For some reason, our neighborhood seems to get more than its share of stray cats, and most of them are terribly cautious of people. Occasionally, one of them will pick our back porch as a place to hole up, and we tend to put out food when we see the same face around for more than a few weeks.
One of these strays, a big black cat who wound up with the name of Ned due to some confusion with another cat, lived under our back porch for a couple of years before he decided that he would rather be inside, which he communicated by simply walking into our kitchen and sitting down as if he’d always been an indoor cat.
Anyway. We had a good few years with Ned – sometimes he would want to be indoors for days, sometimes he would decide to be an outdoor cat again and only show up for meals, but he was always a terribly friendly cat. He had a few old battle scars when we met him, including a doozy of an ear notch, but he’d mellowed at some point and we never actually saw him get in any fights. He was, mind you, of a size where other cats probably didn’t want to start any trouble.
Then he started losing weight, fast, and we had a long and depressing conversation with a couple of vets who told us, basically, to keep him as happy as we could for the time he had left. That was last October.
He kept losing weight, and hair, and energy in general, but he was always happy to be on a lap and just camp out for hours at a time. I played a lot of games with him this last year, with him always being very patient – even when I got to the Wii games and started frantically waving Wiimotes and nun-chucks just over his head. He was utterly unflappable.
We finished Pandora’s Tower together, but he was having a rough time of things. He was starting to wobble a lot when he’d jump down from chairs, and he didn’t really want to eat anything – I’d give him wet food, and he would lick all the gravy off it and leave the solids.
So, we arranged for a local vet to come to us and give him a peaceful exit, and then we spent his last few days just hanging out and watching movies together. Fewer controllers flying around in his airspace, more time being petted. It was kind of like stroking a barely-padded skeleton with all the weight he’d lost, but he didn’t stop purring.
It’s been a weird few days since. He was sick for so long that going from a house with Ned in it to a house without hasn’t come with any drastic shocks, but I’m still seeing the occasional phantom black streak out of the corner of my eye and none of our other cats understands that a human sitting down and picking up a controller means that there will be a lap available for the next several hours – or they may just not have realized that Ned isn’t around and that there’s a position waiting to be filled.
Sorry for the downer post, folks. I’ll be back to my typical nerdy ranting shortly.