I guess we should have realised that this day would come and, with the onset of winter, it seems in retrospect to be something for which we should have really been prepared. It's just one of those things that one doesn't particularly want to contemplate, no matter how inevitable it may be.
I know we shouldn't be surprised. We adopted Sammy a year and a half ago and he was over 16 then - in the intervening time he has not grown any younger, nor has his hearing improved.
This, then, is the lamentable outcome of adopting an old, deaf cat.
Oh, Sammy's fine. He's polishing off great bowls full of food and has bravely managed to overcome his distaste for the fairer sex by sleeping ever closer to me over the past six months until this week, he is actually sleeping in my face.
I have a handy hint for those of you with dry lips: don't use chapstick if your cat is sleeping in your face. Two words: Caterpillar Lips.
The upshot of all this hair in my nostrils is that I'm not sleeping brilliantly which means I spend a great deal of time lying very still (well, he is a Very Old Cat) listening to the sounds of our flat. Last night, this included the sound of the flat being chewed to pieces by what I have since confirmed as, by the size of it's little droppings, a mouse. A very loud mouse. A mouse which was yesterday having a gay old scramble across our wood floors followed by some vigourous chewing and then another scramble.
Now, most cats of my past aquaintance would at this point be wide awake, ears swivelling, planning their decimation of the enemy. Most cats, in fact, would merely need to inhabit an apartment to keep the mice behind enemy lines. Not Sammy however. No, Sammy was actually snoring. I prodded him awake and we lay there, him no doubt wearing his disgruntled face (I couldn't see in the dark but he was hunching his shoulders in a Very Meaningful Way) and me poking him at every scuttle. Did he perk up? Did he sniff the air meaningfully and emit a low growl? No. No no no. No, because our dearest darling Sammy is Too Deaf to hear a mouse and, I realised this morning after showing him The Evidence, he is probably also 'hard of smelling'. And, possibly, a little dim in the old eye department as well.
Poor old boy, he's a simply marvellous cat but absolutely bloody useless when it comes to warning off a mouse. I wonder, has there been a surveilance team of them under our floorboards rating Sammy under some sort of mouse threat assessment? 'This one is a zero, I repeat, zero, gnaw at will'. Have they really dismissed him as harmless? Or, is he, in fact the Dalai Lama of cats - fully aware that there are mice in the place but allowing them their mouse rights under a buddhist live-and-let-live policy?
Either way, we are going to have to get in some humane traps and let our little friends loose deep in the park where they pose no threat to the wiring. While we don't intentionally leave out any food which would otherwise attract them, we do have the cat's bowls, not to mention a two year old who stuffs half-eaten biscuits into the furniture so I suspect that now they've found us and our neutral cat, our little housemates are going to be disinclined to leave without a little prodding.
Bedtime now, I'll be the one with the ear plugs in and my finger in the cat's ribs.