In late 2004 Rebecca and I moved into a flat in Brighton. First on our “to do” list was to adopt a cat. And so, in early 2005, Lucky came into our lives. She was, according to the vet during an early visit, about 5 years old.
Her previous owners were an elderly couple, one of whom had recently died. With the other owner going into a home, a cat protection charity were tasked with retrieving Lucky.
Two days, and one savaged arm (the charity guy’s, not hers!), later Lucky was removed and ready for adoption. We were told she’d never be friendly, would never be a lap cat, but we didn’t care. We just wanted to give Lucky a forever home.
The first couple of weeks were a bit tense (my previous cat, a beautiful tortoiseshell called Nosey, had been so placid I confess I wasn’t prepared for the challenge!). We made sure Lucky always had fresh food and water, and a clean litter tray, and left her to get used to the flat. If we were in the living room she’d be under the bed. When we went to sleep we’d hear her padding down the hallway to the living room.
Then one evening, while we were on the sofa watching TV, Rebecca told me to turn around slowly. There was Lucky, eyes wide, standing on her back legs and staring at us.
In the days to come she would spend increasing amounts of time with us. She allowed us to pet her, she would join us on the sofa, and then – joy upon joy – Lucky began to bless us with lap time (she would alternate, based perhaps on who had the softest lap on any given day). It was pure heavenly delight.
We weren’t supposed to have a pet in the flat, so on the first agent inspection day I bundled Lucky into her carrier and took her for a walk around the block until the inspection was over. She was never a fan of carriers, however, so for the next couple of inspections we would make sure everything was tidy then, when the buzzer went, I’d grab Lucky and take her upstairs and wait outside the top floor flat. Lucky found this only slightly less annoying than the carrier.
The aftermath of one filling pasta dinner saw us relaxing in front of the TV. Lucky casually walked in with a large chunk of Parmesan in her mouth. She brought it over to us and put it on the floor. She didn’t attempt to eat it. I like to think of it as a warning: “I can and will fuck up all your shit.” Well, I probably would have done the same thing.
One day we thought Lucky had been a bit quiet. Suddenly an ear-piercing meow reverberated around the flat, but she was nowhere to be seen. We opened the door to see Lucky running down the stairs. One of us had clearly let her out into the hall to have a wander around. Lucky had gone up to the next floor and started to paw at a rubbish bag left outside our upstairs neighbours’ door (I think it had roast chicken leftovers in it). The neighbours had heard the commotion and opened their door. Lucky, in her confusion, rushed into their flat thinking it was ours. Then, realising her mistake, she yelled. I think the whole street would have heard that meow. If you were there and you’re still traumatised, I’m sorry.
Lucky was a little chubby when we got her, so she went on a (much despised) diet. Pre-diet, however, she’d had a little trouble keeping clean. We’d taken her to the vet expecting them to perform some miracle. Instead they shaved her entire back end. I’m sure she was aware that something was up, but our laughter (oh I’m sorry boo!) left her in no doubt that we found her situation amusing. The fur grew back, of course, and with her diet plan she had no more problems. I’m sure she saw the funny side of it eventually. Cats have a sense of humour, right?
The diet plan was ultimately a success but Lucky had her own ideas, and it took us a few days to rumble her fiendish plan. You might have worked out that relaxing in front of the TV was one of our hobbies. We’d often both fall asleep. One would wake up, put out some crunchies for Lucky’s night time snack, then go to bed. Unbeknownst to us, she would immediately wolf them down. Then when the other sleepyhead woke up, Lucky would be there to lead us to her bowl and say, “No crunchies! I need my crunchies!”
I think the conversation one morning was, “I fed Lucky before I went to bed. Her bowl was empty.” “But I fed her before I went to bed…” “What about the night before?” “Yep.” (both) “Lucky!”
Sadly Rebecca and I separated, and Lucky came to live with me in a house with a garden. She could climb but she never made an attempt to go beyond the garden wall. I guess being a house cat had left her less than curious about exploring the world beyond. She would sit by the gate and look under it, however.
One summer a little black cat took to hanging outside the gate. Lucky, being an angry floof, would get extremely wound up. I would go into the garden to break up their stand off before it got out of hand. You could see the rage visibly rising up inside Lucky and I feared for the gate, the black cat, the neighbourhood, our planet, etc… I would go up to Lucky and try to move her away from the gate. At this point her unfocused rage would acquire a target: my feet.
I was always sensible enough to wear shoes, and the rage would quickly be replaced with much rolling on the floor. The black cat soon sensibly decided to find another place to do its thing.
Being able to go into the garden meant being able to watch the birds. Lucky never tried to catch them, however. She would chirp at them, but that was it. Woodpigeons are constant visitors, and they’d have Lucky racing for the back door in a panic.
Not having a cat flap meant endless summers of having to deal with “Let me out, I need to come back in again”. Lucky would normally ask politely to go out, but sometimes – usually when I was chopping up veg for dinner – she’d sneak up behind me and howl. I still have all my digits, just. When I’d turn around to see what the hell was wrong she’d just turn away to the back door and wait for me to open it. Thanks, Lucky, for shredding my nerves!
One afternoon I arrived home from work to find a small gathering in the street. Lucky had climbed up to the open bathroom window and jumped down on to the front porch. From there her adventure had ended, and goodness knows how long she’d been there before I got back. I had a stepladder but couldn’t get her down from the porch that way, so had to climb on the porch and feed Lucky back through the bathroom window.
Clearly I failed to learn from this experience, and equally clearly Lucky had learned nothing either. A couple of weeks later I came home from work to find Lucky on the porch again. The bathroom window was more carefully monitored from that point on.
I think you know where this post is going… Lucky was the ultimate purring furball love machine. She would sleep on my chest and I love her so much for the affection she showed me. Sadly, last week I had to book an appointment with the vet because she was clearly ill.
The evening before I made sure to spend all my time possible with Lucky. She got as much lap as she wanted, as many pets as she could handle, and she even gave me one last scratch. I took photos of us, and made a video of her purring. Deep down I knew what the vet was going to say, and the next morning when they diagnosed the onset of organ failure I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have Lucky put to sleep.
Lucky is now at peace, laid to rest by the garden gate she enjoyed looking under. RIP Lucky, my sweet beautiful baby. From 2000 until the 14th June 2017 you filled the world with love and vicious scratches. I miss you so much and I’ll love you forever.
I’m still getting used to being able to close the bathroom door without Lucky scratching at it and meowing to be let in, and I’m going to be clearing fur off of things for ages to come. I still keep expecting her to walk into the room… Bless you Lucky, and thank you for twelve years of love.
Here’s a short video. I apologise for the lack of pixels, but it’s from 2006…