I'm sitting home alone on my day off. It's a week day. I'm in my recliner watching some sort of mindless entertainment on television, all the while thinking that I should probably be doing something a lot more productive.
"Meowwww...meowwwwww...meowww", I hear coming from somewhere outside.
"What in the..." I thought, as I turned down the television to make sure I wasn't hearing things.
I got up and walked out on the front porch, looking to see where the noise was coming from. I didn't see anything.
Then I heard it again, coming from underneath my car. I walked to the car and got down on my knees, peering underneath, expecting to see a large, possibly wounded cat. Instead, looking back at me was a tiny, grey tabby ball of fluff. I stuck my hand out, and called for him to come to me. After a minute or so of gentle coaxing, he finally came towards my outstretched hand, and I picked him up. He immediately began purring. "Oh you poor thing, where did you come from?" I asked, greeted by grateful purrs.
I hesitantly took him inside. At the time, we (my ex husband and I) had a full grown female short haired Tabby named Kyra.
She was the queen of the house, and did not take well to strangers. Hell, she barely tolerated us.
As soon as I walked in the door, she started hissing and growling. I put the kitten down and quickly gathered her up, put her in the bathroom, and closed the door. The kitten wasted no time finding her food bowl and began ravenously eating, like he hadn't eaten in days, or EVER.
He ate, and ate, and ate, for probably close to an hour. I started getting worried he would make himself sick, so I took up the food.
A short while later, when my husband came home, I was standing in the living room, with both hands behind my back. When he walked in the door he looked at me kind of strangely and asked, "What do you have?"
I brought my hands in front of me, the kitten in one hand and said the famous last words that make me laugh until this day.
"Don't get attached, because we're NOT keeping him!"
That was about 13 years ago.
I half heartedly tried to find a home for him, all the while growing more and more attached every day. He quickly became a part of our little family. We couldn't agree on a name for him, and kept calling him The Boy, since we had a female cat already. Pretty soon that got shortened to Boy, and it stuck.
He had the exact opposite temperament of Kyra. While she was bitchy and skittish and ran and hid whenever there was a visitor or a storm, Boy was always the center of attention. He was laid back, and personable, and he worshiped the ground that Kyra's four paws walked on. Almost every time he would get near her she would hiss and growl and bat her claw-less paws at him. He would just sit there and take it, never flinching, and would just look at her with little hearts in his eyes.
A lot has changed since then. I moved to Beaufort when my marriage ended in 2003. When I came down here I moved in with my Daddy while I was trying to get back on my feet and start over again. He told me the only way I could bring either cat was if they stayed outside. He was vehemently against animals in the house because of a little shedding white fluffy dog he had for a very short time. And since both of my cats were raised indoors, I had to leave them behind.
About 7 months after Daddy passed away in 2005, I decided I wanted to bring my Boy to Beaufort. My ex moved and couldn't take the cats with him. And sadly, Kyra got spooked during the move, got loose and was never found. I would like to think that some nice family with no other cats or kids that loved bitchy claw-less cats took her in and gave her a good home, but I'll never really know for sure.
When it came time to get the Boy, I met the ex in Santee, which is about half way between Beaufort and Patrick, the town I had moved from. I was a little worried that he (the cat, not the ex) wouldn't remember me and would have trouble adjusting to a new home. After all, it had been a year and a half since he'd seen me. But all those fears were put to rest when I got him home. It was like no time had passed between us. We were both happy to be together again. Not long after I brought him to Beaufort, a friend of mine commented that he looked kind of like a big furry sumo wrestler, because he was so fat. That nickname stuck and I began calling him Sumo Kitty. It seemed fitting, and it was a new name to go with a new start and home.
Over the next 6 years he was by my side, in my lap, or at least within 6 feet of me at any given time while I was home, especially if there was food involved. He kept me company, made me laugh, and brought more comfort and joy than I could ever give thanks for.
Around the first part of May last year, he began acting like he didn't feel good. He was moping around a lot. He stopped sleeping with me, which he had always done, and he wasn't eating as much, which really worried me. He had always been a healthy eater. Healthy as in, that cat loved to eat more than he loved me, and that was a HELL of a lot.
The last week in May I took him to the vet and they ran tests over the next few days and treated him for what they thought was just severe constipation and dehydration. But the day before I was scheduled to bring him home, they noticed fluid in his abdomen after they gave him a hair cut. I agreed to let them do exploratory surgery the following morning to find out what was causing it. I went to visit him before the surgery and got to hold him, love him and spend time with him. I am so glad that I did.
The vet called me during surgery and said his stomach and some other organs were full of hundreds of tiny tumors, they were cancerous, and that even if I decided to bring in an oncologist and tried to do treatments, he would probably only live a few more weeks at most. So while he was still under anesthesia, I made the unimaginable and gut wrenching decision to not wake him up. The vet agreed that it was the kindest thing to do, and that if it were her animal, she would have done the same. I loved him way too much to let him suffer any more than he already had.
That was May 27, 2011.
When people would ask me where I got him or where I found him, I would tell them the story of how he somehow wandered into my yard and under my car. And that day, he also wandered into my heart and will live there forever. And looking back at all of the years he was a part of my life, I firmly believe that me finding him wasn't an accident, because I didn't find him. He found me.
It has taken me 6 months to decide I was ready to get another animal. I don't think one truly ever gets over losing a loved one, be it a friend or family member or a four legged package of unconditional love who happens to be both, but I do know that I am ready to open my heart and home to another. And yesterday, I brought home a new baby, a tiny 7 week old Dachshund.
This is the first dog that I have owned in my entire adult life, so I have a lot to learn. But with a lot love and patience, I know that we will be OK and we'll learn together as we go. I'm ready for the challenge and looking forward to this new chapter in my life.
World, meet Presley.