Sunday, May 19, 2024

Tales of the Feral Cats: And the Rest

I’ve finally sat myself down to finish the tales of the wandering ferals, but first I wanted to expand a little more on something I mentioned at the beginning of Oreo’s story. That would refer to those animals that brought me to the point I am at today, starting with our first family pet, for that is where all the tales begin – where I found my love of animals.

She (or he – I can’t even remember at this point considering I was just a wee lad) was a German Sheppard named Dusty. Today, all I have left are a couple of memories, and the photo albums over at Mom’s house. One memory was playing with Dusty in the backyard, spraying the water hose and her running around the perimeter of the yard like a dog possessed. Another is standing by the fence looking across our neighbor’s back yard and calling to her, waiting anxiously for her to appear at the gate of the pen she was being kept in, and then talking to for a few minutes every day after getting home from school. At some point, we had to give her up, so our next door neighbor, who owned a chicken slaughter house on the corner as part of their property, took her in.

I don’t remember why we have to give Dusty away. I never really asked either. I was still young at the time, and my brother probably an infant – which could be the reason. The answer doesn’t really matter now. I just remember missing her and feeling happy every day when she would stand at the gate across their backyard and wag her tail at me. Then one day she stopped showing up at the gate. I never saw her again after that. Years ago, at a family gathering, Dusty became a topic of conversation. My parents presumed that the neighbor (who also had a couple other dogs as well) were feeding the dogs the chicken scraps and Dusty most likely died from ingesting the bones at some point. She was still a younger dog at that time and had a lot of years left to her. They said they always regretted giving her up and wouldn’t have done it had they had the chance to do it over again.

Dusty was my first pet, and I have never been without one since. We had hamsters and fish as kids, and always had a dog. After Dusty, there was Blackie – a little black mutt of a dog that my dad got from a military family who had to move and couldn’t take him with them. Then there was Indy – a tick beagle who was none too bright, and a little mean, but still loved nonetheless. After that, it was Fox. He was an American Eskimo Dog who my sister picked out as the next family pet. By that time I was finishing college and off on my own not long afterward, where I was introduced to cat ownership, and of course there was our wackadoodle, Marley. And let’s not forget about our turtle, Shelby who wandering into the back yard more than 10 years ago now.

So like the many animals I have had in my life over the years, there have been more than our Magnificent Eight that have come and gone. Truth be told, even back at my childhood home, there was a colony of strays and ferals that were around for years – and still may be for all I know. I don’t remember much about them save for one gray kitten that my parents had found on our side porch one day. I think they ended up taking it to a local shelter the next day or so. I think I can remember that even back then, I was hoping we would keep the kitten so it would be in a safe home, except for the dog being there, of course. But for our modern times, the first feral I recall made an appearance not long after we had been living in our current residence.

This one was a young tan and white Calico type of cat. Probably about a year or so old, based on the size I remember it being. We ended up dubbing this one Hershey which, if you have seen our cat highlights on my website, would be the second cat named as such. So in all reality our current Hershey is the third. But Hershey II was only around a couple of times over the span of a week or two at the most. I remember trying to get it to trust me using some tips from cat expert Jackson Galaxy, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

The next pair I remember were actually pets of a neighbor who had moved in not long before we started seeing them. They had a daughter and apparently had gotten her two young cats that were pretty much left free to roam. One was a bright orange tabby, while the other was white and tan, not unlike Hershey II. Unfortunately, the neighbors weren’t the most savory of people and we are sure the cats weren’t taken care of very well. The orange one ended up spending a couple of days in our house as it was very friendly, and came right in. At the time we thought it was just a stray, until I say the girl outside one day looking for the cat. The other one tended to wander up and down our fence in the back, but because we had Marley at the time, usually didn’t get too close. About a week or so after we gave Creamsicle back, he ended up wandering into the back yard, looking for more food, and found Marley instead, who promptly chased him into the tree. I managed to get him down and back into the girl’s arms, but that was one of the last times we saw him. Unfortunately, I think both ended up wandering off because of Marley, and in search of better living conditions, but we never saw them again.

