Oh Whistle And I’ll Still Be In The Other Room, M’Lad: Living With A Deaf Cat

We often tell ourselves being a cat would make for a lovely life, what with the naps and the diminished financial responsibility, but in fact the world of a cat is a cold, brutal one. I sneezed in a record shop yesterday and a stranger a few feet from me said “Bless you!” and I said “Thanks” and she said “That’s ok.” It was really nice and could easily have gone on for much longer, if both of us had had nowhere else pressing to be. Compare this to earlier today, when one of my cats sneezed, and my other cat was like, “Do that again and I’ll cut you.” My cats get offended by me pretty easily. My large hairy tabby Ralph has been known not to speak to me for days, purely on the basis that I unfolded a metal clothes horse within six feet of him without considering how it would make him feel. Last week, when I didn’t get to the shop selling his brother Shipley’s favourite food before it shut and was forced to substitute it for an inferior brand, Shipley sat outside in torrential rain for a whole afternoon, just to punish me. But even this is nothing compared to the kind of dark resentful shit that goes down between the two of them and their female housemate, Roscoe: a carpet soap opera of bottled up grudges, petty office politics, stolen property (usually pen lids), backbiting and accusatory stares.

The exception to this amongst my cats is The Bear, and this is probably because he is not so much a cat as a polite, pacifist poet who happens to be trapped in a feline body and is making his best of a bad situation. The Bear has never gone in for the petty squabbles or attention-seeking power plays of other cats, and chooses to “meeoop” gently at me or nod subtly in the direction of the food cupboard when he wants to be fed. When Shipley has tried to square off with him or challenge him to an arm wrestle, his response has usually been to scuttle off and hide in the nearest cardboard box. When he looks into my eyes, as he does often, it feels less like he is asking for food and more like he is asking me for solutions to the world’s problems. I haven’t got any of the latter, so I settle for the former: usually as much of it as he wants, because he’s nearly twenty, and I feel blessed to have been able to know him for the last decade and a half. Today I spent more on his dinner than I did on mine. Fuck knows what’s in the stuff I got him but from what I can work out it comes with its own croutons.

What has changed about The Bear recently is that he’s gone a bit deaf, although this hasn’t made him any less polite, just polite in a louder kind of way. His two main noises – the “meeoop” and his half-meow chirrup, both of which were always very soft and mild – have evolved into a completely new noise. This noise is quite hard to describe but I think the best way I could put it is that it’s the kind of sound a particularly friendly bumblebee would make if it was a foot high and came to live in your spare room. The Bear, of course, has no idea he’s being newly loud. When he meows at the fresh bowl of water I keep on the bathroom floor for him, which for some reason he seems to be in love with, he believes he is singing the water a gentle, private lullaby. He has no idea that, not far away, people are breaking off their conversations and asking “Who is that mournful old lady that I can hear wailing to herself? I wonder if she recently lost her husband.” Another rather sweet effect of his deafness is that is seems to have completely nullified the lifelong intimidatory hold Shipley has had over him. Now, as Shipley appears alongside him, his reaction is less “Oh no! Hide! Quick!” and more “Oh, it’s you! Hello!” In turn, this has killed the joy of the chase for Shipley, who will now often be seen calmly resting top-to-tail with The Bear under the yew tree in my garden.

The moment when I properly realised The Bear was going deaf was a few months ago, when I was grilling myself some cheese on toast and feeding all four cats mechanically recovered meat and the smoke alarm went off. This smoke alarm is the most industrially piercing I’ve ever had and, at the first sound of it, Roscoe, Ralph and Shipley hotfooted it out of the house. The Bear, by contrast, sat at my feet, looking up at me with an expression that seemed to say, “Hi. Did you call?” He always had very good hearing in the past, and would appear almost instantly, upon hearing the loud whistle I deploy to call the cats in. Now he can only just hear me when I whistle, but it doesn’t really matter, as he’s always around. The Bear looked like he might be slowing down and becoming an indoor cat at the end of 2013, when I moved temporarily to a dark bungalow without a garden in Norwich, but since I moved to Devon in March last year he’s been very outdoorsy, preferring to sleep on either my back step or in a The Bear-shaped indentation in my lawn which I call The Bearhole, but he never actually leaves the garden. The fresh countryside air here in Devon is one of the things that I convince myself has extended his life, along with the rubs I give him in that spot on his chest he especially likes and the fact that I tell him “I love you, The Bear” every day.

