Memorial to our Beloved Cat, Albert.

Between 1983&1985 - 28 March 2004

I would like to introduce you to our cat. It's mostly a celebration of his life and a little in the way of mourning his passing.

This is a photo of Albert in his younger years (1993):-

And in 1997.

In common with all cats, he needed more than one name. His full name was Teddy Albert Winston. The 'Albert' of his name was appropriate during his normal incompetent blundering about, 'Winston' for when he got all haughty with us and 'Teddy' for when he snuggled up happily against us.

This page is divided up into a few sections:-

Early Years
Cat Jokes
Poser Cat Texture
Last Word

Early Years

Albert wandered into Tracy's life in May 1990, about two months before I did. He had been abandoned six weeks before then, along with two other cats and left to fend for himself. He slowly worked his way down the gardens along the road, and after six weeks he was in a terrible state. He had several abscesses, festering bald patches and was as thin as a rake. Tracy took pity on him, fed him and gradually persuaded him that not all humans were evil. After this, it was off down the vet's for castration and an enormous dose of antibiotics. Strangely enough, he always hated vets after his castration, and always attempted to take large chunks out of them whenever he could.

Albert was an adult at this time, and was aged by the vet as being between 5 and 7 years old. So, when he died at 11.30 am on Sunday 28 March 2004, he was between 19 and 21. A good life for a stray who couldn't have lasted more than a couple of weeks when he invited himself into Tracy's life.

When Tracy & I got married in March 1991, Albert came with Tracy and the two of them moved into my hovel. I had some strange ideas about cats at the time (they were not permitted in the bedroom, should do what they're told & things like that), and was broken of all my odd ideas by the end of the first week. Particularly when Albert decided he liked me and, at 2 am, climbed into bed next to me purring hard, pretending to be a teddy bear, head on the pillow, body under the covers. That had me converted into a genuine cat lover, and he had me wrapped around his little claw thereafter.

Tracy & I moved into our next house in 1992, it was a tip. An elderly lady had owned it, and died leaving 13 cats - one of which was too wild to be caught, so we took him over. We often claim we bought a cat and got a house thrown in for free. This little Tom Cat, called 'Little One', took to Albert and became his sidekick as the two of them trotted around in a little gang. Both cats supervised every stage of the modernisation of our house, and frequently inspected the quality of our work at just the wrong moment - leading to footprints in new concrete or whiskers stuck in the paint. Little One was a tiny tabby, nearly 3" (75mm) shorter than Albert at the shoulder. His portrait is below:-

Little One wanted - desperately - to be an indoor cat, but could never quite overcome his feral upbringing. As a result, he loitered in a small house near the backdoor that we made for him, and popped in whenever the door was open. I think it was one of the main reasons for Little One & Albert's friendship - Little One wanted to be like Albert, but presented no competition.

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Albert was a true scruff bag. He was so self confident that he felt no need to preen like many cats. Washing consisted of licking one patch of fur until it became saturated, then giving up for the day. In other things he was equally incompetent too. He was frightened of birds, frogs, guinea pigs, gerbils and toads (all of which he encountered living wild in our garden - and he ran from them). He was quite capable of falling out of trees, and was frightened of heights. What a cat!
However, he was THE BOSS. German Shepherd dogs retreated from him, and other cats fled for their lives at the sight of him. When at his prime he weighed 16 pounds (7.25 kg), all muscle and arrogantly superior Tom Cat. If you've read Terry Pratchett, 'Greebo' in the book 'Witches Abroad' is the closest I've come across to his character in literature. He reeked of self confidence.. so much so I'm half convinced Terry Pratchett knew Albert.

Shortly after we were married, at about 1am, Tracy & I were woken up by a crunching noise in our bedroom. Not knowing what it was, on went the light and there Albert was, at the foot of our bed. He was gnawing at a half frozen chicken leg he'd stolen from someone's kitchen. This was by no means the last time he stole food. One year he came back with a rack of lamb so hot he could barely hold it in his jaws. Another time he swiped a sausage from a barbeque.. We never asked around to find out who was missing something - too dangerous by far!

