My heart is broken. One half of the pussycat mafia that runs our house is no more. Cute Bute has gone to the great big soft cushion in the sky and we're missing her. Who'd have thought that such a small bundle of black and white fur would leave such an enormous space?
I know at over 17 years old, Bute had a long and very happy life. Bute's idea of bliss was to sit or lie in the sun until she could barely move or to sit on Ali's lap until his legs went numb. She was one of the sweetest cats you could ever meet, a real little lady with the cutest face and an endearing manner.
Originally from the Isle of Bute, Bute and her brother Kyle were rescue cats, brought home from a day trip to Rothesay in a cardboard vodka box. They were tiny, fitting into the palm of my hand, purring away. They spent almost their whole lives together, inseperable, but not always friends. One memorable time they were sitting by the open bathroom window. I heard a squeak; turned round to see Kyle had shoved her out the window. Luckily she was only one floor up and over a flower bed. Bute came in through that cat flap like a cat out of hell and sulked. Bute's sulks were profound but short lived.
The pussies settled into Stirling and even from her earliest days, Bute was tidy and neat. She got cleanliness and litter trays from the first time she saw them and always kept her long haired, silky coat pristine. Very rarely did Bute look less than immaculate, always photogenic; an Audrey Hepburn of a cat.
Timid and perpetually scared by anything new or unexpected, Bute spent a lot of her early years behind the settee or under the bedclothes, only venturing out when she knew I was alone. Her first time outdoors was memorable. Whilst her brother went charging off to explore the new world, Bute trod carefully, lifting each paw high into the air, trying to make sense of the springy grass. When a puff of wind blew, Bute jumped sky high; she always did have a good startle reflex that lasted her whole life.
Visitors frightened Bute, and not many people got to know her more than in retreat, sneaking out a door or under a chair; a tail disappearing through a doorway. For a lot of the time, Bute was just a lump under the bedclothes, where she felt invisible and safe. I always wondered what had happened to make her like that. But Bute loved Ali and Ben, she knew when they were about she was safe. Sitting on their laps was like a throne for Bute and she sat there and ruled the roost. A floozie, through and through.
In North Berwick Bute spent a lot of time on the windowsill soaking up the heat of the radiator or sun depending on the time of the year. She and Kyle were often to be found flat out in the sunshine in the conservatory, staggering into the shade like holiday makers on a Mediterranean beach. Bute's little face at the front window was a welcoming sight to see after a long hard day at work - she always looked like she was posing for a feline version of Vogue.
Bute loved broccoli, porridge, yogurt and of course tuna. For most of her life she didn't miaow, she gave a little 'eek'. It was only in her later years when she got a thyroid tumour that Bute began to sound like a normal cat. For her tiny size, she could let her views be known very forcibly indeed. As she got older, her hips went, but she could still spring into the air to sit on Ali's knee; right up to the end she was up for her cuddle.
Who would think that one small bundle of fur could leave such a hole in our hearts and so many happy memories? But that's what happens when a pussycat steals your heart.
I did a run for Bute yesterday. A lovely sunny early run up to WhiteCraigs and back. I cried a bit, I smiled a lot and I came to terms a little bit with things. When I came home, I was a bit further along my journey too.
Farewell Bute my little furry pal. Rest in peace.