And that’s all I can recall up to the point where our tales officially begin. I don’t recall exactly when the next adventurer made his (or her) appearance. I think we may have identified our current seven by this time, and it may have been as long as a year after the trio first appeared that we finally spotted a tortoise shell colored cat coming up onto the porch to grab some of the grub. This one was definitely the most feral, as the slightest noise would send it running, so we were never really able to get too close to him, but we would be able to spot him coming around every once in a while, if we happened to be looking at just the right time. This one we called Brownie. We were spotting him at least a couple times a month at least through 2022. Last year, however, we didn’t have much luck – maybe catching a glimpse a three or four times at the most through the year. At this point, I don’t even recall the last time we saw him. I think Oreo had a lot to do with that once he took up residence under the sunroom, unfortunately.

The next one that came around on an even more regular basis than Brownie was a black and gray striped tabby we called Smokey. He started showing some time in 2022, and made a regular habit of waiting in the neighbor’s driveway across the street for the morning feedings. Like Brownie, though, he never got too close when we were around, and was quick to make an exit when he thought danger was around. He also had a couple of tussles with Midnight that I had to break up in the early morning hours after I let our wandering boy out without realizing that Smokey was there. Smokey got pretty reliable and we would even see him throughout the day on occasion as well, up to the time that the neighbor’s daughter and her family moved back in with their two dogs early last year. With the dogs wandering around Smokey’s usual track, we think he felt it was better to find safer hunting grounds. The last time we saw him was probably about a year ago now, at this point.

So outside of our current troop, Brownie and Smokey were the regulars, but there have been a few others that have come and gone over the last four years. The first one, who showed up before we spotted Brownie as I recall was another all black cat we ended up calling Ebony. Now like Tux and Oreo, we didn’t realize Ebony was a new arrival until one day when she was out near the driveway one night, and Midnight had come wandering along to head into the back yard. I could hear some growling and hissing from inside the house, and took a look outside of the upstairs bedroom window. Low and behold, there was Midnight cautiously trying to make his way through the gap in the fence as Ebony was making her displeasure known at the edge of the driveway near the woods. She was definitely a little smaller than Midnight, but that was just about the only difference we could make out. Over the next couple of months, we would see her coming and going around that side of the property, where Patch and Scruff would also come and go. She wasn’t as skittish as Brownie and Smokey, but still wouldn’t let us get to close – which was the main way we were able to tell when it wasn’t Midnight, who had no trouble coming up to greet us for pettings. The last time we saw Ebony was a day or two before a big summer thunderstorm came roaring through one night in 2022. Every once in a while, however, while heading down the main road towards town, we’ll see a black cat in a field not far from the house, or one in front of a duplex that also shows signs of taking care of strays with a shelter and food bowl out on the porch. So we do hope that perhaps it might be Ebony we see and that she’s doing OK.

There are only two more that I can recall as I wrack my brain. A white and gray tuxedo type cat I saw once, at the edge of the driveway by the woods. It was just sitting in the grass there one late morning a couple of years ago. I tried bringing it out a bowl of food and calling to it, but it ran off around the edge of the fence, and we have not seen hide nor hair of it since. We did give it the name of Cloudy, however, on the chance that it would come back around again.

The final entry is another orange cat that showed up in the early mornings for a week or so, again in the neighbor’s drive way across the street. The difference with this one, however was that it had a flea color on, so we assumed it was just a kitty who had gotten lost. Unfortunately, it also had a tussle with Midnight one morning, and then with Smokey another day. We haven’t seen it since that week, which was probably at least a year and a half to two years ago now (damn time sure has been flying). Hopefully it made it back home safe and sound.

