|Baby and me, circa 2007|
A week ago today we had to put our cat down.
His name was Baby and he was nearly 12 years old. As an out-door cat, he was pretty much ancient. He was a great mouser and we found him nibbling on things he'd killed all last summer, and until about three weeks ago he was in great shape. The vet was pretty sure that he had a stroke and it was just down hill from there. Poor thing.
One summer several years ago our neighbors warned us that hawks had gotten to all of their kittens and if we wanted to save ours we needed to protect them somehow. Since cats are useful in Erda to catch mice and other rodents, we wanted to save the kittens. Plus, these were some especially cute kittens! The decision was made to keep the three momma cats and their squirming litters of tiny kittens in my closet. I was in a basement room with sliding windows that the cats could easy open by shoving a paw in between the frame and glass and then working their noses in to widen the gap, making it easy for them to visit the out doors for a restroom break or snack.
I let the mothers come and go as they pleased and the only upset was when a cat pounced on me in the middle the night as they jumped to or from the window since my bed was immediately below.
Baby was a tom cat in every sense. We used to joke that he was like the James Bond of cats with a lady friend everywhere he went. He was also very social. He would saunter over to greet anyone who pulled into our driveway with a loud purr and then beg to be petted. If you put your hand out, he would stand on his back legs to pet himself on your fingertips. He also accepted belly rubs with a booted foot and acted as though it was a great luxury. Easy going and patient, he was a great cat for small children. I've stepped on his tail before and all he did was yelp and then come back to be petted properly.
When the mommas and the kittens were in my closet, Baby seemed to feel a little left out. At first I didn't object to him spending time in there with all of the other cats, but I soon realized that he didn't care about the kittens and just wanted to be surrounded by his harem. He would go right up to the mommas, sit on the kittens and refuse to move as muffled squeals of panicked kitten pancakes arose from beneath his massive backside.
I objected to this.
Fed up, one night I kicked him out the window and told him not to come back in angry voice.
Literally three minutes later Baby was back, looking very smug. He came with a peace offering dangling lifelessly from his mouth, fresh blood beading at its neck. A vole that had probably been alive and well not 90 seconds earlier.
Surprized by this scene in my window, I screamed.
This startled Baby.
He dropped the vole.
Directly onto my pillow.
Before the vole could bounce twice, I had shot up the stairs, screaming bloody murder the whole way.
Needless to say, I had to wash all of my bedding that night. I also tried to reassure Baby and let him know that he was indeed a good cat, but I never wanted any "presents" like that again.
While he would occasionally insist on eating his prey outside the front door (and always received ample praise for his hunting prowess), he never left dead things for us to find later.
I'm very glad for that.
We miss Baby, but take a great deal in comfort knowing that he was a generally happy and healthy cat. I'm glad that we got to enjoy him for so long.