My pet: Eventful life of a well-travelled cat
We met Hobbes when the first cat we had, Marmalade, was run over. She was at the local vet for a week and each time we visited Marmalade, a paw from the cage above hers would reach out and gently pat my head.
After Marmalade had to be put to sleep, we returned a few days later and took the little lost black cat in the cage above home.
Hobbes, as we called him, was about six months old at the time and full of life. So we soon got him a friend to play with called Suzie.
Both were named for the characters in the iconic Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, Hobbes being Calvin's cat who comes to life, and Suzie, Calvin's girlfriend.
For the first four or five years, they weren't close, but always got along. Both had very different personalities; Hobbes being bold, brave and dignified, while Suzie was very gentle, shy and lazy. But when I moved from South Africa to Ireland, their time together in quarantine in the same cage for seven months made them inseparable.
I will always remember the great day I finally collected them from customs in Dublin Airport. I could hear their loud meows long before I saw them. But the second they heard my voice, they were silent and remained so for an hour-long car journey: they knew they were going home.
In his 11 eventful years, Hobbes made more than his fair share of trips to the vet. Somehow he frequently ended up in fights. And then there was the day a gust of wind caused the front door to slam shut on his tail. Loud howls sent me running and when I freed his tail, it was literally bent at a right angle. But it eventually straightened out again.
For a few years, we rented a house by the river in Strawberry Beds.
I think if you asked Hobbes, he'd say it was his favourite home. His day would always start with a daily patrol of the property's sizeable perimeter, Suzie sometimes trailing behind as he checked all was as he'd left it yesterday. And somehow, we felt reassured.
Suzie was a sweetheart, but we had a much-repeated saying in our house: "Everybody loves Hobbes." And it was true. He was a comforting presence, a true character - and still missed.
Gayle Williamson Phibsborough, Dublin
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