As I said, given that he can no longer write himself, I'll now be putting up stories of the ridiculous things Bruce did / the situations he got himself into: a kind of homage to him.
Some of you might find this boring, even irritating, but I think 'cat people' and animal lovers in general might like it. Worst case, it's free therapy for me - remembering him - and for my ex-partner, who I shared him with for quite some time.
Nearly all pet owners will say that their pet is 'unique', a one-off. With Bruce I would say the same, but I can back this up. I can honestly say, certainly in relation to the story that follows, I know no other cat that got himself into the pickles that Bruce did!
Before I start, I should tell you that Bruce was originally bought to be an 'indoor cat' (he was bought from a rescue centre. His previous owners had lived in a 2nd floor flat, so he'd never known the outside world). This story is what convinced us that he just wasn't destined to stay inside:
It was a Saturday morning, after a hard working week, and my ex (Sal) and I were in that weekend lie-in haze (I think it was around 10.30).
We were just deciding if we could be arsed to get up yet, and what to have for breakfast, when we heard a faint 'miaow'.
We hadn't had Bruce that long, so were still always aware of where he was, or where he might be, in our flat.
What was odd was that the miaow seemed to come from our bedroom, yet it was incredibly faint. Our bedroom was a decent size, but not that big. At most he could only have been 2 feet away from us, or maybe under the bed. The miaow should've been a lot louder if he was actually in the room.
We did think that he might be trapped in the wardrobe, even though the heavy doors were closed when we went to bed. We checked, but he wasn't in there.
A few more miaows followed; all, still, very faint.
We started to check the rest of the flat; in the hallway, in the lounge, under sofas, behind the TV/DVD stand, in the bathroom , in the kitchen, behind the fridge, in the washing machine (just in case!), we even checked inside the kitchen cupboards!
There was absolutely no sign of him, yet we'd checked everywhere he could possibly be.
Still, we'd hear a faint miaow every so often.
Then we wondered if there was some kind of hole/gap in the flat that we didn't know of, and maybe he'd sneaked outside... cue movement of the washing machine away from the wall, checking the back of cupboards etc.
Nope: there was no way out for him.
By now we were baffled, and a bit worried. We stood, in the bedroom, both rubbing our heads in concern and confusion.
Then we heard another miaow.... and both cast our eyes upwards.
We listened again, to be sure: the miaowing was coming from the ceiling above our bed!
We both couldn't believe it - it wouldn't make sense - so I stood on the bed, craned my neck up to the ceiling, and cupped my hand round my ear, to listen.
Sure enough, the next miaow confirmed that - somehow - Bruce was stuck in the ceiling.
But how?? How on earth does a cat get into the ceiling of a flat??
Having confirmed his bizarre whereabouts, we now had a problem: how on earth were we going to get him out of there?
What followed was probably the most ridiculous row I've ever had with another human:
Sal: we've got to get him out of there!
Sal: I don't know, we've got to get through the ceiling maybe...
Me: we're not breaking down the ceiling.
Sal: well, what do you want to do? Leave him up there?
Me: Can you afford to pay for a new ceiling?! How do we call up Angie and Kris (our landlords) and explain to them that we smashed the ceiling down?!
Sal: Well, what do you want to do? leave him up there to starve?!
Me: oh, I don't know!
Obviously smashing down the ceiling wasn't the best option, if it could be avoided, so we had to think a) how'd he'd got up there b) how we get him down.
the problem was, we couldn't figure it out. We just sat on the sofa for a couple of hours, worried, listening out for miaows, and feeling guilty every time we heard them.
In our little hallway was an understairs cupboard (as in, it was under the stairs that led to the separate top-floor flat). We'd had a look in here, earlier, so knew Bruce wasn't in there.
Around the handles of the double cupboard doors hung a gong, that I'd bought when travelling in Thailand.
All of a sudden - while we were still fretting on the sofa - there was a loud 'clang!', and we looked to see that the gong had fallen to the floor.
The cupboard doors were also pushing outwards slighly, and we could hear miaowing from behind them. We both sprinted and pulled open the doors, to find Bruce - grey with dust, and with cobwebs in his whiskers - standing on a suitcase!
He gave one of his innocent little miaows, as if to say 'what? what've I done?'
Sal grabbed him and gave him a massive hug, and I started pulling the cobwebs off his whiskers. We were both incredibly relieved.
Bruce was completely indifferent and didn't what all the fuss was about.
I went into the cupboard and chucked all of the suitcases (and general sh*t that we stored in there) into the hall. Finally, looking into the back, near the gas meter, I could see a hole in the floorboards where Bruce had come back up into the flat.
This didn't explain how he got into the ceiling in the first place though. Bruce couldn't have opened the cupboard doors, with his paws, as the gong was still around the handles before his return: it was a mystery.
Over the next week or so he still disappeared into the walls and ceiling of the flat, but we weren't so worried now we knew he could get back again.
It was just good timing that allowed me to find out, finally, how he was getting into the 'inside' of the flat. I walked into the kitchen, one evening, and saw - just under the cupboards, that hung above the worktops, in the corner - a pair of furry, black hind legs about to disappear upwards!
Just in time, I managed to grab the lower half of Bruce's body - he was only a skinny little thing - and pull him downwards.
He looked a little miffed, but accepted his fate as I retrieved him from the gap he was climbing into. I plonked him on the floor and wagged my finger at him, to say 'no'.
As with most cats when they're told off, he affected boredom and started cleaning one of his paws.
In wonder, I looked up underneath the kitchen cupboards, to discover a huge gap that went upwards and into a shiny, foil, cylindrical vent. That's where he was going, to get himself up into the ceiling, and then the walls, of the flat! The little bugger!
We didn't want him to keep going in there as we didn't know how dangerous it was (if he'd chew through wires, or fall down somewhere etc), so we got our landlord to fit a piece of wood over the gap.
From this point onwards, we realised that Bruce was just too active and curious - and too much of a menace! - to be kept indoors: it would've been cruel.
So out he went, although his first time outdoors was an unexpected adventure too...
*Bruce sitting near the offending cupboard. I think wrapping him up in feathers may have been revenge!