Bitten by a bullying tom when tiny, Beano had gone missing on a freezing January night when only 6 months old. A canvass of the neighbourhood led to whoever had taken him in letting him out, and he appeared warm and fed at my bedside at 2.30 am.
At 2, his normal cheery nature disappeared, and a vet check showed that he had a crumpled shoulder blade, probably from the womb. Steroids built up his muscles, and he became a sturdy young adult cat. Beano did all the normal cat stuff, only more so. Always a good hunter, a neighbour spotted him 30 foot up a tree creeping towards the fragile-looking end of a branch in pursuit of a bird.
When he was 4, Beano developed a problem with his right eye. It had to be removed, and tests showed that it was a neurofibroma, which meant it was isolated and unlikely to have spread.
Having only one eye did not deter him from hunting, as many a hapless bird or mouse discovered. He would always run from the camera, however. I think the flash might have made him think his remaining eye was having problems. So I don't have as many pictures of him as I would like.
A few years ago Beano had his second published adventure, when he went missing for four days over the new year. My canvass turned up nothing at first, and I was resigned to the fact that he was probably roadkill somewhere. I just hoped he wasn't lying injured and in pain. On the fourth day I got a phone call from some people in the next street who thought they had him behind their sofa. He'd only announced himself when he left them a calling card at the top of the stairs. While they were in, he hid, while they were out, he obviously drank and fed - he was neither hungry nor dehydrated when I got him home.
In 2004 Beano lost his zest gain. The white tip of his tail was no longer waving like a banner, and he seemed depressed. An x-ray revealed no injury, but over the years his spine has shown signs of nerve damage, and he has become less and less able to walk comfortably. Recently he had become doubly incontinent. My house smells like a urinal. People who don't like it can keep away. Beano's the important one.
He'd also been worrying at his mouth when eating, and when he had his latest check-up at the vet's last week, they found a lump. On Monday they removed it, tested his kidneys and thyroid, and sent the lump off for analysis. His organs tested as fine, and I was waiting for the biopsy results to come back. Once back from the vet's Beano was on great form (though I was over £500 poorer. Worth it though. I thought so, anyway.)
But last night, he suddenly got off my lap with a cough. I waited for it to go, but it didn't. After a while, I called the emergency vet's. But I've lost a cat to that practice before, and I wasn't even sure he was strong enough to make it. So I stayed with him into the small hours as he gasped for breath, trying to help him to get comfortable. At 4.30 am he lost his brave fight for life. My beautiful, unique boy is gone. He was 17.
Beautiful Beano, Essence of Cat