Sometime around Thanksgiving a skinny black cat joined my 3 cats in our backyard for meals. He wasn't feral, he was more than happy to be petted and he never challenged my cats and always let them eat first. He also wasn't afraid of our dog. We named him "Jinx". As the weather grew colder we didn't see him for a few weeks. We had one of our many weeks of rollercoaster weather the black cat returned, but, he seemed a little different. One night as the temperature dipped towards the teens he came and sat on our front step. We fed him and tried to get him to come inside. He would come to the open door then run back but continued to stay on the step. Worried he'd suffer in the cold my husband, Mike, put our biggest padded cat carrier outside with a few towels and a sheet over the top to help keep the warmth inside. Our little friend walked in and laid down.
The next night it was warm and rained. We moved the carrier under a large, thick bush. We'd see him off and on until another cold night he returned to the front step, walked in the door and laid down in front of the bookcase and fell asleep. As soon as our cats began to come in for the night he wanted out. It was cold but not freezing so we let him out. The next night he came in and stayed.
My husband said "I think he's Moose". Moose was a kitten Mike found on the side of the road and brought home to me and our adult female black cat. She hated him so he was mostly for me. One day a few weeks later he disappeared. We live on a deadend road in the country. He kept running out with the older cat. A few days later we found him on our doorstep with a bag of cat food. Strange. A few weeks after that he disappeared again, this time for a few months. One night I was walking down the road and happened to look in woods and sitting there in the moonlight was a little black cat. I called his name and he came running. He was ravenous, and, from then on he'd beg for people food, jump up and follow me every time I got up to go into the kitchen. This time he stayed about 18 - 24 months. One day, a little after Thanksgiving, he went out didn't return. Until 2 months ago?
I wasn't sure until the night I cooked Mike fish and he went nuts and tried to grab his plate. Mike gave him some fish and he wolfed it down. He still didn't each much cat food in the house but went out every morning for a few hours and I assumed he ate the food we left outside. He was gone for 24 hours and he seemed to be limping on his hind leg when he returned. His stomach was swollen too. My first thought was some one kicked him. Mike was sure he had worms. We treated him but he worsened and would only eat a few bites at a time. He only went out for an hour or so. Mike took him to the vet, he was treated with a vitamin and antibiotics shot. He seemed a little better the next week or so.
Then he began to sleep most of the time, didn't walk around much and would only eat a few bites. I was supposed to have surgery 3/9 but couldn't due to a med complication so my sleep was a mess and I was up early Friday morning, about 11 AM we watched "Marley and Me". I cried at the end - I always do - I was afraid Moose was dying. He again only ate a few bites of salmon (the people kind) which he loved. By evening he was just lying in the kitchen. Around 9:30 PM I found him twitching on the floor. I spent hours online looking for info to help him, checked him about 10:00 but he was still the same and all I'd found were dozens of possibilities and nothing for sure. The only thing I was sure of was that it wasn't rabies - thank God - the animals were safe but we weren't.
I picked him up to hold him on my lap and he was slack. He started hyper extending his neck. My husband held him for awhile. Until he started making sounds like he was in pain. We laid him on the floor next to us. When we lifted him to see if he could support his weight he collapsed as if paralized. Around 7 AM he seemed to have a seizure and then stopped breathing. Mike had gone to bed about an hour before so I ran in crying. He got up and came in to check him and Moose was breathing again. I was suddenly hopeful. But then my husband said, "he's been like this for 6 hours, honey, you're being cruel, can't you see he's suffering?"
I could see it. I don't know what made me feel worse, knowing he was going to die, or, the fact that I made him suffer needlessly. I just couldn't believe I was going to loose him again. At 7:35 we lost him for the final time. My husband dug his grave, I put his little body in an Egyptian cotton pillow case so he'd never have to sleep in the woods on the dirt again.
My husband and I had a little goodbye service for Moose and then spent a few hours grieving and laughing at the things he did as a young cat. The time he chased his sister in the barn next door and 5 seconds later came running out with a dog on his tail. Then his sister sauntered out and you could feel her laughter.
Was the black cat that first showed up Moose? I don't know. But I'm sure it was Moose who'd died in my arms. Where was he for 3 years? How did he find his way home? I'm sure someone kicked him, hard enough to fatally injure him and I'm sure he'll pay for it some day.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time...