Albert and the Christmas Turkey
Albert was never allowed to have our food. So, when we had our first Christmas dinner and gave him some hot turkey straight off the carcase he couldn't quite believe his luck. He just looked from us to the Turkey in his food bowl and back without touching it. However, when we opened the back door to give Little One some turkey as well, Albert grabbed all the meat in his bowl and shot out of the back door before bolting the meat in the middle of the lawn.

One summer, 1995 maybe, Albert was lying in the garden snoozing in his favourite spot (we buried him there when he died). A frog jumped on him. Instantly he turned into a vertical take-off cat, jumped up four feet (1.2m) and fled into the house as a black and white blur. It took him a couple of days to nerve himself up into going out again.

Albert was a very well house trained cat. To the extent that, if we put him out for the day, he wouldn't go to the toilet outside and would be desperate by the time we came home from work. He would rush to the dirt tray and sigh loudly as he relieved himself.

When it rained Albert was not the world's most sensible cat. He used to sit in the middle of the lawn and object, LOUDLY, rather than do the sensible thing and get under cover. At the end of the day, if wet, he'd sit swearing at us for a good five minutes while he told us exactly what he thought of us, our ancestors and all our future descendants. Having got that off his chest, he'd come over and snuggle (damply) up to us.

One year Albert cornered an intruding cat near the house and started to beat the living daylights out of it. When we opened the back door to find the cause of the noise the intruder fled down the garden, getting knocked over several times before reaching the 6ft [1.8m] fence, which it cleared in one terrified jump. Albert took one last swing at the intruder and missed - hitting the fence post with a powerful blow - and trotted back up the garden on proud tip toes. He had WON, the ENEMY was DEFEATED. He was TOP CAT. (Yes, cats do think in capitals in that sort of situation!) There was blood on his paw, but as he wasn't bothered, neither were we. Two days later we took him to the vet - he'd hit the fence so hard one of his claws had split lengthwise and his finger bone was poking out from the end of his toe. The force involved still makes me wince.

Our next-door neighbour had a vicious Alsatian-Doberman cross guard dog. People often crossed the road to avoid walking on the pavement in front of his house and we often heard screams from people frightened or suprised by it - the dog was that scary even through an iron barred gate. Not for Albert though. He intimidated the dog so much it ran away when he jumped on the fence between the two gardens, and he even pushed the dog off its own food in our neighbour's own kitchen. Our neighbour, laughingly, often told us when he'd had to shoo Albert off to allow his fierce dog to eat - having been alerted by pathetic whining.

Albert didn't get on with trees. Being scared of heights didn't help, of course. However, he often forgot that his claws only gripped one way - which meant that coming down a tree trunk head first (as he usually did) usually turned into a fall from the point at which the trunk turned vertical (at a height of about 5ft [1.5m] in our garden). Another occasion he was up in an old Lilac tree we have, with a big branch over the roof of an old shed. He started to scratch the branch so vigorously it waved about and threatened to drop him off. Response - given that he was only 8" [200mm] above the shed roof - was to put his ears back and hang on for grim death with all four legs wrapped around the branch.

I really cannot imagine a more lazy cat at times. He could never be bothered to take two steps if none would do. Before we changed the back gate to the garden we had a 5ft (1.5m) high gate. He'd jump up just high enough for his front claws to hook over the top and allow his body to spreadeagle itself on the gate with a great, cartoon like, splat. Then he'd walk his hind paws up the gate until he tetered on the top. Sometimes he'd fall off on the far side, and other times back the way he'd come. Useless cat! Once he had a sore paw from treading on a rose thorn, so his front legs wouldn't take the impact - and ended up breaking a canine tooth when his chin hit the ground.

Vets were Albert's pet hate. Once, with a sore front paw from fighting, we took him to the vet. The vet took his sore paw in her hand, so he decided to swipe her with his other front paw. It ended up with him going splat on his chin (again!) because nothing was holding his front half up.. Another occasion he got loose in the surgery and had everything off the shelves, broke numerous vials, urinated on the operating table, dropped fur everywhere and raked the vet's hands for good measure. After that visit he settled down a bit at the vet's as he couldn't top that chaos.

