My mum and dad's cat had to be put to sleep last night. Poor old Patch. When I say "old" I really do mean old! We're not entirely sure of Patch's exact age, but I think he was around 22. For around 20 of those years he was missing a leg too.
Patch was actually our neighbours' cat, but he adopted us in the mid nineties when his owners got a second cat that he didn't approve of, even though there was already another cat in our house too. He spent so much time in my mum and dad's house that when his owners moved away a few years back, they thought it would be best if Patch just moved in with my parents officially, so he did. This was meant to be a temporary arrangement, something my mum brought up regularly even though she was very obviously delighted to have him around. Years later, we never heard a word from his original owners so he became a permanent fixture.
Patch never used to be so much of a people cat, but he got more and more affectionate as he got older. In his later years, he loved sitting on my mum's lap or being stroked by the fire. He lost his front leg after he was hit by a car while out hunting, but he never let it stop him from doing anything he wanted. We even saw him hauling a rabbit he'd caught over our garden wall shortly after he'd recovered from the operation.
Apart from the missing leg, Patch's other distinguishing feature was a small nick out of one of his ears. I'm sure he liked to tell the other cats in the 'hood that he got this during a cat fight, but I happen to know he nicked it on a rose thorn while sunbathing outside my bedroom window when I was about 15.
He was a really lovely old cat, adventurous in his youth and homely in his twilight years as all good cats should be. I know my poor mum will miss him terribly, but I'm glad Dulcie got to meet him before he went.