We called him "Lucky." He was just a tiny thing that a friend rescued from a trash bin at the back of her place. He wasn't weaned, but he was very assertive and dominant. We thought he might be part bobcat. Once he was at our place, he made himself right at home. Our housecat "Girl" was not amused, but she's been mostly tolerant if not accepting of the little visitor.
He loved to snuggle against my beard, and when he wasn't doing that, he liked to curl up on or beside the keyboard of my laptop making it difficult to type any of my brilliant prose. It's probably just as well.
Lucky seemed to be doing fine. He was growing and rambunctious and very independent minded. Yesterday he climbed up my leg and settled in for a while, purring. Then later he went to sleep beside one of the feral cat buddies he's made.
Ms. Ché said he appeared to be a bit lethargic last night, and around 11pm she noticed he didn't seem to be doing well. He was sleeping, though, and as he slept, she said he looked like he was cold.
This morning, he was sleeping when I got up and didn't wake while I did my morning routines. He woke and became active when Ms Ché got up an hour or so later, though, and at first I thought he was fine. She said he wasn't. She said he could barely walk. She gave him some food, and he ate most of it, but then he tried to walk away and became disoriented. She had to rescue him from under the chest of drawers where he'd gone by mistake.
She wrapped him in a dry washcloth and took him to the cat box where she said he had a bowel movement and urinated more or less normally, but he couldn't get out of it by himself. She cleaned him up and carried him back into the living room. She thought she should call the vet. She did and left a message. The vet called back and made an appointment for later in the morning.
Lucky held on, but he was clearly in distress. He quickly became paralyzed, unable to stand or walk on his own, his eyes bright but frightened. He cried out. Ms Ché held him and comforted him and whispered in his ear.
"Kitty Heaven, sweetheart. Just let go. Kitty Heaven, sweetheart."
Just let go.
As she got ready to take him to the vet, she said "We'll have him put down, I don't want to keep him from the other side." I watched him while she got on her jacket and scarf. He wasn't conscious any more, and so far as I could tell, he wasn't breathing, just reflex movements now and then.
We went out to the car and she got in. Lucky was wrapped in the wash cloth. "We're almost there, sweetheart. Almost there." I started the car and drove away toward the vet's. I looked at Lucky in Ms Ché's arms. He was gone.
I said, "I don't think we'll have to have him put down. He's gone."
She stroked his face. "He's passed over."
"Yes," I said. And I lost it completely. My eyes welled with tears and I bawled like a baby, something I haven't done for years and years.
"Cats can make you feel that way?" she asked in a kind of wonder.
Oh yeah. This one did. That's for sure.
We don't know why he left us like he did. But for the few weeks he was with us, he was a joy and delight. We are grateful.
(No, we didn't make it to Los Alamos today... not this time.)