In 2003 I had just bought a remote ranch off the grid, and I went to the HART shelter in Cambria, CA to get a couple barn cats. The shelter was a house with rooms in which the cats lived and played, so visitors could sit among them and observe. Every time I sat down, one tuxedo kitty kept jumping on my lap and pushing his nose under my chin really hard, saying “Take ME!” At one point another cat was in my lap, and the tuxedo jumped on top of that cat to get at my chin. How could I say no?
We were bonded from our first night together. I was never his mom, always his partner. We and the barn carts went exploring up to 1/4 mile in any direction. Mickeycat had many favorite trees and games with his buddies, like cornering rattlesnakes and lizards, standing up to gray foxes, and surprising deer. Freedom and merging indoors with outdoors were important to both of us, but he was also a loving kitty who never got tired of being petted and squeezed. He loved to sit in my lap but always waited until I invited him. When he spotted people, he made the same warning sound that he used for coyotes and would dash outside to escape them, but when he was forced to the vet, he was friendly and mellow and endeared himself to everyone. He survived nature, several medical scares, and getting lost for a week in 2016, the day after a move to another rural place, which cost me one of my lives. We gradually became like an old married couple, communicating silently and deeply.
Finally Mickeycat was unable to escape a diagnosis of lymphoma in 2016. He did well with chemo for nearly two years at the OSU Small Animal Hospital. I will always be grateful to the OSU Oncology team for giving us that extra time together, and especially to Dr. Winter, who was so kind and caring. Eventually, chronic kidney disease and rapid weight loss made Mickeycat’s health start to implode. He made it clear he was fed up with swallowing pills, and I decided to put him in hospice status. His physical condition slowly declined, but he stayed himself until the final day of his life in January 2019. While waiting for his final vet appointment, I carried him around in the sunshine to visit the spots in the pasture he loved, and he looked longingly up the trunk of a doug fir as though he could fly up to the lowest limbs.
I have never had a relationship with a human or animal like I had with Mickeycat, so my loss is huge, and I keep falling into the hole he has left. I am so lucky to have spent 15 years with such an extraordinary partner.
A donation was made in Mickeycat's memory and the memorial was created on March 6, 2019.