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So this is the third dead cat story I've shared with e2.

Midnight, the (predictably) black cat, already belonged to my wife when I met her. He lived to be nineteen, when he developed cancer in his jaw. We had him euthanized. He lived a long life, as felines measure it, and appeared to know his last days had arrived.

Slim, a stray who moved in, had already been named by neighbourhood kids. We bonded as I have with no other non-human being. She liked to wander, climb trees, and hunt, but she always came back, usually greeted me when I returned home. A car took her life at night, while she was still in her prime. She hung out with Pyro, a cat who lives with C, across the street. The day after she died, he wandered around our yard, wandered around places they went, sniffing sadly. I am not anthropomorphizing. Pyro missed her.

Two years ago, we adopted another feral cat, Artemis. She'd been living in a farmer's field outside of town, sleeping with the horses, taking handouts, and slaughtering mice. Her jaw had been injured, and required surgery. It doubtless had been causing her considerable discomfort.

We learned early on we likely wouldn't have her for long. We liked to ignore the fact of the disease skulking inside her. She recovered speedily from the jaw surgery, and has been implausibly healthy for two years, an active animal who took, over time, to domesticity.

A little over a week ago, she slowed down. Then she fell gravely ill. Her symptoms developed rapidly and dramatically. We started feeding her with a syringe late last week because she went from eating minimally to only taking water. Eventually, she had to receive even that by syringe. She showed indications her eyesight was fading. The phrase "skin and bones" began to carry a little weight.

However, medical intervention would extend her life a short time at best. With spring weather finally arriving, we took her outside and allowed her to see and explore the places she enjoyed. Mostly, she slept in them under watchful eyes.

We set her appointment for Monday.

Saturday night, my wife sang in a production of Mendelssohn's Elijah.

On Sunday morning, it was the cat who had been taken in the whirlwind. We searched the main floor of the house but could find her nowhere. We even looked on the second floor, though we could not imagine she could make that climb anymore.

I went across the street for C's help. A former model, C. now runs her family's family business, and cares for a small menagerie, three cats (including Slim's aging friend) and two dogs. The larger one is a little aggressive, so we asked if she'd bring the German Shepherd, Roxy.

Roxy sniffed around the blanket near the bottom of the stairs, where Artemis had taken to sleeping. Then she led the charge upstairs.

When her snout poked under our bed, we heard a plaintive meow, pained, a little fearful, as though she were back in the rural fields and the coyotes had finally caught up to her.

My wife had looked under the bed, earlier, but Artemis was behind a small box and, honestly, we do not see how an animal unable to walk more than a short distance without resting, without her legs bending awkwardly, could have made it so far.

Monday we took her in. And I know worse things happen in the world. Worse things happened that night. And I know she beat the odds, and we gave her a life she wouldn't have had, the feral ginger cat with an injured jaw and feline leukemia.

Saying goodbye to a friend is still a difficult thing to do.

Requies-cat in pace.

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