I had a garden party last weekend. It wasn’t really meant to be a garden party. I’d initially envisaged it as five or maybe six people sitting on my lawn talking quietly about owls, but before I knew it someone was barbecueing corn on the cob and someone else – okay, it was me –  was putting on a Chic LP back-to-back with ‘Pump Up The Jam’ by Technotronic. The Bear has become increasingly chilled out and sociable at parties over the years, but, unexpectedly, a couple of small kids came to this one, and I think they scared him and the other cats a bit, in their Pepsi-fuelled enthusiasm. I didn’t find him for quite a long time the next morning, which was worrying, when you combine the facts that he can’t hear my whistle unless I’m very close, he’s never left the garden, and the vast undergrowth surrounding my house has never been higher than it is right now, at the end of a rainy summer. By the time I did locate him, under the sole bush I’d not previously looked beneath, I was pretty much vowing never to invite another human being to my house again, let alone ever have another party. 

The Bear gave me a kind of “It’s all cool, man” look but he was off his food for the next twenty four hours, which is unthinkable for him. He seemed slower and creakier – had he been injured in the night? – and I began to steel myself for the worst. In fact, I’ve been steeling myself for the worst with The Bear for years. Even if I’d not got round to steeling myself for the worst of my own volition, I probably would do anyway, due to all the reminders I get from a certain kind of stranger who periodically drops by my Facebook page and instructs me to. “Your cat is very old now,” these strangers tell me, from diverse corners of the world (though mostly, it must be said, Middle America), perhaps mistaking me for a simpleton who believes that cats age like humans and 20 is the time that a cat will just be finding out who he is, falling in and out of love, and living it up on Spring Break. “I hope you’re ready.” There is no denying it: my cat version of David Attenborough is very old now, even older than the real version of David Attenborough, but he’s happier than he’s ever been, and only a day after his little dip in form, he was meooping his love song at his bowl of water again, enjoying a chest rub, chewing enthusiastically on a fresh chicken breast I bought him, then sleeping happily in The Bearhole. A few days on, he’s back to 100% Bear. Yesterday I saw him hurl his arthritic body through the catflap with his paws out ahead of him, like some cat version of superman, then chase – but not kill, never – a moth

And that’s what he is in a way: Polite Cat Superman. Deaf Cat Superman too, of course, now, but in the end, he does not seem noticeably diminished by it. You could even argue it’s done him as much good as harm. After all, the audible world is full of humans discussing unsolveable problems, which a cat, even an unusually sensitive and empathic one, can frustratingly do nothing about. And as for other cats: well, they just talk a load of crap anyway.

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83 thoughts on “Oh Whistle And I’ll Still Be In The Other Room, M’Lad: Living With A Deaf Cat

  1. You and your stories of your life with your "the bear" are part of what makes this world a little sweeter. I was in a very bad mood today and this little snippet reminded me how life goes on and there are uniquely gentle and good people (and animals) with a quirky sense of humor and a knack for sharing it out there.

    I hope you two get to be companions and friends a good while longer. And not just because you write such uplifting stories.

    I feel a little guilty not having ordered one of your books yet considering how much I've enjoyed your blog. Hopefully, you are getting plenty of revenue from others. I won't make promises but if it's in my budget soon I will own a copy.

  2. Another wonderful article from you, Tom, I always love reading a new one.

    I can relate to a lot of what you wrote about in this blog entry. I also share my space with a n almost-deaf, arthritic, nearly 20-year-old cat. And like you, I really didn't expect him to last as long as he has. Despite some recent blips, he just keeps on going, albeit on various meds and prescription food for his ailments. I had thought he was totally deaf, he certainly never hears any sound I make towards him, but discovered recently that he can hear high-pitched clicks. Not a lot of use to me, but good to know his hearing hasn't totally failed him, yet.

    Long live the Bear, and many more years of writing from you, please.

