If you’re an animal lover then I suspect you’ll fully understand the following. If you’ve never had a family pet but have an understanding of the unique relationship that we share with animals then I know you’ll empathise. My little cat Puppin was born on 1st May 1999 along with his twin Rumpty. They were kittens that had been placed into the hands of a cat sanctuary in Kettering who were looking to find homes for them via an article in the Evening Telegraph. The headline read, ‘Smitten By A Mitten Kitten’, a reference to Puppin’s unusual physical characteristic of an extra ‘toe’ on each of his two front paws. This curious trait identified him immediately as a Polydactyl cat. Bizarre adverts depicting fictitious cats opening doors and tins of cat food with the added advantage of opposable thumbs is not actually that far fetched: well, certainly in appearance. In reality, of course, it remains fanciful. The Polydactyl has had many nick-names for many years. Boxing cats, mitten cats, mitten-foot cats, snowshoe cats, thumb cats, six-fingered cats, Cardi-cats, Hemingway cats, and double-pawed cats. The author Ernest Hemmingway was said to have been given a six-toed cat by the captain of a ship, which began his fascination with the Polydactyl leading to his own breeding passion. When Hemmingway died in 1961, his home in the Florida Keys became a museum to his catalogue of work and a permanent home for his beloved ‘Hemmingway’ cats, the descendants of which can still be seen to this day lolling around the grounds. On 1st May this year Puppin became a teenager. I know it sounds silly for a rational person to talk in such terms, after all, to my knowledge, there is no other creature other than human beings that have any perception of ‘time’, though it is said that one year in a dogs life should be multiplied by seven in order to get a rough idea of their actual age in terms that we might understand. I have no parallel gauge for the life of a cat. Ten days ago I began to notice that Puppin was not eating with his usual, normal enthusiasm. I tried everything I could possibly think of to rekindle his usually veracious appetite, all to little effect. His coat began to lose its usual sheen. His rapid loss of weight was astonishing and eventually, after trying my instinctive utmost, I called the vet for an appointment. It was far more serious than I’d thought. The vet took just two minutes to give me his diagnosis and prognosis. Puppin died on Saturday 28th July 2012. Throughout those years he has given me so much pleasure and has never once told me a lie. I shall miss him forever. My thanks to everyone at the Rutland Veterinary Centre in Uppingham and to my dear friend Fiona Lovell for being with me as I buried that beautiful creature. I’m off to bed now to feel sorry for myself: yet again!