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In The Company of Cats

Neeps: The Gentleman Cat

Although his owner had warned me before they arrived that Neeps, one of our regular house guests had recently developed arthritis, I was still surprised to see how much he had changed. Outwardly 13 year old Neeps is the same handsome cat with the same sleek black coat, turned a reddy brown from the sun. He still has the same elegant poise and searching green eyes but its in his movement that I notice the change, or in his reluctance to move. Both of his back legs are affected and Neeps now walks with a pronounced limp and is noticeably slower.

In preparation for his visit I have removed the cat steps that lead to his favourite bolt hole the kitty cloud. In past times he would sprint up the vertical steps as soon as he arrived and stay there for hours getting a birds eye view of the street from the huge window opposite. I needn’t have bothered Neeps never even looked in that direction. He sleeps a lot more and although he is still interested in play, he will watch a toy swirl around a stick all day, he doesn’t have the energy to chase it. At lunch time he appears in the kitchen beside me, walking back and forth and gently head butting my legs as he passes. He is, as always a gentleman cat and will politely ask before climbing onto your lap, although nowadays you more often have to pick him up. When you do his purr is immediate and loud.

In the bedroom I have arranged storage boxes into steps to make it easier for him to get onto the bed. In past times he would relish his time in bed cuddled up with a human, nestled under an arm, snoozing through the night and waking early for breakfast. Now, at bedtime I carry him gently into the bedroom and lay him in his usual place. He sits for a few minutes before slowly and carefully hopping down and returning to his spot on the sofa..

The next morning I wake early missing his presence and collecting him in my arms, I carry him back to bed. He slowly arranges his limbs so he is stretched out on the pillow beside me, his front paws over my shoulder. He is soon purring as we nap together until it is time to start the day.

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