This coming monday, it will be 4 years since we said goodbye to Precious, my old, deaf foster cat who became the queen of our castle for the last 2½ years of her life. This is her story: Puss came into my life as a result of a note on the staff message board in our hospital. Someone would soon be emigrating to Australia, and needed to find a new home for their cat. Puss turned out to be 16 years old and rather deaf. The owners had initially decided to take her with them, but when they heard how long the journey would be, and that, once in Australia, Puss would have to remain in quarantaine for some time, they decided against it, fearing they might never see her alive again. I offered to help them find a home for her, which was greatfully accepted, but no-one seemed to be interested in taking on an old cat. The weekend before the removal crates were to be delivered, I decided to collect her and foster her for the duration. She moved in with us and took over the household, cats, humans and all. I decided Puss wasn't much of a name, so I renamed her Precious, which would still sound familiar to her. I shouldn't have bothered, as she turned out to be stone deaf. In her own home, she would appear to hear people approaching due to the vibrations of the wooden floor. She was really special, the only surviving kitten of the oops-litter of an 8 month-old kitten and a Persian stud that had managed to escape from a nearby back yard breeder. The mother cat was too young to know how to care for her babies, and probably had no milk, either. The owners didn't know how to handle the situation, so the kittens died and were about to be buried. Then someone saw one tiny paw move, and Puss was pulled out of the heap of bodies, and bottle-reared. She had lived with her first owner from when she was 2 or 3 days old till the day I decided to foster her. I never bothered to find her a home, she simply stayed with us and gracefully allowed us to become her slaves. At my request, an animal communicator contacted her to tell her why she had moved in with us, and that she would have to put up with the other cats if she wanted to stay. The communicator told us she would try, she was grateful we had offered her a home, and she felt greatly honoured that we had called her Precious. But she was indeed well-named, for precious she was. Whenever we walked past the chair or stool she slept on, she would grab our clothes with her nails, without ever touching skin, and would not release us till after an intense cuddling session. She also taught the other cats not to be scared of fireworks. As she was completely deaf, she wouldn't hear them, and being the top cat, the others took their lead from her. She has been gone for 4 years, but to this day, my cats are not scared of fireworks, thanks to her. She happily lived with us for 2½ years, learned to brave the cat flap and, in spite of her age and her arthrosis, would still chase all strange cats out of 'her' garden. She was a very aristocratic, almost regal personality, which earned her the titles Milady and 'the deaf diva'. She and my other tortie, Steffie, who was about the same age as her, would often sleep next to each other, one on the chair, the other on the foot stool, in exactly the same position. We called them the synchronized sleepers. During all of this time, I maintainted email contact with her slave Jacky in Australia, I would sent her regular updates and pics of the old lady. In the end, she hardly left her cat bed, and when she did, she would sometimes no longer make it to the litter tray in time. As long as she still enjoyed her food and cuddles and seemed to be content, we didn't mind. But one day she only took a few bites from her food, and when I stroked her head and flank, she kind of leaned against my arm and looked at me with sad, tired eyes. The moment had come to send her on her last journey. She died in my arms, purring away, at the age of 18 years, 7 months and 9 days.