Oliff’s Life

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If you’re an animal lover then I suspect you’ll fully understand the following. If you’ve never had a family pet but have an understanding of the unique relationship we share with animals then I know you’ll empathise.

My little cat Puppin was born on 1st May 1999 along with his twin Rumpty. They had been placed at a cat sanctuary in Kettering who were looking to find homes for them via an article in the Evening Telegraph. The headline read, ‘Smitten By A Mitten Kitten’, a reference to Puppin’s unusual physical characteristic of an extra ‘toe’ on each of his two front paws. This curious trait identified him immediately as a Polydactyl cat. Bizarre adverts depicting fictitious cats opening doors and tins of cat food with the added advantage of opposable thumbs is not actually that far-fetched: well, certainly in appearance. In reality, of course, it remains fanciful. The Polydactyl has had many nicknames. Boxing cats, mitten cats, mitten-foot cats, snowshoe cats, thumb cats, six-fingered cats, Cardi-cats, Hemingway cats, and double-pawed cats. The author Ernest Hemingway was said to have been given a six-toed cat by the captain of a ship, which began his fascination with the Polydactyl, leading to his own breeding passion.

Ten days ago I began to notice Puppin was not eating with his usual enthusiasm. His coat began to lose its sheen. His rapid loss of weight was astonishing and eventually, after trying my utmost, I called the vet. The vet took just two minutes to give me his diagnosis and prognosis. Puppin died on Saturday. Through the years he has given me so much pleasure and has never once told me a lie. I shall miss him forever. My thanks to everyone at the veterinary centre and to my dear friend Fiona Lovell for being with me as I buried that beautiful creature. I’m off to bed now to feel sorry for myself: yet again!