  3. I love your stories about The Bear. This one tears at my heartstrings. I know none of can love him as you do. But we do really, really love The Bear. It's so nice to know that he's so happy.

  4. Oh, The Bear. I didn't know I could love a cat that don't know as much as I love him. I'm so glad his bit of deafness doesn't seem to be bothering him. Sweet boy.

  5. If it's possible to be in love with a cat, than I am in love with The Bear 🙂 He certainly has 'litost' so I think he may have been a Czech being in a previous life! You and your beautiful cats are truly blessed to have known each other. 🙂 Thank you so much for all your warm witty observations. x

  6. I have had two elderly cats (although not the age of The Bear); both were special in my heart, and it distressed me intently when I had to take The Boo (no relation) to the vet to be euthanised (vet-induced, but I don't dwell on that). Daft Joe was a star too, and I miss them both every day…

  7. This is lovely. I also very much like the M.R.James reference in the title.

    My (very young) cat makes a trilling, purposeful noise I think of as the sound of a furry telephone. It's the sound he uses for briefing me when I am on my way to the important task of filling his food bowl in the morning. I wonder if The Bear's bee noise is in any way similar?

  8. This was such a lovely article, Tom. Loved learning that The Bear sings a love song to his water bowl. He's got such a beautiful personality and you manage to capture it so well. (Also loved the M.R.James inspired title!)

  9. The Bear reminds me very much of my own rescue cat, Alfie, who is also deaf and eptileptic. But when he looks at me with those woeful green eyes, he gets anything he wants.
    Thank you for sharing your cats, your humor and yourself with us!

  10. Love The Bear and your other cats and your writing. This article is particularly poignant, I know what it is like to steel yourself, it's not easy but The Bear is going strong and enjoying life. Long may that continue!

  11. Oh, Tom. I am now sadder than The Bear at his most saddest. Touching & beautifully written piece.

    It made me smile that you tell The Bear every day that you love him. I try to do that too & I hope you pass that on to him. I doesn't matter that I've never met The Bear, I still do love him very much.

    I understand you being pissed off with the "he's old" thing. Before adopting Beamish & Murphy (17 yo), I often proudly displayed their pics & told people about them. Quite a few said "they're really old, you know. You won't have them very long. Get younger ones."

    Utter bollocks! They didn't get that their age was irrelevant. They are the cats that I wanted, that I already felt something for.

    A belated, big sympathetic *hug* to you re: The Bear's hiding for so long. You must have been heart-sick.

  12. Bear looks much like my Chairman Mao, especially the olive green eyes. It would be a loss if Mao went deaf since we spend much of the day talking to each other. Well, mimicking each other's rhythm, cadence and tone with a few improvised riffs here and there. Bear sounds like a wonderful intelligence to have around. Mao is certainly the smartest quadruped I've ever known and outstrips a number of my biped acquaintances as well. After a lengthy discussion, Mao and I think you guys should just keep enjoying each other's company…

  13. Dear Tom, this was the first time I read your blog. I laughed so much at its gentle poignancy. I really loved it. I rescued a ginger kitten 21 years ago and Monty is still going strong (kidney and thyroid troubles withstanding). He is profoundly deaf now and has a very curious habit of howling to the pillows on my bed. This is normally before launching himself, (it has to be said) diva like, onto them. His deafness has turned him from a nervous cat, into a calmer old gentleman..although like Bear, he still amazes us with kitten tendencies…normally grabbing and chewing my ear-phones, or anything that takes my attention away from him. So good to read your blog, it made me pleased to know that other hard of hearing owners have noticed the magnified yowl. I will share your stories and become a regular. Beautiful writing.

  14. It's funny, I found with my own cat when she became deaf that things she had been afraid of were then things she was drawn to. She used to hide when I took out the vacuum, and then suddenly she would try to ride it when I turned it on. She was so attracted to it that I had to carry her while I cleaned because I was afraid she'd get caught in it.

  15. I love this account of The Bear……it warms my heart and makes me cry at the same time……it sums up everything I feel about my own elderly cat……also black and very much a pacifist……a lover not a fighter my husband says. Keep up the writing Tom…..it gives so much pleasure.