On 25 March 2004 a pidgeon dropped down the chimney and flew about the house leaving soot and bird droppings everywhere. Albert (and our other indoor cat 'Dinky') cowered in the kitchen away from it.. Some hunter! On another occasion he was scolded by a Thrush. So, being a timid soul for everything other than cats or dogs, he ran away and tried to hide behind the 0.5" (1cm) diameter stem of a flowering onion. He even peeked his head out on each side at the Thrush. Pea brained, or what? When a Guinea Pig, and years later a Gerbil, lived in the bottom of the garden our Albert fled from the rodents like the very devil was after him.

Fish pond.
Oh yes, the fish pond.
We dug a pond after arriving at our current house. Albert hated the water, so ignored it. He liked sitting at the side of the pond though. With his tail resting on the surface of the water, so it flicked water over him when he stood up - causing him to panic and run from the monster throwing water at him.. Then there was the occasion when a Mirror Koi tried to eat the end of his tail.. He didn't so much run away as disappear from the pond and re-appear upstairs as if he'd used a Star Trek style transporter to avoid the intervening space.

When the kids arrived, Albert didn't show a single spark of jealousy (whatever you hear about cats). He accepted them without a murmur and often tried to share my lap when I did bottle feeding. When the children became too big, he just leant on me purring happily as the children got fed. When our oldest daughter grew big enough not to wriggle all the time (aged 5 or so), he took to draping himself over her lap when he could. He thoroughly enjoyed keeping our 'Kittens' in line.

Albert didn't often try to steal food in our kitchen, mostly - I think - because it was all too much effort to jump up on the kitchen worktop. One memorable occasion occurred when we had a couple of cat food tins waiting to be washed out prior to recycling. He obviously dipped a paw in each to find if there was anything of interest in them. Unfortunately for him, a tin of white spirit paintbrush cleaner was next to the tins and it soaked his paw with stinking fluid. The first we knew of it was hearing Albert rush from the kitchen into the living room and stop. The smell then got too strong for him there and he rushed upstairs, waited, rushed into our room, waited and the galloped out. We eventually caught him and washed his paw in washing-up liquid. It was years before he went up on the side again.

After Little One died of old age at 21 years old we got a new, younger cat to replace him. This new cat was called Heather - a mere stripling at 14. Anyway she was an indoor cat, and Albert got a little territorial - scent marking in the house (Yuk!). One morning I was late for work, rushed into the hall, put my shoes on and SPLASH. I found, the unpleasant way, his latest scent marking. In my shoe.. I dashed off to work yelling that I'd kill him when I came back. I didn't, of course. After a couple of months Heather & Albert came to an understanding and tolerated each other until Heather died of cancer at age 15 years, 6 months in December 2003.

During all his life with us, when Tracy & I sat next to each other on the sofa, Albert would lie down on one lap and stretch out a paw to the other of us as if to say 'Mine' with a deep purr that shook his whole body.

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Cat Jokes

Here are a couple of cat jokes that Albert inspired me to come up with (OK, so I'm not a great joke smith, but they are all my own invention):-

Q: What do you say when you have a happy cat on your lap?
A: I have Purr-Puss in life.

Q: What do you call two friendly cats?
A: Block Cat-i-pals

Q: What are lots of dirty cat trays called?
A: Multi Purr-Puss compost.

A joke from my eldest daughter:-

Q: What do you call a high speed cat?
A: A Cattypault

And a joke from a colleage at work who (despite the joke below) does love cats:-

Q: How do you make a cat go Woof?
A: Cover it in petrol & torch it!

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Poser Cat Texture

I have made up an 'Albert' Texture for the 'Poser Cat', to enable you (with the aid of Poser 3, 4 or 5) to make a 3D model of Albert. The texture is as accurate as I can get.. Just right click over the image and select the 'Save Picture As' option. The texture is shown at just over half scale in the box below. I have never been able to force the Poser Cat into a shape like Albert's, so there is no morph target to download.

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Last Word

All in all, there is a cat shaped hole in our lives now that he's gone. Both Tracy & I miss him desperately. We both know that he used up many more than his normal allocation of 9 lives - however, those he had weren't enough to reward him for the happiness, love and laughter he brought into our lives.

Next time you have a glass of milk, please raise it briefly in honour of a wonderful puss.

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