Thor, a powerful name for such a shy cat, found me ten years ago on a hot fall day as I headed into Pet's Mart. Nestled into the palms a pregnant woman's hands, she was desperately seeking a home for him. His feral mother had the kittens in the bumper of an old Edsel. When Momma cat was hit by a car, the young woman went looking for the kittens. She was too late for all but Thor. Dehydrated and starving, she nursed him back to health for several days. Crying because she loved him and crying because she couldn't keep him, she was seeking a home for the tiny charcoal grey ball of fluff. Her baby was due in a couple of days and the apartment had a no pet rule.
I told her that if no one took him before I came out of the store then I would. I had had Toulouse for two years. I had just adopted/rescued Dickens, Starshine and Firedancer. I didn't need another. I no sooner made it into the store than my decision was made. Pivoting on my heel, I went out and claimed my kitten. Terrified, he rode home between the truck door and the seat. He remained a shy, reclusive cat all of his life. He just never lived up to the towering thunder of his name. Yet he was a loving cat that grew into a beautiful Tom. Huge paws told the story of a cat who should have been much bigger, much heavier. But he was never ill a day of his life.
"Thor hugs!" was the word I would croon to him as I nestled him against my chest. He would wrap his paws around my arm, cuddling under my chin in happiness. He loved to drink water straight from the facet, and I would leave it running for him while brushing my teeth or showering. When he'd get too reclusive, hiding behind the dryer or in the shower, I would spend a few days "wagging" him. Soon, he'd be sleeping on Cameron's chest at night again.
This weekend we realized the extent of the fleas in our pets. Fairly broke, we purchased Hartz flea protection, which I have used previously with success. This morning Thor didn't drink much water when I was getting ready for church. This afternoon I realized we had a problem. Before I could get Cameron on the phone, he had two seizures. I thought he was dead after the second, but he revived. Cameron met me at the door, abandoning a buggy of cat food and cat sand at Wal-Mart, to rush us to the emergency vet. Negotiating cost, horrified at prices, we compromised, put off bills, made hard decisions. They wanted to bathe him first, finishing getting the flea debris off him. He didn't make it through his bath. Another seizure and he was almost gone. Sobbing, whispering to him to go ahead and cross the Rainbow Bridge, we asked the vet to finish the process, to not let him suffer. He was gone before the syringe emptied. Tonight Cameron has buried him next to Bubbles.
The vet told us that he had probably had a previously undiagnosed condition. He was underweight--we assured her this was good compared to what he's often been at. Indeed, as a kitten, I had to create a growth spell because the vet worried he wasn't going to make it in those early days and months. He lived a loving and happy life of ten years. Not bad for a cat that needed magic to live.
And so Toulouse died two years ago, as did the first Starshine. My familiar Bastet died four years ago. Gimli and Jason died the first year I lived here (the vet begged us to take them after they had been abandoned at his office for months). Firedancer has gone, as has Butter Cup and Brom. Butterscotch and Champagne were adopted out. Persephone the First died right after I moved here (a rescue, she never gained adult size). I once had 20 cats brought from Atlanta in another lifetime. Bridget died last summer along with her mate Bandit. Maya (born of Bridget and Baulder) only weighed three pounds and stopped growning. She lived to be three. Bubbles died this weekend and Marco died earlier this summer. By dog Brittany died four years ago at the age of 12. All came to me in time when I lived as a heterosexual woman. A time when my children still lived with me -- a time before the oldest stopped talking to me, or denied me my grandchildren. I still have Tannis, Dickens, Lotus, Xian, Silvermoon, Tully and Temptation.
The grief of loosing furbabies is profound. We've had so many of them along the way. While people often express shock or disapproval of our large number of cats, we have loved each. Indeed, when I lived in Atlanta each was fixed, got yearly shots, frequent vet visits. When my income became a quarter of what it once was, the vet visits decreased, but my love did not. Losing them is like loosing a piece of my heart.