Oscar Bin Laden the Terrorkitty was only 10 years old. A fiendish kitten, he came to us after the death of Ollie the Wonder Cat in 2000.
Like Ollie, he was a Persian Himalayan cross – a lovely big grey and white cat – but the similarities ended there. He was, in fact, Ollie's Evil Twin, straight from the Dark Side. A leg-stalker par excellence, he was the bane of Miffy's existence, pouncing on her and tormenting her at every opportunity, right up until the day he died – yesterday, 25 October.
He wasn't all evil, though. Very much a people cat, Oscar would follow me around like a fluffy grey shadow. In the kitchen he had his little vantage point on top of the bread bin and loved to watch everything that went on (he was a terrible stickybeak!) from there. In the garden, he was never more than a foot away, batting at the evil weeds as I tried to pull them out (just helping, honest!) or simply just being a companionable presence. He sat beneath the washing line whenever I hung out the washing, and sat on my arms whenever I tried to use the computer. He sat on my chest if I tried to watch TV, and often sat on my head while I tried to sleep. He did a lot of sitting.
And he talked, Lord, did he talk, at all hours of the day and night! He was, in fact, quite a student of English, and could say “hello” with spooky clarity when he wanted to get your attention.
He could be naughty, annoying and utterly obnoxious at times – quite a lot, in fact – especially when I was tutoring. He would leap onto the table, sprawl over my students' books, and refuse to budge.
'Hey, kid, need help with your homework? You've come to the right place.'
As for keeping him neat and tidy – forget it! His luxurious coat was a nightmare. Go within three feet of him with a brush, and you risked losing an arm. So much easier (and safer!) to take him to the vet for a haircut every year when the warmer weather arrived. That cat simply would not be brushed. He could out-stubborn anyone I know, even as a kitten. He stood his ground against the dreaded 'get off the table' water-squirter from a young age, when the squirter bottle was twice his size. He just sat there with narrowed eyes, daring me to squirt him. One day he took a big swipe at the bottle, whacking it right out of my hand. Feisty little bugger.
But when I was going through some of the darkest days of my life, and couldn't get out of bed for days at a time, Oscar never left my side. He would curl up next to me, at neck level, and put his paw in the palm of my hand, or rest it on my cheek, and sit that way for hours. He loved human contact.
I'm going to miss him.