Just before Christmas my beautiful old boy cat turned 19 and a half. At this age—over a hundred in human years—it’s worth celebrating a half birthday. He’s frail, he’s doddering and the vet thinks he’s nearly blind but he is as loving as ever, purrs a lot and wants to snuggle with his humans as often as he can. Oh, and he certainly lives up to the saying: “A cat who wants its breakfast is like an alarm clock without a snooze button.”
Albert was born in London, England when we were living there. I was desperate for a cat, though it wasn’t practical for us at the time. My husband had serious concerns I might snatch someone’s moggy, like some desperate women do with babies! I saw an ad in the newspaper for Burmillas, then a new breed—a cross between Burmese and Chinchilla Persian. Coincidentally, in a city the size of London, the owners lived in the same suburb as we did and I couldn’t resist visiting “just for a look”. Albert immediately detached himself from the heap of silvery gray kittens and jumped on my lap. “He’s chosen you,” said the lady who owned the kittens (just about to give birth to her first baby and with her husband desperate for her to find homes for seven kittens).
But I was only having a look, wasn’t I? The persistent little kitten with the big personality followed me to the door and tried to go home with me. I was done… Not only did I convince my husband to let me have him but we also got his beautiful sister Kira (who we lost last year aged 18.) Albert was named after Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert. His sister was named by my Swiss friend who placated my husband by telling him if we ever went back to live in Australia she would take Albert and Kira to live with her. As if that was going to happen! At hideous expense, my silver kitties flew to Australia in style when the time came. Wherever we’ve lived he’s made friends with the neighbors and has quite the fan club. He survived a serious car accident thanks to a cat-loving good samaritan who gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation (she covered mouth and nose as with an infant) and took him to the vet. In some quarters, I’m known more as Albert’s owner than any other accomplishment!
On New Year’s Eve my teenage daughter had a group of friends around and when we got home from dinner there was lots of loud music and laughter. Four tall, broad-shouldered, long-haired surfers were taking time taking time out on the sofa. I stopped to say hello, and found them clustered around Ancient Albert, gently stroking him. “This old cat is such a cool dude,” said one of them. I could only agree.
I’ve had my Prince Albert for such a big chunk of my life and I’m cherishing every minute I have with him…