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Requiem for Oscar.

SV Dad

Savannah Super Cat
Part 1

Not all cats are fortunate enough to have a home. Nor shelter. Nor reliable healthy food source.

Far too many cats live fully outdoors with no owners (servants) of their own. They have no idea of the pampered life some cats have. The lives of these cats are generally far shorter, and more challenging and violent than the indoor cats. But sometimes, a few of the comforts find their way into the lives of these anonymous cats.

In my suburban neighborhood, stray and feral cats are not only shunned, but considered undesirable and open season for animal control. So these visitors are few and far between. If you see a healthy beautiful cat, it’s a good bet somebody’s cat is out and about, being missed by their family. Or worse yet, lost.

About ten years ago, a large, beautiful, healthy Maine Coon Cat was visiting my yard and environs somewhat frequently. Enough for my wife and I to suspect this cat was one to cry to get outside on a frequent basis. It would not approach us. It would keep it’s distance, yet had a little curiosity about our yard.

It was obvious he was intact. We were fairly sure he had a crush on our two young girls, a svelte and beautiful F5 savannah, and a pixie cute tabby. He would approach the sliding glass door to put eyes on the young ladies. But it soon became more frequent. As the weather and winter season approached, the frequency of visits did not decline. The first visits were intermittent. Now they were becoming regular. We were no longer sure this cat had a home as he was beginning to get somewhat scruffy looking. Still keeping his distance he was noticeably going under the wooden back deck at my neighbor next door. Even in the rain and the weather turning colder we felt he was establishing a homestead. We took pity on this cat, fearing he no longer had a home, and would put out a dish of food. He would not approach the door or our patio until he could not view us. Then slowly he would approach. If it felt right to him he would dash in and eat in a fashion you may have mistaken for inhaling. This cat was very hungry.

And thus began the long relationship with Oscar.

Why Oscar?

By this time his disheveled looks of living on the edge began to become apparent. His constant hissing every time we went outside in his presence lead us to believe he may have been tossed out of his home because of his grouchy and bad attitude. Oscar the Grouch. Kind of resembled him, too.

As winter progressed he was seen and fed most days. This was during the warm winters, but it would still become very cold. We worried for his welfare. But he got his Fancy Feast every time he hung around and mooched. And he got bold. He would now come to the patio door and let us see him. He learned quite fast that he could produce a stupid human trick and have us serve him. But if you tried to get close to him, hissing and an occasional swat with his very sharp claws were soon to follow.

One can only take this poor creature living on the hostile edge of the cold Chicago winters for so long before taking some charitable action. A good friend of ours, upon hearing about this outdoor cat, offered her medium sized dog igloo for shelter. We always had the fear that the occasional coyotes that wander through the subdivision, might attack and harm Oscar. We placed the igloo right next to the patio door, hoping no coyote would attempt to get so close to a human house. (We never did detect a coyote getting close to it.) Chicago winters can get brutally cold for a few days. We were losing faith that Oscar could crawl under the neighbor’s deck and lean up in the concave corner against the warm house foundation and find sufficient warmth to survive. Being the suckers that we were up to this point, we bought a heated cat pad and placed it in the igloo and plugged it in. It didn’t take long before he discovered the incredible warmth it provided in his igloo. Oscar now had a home and a warm one at that. Food, too.

But he would not stay in the home when we would open the door to feed him. He still would disappear for days. We worried for his safety. Needlessly as it turned out as this guy was a survivor. And he returned every fall. And that made us wonder. Where the heck does he go for the summer? He would be gone during the warm months, back in the fall.

He had a heart of gold for other creatures as unfortunate as him. He had a girlfriend we named Smoky, for her solid grey coat. Smoky lived under the neighbor’s patio deck. But amazingly, when we put out food, he would get Smokey and bring her back to our door and let her eat first. One time I discovered during a nasty snowstorm there were two cats in the igloo. Oscar was sharing the warmth with Smokey.

And he fathered six children. Oh, that was a concern. Last thing we wanted was a colony of feral outdoor cats. We trapped Smokey and the kittens. We placed the kittens with a local shelter and had Smokey fixed and released her. She rarely came back. But I see her from time to time.
 