  16. I love the Bear too. And have one of my own named River who looks very similar. And two other darlings, a big tabby Charley who looks like Ralph, and a wild white boy named Billie with bi-coloured eyes. I will turn fifty on the Bear's twentieth birthday and will celebrate for him too. xx

  17. Oh, The Bear. Thank you, Tom, for harbouring this philosopher, sage and mage. And yes; strangely, we all know he's not going to go on forever; but ta for sharing him while you can.

  18. I've been reading your (their) Twitter accounts for a couple of years now, but haven't joined Twitter myself. It's not a pose, just an almost pathological inability to deal with almost all but the most elementary technology.

    Anyway, You've been generous enough to interpret The Bear to the rest of us and I look forward to your daily postings.

    Cats can go on a long time Tom – longer than we sometimes deserve. If they have fixed on you – and some cats will do this – they are apt to just go on just for you. This relationship rewards both of you. I can measure out my life with just a few cats and one of them, Belize – who was The Cat Of My Prime – went on till 23 despite the usual failings of feline kidneys. I learned to cook tasty meals without salt.

    She became substantially deaf and like you I really only noticed this by the change in her oral communications. Actually, her relaxed attitude to the hoover was the clincher. The big bonuses were 1. her lack of fear of fireworks (my birthday is Guy Fawkes), and 2. the great realisation that she relished being hoovered up and down the spine with the (round) upholstery tool). This became a treat for both of us (I loathe housework so, you know, motivation etc.)

    Anyway, cherish the little man and dob a kiss on Ralph for me (Rafe or Ralf?)


  19. My dear kitty lived till the age of 21 years and 9 months and I loved her every moment I had with her (even the hairball in the shoe moments). Thank you so much for sharing your love for your dear kitty.

  20. We had one live to 26. At the time I think i think it was a bit of a local record but we didn't give a toss because we just missed our cat. As for the Bear, you'll know. And so will Bear. They're terrifyingky wise. And considering the chasm between their intelligence and that of a human's they're surprisingly patient I think. It's such a shame we outlive them. They'd run the planet perfectly without us.

  21. How can you make my heart ache for a moggie I've never met. I know nothing of writing. But i know what i like. Thank you.

  22. Your cat is lovely, I have his calendar. I hope my cat Superman sticks around as long as The Bear. He's named Superman! That made your last paragraph make me feel feelings. Though my cat is not quite as laconic as The Bear, I think he's headed there as he gets older. Ten more years and he'll be as old as The Bear! Only seven more 'til we tie you two for years having hung out together. Let's all enjoy ourselves.

  23. We lived with an ageing ginger Tom a few years back who got increasingly deaf until he would yowl 'where are you' when not within site of us. Not being able to call him we would bang on the floor or skirting board so the vibrations would lead him back to us. He is now sadly in the big mouse hunt in the sky.

  24. Lovely post. I understand that feeling that every day with an older cat is a blessing. You take really good care of The Bear and his house-mates.

    Our kitty is 16 now and showing signs of ageing, but we trust she will be with us for many years to come and we do our best to make life easy for her. Things non cat people don't understand, like keeping cat biscuits for her in the bedroom and putting her bowl on a block of wood to make it easier for her to eat.

  25. Another piece of wonderful writing. I ended up reading the comments to try and draw out the moment. I own your book, "The Good, the Bad and the Furry" on my beloved Nook. If you don't release the others in you collection electronically, I may end up breaking my promise not to buy more physical books. It seems not everyone likes living in a home where every surface is covered with books. Perhaps I can claim your books are grandfathered because they were released before I became technologically "libraried". (Convincing that technology to allow the word 'libraried' was a fight, but I finally prevailed.) Now I must go save Beta Bob. Although, having heard the sound of a glass pebble hitting the glass coffee table, I can be mostly certain Bob still swims in his slightly furry bowl. Normally capturing a pebble amuses our Hitchhiker ( a gray and white "tuxedo" cat, and youngest of our 4) enough to distract him from his fishing expedition. Bob does an amazing job of making sure all four cats that reside here get plenty to drink. I only hope living in a larger bowl than the plastic cup the pet store kept him in and being fed twice a day have been a fair trade. I hate to think Beta Bob lives in a watery Hell, waiting for the paw of death to claim him. Of course, the paw of death has terrible aim as it's been 4 years since this version of Beta Bob joined our household.
    I enjoy your writing very much. Thank you.