Thus ends the tales of the feral cats, with the exception of Catlyn. She was our neighbor’s cat on the other side of the house – opposite of the woods. She escaped one day while they were having work done on the basement a little over a year ago. I tried trapping her and just missed getting her a couple of times before they moved out. She is now, unfortunately, a member of the lost kitty club. We think we’ve seen her a couple of times since this past Fall, after Patch and Scruff chased her off one evening. I’m hoping to be able to get her eventually, but I don’t hold out much hope at this point – we haven’t even seen Scruff in more than two months, and I can’t help but feel I’ve let them down, and failed to finish the rescue mission before time ran 

It’s been an unexpected and interesting journey, these last four years. A lot of joy, and some sadness to go along with the ride. I can only hope that I’ve made a difference somewhere. I hope that they feel that I saved them as much as they have saved me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Tale of the Feral Cats: Rescue Me

This is another interlude of sorts as has a tendency to happen when life keeps you busy, I haven’t had much time to sit and compose the stories and ruminations of the other strays that have come and gone over the years quite yet. But there have been some developments on the home front in the last month and a half, as two of the final three of our gang have now made their way inside the house.

It started back in early March as things continued on pretty much as normal with Scruff and Patch coming and going, while Oreo maintained residence under the sun room. He seemed to start getting a little more aggressive, however, and we noticed him watching the front of the house on a regular basis, and on occasion giving Scruff and Patch the run off. As we were also trying to avoid another flea infestation, we stopped letting him come into the sunroom, even during the bad weather days, much to his dismay. I kind of think it fueled his ambition to go after Scruff and Patch, as well as a couple of the other stragglers who still showed up every now and again. He must have thought that we would let him in just to keep him from running off everyone else. But unfortunately it was not to be – quite yet.

By this time, with Cookie gone, and both Patch and Oreo having visible health issues, I thought it was time to see if we couldn’t get them taken care of. I had ordered a trap on line with the intention of capturing Scruff, since he still kept his distance. There was also the need to try to rid ourselves of the wandering wildlife that would come looking for the food as well, plus the hope that we could still catch Catlyn, the former neighbors lost cat. So I started putting it out the week around March 7th. The first victim turned out to be another Tuxedo cat we had never seen before, and already having too many now as it was, I let the poor guy (or gal) go, and it ran off, without showing hide nor hair since. The raccoons were a bit smarter though, and found out they could grab the food off the plate from the back of the trap. So the next day I moved it away from the edge of the porch so they couldn’t reach it without going in – or so I thought. They simple grabbed it from the sides while on the porch.

A couple days later, during the early morning on the 7th, as I was going through my normal work routine, Scruff and Patch made their appearance for breakfast. At that point, it seemed they weren’t hanging around together as much as they had in the past. We would frequently see one or the other on an almost daily basis, but not so much both at the same time. Of course I didn’t give it much more thought than that. I left the bowl out for them to chow down and headed off to work. Scruff seemed a little leary with the trap on the porch, but I hadn’t yet gotten ready to bring him in, so kept the food in its usual spot on the other side, away from the trap. Unfortunately, I seemed to have delayed one morning too long. That was the last time we saw Scruff.

Patch kept showing up a couple days here and there, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon or evening for dinner for about a week afterwards. But during that week, he quickly started looking worse for the wear. It looked like he lost a lot of weight, and didn’t look much bigger than Cookie at that point, and it seemed his fur had changed as well, his distinctive tabby stripes had faded. He felt a lot more thin and frail when I had the opportunity to pet him. At that point, I was trying to figure out the best way to get him in the house, as I didn’t think he would bother with the trap, having already been trapped twice before – once when he was TNRed, and the second time during the previous summer or fall when we were attempting to catch Catlyn before the neighbors moved out. But he saved me the trouble. I forget which day it was now, exactly – somewhere from the 15th to the 17th. It may have been that Sunday I was off, but it doesn’t matter much now. Anyway, in the morning, we heard a bang outside, and I knew it was the trap going off. So I got up to see what we had caught this time, and it turned out it was Patch. So I carried him in the trap right to the sunroom and let the poor guy out. He didn’t make a sound while in the trap, and barely moved. It just seemed like he knew it he needed help, and was ready to come in. The look on his face was one that cried “Rescue me now, please.” So at least we had Patchy.


