The cat that I found in fourth grade (that's more than a decade ago, yeesh!) has finally died. Here's the IM I receive from my mom this morning:
Mom: Scabby died yesterday. We found her body in the garage, thankfully before it got bad. ....
Mom: Funeral this afternoon, when I return home from visiting my Dad. ...
Mom: *Yo' Daddy* picked up the stiff, corpus delecti and CHASED ME around the yard with it. Is he still a boy or what?
Mom: He also had me take pictures of poor, ol' Scabby .... *after* he had "posed" the stiff body for photos.
Mish sshalnírivnilishe vel'esa. Let me remember her for you.
My friend Sara and I found her in my garage one day after school. We kept her hidden until my dad came home from work, then we asked him if we could keep her. (I was worried that my mom would say no if I asked her first. I knew which parent to ask for which type of crazy request. ;)) Sara thought we should name the cat Shadow, for the black of her tortoiseshell fur, but I wanted to call her Pox, for the brown spots. We comprised, and named her Shadow Pox.
She had a litter of four kittens that spring (after which, we had her spayed). We kept all the kittens. My sisters and I named the two tortoiseshell females Little Paw (the runt of the litter, now just as fat as the rest of them) and Speckles, the tuxedo cat Boots, and the orange mackerel tabby Goldie. All of them are only about a year younger than Shadow Pox, but they are all in apparent good health. (Boots ran off to new territory in a nearby neighborhood, so my sister got a replacement tuxedo cat, Sneaker, from the pound. He still lives at my family's house.)
Shadow Pox was a good cat until she got old. I remember one time, in fifth grade or so, I had gone out on a bike ride by myself. I told my dad where I was going, but he went off on an errand without mentioning it to my mom. Then she went off on an errand of her own, thinking I had gone with my dad. When I came home, it was starting to get dark. The doors were all locked (unusual for my house) and no one was home to let me in. I sat out on the front lawn, cold and worried, waiting for someone to come home as it grew increasingly dark. I remember Shadow Pox happened to be outside, and sat in my lap the whole time I waited for my parents. She was really comforting, and I was grateful she was there with me, even if it didn't mean anything special to her.
But then Shadow Pox did get old. She started scratching out her fur, possibly because of a flea allergy. She would leave clumps of her fur all over the house, and her skin became scabby from her constant scratching. We started calling her Scabby, rather than Shadow Pox; that has been her de facto name for the past several years.
Then she developed what my mom called "cat dementia" — Scabby began fixating on particular spots in the house, sitting in one place for days. Her scabby tufts of fur would accumulate all over the area, until we would forcibly move her. Oftentimes, she'd return to the spot, and we'd remove her again. Eventually she'd go off and fixate on some new location, and the cycle would begin again.
I had often compared Shadow Pox to my great aunt, Aunty C. They were/are both old and weird eccentric. Unfortunately, Aunty C hates cats — thinks they're dirty animals, though she loves dogs — so she and Shadow Pox never got to bond.
Tonight my family is holding a wake of sorts for Scabby, and tomorrow they'll have a funeral and bury her in the backyard. I've asked that they call me when they do that, so I can be part of the event. I assume my dad will sing "Gather at the River," as he has done at most other pet-funerals we have held (for dead lizards and chickens, mostly).
Update, 11:40 PM: My sister has blogged about Scabby's death too, if you want to hear about it from her perspective.