packet of ham to entice Darren back. There was no sign of Daz, so he had to give up & hope he came home. A couple of hours later, Darren came sauntering back wondering what all the fuss was.
We’ve had brilliant fun with him over the years. When we moved house, my Dad took him for walks on a lead to get used to his new road. This was done under the cover of darkness as not even my Dad would be seen in broad daylight with a cat on a lead.
Just a couple of months ago, we tucked Violet in to find Darren in her bed. Both with matching eye patches on. Honestly, he was the most patient animal. He spent so much time being pushed around in dolls’ prams when the girls were tiny and never complained.
When we first brought Millie home from hospital, we were warned that cats don’t like rivals for their affection. We bought net covers for the pram and cot – We needn’t have worried, he loved her from the start (after a good sniff of her). He did lose his miaow for a short while. We took him to the vets, who diagnosed stress due to the new arrival. This stress lasted around 5 minutes after we got back from the vets when he saw another cat in the garden & gave an almighty miaow. That was £20 well spent!
Darren was definitely a predator – No mice were safe, or birds, or moles, or cute little chicks. The amount of gifts he brought home had lessened over the years – we just couldn’t bring ourselves to thank him profusely. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to the small animal kingdom for any creatures that were sacrificed over the past 18 years.
Darren had slowed down over the past year and really showed signs of ageing over the past couple of months. He spent less and less time outside and took up residence on the living room rug. He started to struggle to climb the stairs and we knew it wouldn’t be long before he would leave us. We didn’t think it would be quite so hard to say goodbye though. This has been the hardest week. Goodbye cuddles were had and lots of tears have poured. The house feels so empty to come home to. The kitchen isn’t the same without his bowl. We couldn’t have let him suffer though and know he will be at peace, probably being walked around heaven by my Dad on a lead.
We will miss him so much – Thanks for all the mice, Darren xxx