I knew this would happen. Every day since 23 October 2007 when he arrived at our house for the first time, I looked at Pye and gloomily thought: ‘But you’re going to die.’
I had not previously been a cat person. Not at all.
Pye’s owner, our friend Jean, asked Jols whether we would take him on. She unexpectedly had to move from a biggish house to a small flat, and she didn’t think it would be fair to confine him to that space. Our small house in the country would be much better, Jean reckoned.
Jols revealed to me that she’d said ‘yes’.
‘But neither of us knows what to do with a cat,’ I said.
‘And you’re rampantly allergic.’
Seriously, why would you say ‘yes’ to a thing like that?
And so Pye, or Tsukeskyann Pyewacket to give him his full pedigree name – son of Joymichael Sunset Boy and Tsukeskyann Cassonade, grandson of Adhuilo Romany King, Pajandrum Poppadom, Menyang Mitsouko and Menyang Hitomi Mimi (I could go on) – arrived at our house. We liked to call him Π. He didn’t seem to mind; he still responded to it. Over the years that became ‘piggy’, which became ‘liten pojke’, Swedish for ‘little boy’.
What? Anyone who’s owned a cat will know about name-creep.
And the consequence of Jols saying ‘yes’ was— well, for the first time in our lives, neither Jols nor I sneezed, or wheezed, or sported a single puffed-up tear duct. We were not allergic to Pye.
It was meant to be.
I am not a spiritual or superstitious person. But Pye’s arrival seemed to act as a counterbalance to the awful things that were going on for us back then. He arrived in October 2007, as we were in the midst of a frightening, expensive and acrimonious wrangle over our house, and just as we’d received some awful news about Jols’s mum.
As we were buffeted through our annus horribilis of 2008, I would glance suspiciously over at Pye and think, “have you been sent to tide us over through all this?”
Jean is a very spiritual person. Maybe she’d foreseen all of that.
Whatever the admin, Pye’s presence was truly the only thing that was nice about coming home for a good year. We could focus all of our anxieties onto him. He didn’t seem to mind. He liked tuna.
His temperament was exactly the same as mine. Jols observed that he was my ideal pet. We both tended towards quietness, both gravitated towards the warm part of a room, and both disliked the sound of hairdryers and vacuum cleaners. We also both had a tendency to spontaneously vomit at the slightest sign of stress or change. We were inseparable friends.
‘But you’re going to die.’
When we learned last week that Pye wasn’t well, and wasn’t going to get better, Jols and I were super-aware of the difficulty in breaking this news to the people we know. Those who had pets would understand, those who hadn’t could be forgiven for not feeling it. I am most fond of the sympathetic response of my non-pet-owning sister. She said: ‘I cried when the time came to part-exchange my Citroën Saxo’.
Pye was put to sleep, and then pushed beyond sleep, by the tactful, sensitive and friendly Alexa and Laura at Bridgnorth Veterinary Practice. We brought him home and buried him in his favourite spot in the garden.
So it goes.
And what have we learned? After all this heartbreak, does that mean we’ve become cat people? You know the type of people I mean.
It’s not for me to say, perhaps. But we are definitely Pye people.
As Jols pointed out last summer, while fondly stroking the top of Pye’s soft little head, this is what happens when you say ‘yes’ to things.
Tsukeskyann Pyewacket (Pye). 8 May 1999 – 24 Jan 2012. More than just a cat.