  26. That was such a lovely piece. It made me smile and cry at the same time. My 19 year old kitty passed away last week. She was also deaf, and had a rather special meow. It was load, and croaky. Some people said it sounded as though she had spent her entire life drinking large amounts of whiskey and smoking cigars. She had a special box which she liked to meow at. I also think that she was thought she was quietly declaring her love for the box, rather than waking the entire house. I love your stories about The Bear. They're always heart-warming. I hope you have lots more time with him and, of course, share those experiences with the world.

  27. I loved that piece.

    Like D. Ellis, I lost my elderly cat last week. He was 17 and I'd had him since he was a kitten. He too was fairly deaf latterly, but it merely seemed to make him completely oblivious to my exhortations to stop doing whatever it was he was currently engaged in.

    I hope you still have a lot of time left with The Bear, who seems to be one of these very special cats that come into our lives from time to time.

  28. Thank you for sharing. You touched me and reminded me of my 18 yr old cat going deaf. I would press my lips against the top of her head to talk to her. I figured she may feel the vibrations. Your blog/posts are often the highlight of my day. Good vibes to you, Bear and the rest of your family.

  29. My 16 year old Kiki was so timid as a young cat that she would hide under my bed if someone knocked on my door and she'd stay there for the rest of the day. As she has lost her hearing, she has became a different cat – she is calm and sociable. I whisper the Jeopardy! answers directly into her ear now.

  30. Very heartwarming reading, made me feel better. I know that The Bear and the rest of the crew are well loved! I especially like reading your blog and postings. For Bear to be so far away, I feel him when my herd of cats are near me. Bear has been a very big inspiration to me. I'm sorry to hear to hear of his deafness, but as long as he knows you love him, he is OK. Just remember that he is loved WORLDWIDE! He is bigger than the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, and Pink Floyd all combined. He is a big and shining star! He is "El Oso"!

  31. I love you, and I love The Bear. My two girls are just over 19 years now. (One of which, I think, would be totally sweet on the Bear if they were ever to meet. The other is a bit of an a-hole, lol.) I can't remember how I exactly met you and your felines, but you are all part of my life now. Let's steel ourselves together for the inevitable, shall we? And one day, we can sit in the garden and remember in that sad but sweet way that humans who have loved cats will do when the time finally comes.

  32. I had the privilege to live with Oberon for 20 years. He was a mighty cat, who topped out at 24 lbs at his heaviest. (Norwegian Forest Cat!) In his last years, he went stone deaf as well. He'd been a jittery, shy, 'fraidy cat (remarkable for one so large) and as his hearing diminished, his personality changed. He became the mellowest cuddle monster you'd ever want to meet. He slept through everything, and we had to be careful not to startle him. We learned to stomp on the floor in a particular way when it was dinner time, (though, even to the very end he rarely forgot to remind us what time it was…). He even learned to ignore our other cat, (a similarly geriatric Siamese) who had, apparently, bullied him subtly her whole life. She departed us at 18, and so Oberon had a couple of years of being an only cat. He lived and died in blissful silence.

  33. Ah Tom how absolutely lovely. Totally get the idiots thing – I lost my 23 year old just a few months ago, She was originally dumped on allotments, looked about 12 until her last year and slowly started getting a bit lame, before putting herself in the bathroom and repelling all incomers. For some reason, the bathroom appears to be the place of choice for all my soon to be departees – Guinvere did it in her last months, taking over the linen basket, Arthur did it in his last few weeks so when Felix did it, I knew it was pretty much game over. Having decided a few years ago that warm water was preferable to cold, she would pesticat until she got some. Once we realised that is what she wanted (exactly elbow temp please, she'd reject anything cooler or warmer), she got regular top-ups. I'll never understand people who dump their cats at a certain age. It's been a complete privilege looking after my beloved furries in their dotage.

    StoPeriyali has it absolutely right – if they have that bond with you and it is reciprocated (as it is with you and the Bear), it is the most loving and healing thing for them. Much love to you both.

