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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Remembering Cleo, a much loved friend

We mourn the loss of our beloved friend Cleo. Cleo was a loving and very tactile blue and cream cat who was 16 years and 9 months old. I am proud to say I knew Cleo for 12 years and 2 weeks. Jenny had chosen Cleo (and Henry, a ginger cat who sadly died 8 years ago from a throat infection) from the Cats Protection League when she was just 8 weeks old. When Jenny had picked up this pretty and delicately marked cat as a kitten she had purred and the lady had said to Jenny "she's going home with you!" Cleo was quick to start purring when you stroked her. Cleo was a nervous cat with strangers, indeed any loud noises, and particularly the sound of the dustbin men, had her running to hide often going under the duvet of our bed. She was particularly afraid of small children and men. Maybe a sign of her troubled past as a very young kitten, as she had a small kink in her tail where this may have been broken through abuse. Although she warmed to some men, she was wary of most, but was instantly accepting of John H when he called round once and promptly sat on his lap! In her younger days Cleo was quite athletic and would find safe and secure hidey holes to fall asleep in and leap up to the top of the wardrobe (10 feet high) and fall asleep and often the only clue of where she was, was her comically loud snoring at times! She didn't go out very often, being content usually just to go out or usually following us in the garden although sometimes she asked to be let out at the back and would often spend an hour patrolling the garden out of sight. If she was locked out she would cry mournfully desperate to get back until we heard her and promptly let her back in. She loved being around us and liked nothing better than to be stroked and tickled. She was particularly fastidious about keeping herself clean and was often grooming her soft coat. After washing herself she would often lick your finger too! Another endearing characteristic (of many) was she gave a very contented "purr" if you touched her when she didn't realise you were there. She particularly like to be tickled under the chin and unusually for a cat, have her tummy tickled. She liked to roll left and then right (roly poly) on the carpet, the thick shag pile in the lounge was her favourite for this particular pastime and if you gently touched her right foot she would roll over to her right and when you touched her left leg she would roll left. She could also be what we laughingly called a "tiger cat" particularly going for your hand through the bannisters of the stairs (although she would never bite or scratch you unless she was playing this particular game) she loved to chase up and down the stairs after silver foil balls, or memorably once leap up unsuccessfully once, 3 years ago unsuccessfully 6 feet up in the air and turn round at the apex of her leap to try and catch a flying Brown Hawker. This was unusual because she wasn't a hunter of birds, dragonflies or butterflies and she never caught any of these. She did however go for mice and occasionally moths in her younger days and one summer brought the odd Wood Mouse in, including one live one we had trouble catching until Cleesy did it for us expertly. Another characteristic she had was in the middle of the night she would go downstairs to eat and then yowl almost like a tomcat wondering or maybe unsure of where we were! She loved to be made a fuss of and would usually come down the stairs and greet us when she heard our car pull onto the drive. She would always sleep at the bottom of the bed at night but liked to wander up to us and every night have a twenty minute cuddle first, particularly on cold days (like a warm and purring hot water bottle!) this charming characteristic for example really helped and relaxed me on the night before my recent successful interview for the James Paget Hospital Library job. Sometimes she would sleep on our pillow, wrapped around your head like a Russian fur hat. The house feels very empty without her, Cleo was a much loved friend, who will always be in our hearts we loved her dearly, she was a very, very special friend.

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