Sixteen years ago a friend walked in with a grey ball of fluff that his daughter had given him.
‘My kids have grown up,’ he said. ‘I don’t need any new commitments. You take him. You’re not going anywhere for the next sixteen years. ‘
Still in the glow of newly wedded bliss, I let that one slide and picked up the kitten. ‘Does he have a name?’ I asked.
And surprisingly the little ball of fur answered for himself. ‘Al,’ he meowed, and I was sold.
Who could resist a cat that could say his own name?
Yes, he was my cat, but to his credit, he took to each new child with delight, sleeping at their feet at night, and trotting up to the school through their primary school years to walk them home.
He was the ultimate party cat: jumping the fence to join the fairy circle at the neighbour’s birthday party; displaying a bizarre affection for family beach holidays; and always finding the lap of whichever visitor had the strongest aversion to felines.
And for sixteen years, he was my little mate. I spent more hours with Al than with hubba hubby or the kids or my friends or all of my extended family put together. And yesterday he died in my arms.
RIP Allan Hallam, you dear old thing.
You will always be the best catty ever.