My recent Facebook update, indicating that I am somewhat more intelligent than my cat, has drawn a number of comments, and I am reminded just how many Liberal Democrats are 'cat people'.
It's been a difficult year for the feline element of the family, with Victoria dying from cancer, Franklin from old age aggravated by a meeting of my Local Party Executive, and then Eleanor from renal failure. They had all had a pretty good innings, so to speak, all of them making it to the cat equivalent of their eighties, but it has been something of a blow nonetheless.
I'm left with Cincinnati, a big orange and white bruiser of a cat (at least, he looks like one yet is a gentle soul at heart) and Katherine, who has suddenly given up her Greta Garbo approach to the world to become affectionate and demanding. Cincinnati is struggling a bit with the sudden lack of company, and has become more clingy in recent months.
Ros has been thrust into a world of cat fur, litter trays and 'cat food breath' and I have to say that she has borne this new world with surprising equanimity. However, the impact of two cats plus a cleaner is far less than that of five cats, and I have noticed that the house is easier to manage than it was.
Given the age of Cincinnati (15) and Katherine (16), they aren't going to be around forever, and I've already decided that our lifestyle is ill-suited to pets, so they won't be replaced, but I admit to a sense of foreboding about their age. Cincinnati, particularly, has been a major feature in my life, with his loud, reassuring purr and his sense of ownership over me.
Nobody ever said that pet ownership would be so emotionally testing...