Now it was time to turn to Oreo. Early this year, I had talked to one of the people who set up and runs their own cat rescue, and that Sunday, she just happened to inquire about the cats that were outside, and gave me the number of one of her volunteers that lived not too far from us. So we gave him a call, and he came over to the house to take a look at Oreo, primarily to make sure he was ear tipped. After confirming that, he noticed how badly Oreo’s fur had become matted on his back, and took some video to show to the rescue’s leader. They decided the best thing to do would be to take him to one of the regional rescue’s shelters and have him taken care of with shots and a shave. So it was time to bring the big boy back into the sunroom.

First we needed to move Patch upstairs, to keep him separated from the other cats since we still didn’t know what was wrong with him, and he hadn’t been vaccinated in all this time. Then it was just a matter of opening the sunroom door and letting Oreo stroll right in. That was the easy part. The hard part was going to be getting him into the carrier so that the volunteer could get him to the shelter on Friday morning. Yup, trying to wrangle a defensive feral cat is not an easy task. Oh, did I mention I am also on blood thinners from my heart attack from a year ago? Well, I got myself all dressed up in my long sleeve shirt and pullover, put on some thick gardening gloves, and enlisted the help of Erin with the wrangling. Then it came down to trying to corner Oreo to a point where I could scruff him and get him right into the carrier. Thinking back, it probably would have made the job much easier if we had emptied the room of the furniture first. But, at any rate, after about five minutes of chasing and coaxing, I finally cornered him behind one of the chairs in a position where I could latch on to the back of his neck. My first attempt missed the mark and resulted in him latching onto my hand with his mouth, but once he let go, I was able to get a hold of his scruff, and lift the big boy into the carrier. I was just thankful that he wasn’t too big to fit. So we called the volunteer and he collected our big boy to stay overnight at his house before heading to the shelter the next morning. I would head there after work to pick him up and get him back home.

So after work, I made the half hour trek to the converted warehouse, and picked up our 17 pound barrel roll. He got his shots, got his shave, and got some flea and worm medicine to boot. We headed on home, and kept him in the sunroom to recovery from the anesthesia, and to monitor for any side effects. He hasn’t left since.

Thus far, both Patch and Oreo have been doing well. Tux has been none to happy, though, and has gone after Oreo a couple of times, so we have had to keep them separated. Patch has been spending his time in the spare bedroom upstairs, where it has been quiet and peaceful for him. He seems to be doing better, but it still thin in terms of body and fur. Unfortunately, it’s going to have to be a case of getting him to one of the rescues so he can get a good home. That’s the one positive, as long as he ends up being healthy, is that he looks to turn out to be another Tiger – heck he even enjoys belly rubs too! I just have to bring myself to make that phone call and hope there is room for him.

Oreo is a different story. He still doesn’t have the disposition yet to be adoptable, so he’s going to be with us for a while. Hopefully we can get Tux to accept the situation and have them co-exist. Right now, Oreo is the one intimidated by the rest of the clan, so he tends to spend his time between the quiet of the basement and the relaxation of the sunroom. We did catch him on the couch once, when we had Tuxy locked away. The good and surprising news is that I am able to pet Oreo on occasion now, so he seems to have forgiven me for the most part for the trauma of being shoved into a carrier. Usually, it’s during feeding time, which is par for the course I suppose, but at least it’s some progress made. I still can’t help but to think of poor Scruff though. As much as we have been able to do these last four years, it still wasn’t quite a job complete. I’m hoping that he shows back up one day so we can get the last guy taken care of and into a home, even if it won’t be ours. But I’m afraid that our luck with the gang thus far has finally run out. I’m sorry I ran out of time to save you Scruff. If the worst has happened, hopefully you have made your way across the rainbow bridge to find Gandalf, Tigger, Willy, Flash, Shadow, Cookie, and Marley waiting to greet you. I miss you all.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

A Leap in Time III


We have arrived at our third outing for quad-annual reflection of the last four years here in the Outhouse, and the world. If you missed our previous two pieces on Leap Day, you can check them out right here: A Leap in Time (2016) and A Leap in Time II (2020).

