Growing up, my childhood cat Honeybun was a big part of my life. She was so affectionate and always greeted me when I came home. Her loss affected me massively when she passed away in February last year. I loved her throughout her whole life, but she was particularly sweet in her later years. I thought to myself: when I have my own place, I’ll adopt old cats to make sure they don’t stay in cages at the end of their life.
Last summer, I finally got my own flat in London and was ready to adopt. I came across a cat named Flossie through Cats Protection, a charity dedicated to rescuing and rehoming stray, unwanted or homeless animals. The website said she was a 27-year-old tortoiseshell. At the time, I thought it was an error and that she must be 17. Cats Protection told me she was still available to adopt and that no, she was in fact 27, the same age as me. It is weird to think that Flossie and I were born in the same year.
When I adopted her, I thought she’d only have a few months left, but felt comforted by the fact that she’d at least spend them in a nice, warm flat, be fed well and get treats as well as a comfy bed. I wanted her to roam around and get the attention she deserved. To my surprise, I’ve had her for over a year now and she’s still going strong. Her birthday is 29 December, so she has just turned 28.
Flossie is a small indoor cat who always wants attention. She’s very friendly and will sit on anyone’s lap straight away. The balcony is her sanctuary, especially when it’s sunny. Though we’re the same age, she’s still my baby. She’s my child, my best friend, my family. I come home and she’s always there.
She has her routine: waking up and loudly meowing at six in the morning for her breakfast, going for a nap, waking up again for some afternoon snacks and then having more naps. There are a few special toys she likes to play with. As soon as I get into bed, she climbs on my chest and then falls asleep on my lap. After a little nap on me, she’ll move down near my feet for the rest of the night.
I think she’s lived so long primarily due to luck, and because she was loved by her previous owners. She does have a special diet now, but she’s still very active – as active as you can be at her age. I bought her little stairs to get up on the sofa, but she hasn’t used them at all; she still jumps everywhere.
I found out Flossie was the world’s oldest living cat when someone from Cats Protection later messaged me to say that they thought she might be. They had received vet’s records confirming she was actually born in December 1995.
I was surprised, but didn’t think it would be as big a deal as it turned out to be. Guinness World Records came around to take pictures. A week later, pictures of me and Flossie were everywhere, and resulted in some lovely responses. A gentleman painted a picture of Flossie and sent it to Cats Protection, who forwarded it to me; he included a little toy mouse and some treats too.
One of the most surreal and special moments was sitting on the sofa with Flossie and watching ourselves on TV. Obviously, she had no clue what was going on, but it was fun to sit next to her and think, “That’s us on there!” I also made a speech at the Cats Protection awards ceremony in her honour – another thing I never thought I’d do. I told the audience it was heartwarming to know that more senior cats aren’t being overlooked, and have nice retirement homes to go to.
There are, of course, challenges to having an ageing cat; not only is she deaf, but she is also partially sighted. Yet she’s been so easy to look after.
The biggest difficulty is dealing with the fact that there may soon come a time when she passes. I’m in denial about that. I look at her and just think she doesn’t look old at all. Yet who knows? She could well be on the way to becoming the oldest cat in history. Though even if she doesn’t break the current record of 38 years and three days, at least I’ll know she had a great retirement home.
As told to Diyora Shadijanova
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