Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.
My in-laws lost their oldest cat, Simba, last week. Since they are not native speakers of English (my in-laws, not the cats, naturally), I'm a bit confused on Simba's symptoms over the years. I think he had a form of feline leukemia (as far as I can understand).
He would get sick every summer, go down to skin and bones. My MIL would feed him with a spoon & pick him up and move him to clean up after him. He would not move, and every year they held their breath to see if he would come back from the abyss. He did. This went on for the last 5 years, except for this summer.
This summer he was the picture of health. That's Simba in the middle, in this painting my FIL did on the back of a huge floor puzzle. Their cats are all sitting around his computer desk, where my FIL plays the same disk game he created, over and over. Until he got an internet connection recently.
When they moved from a mobile home to their ranch a couple of years ago, Simba disappeared that first winter. They figured he was gone for good, hit by a car or just gone to that big litter box in the sky (he'd already been ill two summers running). E and I had just gotten married and they had adopted his cat, Marquis (the black cat), so they had someone to lavish their affection on that winter.
But in the spring E got a call at his office. Seems they found a cat with a microchip in its neck and traced it back to him. Well, E has the same first name as his dad, so it was a wrong number, but the right cat -- Simba. He'd always been an outdoor cat, and the mobile home park had been his kingdom. They figure he spent the winter under his old trailer. The neighbors there had obviously fed him.
So, it seems this time Simba was on his 9th life. Last week he was unable to move, his back legs paralyzed. My in-laws had adopted a third cat, Smartie, from a litter of strays in their backyard, and slowly my MIL has been driven crazy by the cats' in-and-out lifestyle (they tried a cat door, but got rid of it when they found a racoon eating a plate of cookies in the living room one night). When Simba went lame, she took him in to the vet and had him put down. He wasn't in pain but he was obviously in distress at being paralyzed. He's also been spraying all over the house for the last 6 months (that's where I draw the line...or should have, when my male cat ruined a rental home we had before we bought our house. Tried everything. Lesson learned).
At dinner last night, I talked with my MIL about Simba. She says they see him everywhere, inside and out. They had him for so many years. Even I could feel the cat-sized hole in their house. It's pretty big.