On the home front, we've lost all three of our beloved cats. Not all at once, but over a period of the past two years. Emma, as you know from Steve's tender farewell tribute, died in July of 2007. She was diagnosed with lymphoma and though we did everything we could to save her, she reached a point where it was clear she wasn't going to make it. As excruciating as it was, we had the vet put her down.
She was absolutely Steve's baby and it took him eleven months before he could even consider inviting another cat to join us. Finally, in June of 2008, when we got back to California from our spring stay in Kentucky, we went to a cat rescue facility in Santa Barbara run by a woman named Jeffyne Telson. If you're interested, you can find her at RESQCATS.org. Jeffyne had fifteen or so kittens on hand, half belonging to three black-and- white mama cats who'd been abandoned. The three moms were sheltered in a side room and the jumble of kittens were allowed to nurse wherever they could find room.
There were another eight or ten kittens in other rooms, but Steve and I were drawn to a black-and-white female who was busy pouncing on paint spots on the floor while the other kittens slept. We adopted her and named her Indigo. She has what they call 'tuxedo' markings; all black with white feet, a white chest, and white on her face, including an extra speck of white on her nose. I'll post photographs of her so you can see for yourself. Naturally, we think she's the most adorable baby cat on earth.
In the meantime, in the spring of 2008, our feral cat, Beau, disappeared. He was a big guy, probably sixteen or seventeen years old, a wild child who'd been with us for many years. Soon after he adopted our household, I managed to catch him in a Have-a-Heart trap. I had him neutered and the vet gave him a round of shots, but he was much too wily and suspicious to allow himself to be caught again. I had to hope the immunizations would serve him for life because it was the only opportunity we had. He was, of course, in love with our cat, Molly, and hung around the back door in hopes of seeing her. He refused to come inside except on the rare occasions when she was in the kitchen and he couldn't resist the urge to be close to her. If he thought he was boxed in, he panicked and I finally gave up any attempt to turn him into an indoor cat. I decided to honor his untamed nature and let him live as he saw fit. I worried about him all the time, but he showed up for meals twice a day and slept on the patio outside the kitchen door. In inclement weather, he had a sheltered area where he take refuge. He was a home body at heart. He just didn't want to be hemmed in.
The last year Beau was with us, Jason, our substitute house sitter, discovered that when the cat wasn't busy hissing and spitting, you could reach out and scratch his back. I couldn't believe it, but I tried it myself and sure enough, Beau seemed to enjoy it. He'd turn around and stare out at the yard, pretending to be the same old ferocious male, but offering you ample opportunity to give him a bit of TLC. Jason even figured out that you could pick him up, though Beau was always puzzled by the move. The sensation of being lifted off his feet generated the equivalent of a kitty-cat question mark that appeared above his head. He didn't object, but you could tell he couldn't make sense of what was happening.
When he first went missing last spring, no one thought much about it. He would occasionally absent himself for a day or two, attending to his other duties. By the time we got back to California in June, he'd been gone for ten days. Barbara, Jason, and our other house sitter, Carol, searched the property numerous times, but there never any trace of him. There was no indication that he'd been hit by a car and we knew he hadn't been picked up by Animal Control. When Barbara called and talked to the woman in charge, she was told that if the coyotes had caught up with him, they'd have left traces of the kill. To this day, we have no idea what happened to him. I assume he died, but of what and under what circumstances, we'll never know.
Meanwhile, Molly, seventeen years old, was slowing down. Indigo was on hand and eager to play and while the two never became buddies, Molly tolerated Indy's presence. She began to have kidney problems and we were treating her with subcutaneous fluids and vitamin B12 every third day. Her condition had stabilized, but we knew she couldn't go on that way indefinitely. We'd been in Kentucky a month, when she began to deteriorate. Carol took her in for tests and the vet discovered a tumor in her chest. The options were to put her on oxygen and then start chemotherapy. Carol, who's an RN, knew there'd be no quality of life. Barbara came over to the vet's office and she and Carol were both with Molly when they put her down.
So now Indigo is an 'only' cat. Because of our travels back and forth, we'll keep our cat count down to one. Commercial flights will only permit one animal per cabin which means we'd have to fly separately or leave one cat behind.