Saturday, July 15, 2006

Fluffy Kitty, 2005(?)-2006

Fluffy Kitty, despite his name, was one tough tomcat.
He was a survivor, battling on his own terms. What he couldn’t battle was feline leukemia, and rather than suffer a harsh, debilitating death, he died peacefully Saturday.
We first became aware of Fluffy Kitty last summer. He seemed to appear out of the forest. He was a long-haired, blond cat, with curious, close-set eyes.
Fluffy Kitty seemed to be an adolescent kitten. My first impression was that he had to belong to somebody.
Cinnamon, the regal Siamese who has been Kissy Missy’s constant companion for more than a decade, was very standoffish about this occasional visitor to the deck. But Kissy Missy had cautioned me that I had “married the Cat Lady,” and as fall grew colder, Kissy Missy put out some food for the blond tomcat.
Her ultimate goal, I think, was to adopt this animal. I still wasn’t convinced he didn’t belong to one of the neighbors.

Winter arrived, and Fluffy started appearing, almost like clockwork, when I got up in the morning and before I went to bed at night. He was eating well, shnarfing down Whiskas cat food two pouches at a time.
One cold morning, he came into the house. Cinnamon was aghast at this intruder. Fluffy wanted to chase around and play; Cinny is elderly, and just doesn’t get along with other cats.
Still, on the coldest nights, Fluffy sometimes stayed inside. He cuddled with me. Cinny didn’t get much sleep those nights, and when dawn broke, Fluffy always wanted back outside.
Fluffy seemed to like Cinny’s food, and when the door opened, would make a beeline to Cinny’s dish. That just wasn’t acceptable, and when the weather warmed up, we went back to feeding Fluffy on the porch.
He’d somehow made it through the winter. I don’t know where he stayed, how he stayed warm, of if anyone else was feeding him. But the outdoors is not a forgiving environment for a cat, and we figured that he needed a home.

As the weather warmed, we found Fluffy just lolling around on the decks, sunning himself. He became much more affectionate, ready for any and all attention. He started leaving food behind in his dish. It looked as if he got into some sort of a tussle with another animal.
Kissy Missy made an appointment for him at the Cat Clinic (that’s the name of the veterinary practice that specializes in cats) and she and Kathy caught him, put him in the cat carrier, and took him to town for a checkup.
The news was not good. Feline leukemia was at the top of the list, but he seemed to be losing his ability to fight off infection. He had several wounds that apparently were well-hidden by that mop of blond hair, and intestinal parasites had taken hold.
This would not be pretty. Fluffy was an outdoor cat, through and through, living in the wild. He had a pretty good food source, so he didn’t have to hunt. Yet he could infect other cats with the virus, and there would be no way he’d survive. Nature is calmly efficient in culling out the weak and the sick, and Fluffy was weakening, and would weaken further.
He loved the Cat Clinic. His last night was spent in the Cat Condo, and Kissy Missy and Kathy played with him Saturday morning. He was happy.
None of us know how Fluffy Kitty got here. Perhaps he was a stray from a family who still misses him. Maybe he was the kitten of a feral mama cat. Maybe somebody dumped him in the forest as a kitten, and against all odds, he made it through as long as he did.
But he was sick, getting sicker, and he even though he was himself a predator, he would have fallen victim eventually.

Fluffy, my friend, my eyes filled with tears when I heard the news, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to cuddle with you one last time. When I make my coffee, I’ll remember your little mews beyond the screen. You were one tough cat.
Rest in peace, little predator.

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