  34. Dear Tom,

    I just got in my hands after a long, LONG waiting for the postal service (currently on strike) my copy of "The Good, the Bad and the Furry". I can't tell you how deligthed and happy (and sad sometimes) I am when reading your book. This text just confirms what I already knew that you're an extremely sensitive guy, with terrific skills when writting and the best Bear in the world. Please, keep up with the writting and take care of sweet The Bear

  35. Wonderful writing, love and humor. I truly enjoy your expressions of sweet understanding of the amusing and endearing relationships between cats and their humans. I have seven at the moment, plus a feral I'm socializing in a bathroom and a young yard kitty I'm hoping to coax inside by cold weather. We have an issue with coyotes here–who need to eat also, but "not in my back yard". My eldest ever was Musetta, a tiny, beautiful and charming tuxedo, who made it to 23. I've loved and lost many a cat in my life…and as several readers have remarked, they will let you know when it is time. Terribly hard and sad when it comes, but consoling when they are able to have the full ride stamped on their ticket. I am keeping good thoughts and feelings in my heart for The Bear to have a good long while with you, and you with him. Perfect love.

  36. I agree with everything Squirl said: I don't suppose that anyone can love The Bear as you do but, I truly love him with all my heart. I will be devastated when he does die, presuming that Superman cats do die.
    I love your writing . Thank you. X

  37. What a lovely piece Tom. My Schuey adopted me when he was 5 weeks old – he is now in his 19th year and profoundly deaf. Rarely leaves the house except for a lap around the garden to inspect his domain and do a bit of gardening by nibbling the grass. He too yowls when he is in a different room. First few times he did it I almost fell down the stairs thinking he was gravely injured but no … as soon as he saw me it was "Oh. There you are. What would you be doing if I hadn't called you? " He is a real trooper having had all his teeth removed last year substantially improving his quality of life. He likes nothing more now than to settle himself as close as he can get to me and stare into my eyes. I too whisper into the soft fur below his ears in the hope he can hear me say 'I love you Schuey' …

  38. I agree with everything Squirl said: I don't suppose that anyone can love The Bear as you do but, I truly love him with all my heart. I will be devastated when he does die, presuming that Superman cats do die.
    I love your writing . Thank you. X

  39. I love you and I love The Bear, and especially I love you and The Bear. All of the other notes are so beautiful and touching, I hope you enjoyed them and were able to read them to The Bear so he knows we love him also. Take good care of each other and Live Long and Prosper.

  40. Wow, what an incredibly beautiful piece. I find pretty much everything you write (whether it's about cats, weasels or ancient woodlands) hilarious, lovely and very thought provoking, but this was a whole new level of heartwarming! Delighted to hear that The Bear is back on full form and I hope this continues for a long time…after all he is clearly no ordinary cat and with Benjamin Button type tendencies who knows! I am definitely in the army of strangers who loves him very much.

  41. I found this piece of yours really touching. I started it a couple of days ago, but didn't have time, as I expected to, to read the whole thing.I love your blog, love your books, and like to sit here, with a cuppa, maybe a nibble too, and immerse myself in you cat filled wonderland. It's lovely that The Bear was back to normal quickly and didn't make you suffer for your misdeeds (children? HVDY!)
    Lovely piece 🙂

  42. I went through the same thing with my cat Pepper (all black, resembled Bear, which is probably why I love your stories about him so much!) — all I can say is, be prepared if he gets louder. It's a pretty amazing transformation. 😉

  43. We were lucky to rescue a stray a few years back – also black. Turned out to be 17 years old. He was never in a hurry and never caused any trouble. Ned went blind and deaf due to high blood pressure, but still got around inside the house, ricocheting off the walls until he got where he wanted to go – like a furry Roomba. He left us a few years back, but we still have conversations with him. Miss that skinny old fella. Here's to more years with your little friend.

  44. Hi Tom. I have a confession to make.

    I've been 'liking' My Sad Cat for months on Facebook as they were shared by a good friend of mine who lives in Paris with an average of 10 cats throughout the year. I adore your posts but it's the first time I see the link to the blog associated to it and today, I clicked and read your heart-warming story about The Bear… and then! Shock! I realized you're actually a MAN! I had no idea! lol!

