He was the best cat in the whole world. At least, the best cat that I've ever known. This picture was taken a few weeks ago after he'd lost a good bit of weight. For some reason, right now, I can't find any really good pics of him -- they're on the hard drive somewhere.
This weekend he really went downhill, and I had to take him into the vet this morning. Turned out to be his final trip. And that's okay -- it really really is.
He came to us as a stray when he was still young -- maybe a year old. He had a terribly crooked tail, and I had just taken a long series of tissue mobilization courses -- of course I had to practice on him. I would mobilize his tail until all of his vertebrae went pop-pop-pop and everything straightened out. After a few treatments he decided he would keep me.
Over the past 16 years or so he gave me the chance to practice first aid and wound care many many times. He was a good sized tom -- healthy and slim with a large frame, and for years he reigned as King of the Cats in our neighborhood. He was always a good patient, and would sit very calmly while I worked on his frequent wounds. No matter what was going on, even after he got sick, he was the terror of the Cardinal crowd, and baby bunnies were told nighttime horror stories about him, I'm sure.
He had the most wonderful soft side, though. Kids could play with him without a worry, even though he was fully clawed. He never scratched or bit, and would wait until the second or third time that someone picked him up by the tail before he would finally just walk away. He was always by my side when I worked in the yard (I hate to think of the times that I called it "being underfoot"...). He would come running when we raked leaves, because he loved to get in the pile until he was covered, and then he would EXPLODE out and attack the rake. Funny cat.
And here's my last story ... A couple of years ago, when the dog was getting old and blind and stumbled around a lot, RuPaw was her seeing eye cat. Winnie would get confused going over the threshold from the garage to the backyard...
...and RuPaw would go back to get her. He would walk just at her shoulder with her chin hovering over his head. They would walk together out into the back yard until there was a good place for them both to sit down together. Once she was settled, he would then go on his way.
Now really. He was the best cat ever.