Our three cats were basically rescues: we bought them to get them out of a shitty garden centre that was storing them on cold dirty concrete with an upturned rabbit run over them and no food that we could see. The smallest of the three ended up being rushed to the vet the next day, who told us that if we’d waited another 24 hours he’d be dead. I was writing a character who was small and crap, at the time, and so this small crap cat got his name: Anton.
Anton lived a little over sixteen more years. Today, while everyone else was out, I got the vets to come and see him, and they told me that it was sudden kidney failure and he was beyond treatment. So I sat with him, and thanked him, and told him we love him and that he was a good boy while they carefully gave him the injection, and as I stroked him he gave me that half-lidded look that meant it was good, and then he was asleep. And I’ve just finished burying him in the back garden.
And I’m getting these notes down now because first he was my friend who travelled around the house in the palm of my hand, and then he was my daughter’s best friend for very many years, and because he came out into the back garden with me three evenings ago (he was a housecat who didn’t go outside) and stood at the edge of the path, facing the garden, and gave five or six loud shouts into the twilight, as if to say “I was here. Know me. I was here.”
And he was, and it was good. And he deserves for someone to know he was here.
And now comes the hardest part, of waiting for everyone to come home and telling them. But my little man is asleep in the garden now, next to my late father’s poppies, and so with that, and this note, I have taken care of him as best I can.