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.

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