So what has brought us to this moment on February 29th, 2024?

On the world stage, the Summer Olympics are being hosted in Paris, France this time around. There’s been some news blurbs on it over the last half year or so, but I haven’t seen too much hype about it yet. Probably the biggest current new is the War in Ukraine, which is entering its second year, and the terrorist Hamas attack on Jerusalem that happened back in October of 2023 that has sparked armed conflict in the region. There is certainly a lot more tragedy ongoing this time around than this day 4 years ago. But of course, we cannot neglect to mention COVID-19. Four years ago, we were just starting to hear word of this on the news, and no one was really sure what was going on or what it would bring. As it turned out, as I predicted in our last piece, it did indeed bring about a world-wide pandemic – one in which we are still suffering from the affects. COVID boosters are now recommended along with the annual flu shot (I got both back at the beginning of the year), and subsequently got sick. Of course the Pandemic hit closer to home for my family, like millions of other families out there over the last four years, as my father was one of the early casualties to the pandemic.

There’s another Presidential election coming up, and I don’t think any of us would of thought we could possibly see a rematch of the 2020 election, which saw Democratic candidate Joe Biden win the White House. And then all hell broke loose in our Democracy and continues to be troublesome to this day. This year’s election could very well see the end of American Democracy as we know it if saner heads do not prevail at the ballot box in November.

The weather hasn’t been as wacky this year, although mid-January saw us hit by a few storms right in a row – and saw us getting some snow to boot! Overall the temperatures have been more mild for the most part, but we have had some cold snaps. Our biggest snowfalls have happened just this month! On a wider scale, there is much more talk and evidence that global warming is having a distinct effect on the world and the weather right now. We haven’t had a summer go by in the last four years that didn’t have tornado warnings for us here on the Northeast Coast – one of which spawned a tornado the ripped down the major highway just to the north of us.

From the world, to the family, we have had some changes come to us over the last four years as well. Our hopes of moving to Lancaster/Hershey never materialized, primarily because of the Pandemic, in which, as I mentioned, saw my Father as one of the early victims in April of 2020. It also unfortunately canceled the plans Erin and I had of flying out to England for my sister’s wedding. Fortunately, the wedding still went on – much later than planned, and my sis and bro-in-law are settling into the new house they recently bought. We have had more additions to our family as well. Right around the March/April 2020 timeframe, we began to see stray cats wandering the neighborhood and over the last nearly four years now, have welcomed several into our home as house pets. Of course you can read all about those adventures right here in the blog from the last few months. We also had several home improvements – getting new sunroom in March of 2022, and then getting new siding for the house in October of that year. We also needed to have some work done on our chimney. We also added a propane backup generator to the house back in 2021 – and subsequently didn’t need it for a year thereafter. But it finally has gotten some use since then, most recently proving itself during one of those storms in January. And just yesterday we we were supposed to have most of the windows in the house replaced (all under warranty, fortunately), a project we have been waiting on for over a year and a half at this point, but because of a last minute medical appointment for Erin, it is now scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully everything goes smoothly!

Of course, between the cats and the home improvements, money has been tight, necessitating me getting a second job – appropriately enough at PetSmart, which will help us save money on taking care of the kitties. Another big personal change for me was suffering a heart attack at the end of March 2023. That has made the biggest impact on my life and necessitated some changes in my diet to stay healthy. I can’t say I am too pleased about that, and it has been a frustrating time for me, but I am still doing what I need to do so I can maintain my health. Another change for me, not necessitated by the heart attack, but one that I needed for my mental well being was the retirement from streaming and content creation back in 2022. The stress of working all day, then coming home and trying to host a stream and create gaming videos got to be a bit much on me mentally, so I have given up those aspirations, and feel much better for it, though I do miss it sometimes.

