Our much-loved cat Monty died today.
He joined Rochelle and me at the beginning of 2006 when he was just a six-week-old kitten who had never been away from the rest of his litter. When we went to pick him out he stood out from his tabby siblings because of his distinctive black and white tuxedo markings and his amusing half-moustache.
It was immediately apparent to us that this kitten had an adventurous nature. While we were still deciding whether to take him, he made the decision for us by making a bee-line for the front door even though he’d never been outside, as if to say, ‘What are you waiting for? Let’s go!’ The people we got him from had called him Sylvester, but we decided to name him Monty, short for Montgomery Horatio Scoones.
We got Monty as a companion for our other tuxedo cat, Chester, whom we’d had for many years. Chester was elderly and wasn’t expected to last much longer, but he hung in there, and the pair had two years together before Chester died in April 2008; coincidentally, ten years ago this month. In Chester’s absence, Monty soon asserted himself as the ‘alpha cat’ of our neighbourhood, and befriended or bested every other feline in the vicinity.
We later acquired two female kittens to keep Monty company but these free-spirited young cats were barely tolerated by him, and the threesome took quite some time to work out how to share the same house.
Monty had so much personality and was hugely affectionate. He would immediately rub up against most human visitors and demand to be petted, even complete strangers.
He loved to go for walks around the block. He never wore a collar or lead, he just happily trotted alongside us. When he got tired, he’d just flop down on the ground and was content to be carried the rest of the way.
Monty was a large, heavy cat with a corresponding appetite. His all-time favourite food was fresh beef heart. His hearing was keenly attuned to the exact sound made by the kitchen scissors as we cut the chunks of beef heart up for him. Even if he was roaming a neighbour’s property, he’d immediately come charging inside and demand to be fed. We had to be very careful never to use those scissors for anything else!
Over a year ago, Monty had surgery to remove cancer from the end of his nose. He initially seemed fine but complications later developed and our vet put him on medication. This kept him in good health for many months, but we were aware that he was on borrowed time.
His health rapidly declined in recent days and, after a particularly bad patch over the weekend, we realised with great sadness that it was time to let him go. We took him to the vet first thing this morning and he was peacefully put to sleep. We’ve buried him in a sunny patch in our garden alongside his old pal Chester.