A Touch of Basil

May 27, 2010
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When I was younger, my family had all different types of pets. We had hamsters, fish, birds, even a degu! But our first actual pet was Basil.
I was around eight years old when Basil was introduced into our lives. My family had been looking for a cat for quite a while, but no one seemed to be selling kittens. The kittens that were being sold were either too expensive or just not right for us. However, one evening, my Dad arrived home from work with a cardboard box. My sister, Alex, and I were already in bed. She was asleep and I had started to drift off. My Mum came into our room and told me to come and see something special in the living room. The four of us gathered around the tall box that was placed on our coffee table. It had holes in it and I was shocked when a peachy orange paw came shooting out of it after my Dad's finger. Alex told me later that she thought it was a puppet at first. We named the kitten, Basil.
Basil was playful as a kitten. He would run around the yard, chasing our legs and pouncing after leaves. I managed to find the feisty kittens' weakness. Whenever I would stroke my finger from his forehead to his nose, he would instantly become tired and would fall asleep in my arms. When he was tired, we could do anything with him. We stuck him in a boot, a sock, with stuffed animals, and took quite a few pictures. Alex, being still quite young, was sometimes tackled by Basil. We knew he was just playing so it was funny, but it made Alex afraid of Basil until both he, and she got older.
Basil was a peachy orange colour with a darker stripe of orange down his back. He had large green eyes and a pink nose. His toes were white and he had a long fluffy tail. His thick fur would occasionally catch foliage that was blowing across our yard. Basil also had a habit of going under cars. His long fluffy tail would brush underneath the car and he would come out with a greasy black stain. Since his fur was pretty long, Basil didn't take the time out of his day to clean himself. We ended up having to wash him regularly. Normally cat's don't like water, but Basil loved it. He would fall asleep as we gave him gave him baths. After the bath, we would use a hairdryer to dry his soggy fur. The last step was to wrap him up in a towel and cuddle the warm, sleepy, bundle of fur.
When we chose to move, the landlady initially said that she didn't like cats or dogs. However, it wasn't long before Basil used his charm and had her petting him.
One evening, we arrived home to find Basil in Mum's closet with a guilty look on his face. We were horrified with the scene. Our bird had found a way to get out of his cage, and Basil had caught him. Basil had carried the bird into the closet but hadn't killed it. My Mum quickly brought our little bird back to his cage. Sadly, the bird died a few days later.
I was almost ten years old when we moved again. This time, we rented a nursery in the middle of Fort Langley. One night, my Mum had to go out. As we watched her drive away, we saw the car behind her swerve and screech it's brakes. Orange fur started to fly everywhere as the car drove on. My Dad, Alex, and I raced outside to find that even more orange fur littered the road and our yard. We called for Basil but he was nowhere to be seen. I was very sad when day after day, he didn't show up. We had given up hope. Eleven days after the accident, I walked outside to feed our rabbits. When I was on my way back inside, guess who was sitting on the stairs? When I saw him, I was ecstatic. Our gentle giant had returned! He was sure hungry.
Another chapter in Basil's life was my tenth birthday present. I really wanted another cat. After seeing an advertisement on the bulletin board outside the Fort Langley post office for free kittens, I eagerly called the number. Within a short space of time, we were back home with a five week old kitten. I named her, Neo - not sure why though. From the moment we put the little kitten next to the gentle giant, Basil adored her. I had heard quite a few stories about cats not being able to get along, but these two were inseparable. Basil's nature was calm and passive while Neo was always - and still is - a curious cat with a lot of attitude. They were complete opposites. They would follow each other around the house. It was funny to see them together because Basil was so big while Neo remained small even as she got older. They would go outside together, sleep on our beds together, eat together, and get up to mischief together.
We moved again the following year to a smaller house. Basil decided that he was going to become an outdoor cat. Neo and Basil would sit on our old wooden deck together, following their old habits. Across the road from us, was an old barn where apparently, many mice resided. These rodents attracted the neighborhood cats including Basil. On a few occasions, I even saw Neo heading there. I was surprised when our neighbors told us that they had seen Basil chasing away a coyote. I knew he was a big, strong cat, but I didn't think he was that tough!
Getting Lucia was another big step. Alex and I had been wanting a dog for quite some time. After being very selective, we found what we wanted. Our new little puppy needed a name. Since we were thinking about going to st. Lucia Island at the time, I came up with the idea of naming her, Lucia. The name stuck. Basil was quite grumpy when he saw Lucia. She ran up to him and he immediately lashed out his paw, scratching her delicate puppy nose. Lucia yelped and ran from Basil. Neo, who at the time had just had her first litter of kittens, ran at Basil and chased him away. Must've been the yelping that Neo didn't like. It was the first time she had actually attacked Basil.
From the day we got Lucia, Basil started to hang around our house less and less. He never really got used to Lucia. I would only see him about once a day when he would come back home for some food or to get cuddled. As the months went by, I would only see him every two days or so. When I was around twelve years old, I found Basil sitting outside our door. He didn't look too good. His fur had lost it's normally healthy shine and his eyes were dull. I gave him some milk and a few minutes later, he left. That was the last time I saw Basil.
As sad as this ending sounds, I consider my time with Basil more gain than loss. He was a big part of my childhood and I have fond memories of him that I will never forget.

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