Ellie - a long-haired tortoiseshell cat - was part of my life for a very long time. She joined me - aged about five years - and my other two cats and two dogs when her 'Mum' - my step-daughter, Rachel, could no longer keep her. 'One more won't make any difference,' I said, and I was right. Ellie slotted right in.
She brought me many 'presents' over the years, often abandoning live field mice in my living room and even, once, a baby robin.
One by one the other pets, sadly, went to meet their maker until she was an only cat - though there was always at least one rescue dog living with us. As she got older, Ellie became more of an indoor cat - enjoying her home comforts like a human lap, a cosy chair and a soft bed - though on a sunny day she would always be stretched out in the warm sunshine (just like her owner, really!).
Ellie often made appearances on my Facebook page - even helping me to publicise a new book once - and last year she was on there celebrating her 21st birthday with me and her other Mum providing a cake and candles. I had begun to think Ellie would live forever because, though she slowed down, she obviously still enjoyed her life - and her food!
Twenty-one years and ten months is an amazing age, but a month ago I had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go. It is a day that every loving pet owner dreads but recognises that it is the last thing - the right thing - you can do for the pet you have loved and cared for when quality of life is no more. I miss Ellie every day, but it comforts me to know that she never lived a day without love and the best care I could give her.