My best friend was a sometimes melancholy brown cat called
Yojimbo. That wasn’t his actual name, but it was the one that stuck in
my head as we pulled into the driveway to collect him. He was twelve
We took him to the summer house. This was the first time in his life
he had been outdoors. He sat petrified beside me on the porch for
fifteen minutes before demanding to be let in again.
When my best friend was six months old he decided to leap out into a
stairwell, plunging two floors and landing on concrete. I will never
forget that moment. We took him to the vet, worried about concussion
or internal bleeding. She said he had bruised a toe, but that was
My best friend caught a cold, which developed into a nasty cough. It
never seemed to get better. Turned out it was asthma. Turned out it
was treatable. Two times a day we helped him breathe into a special
inhaler. If we were late, or forgot, he would gently remind us.
My best friend had faults. He was a coward, but despised weakness in
others. He could be downright mean to other animals. He methodically
destroyed our sofa. But we loved him, and he loved us.
He was in an accident and crushed his paw. A very talented surgeon put
everything back in place. He wore a cast for two months. Every ten
days we would get in the car and drove for 90 minutes to get his foot
X-rayed and the cast changed. We went to physiotherapy and did
exercises. He didn’t understand, but accepted it. He was three years
We moved to another town. Our new place had a garden. My best friend
would spend hours lying in wait under the big fir in the back. Once he
was chased by a Rottweiler, and was gone for four hours. I wondered if
he would find his way back home.
My best friend had an enemy. A large red cat that lived three houses
away. They had a huge fight in our garden shed, and then a fragile
Our oldest cat got very ill. One day we had to take her to the vet and
she didn’t come back with us. My best friend was upset, and searched
for her everywhere. We cried often that summer.
I would go away on business trips. When I packed my bags he ran away
and hid. He hated goodbyes. When I got back I was ignored at first,
then quickly forgiven.
My best friend got constipated. We tried laxatives and massage. He
wouldn’t eat. He grew weak. Again we took him to the vet. Turned out
it was a tumour. Turned out this time there was nothing we could do
for him. My best friend died on the operating table. It was a very
bleak february. He was just about to turn six.