I bought Wheathills Farm in 1999 and started looking for farm cats immediately. Diesel came into our lives from the Cats Protection League in Leamington Spa where he had appeared on their doormat one day waiting to be let in.
I fell for him straight away – not only because he was a beautiful looking eat but also because his unique character was immediately evident. He came across, introduced himself and started to purr loudly with a very throaty grumble that sounded like a Diesel engine. making the choice of his name an easy one.
He settled into life at Wheathills with ease, alongside his shy little ‘sister’ Porridge who came from the RSPCA in Oxford. They made a formidable hunting team and soon cleared the area of rats and mice as well as making a significant dent in the bunny population.
Diesel became well known around the Sibfords as he took to visiting the primary school and queuing with the children at dinner time, as well as attending the occasional church service or family party at the village hall. He was often seen sharing a lunchtime snack with Church Warden Eric Payne as he sat on the church wall or being clutched in the arms of grieving relatives as they visited loved ones graves in the churchyard. He also befriended a neighbour undergoing dialysis at the JR and provided comfort and friendship when it was needed – one of the many friends he made during his lifetime.
It wasn’t just people who befriended him though, even cat-hating dogs seemed to warm to his character and his affinity with the horses and ponies at the farm had to be seen to be believed.
Diesel was also known for his capable skills as a hitch hiker, once happily jumping into a car for a lift to another cats home in a case of mistaken identity, another time appearing in the front seat of a car as it made its way to Cheltenham after visiting the yard with the sunroof open.
As he got older, his rumbly purr diminished in volume, the pinkness of his nose faded and all bar four of his back teeth fell out, yet he remained at capable ratter and rabbiter right to the end, choosing to suffocate his victims with a gummy grip and lots of determination.
Through the years we collected more and more stories of exploits and activities Diesel had been involved in, too many to mention here, but each story demonstrating how truly extraordinary this ordinary looking cat was.
We said goodbye to Diesel on January 2nd when he very quickly went from living to dying. A scan showed a massive growth behind his liver so he was sent off to sleep surrounded by people who loved him. He was 19 years old.
He has left a cat- shaped hole in the lives of those who were privileged to know him and will always be fondly remembered.