Monday, January 11, 2021

Obituary for Chulo (2007 – 2021)


At 3.20pm on January 6, 2021, I had to put down my beloved cat Chulo. He had been very ill for over a year with multiple conditions. The vet was never able to fully determine what was wrong with him but he probably had some (or all) of the following – lymphoma, kidney failure, diabetes, thyroid issues, dementia. He had lost a lot of weight and went from being a 5kg fatty to a painfully thin 2.6kg.


Despite being incredibly aggressive and grumpy for most of his life, Chulo had a surprising number of fans. Countless people opened their hearts to Chulo (and were treated in disdain and/or contempt in return.) This is normal for cats but Chulo took it to new heights – lashing out in fury at the slightest provocation (stroking him for a second longer than required, trying to move him off the sofa or waking him up from a nap.) He frequently drew blood.


Early years

Chulo was found as a stray kitten by some dustbins in the school playground at Institut Benapres in Sitges, a small seaside resort near Barcelona. He was rescued by Daisy Taylor and brought home to live in a flat near Plaza Espana with Daisy’s mother Pip, two siblings and three dogs. It was a hectic environment and it’s unclear whether he enjoyed all the boisterous games which included “cat petanque”. In the summer of 2008, when he was about two years old, he came to stay with me and my flatmate Gabriel at a flat in Calle Isla de Cuba. Chulo seemed to relish the calm of his new home and it was some time before we realised that what he actually loved was access to a limitless supply of marijuana. Weed remained Chulo’s drug of choice for the rest of his life.


Life in Isla de Cuba

Isla de Cuba was a top floor flat giving Chulo the run of four roofs and terraces. He liked the view and spent most of his time hanging out on the front and back terraces smoking weed, sunbathing and catching the occasional bird or lizard. He adored Gabriel and continued to tolerate me.



Chulo was fat for most of his life with a distinctive low-slung underbelly. Sometime in 2010, Chulo’s vet said he was clinically obese and put him on a strict diet. He weighed 5kg, a monstrous size for a Sitges rescue cat. I followed the diet rigorously and was excited when Chulo went to be reweighed the following year. There just had to be progress after 12 months of eating the cat-equivalent of lettuce. In fact, Chulo had only lost 100g – about the same as missing a meal.


Cats have seven lives

In 2011, Chulo went missing. As I lived on the top floor and there were very few places Chulo could hide, the only viable theory was that he’d fallen from the balcony to the ground three floors below. At some point during this harrowing time, I went to the bank and burst into tears in front of Ramon, my favourite cashier. Ramon attempted to console me. “Don’t worry” he said, “cats have seven lives.” Ignoring the queues of people behind me (as usual), Ramon then spent some time debating this interesting cultural difference between the UK and Catalunya. (Footnote: we printed out a bunch of “missing cat” posters and did door-to-door house searches. After three traumatic days, Chulo was heard whining in the garden of a nearby hotel, totally unharmed.)


Chulo relocates

In 2013, Chulo and I moved to the UK. I flew BA while Chulo travelled in a truck with Animal Couriers. Chulo didn’t like the journey but he really liked living in Hove. After the confines of a few rooftops in Sitges, he now had his own garden, a huge and exciting hinterland, and a host of other cats to hate. He also loved my new flatmate Robbie.


In 2018, Robbie moved back to London and Marc moved in. Chulo adored Marc nearly as much as he’d adored Robbie. He continued to tolerate me.


Love of his life

Chulo always took to men way more than women. And absolutely everyone more than me. He adored all his male flatmates (Gabriel, Robbie and Marc) and, like most cats, was enthusiastic about suitcases, baskets and cardboard boxes. However, the real love of Chulo’s life was a rucksack belonging to our friend Neil. Chulo would roll around the floor with it for hours. In the last few months of his life, when lockdown meant he could no longer hang out with Neil’s rucksack, he struck up a tepid one-sided relationship with a rug which he liked to lie on and lick.


End of the road

By last summer, Chulo was pretty ill. Surgery to remove a tumour didn’t help and he started losing weight rapidly. Moving house was an additional aggravation. Chulo hated his new home and absolutely loathed next door’s adorably fluffy, friendly cat Arnie. He refused to make friends and howled persistently. In November, he rallied briefly but sadly it was only a brief remission and by the end of December, I knew he had very little time left. He went downhill rapidly on January 5 and was put to sleep on January 6.


Chulo’s grumpiness was his most distinctive characteristic but he was also pretty stupid. This made him endlessly entertaining and he made us laugh a lot. I’ll miss him so much but grateful I shared my life with such a hilarious and wonderful cat. RIP darling Chulo – and thank you.


Our last selfie