At 22 Thumper, a large tabby with white patches whines loudly when he sees me approaching. Until now he has been sleeping peacefully, curled up on the cushion of a huge circular, yellow, sixties armchair, looking like a character in a James Bond film. His meows escalates in volume and urgency as I gather him into my arms for a cuddle, he rests two massive paws on my shoulder and meows loudly into my ear. The meows continue as I spill some cat soup into a bowl, then he scrambles over my shoulder and down my back and leaping to the floor, tucks into his favourite treat.
You would never suspect that Thumper is 22 years old, he is loud, strong, energetic and still agile enough to jump onto the kitchen counter, squash himself into the sink and sup water out of the tap. Often as I fill his water bowl, Thumper will nudge it out of my hand. Preferring to take his drink directly from the source he will position his head under the steam of water, drenching it whilst submerging his front paws and sending a fine spray over me and the kitchen floor.
Once finished he trots into the front room where I sit waiting for him and nudges his head force fully into the palm of my hand, hopping onto the sofa and settling down beside me as I stroke him. Eventually he tires of my attention and heads to the balcony door, this is his usual escape route to the outside world, but this gentle giant is to be kept inside while his owners are away and he is unimpressed. Standing on his hind legs, he tries and fails to push the door open. Thumper looks at me imploringly and lets out a spine chilling meow, before dropping to the floor and settling back into his favourite chair.
The only sign that Thumper is the grand old age of 22, is his dwindling hearing. If I’m quiet I can climb the stairs and appear in front of him while he snoozes on the chair, waking him with a gentle stroke of the head. When I do this he doesn’t cry, and will happily allow me to rub his cheeks and the underside of his chin before preparing his breakfast.