He was never our cat. He actually belonged to the neighbours and, since they moved in to the area several years ago, their black moggy decided to make our home his as well. They always knew where he was and never seemed too bothered that he spent a lot of his time with us. Obviously the grass was greener on the other side.
Then, in late 2012, they told us they were moving. Not far, but they were still going. And yesterday, the moving vans rolled up.
The grief I've felt can only be akin to really losing a pet. The heart wrenching cold ache which causes tears to roll well up and your chest to clench tight. The pain which seems as though it will never leave. And I doubt that it will, at least not for a while.
The tears were the worst, knowing that we'll probably never seem him again. You probably think I'm stupid, crying over someone else's cat. But, in a his own little way, that cat drew our little cul-de-sac together. He helped forge friendships, ones which hopefully will last.
At least we have the memories. Like the first time he appeared in our garden during a barbecue, crawling through the fence before dully being dispatched back over it. To this past Christmas, which he spent curled under the tree like an additional gift. He slept in odd places; on top of drum kits, in the washing basket, among the saucepans, before he finally settled on claiming every box which came in to the house as his own. He even has his own chair, a white wicker one which was destined for the tip before he took up residence on it. Recently he'd moved to the rub, preferring that to the chair.
He wasn't supposed to go in the lounge, the bedrooms, the bathrooms. In fact, anywhere which wasn't the kitchen or the sun room. But he still wangled his way there, finally seating himself on the couch to watch TV.
His "talking" won't be forgotten easily either. A bunch of squeaks, mewls and half meows, all accompanied by deep, stomach rumbling purrs. I don't think I ever heard him meow properly.
I don't want to say we'll never see him again. There's always hope. Which is probably why his water bowl is still tucked away beside the dishwasher.
So, thank you Bertie for 11+ years of love, fun and, occasionally, frustrations. We'll miss you loads but I don't think anyone's going to miss you waking them up at 2am by clawing the windows because it's cold and wet outside and you don't want to sleep in your cat bed NEXT DOOR!
And we'll always love you, little Bugg-A-Lugs. Just no jumping on the freshly made bed, okay? No! Down! Bad Cat!