In Memory of Ralphie
My sweet Ralphie..
You came into my life around May of 2013. You were an abandoned cat that my (now ex-) girlfriend brought along with her when she moved in.
You were happy as an indoor/outdoor cat, coming in during the day and doing whatever it is you do at night.
In December that year, you disappeared for the first time. I looked for you over the next few days. Then one day, I heard a meow behind me, and it was you following me back home. After this escapade, I took you to the vet to get checked out.
That’s when we got the bad news that you were both FeLV+ and FIV+.
I decided at that point you needed to become an indoor-only cat, both for your own health and the health of other cats in the neighborhood. I got you a litter box, which you didn’t take to right away, but we worked on it. I got you a bunch of really nice cat toys to try and keep you occupied, but what you liked more than anything else was an old sock stuffed with catnip and tied off at the end.
You kept me up almost every night like a newborn baby, wailing a the top of your lungs and jumping on top of me to let you out. I wanted to get you neutered, but your white-blood cell count was too low for surgery.
I got you a harness and a leash so I could try to walk you, hoping it would calm you down. At first, we would go 10 feet, you’d hide under a bush, I’d wait about 5-10 minutes before pulling you out, and we would repeat. After about 30 minutes of this, I’d take you home. But you got braver and eventually would lead me on long walks all over the neighborhood, which we did almost every day. You marked your territory like a dog, still sought out other cats (which I didn’t let you get near, sorry buddy, FeLV is contagious), and could spot a raccoon, opossum, or dog much sooner than I could.
Over the next several months, you became an escape artist. You clawed through every one of the window screens and managed to escape a couple times this way. I would sometimes supervise you outside off-leash, and you once made a break for it and got away. When a friend watched you while I was out of town, I’d warn them of you running out of the door, but you still got by them on more than one occasion. With the help of signs and neighbors, I got you back every time. Once I even had to bust you out of the pound after you turned up on the animal shelter’s website. And the vet told me you once escaped from your cage and hid in the lobby when you spent the day there.
I got you a long nylon rope that I’d attach to your leash so you could be outside when I was home. Sometimes you’d get tangled around a tree or the staircase and you’d let out a meow to let me know I had to untangle you. Most mornings I would let you out on your leash, then quickly run down to the coffee shop. Every time I came back, you would give the largest “meow” and let me pet you while I ate breakfast and had coffee.
In early 2015, your white blood cell count improved enough that you were neutered, and you changed into a completely different cat. You were always sweet and full of personality, but now you didn’t disturb me nearly as much at night. You would still run out the front door every time I got home, but it was easy to lure you back in with treats. Most mornings you would wake me with a bite of my nose or cheek, telling me to get up and feed you. We would still go for walks. Sometimes they were long. But a lot of the time you’d lead me down to the end of the block, then lead me back home. You would wake from a nap and were always so excited to use the litter box. You’d run to the back room in a fury and splash litter in every direction. You still loved to spend days outside on your rope and harness for your catnaps.
You passed away on Tuesday, August 18, after a hard-fought battle against your FeLV and FIV afflictions.
There are many things I’ll miss about you, including:
– The time you ran out the door and decided to climb a tree, and how you slowly backed yourself down (I thought you would be stuck up there).
– The time I walked outside and saw you on the roof of the building across the street.
– The Fourth of July 2013, where I spent most of the day/night calling your name since I didn’t want the fireworks to spook you, and you suddenly showed up around midnight.
– Taking you on walks.
– Petting you outside on the bench, often as you settled into a slumber.
– Your cute talking/meowing/chatter..
– Your constant purring, even when having procedures done at the vet, even in your final moments.
– Your swagger as you walked about as a mighty tomcat.
– Your gigantic fat head.
– Your obnoxiously huge fat cheeks.
– The way your head and cheeks looked even more ridiculous with a collar.
– Your clawing.. box spring is pretty much destroyed in one corner, side of couch as well, back of couch, entrance to the place.. now they serve as reminders of you.
– Your white whiskers.
– The streak of white like a paint splash from your chest to your jaw.
– The way you loved to watch the squirrels out the window.
I miss you terribly, and I hope you’re enjoying yourself in tomcat heaven.
Special thanks to Dr. Bussmann and the whole crew at Mt. Tabor Vet for taking such great care of Ralph and to Compassionate Care for their help with Ralph’s transition.
– Stephen Leverett, Portland, OR