Shannon is still going strong with her current retail occupation and is in the process of being promoted to store manager in the near future. Her parents moved back to the area from Ohio in 2022, so that at least has been a very positive change as well. Erin is now a High School graduate and has joined me in the work force at my main retail company. It has helped her break out of the anxiety and shell she built up during her high school years, which was fueled by the Pandemic. One good thing to come out of that was her ability to do remote learning, which she took to very well, and finished her last three years with strong grades. Her Freshman year was very much a struggle, and we are grateful for one of the few positive things to come out of COVID. Abby is still Abby and enjoying her 3rd grade journey at school. She also has become a gamer like myself and Erin (who is still into Star Wars: The Old Republic), and even has her own guild in a game called Star Stable.

I guess that pretty much covers the overarching basics. This go around certainly has seen the most changes and chaos I think than the previous eight years brought us. Hopefully, come this day in 2028, we can speak of more peaceful and happy things. Hopefully we’ll still be around to actually account for them in this space. It is a future most uncertain.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Tale of the Feral Cats: Interlude

We long discovered that the cats do not like being locked out of a room that we are in. Just on one recent Sunday morning – one of the two days I don’t have to be up at 3:30 am for work – Midnight came charging in meowing at 3:15 for breakfast time. The first instinct is to try and ignore him and hope he gives up and settles down out in the living room. Sometimes it works. Other times, he gets quite insistent and will repeat the routine every couple of minutes until he gets his way. Or he starts rough housing with Tux or Tiger, knowing one of us will get up then. This was one of those mornings where he was just insistent, and I knew he wasn't going to let up.

So I staggered out of bed, filled a bowl with kibble on the kitchen counter (so Hershey can’t get to it), and promptly went back to bed – closing the bed room door for good measure. That seemed to satisfy him so I took a deep breath and cleared my mind, attempting to lull myself back to sleep. Not twenty minutes later, he went right back to his very loud meow and scratching at the door. Of course Tiger and Tux had to join in on the fun as well. They both get separation anxiety when they get locked in or out of a room and can’t sit on or near one of us. So for the next three hours they took turns pawing, scratching, and meowing outside the bedroom door. It got to the point where we could tell each one apart simply by how they scratched at the door and pawed at the knob.

So, giving up on sleep, Shannon got up and opened the door. All I could see from my side of the bed, from over the covers, was four tails in question mark form as they all rushed in and took up their usual vantage points in the room. Tux on a pile of towels on our dresser; Midnight on the headboard; Tiger plopped down on the bed next to me; and Hershey sat herself on the heating vent. So it became just another typical Sunday morning with the feral cats.


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Tale of the Feral Cats: Cookie’s Story

When I had originally started off these tales, my goal was to wrap up 2023 with Cookie’s story. Of course time waits for no one, and real life delayed me in getting the time to sit down and write up these stories so I could get them all done before the end of the year. It’s a trivial matter, really, but one that now affects how we end this particular tale, unfortunately.

But first let’s start off by thanking everyone who donated to our GoFundMe we started for Cookie. We didn’t meet our goal, but every single dollar we received helped us keep Cookie in our home and receiving the love and medical care he needed. As it turned out, I ended up getting a part time job at the local pet store to supplement our income to ensure that Cookie would be able to stay with us, and I don’t regret a minute of it. Also, just in case I neglected to do so before, let me link you to Cookie’s page I set up on the Real Millennium Group website. I eventually hope to have a page dedicated to all the cats we have as part of our family – but time is one of those rare commodities. We still have Cookie Merchandise available to buy, which will remain in honor of the old kitten.

Cookie is our enigma. Over the near 20 years we’ve been in this particular home, we’ve seen many stray, and not so stray, cats wander through the neighborhood. Next month I plan to do a tale to all the passers-by that we have seen – that I can remember anyway. But Cookie was one that we never saw until one fateful evening in May of 2023 when he suddenly appeared in the middle of the street in front of our house. At that time, I was still on medical leave from the heart attack I suffered at the end of March. Right around dinner time, Shannon just happened to look out of the front window and saw a black and white cat sitting in the middle of the street. At first we thought it was Oreo just doing his territorial thing and standing guard over the food on the front porch. I decided to go out of the sunroom to try to coax him back with the sound of his food bowl, but he didn’t come running as usual (which was strange anyway, because he should have come from under the sunroom anyway as he always does when he hears food rattling). So I went through the gate out front and realize that the cat sitting in the street was not Oreo. This new visitor has a distinct white patch on his mouth forming a near perfect mustache. So I approached the cat with food bowl in hand from our front walkway and crouched down to entice him to see if he would come closer. And, it didn’t take much enticing because he came right up to me and allowed me to pet him as he gazed at the food bowl in my hand.

