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Torfaen Tales

A Cats Life

He started his life in London. February 1991 it was. His owners didn't record the date of his birth. They named him Sylvie, not realising he was a male. He had a brother named Buster who was frightened of his own shadow.

He came to live with us when he was about three months old. He only moved two doors up the street. In recognition of his masculine status we renamed him Sylvester. He fitted in well with the cats we already had as he was a gregarious little fellow. And being so close he could still see his mother and his brother. He soon grew from a fluffy little kitten into a fine, healthy tabby cat.

Sadly his mother got run over by a car and killed, and when his original human parents got divorced they had to find a new home for his brother. He bore these trials with fortitude, but then he had a happy home with us. Sadly, over the years our other cats passed on, and we were left with just one: Sylvester.

When he was almost ten years old we uprooted and moved to Wales. Sylvester was not a happy cat that first night with the mother-in-law. He wanted to hide under the bed, but it was a mattress and base with only a couple of inches of space between bed and floor. So he crawled in under the duvet and I was met with a comical lump in the bed when I turned in. He refused to budge, so I left him there.

From a small rented house we relocated to a larger detached house in Abersychan. Sylvester turned into quite a hunter, and would bring presents into the house through his cat flap. On my birthday he presented me with half a mouse, deposited on top of the bedcovers.

The house was fine, but all was not well with the marriage so I decided to move on. I spent a few months in a rented house where pets were not allowed, but once I had a home I could call my own I had Sylvester back in my life. He didn't seem to mind that he had less of a garden, and I certainly didn't miss the dead mice. We settled happily into a routine, and he decided he was rather fond of my new partner. Many weekend mornings the three of us would sit up in bed watching television, the humans with their cups of tea and Sylvester moving from one lap to the other before settling in the valley between us. We told him he was a Valley Cat, not an alley cat.

Over the next five years he came to terms with first one pet rabbit, then another. Strange creatures that were probably harmless but moved unpredictably.

Sylvester slowed down gradually, eventually spending literally 23 hours of the day asleep. His journeys over the back gate grew less frequent. Then he had to get used to a dog, a large black hairy creature that was unnerving due to its sheer size but was really no trouble at all as long as it kept its distance. On one occasion before the stair gate was installed the dog crept upstairs onto the bed and curled up for a nap just a short distance from where Sylvester lay asleep, totally oblivious.

Sylvester had always been fond of a good drink of water. I always felt this kept him healthy, for he was without doubt the most robust cat I ever had. But suddenly he started drinking twice as much, and the vet confirmed that his kidneys were failing rapidly. Suddenly it was all over.

Now we have an empty space in our lives where Sylvester used to be. Two weeks have passed, and I still expect to see him curled up in his favourite places. I keep finding strands of his fur on clothes and furnishings, little reminders of the cat whose personality meant so much. Even when those little tabby hairs are no longer to be found he will still live on in our hearts.

Sylvester - February 1991 - 23rd June 2008 - Rest in Peace

By Karenne Griffin


Last Modified on: 05-11-2015

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Family of Blaenafon and Family of Miners

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Two photographic exhibitions by Walter Waygood documenting the landscape, home life, society, work, religion, mining and youth in Blaenafon from the 1970s onwards.

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