Friday, November 26, 2004

A Cat For Thanksgiving

I had vowed to try harder to trap the big stray cat and bring him inside once I was over caring for Johnny in his final days. But I didn't expect that to happen quite so soon.

I took this picture of him with the telephoto lens last summer. He was wary enough of us that he didn't even want us to look at him. I had tried before to capture him but he alway had avoided the trap, so if my efforts the past two days seemed a bit casual, you can't really blame me. I was sure he was trap-wise.

A few nights ago I tried lacing the cage with catnip. He would nibble what was within reach but refused to go into the trap. Yesterday, while I was preparing the turkey, I cleaned out the refrigerator. There was chicken left over from last week, so I pulled it from the bones and used it as bait around the entrance and inside the cat trap.

Denny and I ate ourselves into exhaustion and lay dozing upstairs. Long about nine or so, I checked the video camera on the porch and saw that the cat trap appeared to be sprung. I rushed downstairs and saw that indeed, the big stray cat was in the trap. After I hollered up to Dennis, I went out and brought him inside.

He complained loudly but hadn't hurt himself trying to escape. I was glad for that, because some times they can hurt their claws and skin their noses in their fear and struggling. The fact that he complained to us about his treatment suggests that he is an abandoned cat, not a feral, for in my experience, feral cats don't usually complain to people because they don't expect us to do anything about the situation.

We got him installed in the big cage downstairs and let him settle down in peace and quiet. He seemed fairly calm today when I went in and fed him. He didn't offer to scratch my eyes out or bite me. I guess that's encouraging. I have to say that it is a relief to know that he is warm and safe. He is the longest-running of our various feline visitors and we would worry about him if we didn't see him for a few days. I sleep a bit better now that he is inside.

So now we have to think of a name...

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Last Full Measure

Our little Johnny died at midday today, only a few feet from the spot where I had first laid eyes on him, some 16 1/2 years ago. He was still warm when I got home from work and I thought he was sleeping, so let him be. Only when I went downstairs a bit later to bring him up to the bedroom to be with us did I realize he was gone.

He seems to have gone peacefully, painlessly we hope. That little stripey kitten surely gave us all his best, all the years of his life. He made this house a home and became the center around which we have built our House of Many Cats over the years.

So, we shed a few tears for him and tomorrow we will bury him just inches away from Newt, his life-long friend and companion. As sad as it is to say goodbye to him, it also seems right that he and Newt should be together now. They left a heart full of memories behind them and will both be a part of us and our home forever.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I have been working myself pretty hard these past few days--carrying both Denny in his post-op status and Johnny in his final decline. Denny has been a good patient--I am the one who is always asking if he is comfortable, if he needs water or more ice for his knee. I get up earlier than I like in order to make and fetch coffee for him. Then, when I wake up myself, I will bring Johnny upstairs to sit with us on the bed while we watch our morning programs. That's when I give him his fluids.

I am burned out on death, yet I can't give up on Johnny, though I know at this point it is just a matter of waiting and keeping him comfortable. So many sweet and funny memories revolve around this worn-out tabby cat. From his very first day with us, he wasn't what I thought I wanted--but in so many ways, he turned out to be just what I needed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The hours of darkness seem timeless in this season. I have spent so much of my life at these latitudes that darkness doesn't bother me. There is something comforting, sheltering in the long darkness, like being in the womb. I am so accustomed to doing daytime activities without the sun that I don't even think about it. It is like living on a space station, or the moon.

It is with a pang of sadness that I realized that Johnny will never see the sun again. Our comfort-loving kitty-boy went blind at the end of summer and now his final decline has begun. he is locked in a darkness that leads irrevocably to the last endless night.

He has been much in my thoughts of course. There is no question that I love him. He gives so much love back, who could help but love him? But my sadness for his loss has less of the visceral tug that Newt's death caused me. There is part of me that feels it only proper that he and Newt should soon be together--they were such devoted companions in life.

But fond memories of our sweet-natured boy are already flooding my thoughts in advance of his death, a sort of pre-mourning. I know his end will be a release for him. I know he is worn out. He has been such a steady presence in our house for all these years that I haven't yet grasped the emptiness his loss will bring.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

And Back Into Autumn...

40 degrees
No snow on the ground

So, two days of rain and we are back into the waning days of autumn. Bare, dead grass and soggy ground.

Johnny keeps doing better. He is eating a bit now and usually not in his bed during the day. We bring him upstairs so he can sit with us in the mornings and evenings--it's sort of nice to re-connect with him now, at the end of his life. He doesn't want to stand still for the fluids, so I haven't been able to give him much--but we brought one of the fountains in from the shop for him and he is drinking more on his own.

Dare I hope he hangs in for a couple more months?

Friday, November 5, 2004

2 inches of snow on the ground
9 degrees

Winter has come in this week, beginning with last Sunday evening's snowfall.

It was light and had almost vanished by the time a second storm blew through the area on Wednesday and left us with about two inches of snow and temperatures well below freezing.


We got some fluids for Johnny yesterday and I gave him some last night and again this morning. They seem to have helped him a bit--he asked to come out of the cage today and wandered myopically around downstairs while I cleaned his cage and set out fresh water and food for him. The fluids won't avert the inevitable but if he has just hit a rough patch, they will buoy him through it--and if he is on his final decline, they will float him for a while until he gives out.

What is important to us is that he looks and seems to feel better.