It was at that point I noticed he appeared to be starving and literally felt like he was nothing but skin and bones. So I coaxed him up to the porch, and into the house – again, he showed no hesitation in approaching me or following me into the house – bravery none of the other ferals had shown. At the time I chalked it up to the fact that he was most likely starving to death and knew this was the only pathway to getting food. So I led him to the sunroom so we could keep him separated from the rest of the crew (who were locked up in various rooms for the time being) until we could get him to the Vet. To be honest, he looked to be in such rough shape, I didn’t think he would last more than a day or two, if he managed to survive the night. So he settled into the sunroom with fresh water, food, and a litter box while we decided the next course of action, while we tried to decide on a name. At first I was think Stash or Stasia since he had a mustache, and Stasia would have been the name if he was a girl, which we though he might have been in the early going. However, none of us really liked that name, so I finally came up with Cookie, which was inspired by cookies and cream ice cream – not unlike how we gained inspiration for Oreo’s name. And now, I can’t think of anything more suiting for the old kitten.

At this point, we had already taken in Tiger and Tux, and Midnight was pretty much a regular as well, though he was still going out during the day. We just didn’t have the capacity to take in another one, never mind the fact we still had Oreo, Patch, and Scruff we were caring for as much as possible to boot. So I decided that getting him to a shelter was the best option, but wanted to make sure it would be a no kill shelter, and one that would preferably have a foster home for him to stay in. I don’t relish the thought of any of the strays being locked in a cage for most of the day of their lives, as good as the shelters try to make those lives. I just rather see them in a real home environment. So the rest of the week and some time thereafter was spent searching online, making phone calls, and sending e-mails. Unfortunately, not a single shelter I had contacted has any room (or interest) in taking him in. It seems spring time is a very busy time for cat rescues and they get overwhelmed with the amount of strays and rescues they get inundated with. So we became the de facto foster home for Cookie.


I made an appointment with a local vet who was attached to one of the rescue groups I had contacted. They gave him an examination, and determined that yes he was a male, but that he was also at least 14 years old, so that was one of the factors for why he appeared so famished. He also had anemia – most likely due to the flea infestation he had, which then of course spread to everyone else over the summer. And he had a Thyroid condition that required medication. That was not so unusual, as Flash has the same thing and required the same medication. We also wondered quite a bit about Cookie’s origins. After we took him in and settled him in the sunroom, he seemed to take to indoor living and the litter box with no issues whatsoever. This led us to believe that he may have been a lost kitty, or even worse, an abandoned one. I can’t imagine him having survived for all those years out on the streets, though I also wasn’t sure he was just recently put out. We still don’t know for sure what his history is, nor will we really ever. Our regular vet also suspected that he could have been abandoned due to his age and ailments. They also said that he could be much older than 14 as well. But no matter Cookie’s origins. He turned out to be a fighter. Despite his anemia, despite his double ear infection, despite his thyroid, and despite his poor eyesite and deafness – we determined that he was completely deaf – he hung in there and was content to be a part of the family. He also had an unusual way of sitting upright. It reminds me of an ancient Egyptian cat statue. It just seemed so prime and proper, and none of the other cats I have ever had sat upright in such a way. He was our regal kitty, and he loved to eat.