    Forgive me but I feel ashamed to have assumed that you were a woman – the expression 'crazy cat lady' comes to mind… I never thought to put in the masculine gender…

    Anyway, keep up the fun and the Bear for as long as possible. I love him! Carole (France & Liverpool)

  45. Yes, he's old. We all know it. I've been steeling myself for the tweet that I know one day you'll share with us. But not just yet, I pray. Cats are wonderful, individual companions (can't say pets – they choose us) who take a special place in our lives and our hearts. I love hearing about yours. It's wonderful The Bear is still here and strong and healthy at his age.

  46. Tom, I want to thank you for sharing your story about your life with The Bear. It is almost identical to the time I had with my Lucy. My son found her as a kitten with a rope around her neck. She was black, a wonderful family oriented cat, played like a dog and was always around. Your story of your life with Bear matches mines all the way up to the time I recently lost her. Only she still had her hearing. She was 16 and I miss her so much. I also have other cats, but none like her.

  47. My Bobster (or as I like to call her) is a spritely 16, with kitty dementia, slightly deaf and arthritic. Her personality has blossomed the older she gets and reading about the Bear makes me smile and think of her. She feels lighter than air when I pick her up for cuddles, she starts meowing at 3am for attention but shows no signs of slowing down. I honestly can't see her leaving us for many years to come. I hope that you have many, many more years with The Bear, he truly is a special cat.

  48. I love all of your books and posts especially about The Bear – you really get him. It's like you are talking about my black angel, Dionysus except that he is just shy of his 5th birthday. Something about the wise look in their eyes and that special way his thoughts run. Thank your for all that you do with and for your cats. It reminds me of how special they are.

  49. For years, my life was measured by the life of the sick little rescue cat I adopted just after my mom passed. Chewy was dropped at a shelter at age one, with a note that said she didn't really match the furniture. I never quite got that last bit, as The Chooch was a dilute tortoise and quite colorful. That cat was with me through so many tough times when the rest of my family were gone. Silly as it sounds, I promised Chewy that someday she'd have a real house to play in, not the tiny apartments she had known her whole life. I was blessed to be able to give her a good life (in cat terms, at least) before she passed at age 18-1/2. But then, I consider myself blessed to have been her person. I'm sure you understand. Thank you for sharing The Bear with us.

  50. Don't listen to all the gloom and doom merchants who keep reminding you how old The Bear is. He's done much better than most cats and if he's still healthy at 20, then every single day proves them wrong. I always hoped my cat would make it to that age, but sadly Dax had to make her last trip to the vet on the 12th of August as her health was failing fast. She was four months past her 16th birthday, and people had been telling me I should be ready for that day for years before.

    Your stories about the four cats have really gone some way to cheering me up, and I'm looking forward to your next book! (And the next cat to find it's way into my life.)

  51. The Bear should have at least 1 or 2 lives left in him. My sister moved out if the country and left her two "old" cats with me – 20 year black siblings. The "sick" one was with me at least 2 years and his sister was almost a year older before she passed in her sleep.

  52. When Bear is no longer with us, I hope you have a plan to celebrate his angst ridden life. Better still, is there any chance we could meet him in this life!

  53. My old boy Fred battled on for years after I'd convinced myself he was on his way out. They don't care for such negativity. He had bad kidneys and all sorts, but he just carried on his merry way. The Bear looks like a tough old character and I'm sure deafness ain't no problem for him!

  54. I'm sat here sobbing, I wish everyone had as much love for their pets as you do for your cats. My own cat passed away a year ago and I miss her every day.

  55. My cat Ziggy reached 22, and was attacking the local dogs until the very end. She would only eat raw kidney & liver, until she developed a limp and the vet diagnosed arthritis, and the vet told us to stop giving her the raw liver – within a few weeks the limp had gone. We finally had her put down when she started randomly howling, and an x-ray showed that she was a walking bag of tumours, but she would never have died when she could run up vet bills instead. When she had outlived every other pet (all younger than her), we got her a kitten to keep her company – she sulked in my bedroom for a week, we had to feed her in there and put a litter tray in there as she refused to leave the room – after a week she suddenly came back downstairs, walked up to the kitten, beat her up, and then reclaimed her favourite spot on the rug in front of the fireplace.

