The sad news is that my lovely cat Django died suddenly on Wednesday night. It was very sudden and very unexpected. Despite his age it looked to everybody as if he would be going on enjoying life for some time yet, but he unexpectedly collapsed and died, all within the space of a few minutes, almost certainly of a heart attack. The good thing is that he was able to enjoy life right up until the end and any suffering seems to have been extremely short-lived.
Django had been taken in to my vet's as a twelve-week-old feral kitten for adoption. He had obviously done well as a feral kitten by charming everyone in the neighbourhood. When I arrived at the vet's to pick him up the entire staff were taking it in turns to give him a cuddle before he left: he was purring loudly and obviously enjoying every bit of attention. When he arrived at his new home it didn't take long for him to be accepted. Though the oldest cat, Hoagy, took his time getting to know him, Bixy took to him immediately, and became a kind of surrogate mother.
Django was a fine example of how to get the best out of life. As a kitten he was extremely naughty, leading the older cats on wild disruptive rampages round the house, creating chaos in his wake. He was known round the neighbourhood as "the cheeky one" of my three cats. The only trace of his feral origins was his exceptional scavenging abilities (we once lost a pack of peppered beef and later discovered the opened empty pack and the peppered rind under the sofa and on several occasions found sandwiches and wrappers minus fillings on the kichen floor.
Django loved fabrics (especially silks) and was an ever-present studio cat. On one occasion he experimented with dyes and I found him sauntering proudly down our back alley with bright blue feet.
In 1995 Django had a serious accident, getting knocked down by a car and smashing his pelvis to pieces. He made it back to the back door by dragging himself on his front claws, which must have been agonising. Luckily there were no injuries to internal organs but he did need extensive surgery (and a fair selection of nuts and bolts) to put him back together again. The injuries were so serious it took a couple of months before he was walking again. At the time I wondered whether I would ever see him walking along the fence again. The neighbours bet it would take two weeks: in fact he was back there within four days.
Django suffered from arthritis in later years but despite having to slow down sometimes (though he still played tag with Pepper from time to time and took stairs two at a time and took strolls round the neighbourhood, including on the last day of his life) he remained a lively, bright and extremely affectionate through it all.
He was a very special cat and I shall miss him.