Chester and Soli
Alex and I had both grown up with cats, so when we moved into our first home and got married, the natural next step seemed to be to get a cat or two — "It’ll be good practice for when we have kids!” I said. Little did I know I’d be pregnant with the first of those kids within a month of taking on our cats.
In 2004 we signed up with CLAWS and soon there was a call saying there were two ginger brothers up for adoption. We went to meet them and their brother Sparkie, and were soon captivated. They were shy of us of course — Joy and her family were the only humans they’d known — but we could see they had personality. In fact, they had so much personality, poor Sparkie was getting a bit of a hard time. But I later learnt that he settled down nicely after they left, and stayed with Joy permanently.
For the first couple of days, they refused to come out from behind the sofa, so we gave them their meals there. But on day 3, I decided enough was enough, and tempted them out with some ham. After that, there was no stopping them — they were everywhere — and after a month or so, we started letting them go outside.
Chester (all ginger) and Soli (ginger and white) were big boys and incredibly loving, shattering the stereotype of cats being snooty or aloof. For the first few years, Soli wouldn’t sit on anyone’s lap, preferring to snuggle up next to me, while Chester would sit on anyone who sat down for more than 5 seconds. Eventually, Soli became a lap cat too, and I spent many a winter night with them both stretched out on me like one very heavy, ginger blanket.
They were pretty contented most of the time and although they killed the odd mouse, weren’t really hunters, preferring instead to eat, sleep and stretch. One time though, I heard a terrible racket in the garden and when I went to investigate, I found Chester very carefully making his way down the bay tree with a whole nest of baby birds in his mouth. He got grounded for that !
They used up a few of their nine lives between them. Both cats jumped from first floor windows onto the patio, but they only did it once of course. Chester came off worse, needing a trip to the vets and some good painkillers. Another time, I found Soli spread out on the floor looking in a bad way. I feared the worse, but he was right as rain after an expensive trip to the vets and a dose of Metacam.
As they reached their teens, we recognised they wouldn’t be around forever, but still thought we had a good five years or so left. It wasn’t to be, though. Soli died suddenly on Harry and Meghan’s wedding day in May 2018. It was a breezy day, and we think he got clipped by a slamming door. It had been tied open, but a sudden gust must have been too much for the rope. I found him in a very bad way in the garden when he inexplicably missed his dinner, and rushed him to the vets, but they called me in the early hours of the morning to say "Goodbye” to him. It was a terrible shock for him to be fine one minute and not the next, and we were all devastated.
Chester mostly took it in his stride, as cats do, but he took to crying at night and sometimes when he wouldn’t come in at night, I’d find him gazing at the spot where he last saw Soli. I would have to carry him in, then he would carry on as normal.
Chester was always frightened of fireworks, and would wee all over the house during firework season, so we would keep him indoors and try to keep him calm. However, on 4th October 2019, he was startled by a particularly loud firework close to the house and came racing back through the cat flap. He settled down on Alex’s lap for the evening and seemed fine, but when he got up to go to the kitchen, he collapsed in the hall and died a few minutes later.
We are all heartbroken to have lost our lovely boys, who we thought would be around for a few years yet, but we are so incredibly grateful to have had them in our lives.
Thank you so much for all the good work you do.