Yeah, we though Hershey was a bad mooch for food, but Cookie told her to hold his treats. We could not sit down to a meal without him coming right up and pawing at the plates, expecting something in return. Heck, he started eating out of my salad bowl when I had put it down on the counter to get something from the kitchen. And he loved green beans. Despite his age, he got around the house pretty well – even jumping from the kitchen bar top to the stove when he knew food was on the counter. He was also a very quiet kitty. He’s the only cat I have ever had that never meowed – except for one time during one of his trips to the vet. He would churl when pet, and he had a big loud purr, and he would hiss when upset or hurt – especially at the vet. Although during one trip he did nothing but purr for most of the time he was there, something even one of the nurses commented on because it caught her by surprise. But he would never utter any other sound.

So with us Cookie remained. He at least had put on some wait between that first vet trip and his subsequent trips to our regular vet, but he always remained thin, but a steady 5 pounds. Just due to his age, we knew the time he would have would be limited, so we spoiled him more than we did the other guys, probably much to their chagrin, and especially to Hershey’s. But they reaped some of the benefits of that I think. The rest of the crew didn’t seem to mind the new addition, either, which was a blessing. He just became a member of the family like they all did. Despite some foibles with him – the mooching, and a stretch where he was peeing regularly on the living room chair and the sunroom couch, he really just grew on us as a great companion. He wasn’t much of a lap cat, but he loved face nuzzling and loved getting his regular pettings in. He was just an overall sweet cat to have. I could never imagine how someone could have just abandoned him, if that was what truly happened to him. But unfortunately, the time we knew would be short turned out to be much shorter than we ever would have thought, and ever could have hoped it would be.

In the early morning on Thursday, January 18th, 2024, Cookie passed away. I had a gut feeling that this time was coming all week. Cookie hadn’t been feeling well, and had developed what appeared to be a sinus/respiratory infection this month. I took him to the vet on Wednesday, and they gave me some antibiotics for the infection, and drew some blood, which he was overdue for anyway, and another reason I wanted to get him to the vet. I knew then something really wasn’t right with the old kitten because he really didn’t put up much of a fight, which he tended to do at the vet. He was pretty docile the whole time. So we got home, and I let him rest from the ordeal – drawing blood proved to be a challenge simply because it just didn’t seem to flow very well for him. A couple hours later, dinner time for the kitties came around, but Cookie wasn’t there with the rest of the crew, as he normally was. He had gone down to the basement and was laying on the carpet near my bookshelves. I tried to offer him his medicine with a lickable treat on a spoon – something that turns out to be pretty effective in giving a cat a pill. But he was not interested at all, and had no appetite. Then and there, I knew the time was coming. So I grabbed the cat bed and a litter pan and brought them over for him. He had no energy left, and struggled to get to the litter pan and back. Even Tux knew something wasn’t right and had come down to check on him. At the end of the night, I carried him up in the bed to our bedroom, so we could be close to him and he would have us there with him. Midnight then came in and checked on Cookie, much like Tux had earlier. Since I had to be up early in the morning for work, I finally had to get to bed myself. Shannon came in later, after 10 pm and checked on him before going to bed herself. He was resting comfortably, and hanging in there with the very last of the fight he had left.

About 1:45 on Thursday morning, we both woke up at the same time – something unusual for us. Shannon headed out to use the bathroom and I got up to check on Cookie. At that point, he was gone. It looked like he had tried to get out of the bed, and just collapsed, not unlike how Willy passed away years ago. It was a quiet and peaceful end, and he had his new family there in the room with him at the end. This is the sixth time I have had to say good-bye to a beloved companion as an adult. It has never gotten easier, and it has never gotten less painful as time goes on. My only hope is that there is some kind of heaven, and Gandalf, Tigger, Willy, Flash, and Marley were there to greet Cookie as he crossed the rainbow bridge. I would imagine Shadow would be there too. It’s been many years since I last saw Shadow (he stayed with my ex-girlfriend after we broke up) and imagine he would have passed around the same time as Willy, or not long after. I don’t know what brought Cookie to us, or how he managed to find us at just the right moment that we saw him sitting in the middle of the street. I can only say that it was fate that brought us together at just the moment we needed, and I so hope that Heaven is real so I can see all the companions I have had in my lifetime again, when it comes my time to go because I just want to hold each of them one more time, and especially Cookie.