I’ve always been a firm believer that the loss of a pet is something that should be acknowledged and treated with compassion. So many people are quick to say “it was just a cat” or “it was just a dog,” and from experience, these people have never owned a pet. I’m absolutely not saying it’s more important or heartbreaking than losing a relative or friend, but I’m saying people shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it as irrelevant. On the subject of pet loss, which I know many of my lovely blogger friends have discussed in the past, I feel like today is a good day to share with you the story of Sooty. Tuesday 23rd July marks 4 years since he went up to the big Dreamies factory in the sky, and I still miss him every day. As you’ll soon come to discover, Sooty was more than “just a cat.”
You may think I’m being a bit over dramatic when I tell you that Sooty wasn’t actually my cat. He was my Mum’s cat, and he came into our lives when I was at university, so surprisingly, I didn’t see him much when he was a baby. My Mum picked him up in March 2011, and coming home to visit her for her birthday I got to have my very first cuddle with my new ‘brother.’ He was incredibly mischievous but he was gorgeous and one of the cutest balls of fluff you’d ever see. People have this whole thing about black cats, saying that they’re unlucky and unattractive, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Sooty was a beautiful boy, and he knew it. And I will tell you that we were not unlucky having him cross our paths. It was the exact opposite.
I used to look forward to my Sooty cuddles whenever I came home from university, so I was ecstatic when I moved back home for good in 2013. Every time I drove over to my Mum’s, Sooty would be sat on the drive waiting for me – it was like he knew my car.
Sooty unfortunately had a few health problems in his lifetime. Mainly, allergies. He had a skin condition where he’d get very patchy and dry, and he’d keep itching it and cleaning himself almost until he bled. After numerous trips to the vets they discovered he was allergic to flea saliva, and that he also had OCD. What are the odds? So many people I’ve told have dismissed this, saying that cats don’t get OCD, but actually, it’s a thing.
Most of the time, Sooty would be absolutely fine, but when he was stressed his OCD would get worse – he was almost like me in cat form. At the time Sooty was diagnosed with OCD, I hadn’t yet been given mine, but whenever I went over to my Mum’s, he’d be there. He’d wait for me on the drive, he’d appear at the back door, and he’d jump on my lap. At the time I thought it was just because he liked me fussing over him, but when I got my diagnosis a few years later (and after he’d left us), I began to think that maybe he knew all along. So many times would I rock up to my Mum’s in a state, and he would instantly be there giving me a cuddle. In particular, the months running up to my wedding which, sadly were the months before we lost him, I was especially bad. Every time I went to my Mum’s house in tears because something had happened to set me off, there he’d be.
Those who don’t own pets or who don’t like animals will probably dismiss this theory in a heartbeat, but I like to think that Sooty knew that we had something in common, and he was there for me when I needed him. They say cats can sense when you’re ill or upset, and I always like to think that Sooty could sense that I was struggling, just like I knew when he was. When he was stressed, you could instantly tell because he’d be compulsively cleaning himself or scratching, so you would just have to give him a few smooths and talk to him. When I was stressed or upset, he would be on my lap, purring away. Overall he was a very caring cat. My Mum at one point was really ill with what we later found out was chicken pox (which apparently is serious AF in adults), and for the entire 3 weeks she was in bed, he was by her side the whole time.
He was a very funny cat despite the fact he struggled with a few health problems. He would do literally anything for a few Dreamies, he once dived at the TV when there was a nature documentary about birds on, and he’d occasionally pee in the kitchen sink during the night because he didn’t want to go out. He was very friendly towards other cats in the neighbourhood, with two of his pals being Gizzy and Bailey, who he’d often be playing with in the garden. Not to mention, he would take a hilarious selfie.
It was the evening of the 23rd July 2015 that we lost him. I remember getting a phone call from my Mum, who was absolutely distraught. Sooty had been hit by a car. I never saw him, but my Mum told me that he was not in a good way. They rushed him to the vets, but because the car had done so much damage, they advised that even with surgery and treatments, there was no chance he’d make a full recovery. He was clearly in pain so my Mum made the decision to have him put to sleep. She sat with him while the vet gave him the injection, and I was heartbroken that I wasn’t there to kiss him goodbye. Even though Sooty wasn’t my cat, he was part of our family. I had been looking forward to having him cuddle up with me the night before my wedding when I stayed at my Mum’s, but sadly, that never happened.
I still miss Sooty every day. I know Mum does too. He was the most lovely, squishy, funny cat and he was definitely taken too soon. He was there for me when I needed him, and I hope that I provided him with some comfort too. He was the most beautiful boy, and because of him, black cats will always have a special place in my heart.