|Raphael, June 1987 - December 2008|
Now the observant will see that Raffy, as he is universally known, is not a camera. Raffy adopted us in 2001. Well known around the street, he would often walk by having clearly fallen on tough times. His fur was matted with dust and oil, he held his tail down and generally had one eye half closed, but he never held eye contact anyway, He walked with a bad limp and partly sideways. He looked a mess and not a nice cat. One day I was cleaning my motorcycle in the drive when he walked by, for some reason I made some suitably cat like noises at him, half expecting him to ignore me. Instead he stopped, looked straight at me and walked halfway the distance towards me and stopped. Well, I half expected to be scratched ...but I went up to him and gave his dusty matted head a rub. To my amazement he meowed almost uncontrollably then rolled over, held onto my forearm with his front legs, but with his claws retracted and rubbed his head into my hand. This went on until I was quite tired! He walked off, and my opinion was quite changed, he was lovely cat, just really terribly scruffy.
Two weeks later just after midnight, rain thudded against the window, smacking the drive and pavement in swathes, just audible above this cacophony was the sound of a mewing cat. Looking out of the window, illuminated by a streetlight sat this drenched grey, pitiful lump looking up at the window, Raffy had made up his mind to adopt us. Initially he would just visit at night for somewhere warm and safe where people would make a fuss of him, but we never fed him. After a few enquiries it transpired that his dog preference owner had been left him when his girlfriend left.
Since Raffy clearly wasn't very well my house mate and I decided to take care of him. The limp got worse over a number of weeks, which initially we thought was probably an old injury mixed with old age, he was fifteen by now. His health deteriorated over some weeks and he started to drink lots of water, by which time we thought his kidneys were giving up and his days were numbered. A trip to the vet revealed that poor old Raffy was seriously diabetic. We weren't ready to give up on him, so began a spectacularly expensive journey that miraculously brought him to his 21st birthday, after over 3500 insulin injections which he took without drama, laying down to receive them on demand, twice a day.
Raffy, earned our respect through making a choice, something few so called 'dumb' animals get to make. He weighed up the odds and decided he would grace us with his company, we like to think he made a good choice.
A major benefit to his occupation was that the bird population increased enormously. Raffy was fiercely territorial and would not tolerate other cats, particularly the local bird killer "Dusty", whom he chased off, generally terrorized or pinned in a corner bopping him on the nose until we rescued him and sent him on his way. However, Raffy was no longer capable of catching the birds, though I am sure he dispatched a few in his earlier years. As he grew increasingly frail, the garden became full of baby Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Bluetits and Robins, they danced around him getting on with their business with impunity, and whilst Raffy still flicked his tail with a distant youthful vigor he knew, as did they, that he never had a hope! Raffy grew up with dogs and knew how to treat them, watching him disdainfully wallop the occasional curious pooch gave us a few laughs, as Raffy simply stood his ground when they rushed up to him, then casually whacked that lovely soft nose put so temptingly his way. It was generally over in less than a second.
In his twilight, he slept almost constantly, seeking company whenever he could. He would always come and sit beside me and did, in fact, come over and sit at my feet as I typed this out in its previous, present tense, version. Raffy was a good companion for six years and I do not begrudge him one moment the need to be back home on time for his injections or up early for him or the masses of light grey fur that seemed to permeate every inch of the house. When lonely he would sit on my bed keeping me awake all night. He remained a very talkative creature, until the end.
That came suddenly on 22nd December 2008, leaving a hole that cannot and probably will remain unfilled.
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