Sheldon’s Final Caper

I planned on a different topic for June but we needed to put down our beautiful cat a few weeks ago.

I wrote about him before. Friends of ours who are not cat owners didn’t understand why we would love a cat so much when he continually tried to run away the second a door was opened, who played Alpha Male with my husband and usually won by biting hard enough to draw blood, and drank from toilets and unattended wine glasses. There’s no explaining cat love.

Sheldon was a handsome tuxedo cat. From the moment I saw his little white paw reach out for me when I passed by his cage in the animal shelter, I was in love. I held him and he purred so loudly, and pushed his head beneath my chin as if to say, “Cmon. Lady, you need a cat like me. I’m a little feisty, but I’m loveable.” Loveable he was.

He loved to sleep on my lap when I sat in the recliner. He loved to play with his toys, often dragging them out from the basket where they were stored by himself. Don’t get him started on catnip. He love-love-LOVED it. Sniffing it, eating it, rolling around in it. Probably how I would act if presented with a vat of caramel cashew ice cream.

Since he loved being outside, I thought a back pack type cat carrier would be just the ticket. In my cat fantasy, we took long walks together around the neighborhood. My daughter got me one for Christmas. However, I didn’t figure on the weight of the carrier plus a thirteen-pound cat. Soldiers in Boot Camp could relate to lugging that much weight around on your back, only without the loud meowing and scratching to get out. The back pack was returned.

Sheldon was a very social cat. He loved when we had guests and wasn’t shy about greeting them when they came in. (Maybe hoping one would hold the door open just long enough for him to escape.) He’d crawl on anyone’s lap who happened to be sitting in his recliner. But he didn’t like to be petted for too. Long. Don’t ruffle his fur. He’d let you know he’d had enough with a little nip.

Sheldon’s escapes around the neighborhood were exasperating. My first introduction to a neighbor might be in my bathrobe and nightie as I ran past trying to catch the cat. He saw his opportunity to run wild when I got distracted by interesting headlines from the newspaper, keeping the front door open a fraction too long. Friends were picking me up for a banquet sponsored by my husband’s volunteer group when I hesitated going out just long enough for him to take advantage of the slow door closing. He ran out, the door closed behind him, and I was locked outside with him, and no key to get back in. Luckily the next-door neighbors were home. He stayed in their garage until I could return with Mike’s keys.

In December, he started losing weight and urinating copiously. We took him to the vet. Her verdict: kidney disease stage 4. We tried prescription cat food and it worked for a few weeks, but then he stopped eating it, He only wanted his usual food, He lost more weight. We took him back to the vet. She said just try to get his weight back up. He was now barely eight pounds.

The last Friday of his life I worked weeding the flower bed in the back yard, and fertilizing the perennials. I came inside to get dressed for an evening out with friends. When I looked out the patio door, I noticed I’d left the box of Miracle Grow on the patio table.

I dashed out, ran through the kitchen, and placed it in a shelf in the garage. I proceeded to get dressed. As we were getting ready to leave, Mike said, “Where’s the cat?”
We looked throughout the house. No cat.

I explained, I only went outside for a minute to bring in the Miracle Grow. A minute was more than enough for our feline Houdini. I searched the neighbor’s shrubs and bushes around the back yard. I saw him moving in a bush next to our neighbor’s house. I called his name and he stepped out and came to me. A First! He wanted to go home. He’d had enough adventure for the day.

It comforts me to think of his last escape. A sunny spring day. A jaunt around the neighborhood. Birds chirping. Sniffing chipmunk scents. Called home by someone who cherishes you. Snuggled and carried in loving arms. Safe. Dearly beloved.

Rest in peace, my feline wanderer. I hope your last journey over the Rainbow Bridge was a joyful one. You are sorely missed.

cat with nose in wine glass
cat on table
woman with cat in backpack