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Bruce's Photo Blog
Bruce Foreman | Saying Goodbye, January 2013

I had to say “goodbye” to a friend today.

A four footed friend.

A cat.

I'm not especially a cat lover (I prefer dogs) but I do respect them. This yellow/orange tabby started hanging out on my front porch late winter/early spring 2009, taking over the two seat glider there. I was aware that cat was probably taking shelter from the cold by getting into my garage through a gap where the garage door wouldn't shut completely. When the weather began to warm a bit that's when she took over the glider. We'd walk past her coming and going and finally Marilynn started putting out some cat food on the porch.

One day I sat down beside her and absent mindedly started petting her, she had the softest fur. She reached out and planted a paw on my leg “claiming” me. I guess that was the first friendly human contact she had experienced in a few months. And that's how I discovered she had no front claws.

Marilynn and I looked at each other and the question, “Do we want a cat?” came out. The answer was “no” but the next question, “Well, what do we do?” hung in the air.

I opened the front door and said to the cat, “Come on in”, and at that the cat walked in.

Moved in with us. Her mission in life became “protecting me from other cats” (she ran them all off), enforcing a proper bedtime on me. We had a “bedtime ritual”, as I slid under the covers she would lie down near my shoulder and proceed to “groom” the arm left outside the covers. In essence she had accepted me as “another cat”. When it looked like I was dozing off she would move down to the foot of the bed and lie next to my feet often assuming a “guard” position staring at the bedroom door. Anything that came through that door was going to have to go through the cat first.

In the morning she would sit beside me as I sat on the edge of the bed so she could help me get dressed. You know...Pull on a garment, pet the cat...Pull on another garment, well you get the idea.

And of course she followed me every step around the house and yard. Marilynn often referred to her as my “yellow shadow”, or as my “velcro cat”. I was constantly amazed at how obedient she “could” be and how well mannered a cat she was.

We found out several months later who she had belonged to and that her name was Tabby. Mrs R had been moved out of state by relatives and had counted on a friend to take care of her cat. Either that friend didn't or the cat didn't think much of the arrangement and left. Finding no one home at Mrs. R's house she took shelter from the cold in my garage. I offered to take Tabby over to Mrs R, but she declined giving advancing age as the reason.

What we worked out eventually was “joint” custody, one week at my house and one week at Mrs. R's place. I think Tabby made the most she could out that arrangement.

In 2011 Tabby turned up with a large tumor in the abdomen, her veterinarian did exploratory surgery and took out a cancer the size of my fist or slightly larger. It was like a new lease on life for Tabby but almost two years later she had a recurrence that materialized fast and with complications that left us no treatment options. Being extremely weak, she had quit eating and had reached the point where she could just barely drag herself to the litter pan. And she could find no comfortable position to lie around in. I don't know if she was in pain or not, she had no real way to tell me. But she definitely was experiencing significant discomfort and there was going to be no recovery.

So this morning I had the veterinarian put her to sleep while I stroked her and talked to her.

She was a good friend to me.