02 January 2012
I suppose the beginning will do.
In April of 2009 Tom and I rented a house together. After a couple of months we noticed that our back fence seemed be a highway for neighborhood cats and squirrels. Although the squirrels figured out quite quickly that the dogs who lived in our yard previously were gone, the cats were more skittish, and much less interested in the nuts falling from the Pecan tree. Eventually we noticed a large orange cat passing through the yard more frequently... at some point we started calling to him to see if he was friendly.
He was friendly.
Oh boy was he friendly. It didn't take any time at all for this cat to start hanging around looking for love. I know he was only looking for love because I tried to feed him... many times. From canned cat food, to canned tuna, to bits of fresh salmon, this cat was not interested in food at all. He came around purely because he liked the attention he got from us. Eventually we started calling him George (because, "I'm gonna love him, and squeeze him, and call him George"), and he adopted us in only the way a free-roaming outdoor-cat can.
We found that "George" actually had a home nearby, yet food was left out for him at a few homes in the neighborhood. We finally figured out who his actual owners were, and that he actually went by "Tiger"... although I never saw him respond to that name. We discovered that he loved chasing those stupid little bouncy balls, and once he learned that we would play ball with him, he would steal toys from other yards and bring them to us to throw. We helped to take care of him when we discovered an abscess on his cheek and he brought us mice, birds, lizards, and one time even a rat to thank us for our love & pets.
When we knew it was time to move, we had serious discussions about whether or not to uproot George and bring him with us to our new home. We knew this would be a selfish move, and ultimately, George was not ours to move... in all reality, George belonged to the neighborhood and it would do him more harm than good to take him from his home and transplant him into a new area. So it was decided, George stayed where he belonged, and we began to move.
After moving all the stuff (omg! so much stuff!), there was still cleaning to do, so once Christmas was over we went back to the old place to finish up. At one point I took a break and went into the back yard and called to him... it took about four seconds for me to hear him hit the fence then come meowing and running across the yard to say hi. I think he missed us. After a few minutes of hellos, he followed me around the yard while I did stuff, then when I went back inside to continue cleaning the kitchen, he found a sunny spot just outside the kitchen window and took a nap. When I was ready to leave for the day, I went out to say goodbye, and told him I would be back the next day (or the day after)... he chased me to the door and laid down between me and the entrance for one more belly rub.
Two days later I went back to finish the last bits of cleaning, and looked for him... for that one last goodbye. Yet, even when I called, he was nowhere to be found. Of course, for the "great orange hunter" that wasn't too surprising, he was always out roaming and one could never be sure if he was close enough to hear the call. I didn't worry, and figured I had said a nice goodbye the other day... I was happy with the way we left things, and didn't get all teary-eyed about it.
Saturday (12/31), Tom was at the old house to finish packing the last bits of the garage and had a conversation with one of the neighbors. Apparently George was in a fight with either a car or a coyote and lost the battle. George spent enough time at our house that most of the neighbors assumed he was our cat... and in a way he was. In reality, he belonged to no one... he was a free spirit, and now his spirit truly is free.
I only post this because so many friends had the opportunity to cross paths with George... and everyone saw something different in him. Even people who weren't "cat people" had an appreciation for George. As silly as it might sound, he had a great soul, and he will be missed.
Tom made sure he had an appropriate burial - the timing ended up being such that he had the perfect place in his neighborhood. He is resting peacefully among a portion of his quarry (thanks to George, we had a miniature pet cemetery in one corner of our backyard).
He was the coolest cat I never had, and I will miss him.