March 16, 2013
Farewell to Snowden: the large blond-orange cat that lived on our doorstep.
He started as an abandoned stray that wandered our neighborhood, scrapping, stealing food, and generating grumbles on the neighborhood watch e-list. He bonded with us, no doubt simply because we fed him. I named him after the Catch-22 character because he seemed sort of a hard-luck kitty. Neutering helped to calm him, a lot.
Years passed. We nursed him through injuries and illnesses, groomed him when we could. By his choice he remained an outdoor kitty, still wandered, still scrapped, but not so much. He grew amazingly fat. He would sometimes follow us like a dog on walks. He liked to lounge on the porch, had a bass-fiddle purr, usually came when called, never played with string, appreciated petting within limits -- and shared a measured détente with the other cats.
About a month and a half ago (as I write this) he seemed to lose interest in food. He vanished for a few weeks, reappeared briefly, then was gone again like a wisp. Panicked, we were about to post flyers when a neighbor called: please come get this cat. It was in his yard, barely conscious, barely breathing, and obviously shutting down.
The vet said Snowden was past help, in the last stage of kidney failure. She advised ... letting him go. So at about 1:30 that afternoon, quiet as a cloud, he slipped away.
Being there at the last breath and heartbeat helped, brought us a kind of closure.
But, big gap in our lives now, shaped just like that cat; that singular, grumpy, fat, beautiful cat, with china-blue eyes like the sky. We mourn and remember. Telling this tale is part of it.
Enjoy your pets while they are with you. It always ends, it ends too soon.
February 25, 2013. It was early morning. Snowden appeared on the doorstep after a long absence. He was subdued. He took a few bites of food and then began to drink water. Lapping at first, then, gently and gracefully, he dipped his paw in the bowl, then licked the water off it. Several times he dipped his paw.
I sat on the front porch in silence, scratching his head for quite some time. He purred, although his purr was not as loud as it used to be. It was a crystal-clear blue sky morning. Our flowering pear tree against the blue sky reminded me of Van Gogh’s painting of almond blossoms. A couple of lovely rusty orange cedar waxwings perched in the pear tree. I was filled with gratitude for the moment.
I went in the house, thought about bringing Snowden inside, and taking him to the vet; but when I opened the door, he was already gone.
We saw him one more time, on the day of his passing, March 16, 2013.
Rest in peace dear Snowden. You were your own cat, and our delight.
The Big Fluffy
You went away like falling snow
Like floating falling pear blossoms
Soft as pear blossoms
On a cloudy sunny March day in 2013
You led your own life
You deigned to have us feed and pet you
Your thunderous purr telling us of your pleasure
When you had enough, your swiping paw with claws out let us know.
Each morning you came for breakfast
Deferring to Ringtail, you let him eat first
Like the Skipper and Gilligan, Ken said.
Each evening when we pulled into the driveway, you trotted down the walkway to meet us, and your dinner.
In the evenings, you went on your rounds.
We never knew where you went.
It was none of our business.
On very cold days, you came inside to sit on a footstool like royalty (which of course you were).
On warm days, you basked in the sun.
Sometimes you lay on your back, so fat you had trouble cleaning your own tummy. If you were in the mood, you allowed us to scratch your round belly.
We were told that you were a Flame Point Himilayan. How grand! How right!
Gorgeous blonde hair melting into orange ears
Long, rich fur (sometimes matted) and a big fluffy tail
Best of all, china blue eyes
You did not play with strings or laser lights. You had larger plans.
You played with Ringtail, wrestling gently.
Snowden, you came to us from the drainage canal, followed us on our walks, and went on your way.
We will miss you, Snowden. Safe travels.