I have posted a few times about my adventure this autumn with Oskar.
Oskar was a beautiful long haired, orange cat with rather stunning green eyes. In the warmer months, he used to sleep in my back yard on the roof of a shed. It is sunny there for the entire day and being high up, he could survey his surroundings without being bothered by unwelcome disruptions, or as the mood hit, he could just snooze. In short, it was a perfect spot for a cat, and more than once, I admired how peaceful he was there. A few other cats prowl around the yard from time to time, but none would bother Oskar. He was the king.. And like a king, he came and went as he pleased. We imagined that his owner let him out in the morning, and then took him back in when the sun down. Of course, like all civilized cats, he stayed indoors in the colder months.
For a few years, he would not let us come close, but rather suddenly, that changed. One day, he walked up to my ex (who is very good with cats), plopped down in front of her, and rolled over to show her his tummy. And so, we became friends. When we were in the yard, he would come up to say hello before sauntering off on his way. He would disappear for a while, but he always reappeared sooner or later. And one could be forgiven for getting the impression that it was his yard. We were his guests.
Then around September this year, just after the apple harvest, he appeared at my back door looking really bad. He obviously had not eaten in a while and he had two rather ugly wounds, one on each side of his neck. To this day, I have no idea how this came about. But obviously, something terrible had changed in his life. I gave him food, and gradually took him into the house.
Once in the house, he needed a good name! After some rumination, I thought of “Bruno”, but that was nixed by my ex. I settled on Oskar. My ex, added the Estonian shortening “Oshu”. Then she said “Bruno” might be better. Too late! He was officially a family member as Oskar, Oshu. I felt a certain responsibility to care for him, and my heart opened to him. His story became our story. And each day I would share that story with family – what Oskar was doing, how he was doing, and what progress we were making to gt him back on his feet.
After he settled in, we took him to the vet to find out what ailed him. It was a moment of truth, as we had no idea what his health was, though by looking athim, you could tell there were, shall we say, issues. I was very nervous about his condition.The vet warned me that he was not well. He had a severe infection, and his kidneys were pretty much shot to hell. The only good news was that he was not in any pain. I thought, ok, let’s do the best we can. Maybe we can cheat death for a while! I took the heroic pose.
To put it mildly, Oskar did not like the oral meds squirts that I needed to give him, and he let me know in no uncertain terms. He was especially frightened by being held still. Probably it reminded him of something bad that had happened to him. But never mind! We got rid of the infection! There was just the remaining problem of those wonky kidneys.
I hoped that at this point we might relax a bit and that Oskar would at least make it through the winter so that he could once more climb up to his favorite spot on the roof of the garden shed. In the meantime, he found a new perch — on the window sill in the living room. It was warm there (from the radiator below the window) and he had a view of the passersby on the street. That was his “go to” spot. And he showed that he was feeling at home in the house. He had the odd habit of jumping on my back when I bent forward, and once he leaped into the fridge to perch on a shelf there. I propped the door open until he jumped out.
One other vignette. One day early on, Oskar called out to me. I went downstairs to see what was wrong, and Oskar led me downstairs to his cat box. When I got there, he looked at me and ran back up the stairs. He was showing me that I had not cleaned the litter box. It was time to get to work, human! Hmmm … a civilized cat indeed!
Things were good, but not perfect. Oskar had trouble sleeping, and would call out for me in the middle of the night. I would pick him up and we walked around the house together until he calmed down again. And as the vet predicted, he had trouble eating. He was not gaining weight. That was a bad sign. But I held out hope that somehow, he might still make it.
Hanging on until summer was not in the cards. Late yesterday afternoon, Oskar went out the backdoor. This was unusual, as he usually only would venture out at night and then just for a short while. And this time, he did not return. I left the door open all night and every hour or so called out for him. Only the cold wind and rain answered me. As of this morning, Oskar has not come back. I walked the entire yard calling for him, and looked into all of the nooks and crannies in the garage, to no avail. It is still possible that he will reappear. But something inside me knows that he left to go meet his maker.
Now I understand Oskar’s late night fears a bit better. He could feel in his body that the end was near. He was afraid of what was coming, and he held onto me hoping that I could make it better. I tried, but I could not change the way things were. All we could do was hold onto each other and walk slowly from room to room feeling a tight bond of friendship. And now, suddenly, it is over.
I have to tell myself that from the start I knew it would work out this way. We were fated to have just a limited time together. I knew that. But reason and logic be damned, I miss my friend.