  56. I love your Bear.

    My cat, a black & white tuxedo girl I call Pumpkin, is 21 since June. She came into my life when she was 10 (a friend didn't want her and another cat, so I took them both). She is big and still loves to eat very often (and makes me feed her often). We live in the city, so she is always indoors.

    I hope that Bear is around for a long time!

  57. I also have a Bear (first name Fozzie), he turned up under our deck at around 12 weeks old, immediately adopted NotOurCat (who lives with us, despite being our neighbour's cat), and took over the neighbourhood. 18 months later I still don't mind getting up for first breakfast at 5 am, or second breakfast at 7 am. I don't mind the enthusiastic smooch i get, even when he's soaking wet from dorking about in the rain.Bear has managed to broker a truce with The Dark Lord, our neighbours other scary cat. He even comes for sleepovers sometimes, much to our bewilderment at finding a grey furry cushion with eyes unexpectedly some mornings. He's also instituted a Cat Council, that meets evenings on the front lawn. The cat from across the road is invited, as are a couple of others. So far they are united in their dislike of the Black Cat and the White Cat who are chased away by everyone else.

    Anyway, I love my Bear. I'm glad you have one to love, too.

  58. I just discovered your blog (and books, and Twitter…) and I think I love you. 😉 We have a version of your Bear, a house rabbit version. He's an old 10, more like 70 in bunny years and since my kids are 16 and 13, they don't remember life before Leo Bunnasurus Rex. (He only gets his full name when he's naughty, which he was in his youth often. Now he leaves bad behavior for his much younger spouse, our in-her-20's-but-refusing-to-grow-up "Baby.") He's like the elder statesman of all our pets and also is partially deaf. I have to make kissy noises for several minutes to get him to go "home" at bedtime (their cage) when all I used to do was drop a few dried blueberries or cranberries in the cage and the ping as they hit the bars of the cage would bring him running so fast he'd sometimes jump & spread eagle into the cage since his paws would slip out from under him he was going so fast. 😉 Our pets make the world a more BEARable place to live, as do your stories. 😉

  59. How I understand the love you have for The Bear. My gorgeous old boy Tigger was 19 and a half when I lost him, tragically and tramautically to a pair of marauding dogs in the dead of the night. He had been with me for half of my life and I loved him so deeply. Even now, 18 months after his death, the tears are pouring down my cheeks, reading your story and wishing so badly tiggy was still here. You see, it was my fault the dogs could get in, as I had stupidly reversed into the carport door and it had been removed to be replaced. I'm not so sure I'll ever get over it. I hope The Bear graces your life for many more years – he's certainly not looking like an 'old cat' just yet. I have 2 new friends, but they don't hold my heart the same way. Enjoy him for as long as you can xx

  60. We had a deaf from birth cat who totally freaked out my son's beagle by touching Lois's face with her paw when Lois barked in Zoe's face. Lois yipped and wet herself and then neither of them could understand why 5 humans were laughing hysterically. Zoe had the most raucous voice that she was inclined to use at inappropriate times. She was also overweight, asthmatic, had grooming issues, was the stupidest cat we ever had but had the sweetest personality.

  61. Middle America can hardly be said to be a representative example of the world. The Bear needs to get out and travel more and talk to people in other countries.

  62. Hello Tom and Bear and the others.
    I really love your blogs and I admire your big heart for them.
    No wonder you and the rest will get all the good blessings/tidings.

    Have a great day ahead.

    Gin & Shazam

  63. Never underestimate how readily a cat can cope with what we consider a disability. My old grumpy lost the sightin one eye after headbutting a car. After the initial nursing him back to health. The luminous green eye that he couldn't see out of didn't hold him back at all. Still walking along fences etc. He could do everything he did before. And it was quite funny when you would just see half his face when he looked around corners. Last few years of his life he would play chicken with cars, as if to say he wasn't scared of them. My mum lived on a quiet road with lots of road humps so cars couldn't go too fast. He would sit in the middle of the road and stare down the cars as they slowed down until they stopped. Even then he wouldn't move. The ammount of people who knocked on my mums door and asked her to move the cat.

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