When Paddy first appeared in the driveway of my family home some time in 2005, he was so skinny and weak he could barely stay upright while eating. Although my mother had been the one who initially spotted him and started feeding him, over time he became my father’s cat. Soon, my ordinarily undemonstrative father would often be overheard cooing so loudly and embarrassingly over Paddo, Paddyboy, Boy Boy or whatever other variation he felt like on a given day that it would have been stomach-turning if I hadn’t been so endeared.
I don’t have many good photos of Paddy. The fight scars (which he thankfully stopped racking up once we got him neutered) meant he wasn’t much of a looker. But the more challenging problem was that every time I would stoop with my camera to try and get a photo at ground level, he would charge at me for snuggles. I only managed to get this shot by leaping to my feet and stretching my camera arm out, pointing the camera back down towards where Paddy was still intent on getting cat hair all over my orange pants.
On 2 July, 2013, my father came home from work to find his Paddyboy dead in the road. Paddy had always seemed fine as an outdoor cat, which is one of the reasons he had never been taken into the house, but unfortunately he must have been no match for one of the many drivers who see fit to tear along that road as if it’s a main road (even though it is in fact a small road very near a primary school).
Paddy had ruled his little slate-tiled kingdom with a benevolence that belied his physical ability to crush most of the other cats who wandered in and out. He loved lounging on the car roof, and we used to joke about the caving-in which seemed inevitable some day. These days when I visit my family home I imagine an invisible dent on that car roof, as if to pretend he is still with us.