In the fall of 2000, I lived at Historic Murphy’s Landing; one of the buildings at the Landing was the Lumberyard, a huge building that held all kinds of lumber as well as being storage for many of the artifacts that had been given to the Landing but had not been “assessed” to a house.
The tools for building and repairing were also kept in the Lumberyard. This was the home of several cats that helped keep the mouse population to a dull roar.
One day I was visiting Norm when I heard a kitten crying at the top of it’s lungs. We had a litter of kittens there, but none of them were crying. I started looking around and ended up on the top level, crawling through dust and spider webs and old wood. And finally found a nest of three kittens that had been abandoned by the momma in one of her many moves (she had four others). By the time I found them, one was dead and the other two were pretty weak. I tucked them into my coat and crawled out, told Norm I was heading home and had kittens in my coat.
The one little girl died that day but we managed to save the other one – who was then called “Lucky.” She was about ten days old, at the most and fit in the palm of my hand. We raised her on kitten replacer with a kitten bottle. We kept her in a box with a heating pad to help keep her warm. As with all baby animals, I had to be the momma and clean her. Most babies need stimulation to eliminate waste (all right … to poop!), so I would take a warm washcloth, turn her upside down and rub her tummy like a momma would clean her after eating. She hated it and would yell bloody murder every time I turned her upside down. I would then take a fine-toothed comb and comb her coat to get mats out.
When she was big enough to climb out of her box, she figured out how to climb the stairs to the bedroom and cry until I picked her up and put her in bed with me. Norm did not like her under the covers, so I put a heating pad at the foot of the bed and that’s where she slept.
For seven years, now, she has slept at the foot of the bed, except for the times she slept on my pillow, as a fur hat, arching herself around my head.
But a few nights ago, she was not on the bed. I figured she was too lazy to come up from the family room where the corn stove was cooking her hide, as she likes. But by morning, she still was not on the bed, so I started opening doors and calling, thinking she had gotten locked in somewhere. Finally, Norm found her under his dresser, lying on the heat vent.
From that time forward, I worried and watched her – she would not stay on the bed, she hid in corners or lay on the floor and didn’t move much. I tried to get her to drink some tuna water or just plain water but she showed no interest. Monday night I found her upstairs in the girls’ suite and brought her down to where she belonged – on the bed – where she slept all night. But then got off the bed and laid in the studio all day.
By the time Candy and Wayne came for supper, she had moved to the computer room. Candy and I sat watching her and talking about what could be wrong. During supper, she moved into the bathroom, so Norm got a box and put an old pair of coveralls in it for her.
Sometime between my many visits during the night, she passed away. We don’t know what was wrong but it could have been related to an earlier bout of pneumonia she had developed as a young kitten or she could have had something wrong from birth (which was the cause of her abandonment).
Whatever the reason, she is now gone. She was a sweet cat – when she wanted to be. Since she had no siblings, she did not learn the lessons that most kittens learn about biting – you bite, you get bit back! I was her sibling and she fought and played with my hand, to my distress. So as an adult, if she were mad (sometimes more often than not), she would take it out on me; it was raining? It was MY fault and I got a nip on the leg to tell me of the fact.
But despite the nips and scratches I got, I loved her and she loved me. She WAS a sweet cat and I will miss her dreadfully.
Rest in peace, Lucky!