Friday, June 25, 2010


Our cat Olga died in my arms a couple of days ago. She was 20. In people years. Which is pretty amazing for a cat. It was a particularly poignant moment for me because I saw Olga being born...

When Medina and I first moved in together 20 years ago, we sub-letted a little flat in Chelsea Village, Wynberg. We were both at varsity and it was a pretty dilapidated abode a far cry from the renovated twee perfection that Chelsea is now. Anyway, with the place came a semi-feral feline who, within a week of us moving in promptly gave birth to a litter of kittens. I woke up at 2am one morning, went through to the living room and there she was in the process of giving birth. Olga was the first to be born and the one we decided to keep. Her coat was a swirl of black and orange, and right from the get-go Olg displayed a level of self confidence that was particularly appealing.

I was never much of a cat person at all, and Olg's penchant for doing her own thing fitted in well with my "just don't bother me too much and we'll be fine" attitude. Olg grew up enjoying outside way more than inside and spent most of her active adult life keeping a firm check on the local pigeon, rat, mice, and squirrel population in Chelsea, Green Point and Tamboerskloof as Medina and I moved house over the next 15 years.

Even I had to admit over those years that Olg was a magnificent example of a cat. Proud, independent, a fearsome hunter and protector of our home from other feline marauders.

She slowed down gradually over the last 5 years and enjoyed her retirement as a much loved and pampered pet to our 7 year-old daughter Holly. Things went downhill quite sharply over the last few months as arthritis in her hips prevented her from moving around too much and by the end of last week, it was clear her days left with us were few. By Tuesday both her front and back legs had given in, she was no longer able to digest food and was clearly in a very confused fog. The dreaded call to our vet was made.

Sitting in our kitchen with Olg in my arms, bathed in her favourite morning sunbeam, the vet administered the injection and Olg passed.

Much tears all around.

Olga was with Medina and I from the beginning. She taught us some pretty valuable parenting skills and she was there when Holly joined the family. She'll be missed.

What a great, great cat.