Growing up, we always had pets in our household varying from rabbits, cats and dogs. When I was around 6, a friend of mine at school had a cat who’d had kittens, and being the big mouthed 6 year old I was, told said friend that we’d have one! (Sorry mum!) And there our family grew one bigger.
I don’t actually remember picking him, I think my mum and dad must’ve chosen which kitten to have, but I do remember we spent a long time trying to find a name for him, when one day we were driving into town when I suggested “Archie” – and it stuck. We also had a golden retriever named Bonnie too at the time. I remember one night we were going out, we’d only had Archie a week or two, so mum shut Archie in the bathroom (just in case he and Bonnie had a scrap!) and all night mum was fretting that she hadn’t closed the toilet lid & Archie was going to fall in the toilet. (Luckily she had closed it!)
Bonnie and Archie became the best of friends – once he’d established his dominance to her! They would both snuggle up and sleep together, with Archie laying against Bonnie’s tummy nestled in her legs. They really were a cute pair! When taking Bonnie for a walk, you could look behind and there, 10 paces behind slinking in and out of the bushes, would be Archie coming along for the walk too!
Now, I’m not gonna lie, this poor kitten had a rough ride at times in our household. There were many times he was put in a dolly’s pushchair and pushed around, and countless times we’d “cage” him by putting the washing basket over him. (Don’t go calling the Pets Protection on me, I was young and silly – but Archie never came to any harm!) In fact, I think some days he liked being in the cage, it meant he wasn’t going to be swung around or dolly-fied… So, it’s almost pretty obvious as to why he’d scarper at the sight of us and spend most of his days begging for food at neighbouring houses. This past-time got him the nickname “Fat Cat” because, well…he got fat. Really fat.
After repeated tellings off we stopped using Archie as a toy and he started to trust us again (many years later!), and as the years went by he became softer and enjoyed a cuddle or two in the evening. Having said that, when enough was enough he’d soon swipe or nip you, and his tummy was a NO-GO-ZONE. (For those of you who have cats you’ll understand why that’s in capitals. Daring Becky has a few scars from this…)
Sadly, Bonnie passed away and it really affected Archie. He almost went into a state of depression, but over time he healed and sprang back, but he was never quite the same. Until my sister got a puppy for her 18th birthday! In came Marley the black lab! At first Archie was weary of him, and made it extremely clear this was his home and he ruled the roost with swipes to the nose and hisses when Marley got too close or boisterous. But over time they too found a bond and they were soon sleeping together just as Archie did with Bonnie. When my sister left home, Marley left with her, leaving Archie by himself…that is, until mum and dad got a new puppy; Dexter. (And my brother got Dexter’s sister; Willow.) Well! Archie was having none of this puppy-malarkey. I mean, by this point he’s an old man – 15! He wasn’t interested in the bounding around and jumping up and down, and again he made sure to tell Dexter & Willow he was the man of the house the same way he told Marley!
Over the past two years, Archie slowly started to deteriorate. His teeth became sensitive, making it hard for him to chew food; his fur fell out (more so than normal); he started losing control of his bowels, meaning mum and dad had to get a litter tray for him again as he often didn’t make it outside; he seemed to forget he’d been fed (questionable, he was always begging for food at the best of times!), and often looked confused as to where he was and the biggest one was that his weight started dropping off by the shed loads: No more Fat Cat…
I’d recently borrowed Archie’s cat-carrier to use for Lucy for her neutering, when one day my mum rang and asked for it back. I knew then it wasn’t going to be just a check up. Mum had been worried about Archie for a while, but on this particular day it was painfully obvious he wasn’t going to last much longer.
On June 9th 2017, at the age of 17, we said goodbye to our much loved furry family member.
It’s never easy saying goodbye for the last time, and I know some people don’t understand the bond people have with their pets, but Archie was well and truly part of the family, and had been for almost two decades.
He will be, and is, missed by all of us.