I lost a good friend a couple of weeks ago.
It was my cat, Sherman. He was a good cat.
We were very close.
Our life with Sherman began in 2003, when we were providing daily feeding and litter box service to an elderly gentleman named Nick. He had eight cats when it became clear he would need to move to an assisted living facility. Nick would need to place all of them in new homes. My hubby Howard, who was the most frequent sitter there, called me and told me that Nick had an orange cat named Pepe that I would surely love. I didn’t know how Autumn, our female orange cat, would feel about it, but we decided to give it a try.
Autumn had been a solo cat for nine years and didn’t appreciate the change, but there was no bloodshed. Life with two cats progressed in a natural evolution. Growls at each other turned into ‘dirty looks” in passing and finally acceptance. The biggest hurdle for Pepe, who soon became ‘Sherman’, was the kids. Lots of them. For the first month we had him, Sherman stayed in my office closet by day and ventured out only when the ‘wee’ ones, then ages two, six, eleven and thirteen, were all in bed.
One thing cats have taught me, however, is that they can take months or years to adapt to new companions. I didn’t feel close to Sherman at first. He was somewhat shy and a bit standoffish. Fortunately, that would change. It took about three years, but his true personality eventually came through. He adjusted to the kids and not only tolerated them, but he began to love them too.
He seemed to take a special liking to me and I was quite happy about that. In his later years, he followed me around. We used to allow him access to the front yard and if he was on the porch when I was gone, he would walk down the sidewalk to greet me in the driveway, when my car pulled in. On more than one occasion, he followed me on walks around the block, more than a quarter mile in length. When he wasn’t sitting in front of my monitor or walking on my keyboard, he was sitting behind me in my office chair. I would often forget he was there and look around to see him there. Yes, he had been there for hours while I had been working.
Autumn passed away and two more orange cats came on the scene. That was another adjustment that was still ongoing, but progressing well. Hissing turned to tolerance and finally acceptance. The three existed in what could loosely be termed harmony.
He participated in the planking challenge I did in 2013.
When I went to Stanford for my stem cell transplant two years ago, I tried to prepare my family for my absence. There was not, however, very much I could do for my cat. Toward the end of my stay, Howard gave me increasingly more concerning reports about a very distraught cat at home. Apparently he did a lot of wandering around looking for me. On the day I got home, we had a good long ‘sit’ on the sofa and he was a happy boy.
Always a good sport, he consented to posing with Georgia the hen on New Year’s Eve 2013.
Last year, he seemed to be losing weight. We had him tested for all the usual old cat maladies and nothing definitive came up. In January, just as we began prepping our house for sale, he began having explosive diarrhea in some very inconvenient locations. It was off to the vet again! We got him started on some meds and the vet said it could be either a form of irritable bowel syndrome or lymphoma. He responded to treatment so we thought it was IBS. He did great for a while and made the move to our new house.
His appetite had been ravenous this entire time, but a few weeks ago, he stopped eating. We quickly found a new vet in Placerville who diagnosed kidney failure. Whether or not it was acute and could be turned around, or end stage failure, was something only time would tell. We opted to treat him with subcutaneous fluids twice daily. Having a scheduled trip to Tahoe that week, I simply packed him up and took him along. I wanted to be sure he got his fluids, but more importantly, I wanted the time with him. I knew it might be our last week together and I was right. My ravenous cat never took another bite and after a week, it was clear his time had come. Pictured below on his last outing outside. He was 15.
I miss you Sherman. I’ve been holding back the tears but I knew writing about you would flood my mind with memories and the precipitation has begun.
You were a very good cat.