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SV Dad

Savannah Super Cat
Part 2.

Not long after this during a summer hiatus, Oscar came back in the fall with a nick out of his ear. Somebody had captured him, had him fixed, and released. And this mellowed him. One day while sitting at the patio table waiting for dinner to be served, I received a brush by. I was stunned he was bold enough to touch me. A few months later, I was able to scratch his head a little after he ate. Not long after that I could always pet him. This cat was healthy by the feel of his rib cage. Oscar was in good shape.

This routine was now firmly established, winters here in the igloo, summers only God knows where.

Now this activity did not go unnoticed by the neighbors. At first they were generally opposed to a wild cat who had the potential for carrying diseases. But Oscar won them over and earned their respect. He never did property damage. He did not howl at night. He left the birds alone, but had a real zest for taking out the chipmunks, which endeared him to my other neighbor. He became the neighborhood cat. They all called him Oscar. Even my cats treated him well. They rarely howled when he was out back. He was just the outside cat to them and not going anywhere anytime soon, unless it was summer.

This summer, Oscar did not leave. He would disappear for a day or two, but was hanging out regularly.

He did not have the healthy glow when he would show up in the spring time. He was getting old. We estimate he was now 12 years old. That’s real old for an outside cat. And he got worse. He was eating huge amounts of food and looking even worse. He was getting thinner. He coat was pathetic. Something was seriously going wrong with poor old Oscar. But he kept up his spirit and ate huge amounts of food. Four times what I fed my cats.

This morning we captured him, put him in a carrier, and my wife took him to the vet she previously worked for.

Oscar was in as bad of shape as we had feared. He had a huge tumor in his belly.

Oscar went to cat heaven this morning. We are more upset than we thought we would be. He was a cat we could not hold. He was a cat who lived the best he could for an outside cat. But we are grateful we were able to ease him humanely out of our world.

My fondest memory will be Oscar, laying on his heated pad in his igloo in the depth of a snowstorm, with an inch of snow on his head, rolling over and stretching. He was in his element.

Oscar you will not be forgotten. We are glad you shared your life with us.
 

Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
Very heartfelt and wonderful tribute to Oscar. I am so sorry. I too, had tears reading this.

RIP, dear Oscar....
 

NikkiA

Site Supporter
Too many of them spend their lives scared and alone. Oscar may have never let you pick him up, but I am certain he knew that you cared for him, and was grateful.
RIP Oscar.
Sending you hugs, RD.
 

Charley

Savannah Super Cat
I'm so sorry! May he rest in peace. What an amazing story for him to find compassion and love!
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
You did a wonderful thing for Oscar, you gave him a home, you gave him sustenance, and in the end you gave him dignity when it was time to say goodbye. RIP Oscar.
 

Evie

Savannah Super Cat
You are very kind people, an amazing story despite the very sad ending, you gave him everything he needed and he was able to live his life as a free spirit. He was able to communicate with you in his way and you listened and responded. Cat's are amazing and I love that you have shared Oscar's story and I for one will be sharing it with all my cat loving friends and family - he is now know half way round the world! My kitten has just seen me cry for the first time!!

I have a stray cat, Morris, who looks very much like a Maine Coon, He lived on the streets for some time until he was found lying almost dead after being his by a car. He was picked up by the animal rescue service and endured months of surgery, they had to wire up his jaw to allow it to heal and when this was removed his bite wasn't good enough to allow him to eat properly. They had to re-break and he went through the same ordeal again. I couldn't resist his story and had to offer him a home. The rescue service was not sure he would settle in a home as he was placed in a small indoor cattery while he recovered but when they tried to move him to a larger pen with access to the outdoors he freaked out. They suspected he may have become agoraphobic and may have to be returned to the rescue centre if he didn't settle. He spent a week or so hiding in my room but a year later he is a wonderfully happy boy who loves his food and loves to come and go as he pleases - never going too far. He has gone from a long skinny and matted looking puss to a slightly plump and gloriously fluffy magnificat! I can tell that he is a very happy boy. He is great with my Pixie-Bob, who arrived shortly after he had settled in and although I still like to be around while he meets my kitten - just as she tends to get annoying after a while - he is doing great with her too.

RIP Brave Oscar x
 
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