And now she's dead.
At the time she was born, we were drowning in kittens and cats. I had upwards of twenty for a short period. Some ran off on great adventures. Some grew sick and died. Some were hit by cars. The number dwindled and the fewer there were, the more I needed those that remained. Once I needed two tables' space to feed my cats. Now it's down to five bowls, and technically two of those are for dogs.
Pete was, in my humble and now inaccurate opinion, doing fine until a couple of days ago. She'd had three trips to the vet - once to be desexed, once to have her teeth removed cause they were infected, and once to check her congenital sniffle was nothing to worry about. The other week she climbed up onto my chest and explosively sneezed all over my glasses. She won't do that any more. And, honestly, I didn't mind.
The thing is, she was one of the unsung cats. She didn't have a huge personality, she was one of the in betweens. The Rory Williams of cats. Her mother, Vila, was a demented, senile fun-loving protector; her uncle Jacko has been stuck in his first childhood for most of Matt Smith's lifetime; her brother Malory has an origin story worthy of most superheroes; and her sister NB, well, she's my cat and quite possibly my best friend. Pete was used to being pushed around, told off, and never quite understood the "retract thy claws when on a lap" rule. But she did her best to make sure we were all right. She stood vigil, kept us company, reminded us when it was seven o'clock and time to turn over to Doctor Who.
I lived with her for over fourteen years. And then she got sick, I took her to the vet, and five minutes after we left her, she just died. I wanted it to be at home, in the garden and sunshine. I didn't want to take her away and take her to the vet, away from her home and family for the last time. She seemed to be getting better - she was keeping quite mobile and, as was her want, going out into the garden to drink rain water that had filtered through plants. Even in the bleakest, most worst case scenario, I was sure she'd last until we decided whether or not to try and operate on her or put her down.
I thought - I swear I thought - I'd get to say goodbye.
But selfless, generous Pete, decided not to bother. The moment we left her at the vet's, she just turned herself off. The vet couldn't believe it and rang me up, half expecting me to rant and accuse her of poisoning my cat. They don't normally drop dead like that, you see. It's quite rare.
And now I have to live in a Pete-less world. It's quite lonely. No redeeming features, so far.
So here are some photos of the friend I can't turn to any more.
Malory, Pete and Frodo admire the sunshine from the TARDIS doorway.
Pete keeps vigil over my dog, Dogrooter, when he was feeling sick.
The blue-eyed Rat keeps Pete and Dogrooter company.
Pete plays mirrors with her uncle Jacko, since they actually had the exact same markings.
Pete indulges in her one vice - drinking rainwater sieved through potplants.
Pete gives her paparazzi a disapproving look.
I'd give anything to have her back.