Bowie left us today, at the age of 15 and a few months.
She was the oldest cat I’ve ever had, and like all cats, a combination of neurosis and neediness and cuteness and ferociousness. She was an unloved, scarred stray when I picked her out and in the end, I like to think she felt loved, however cats feel it.
I got her in November 2008 as a birthday present for myself and she was already 8-9 months old when we got her, a thin tortoiseshell with a distinctive bent ear. The animal shelter called her “Twist” after that, but after a few days we decided to call her “Bowie.” She had had a rough time before we got her – the bent ear had been mangled by something, and there was a nasty v-shaped scar on her back caused by something or someone that was still sensitive when touched for years. I liked the idea of giving her something better.
We got her the same week Barack Obama was elected President; she died the same week King Charles III will be crowned.
For a long time, she was a skittish little thing, who didn’t trust humans and was never quite a “lap cat.” We got her when my son was 4 years old and in pre-school; she died with him now 19, a second-year university student, and he loved her very much. He’s known her his entire life.
Bowie had a pensive, cautious expression on her face most of the time; unlike the open amiability of our younger cat Oscar, she was hard to read. But as the years passed, she mellowed out, slept on our son’s bed up until two days before she died. Her favourite spots were warm ones – perhaps they eased the pain on her back scar, but she’d lie in the sun for hours until her fur nearly boiled, and would doze off so close to our fireplace in winter we seriously worried she’d combust a few times.
In her final year or two, she started to lose her vision, which was hard. She became skinnier, got confused a lot and fought with Oscar a lot more. Things declined fast on Monday night, and by Wednesday morning we knew she was ready to go.
We held her at the end, my son and I at the vet. She was barely conscious by then, but I hope and believe she wasn’t in a lot of pain. She was simply done.
I’ve had many cats over the years but for various reasons Bowie was the first we were there with until the very end. I stroked her familiar black and gold and white fur like I had thousands of times the last 15 years and she went quietly, without a fuss, and that was all.
She was a good girl.