Oreo

ā€œI have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.ā€
ā€• George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Who doesn’t love an underdog?

For many years my neighborhood has had several stray cats in it. I’ve been feeding them more or less since they took care of a little problem for me, which is a story for another day. Having a set of cats that would regularly visit the house meant that we started to give them names. None of the names were terribly inventive. They were all chosen based on the appearance of the cat. This is the story of one of those cats.

This is the story of Oreo.

Oreo was a long-haired tuxedo cat who spent many years on the streets. Of all of the neighborhood strays, Oreo was by far the friendliest. Most of the cats don’t let me anywhere near them, but Oreo would always come and brush up against my leg. He had a hard life on the streets. Over the years I’ve seen him bloodied and ragged at times. Still, he showed up for dinner when we offered it.

Unfortunately for Oreo I already had two cats. This was down from the four cats I’d had just a few years earlier. That’s a lot for one person and so my heart had hardened to the idea of taking in any more strays. Eventually Mojo and Kitty passed and I was the only living thing left in the house. For a while, perhaps selfishly, I kept it that way. I fed Oreo, but he stayed outside.

Sue didn’t have any cats and she debated cat-napping Oreo, but we didn’t do so until December 30th of 2017. We were coming back to the house after shopping and Oreo came up to us looking as bad as he ever had. We picked him up and put him in a carrier to take him to the emergency vet. He was malnourished, FIV+ and had some serious hip damage, probably from getting hit by a car sometime in his past. He was covered in scabies. He was terrified and bit me as I was trying to comfort him, so our next trip was to the emergency clinic so I could get a shot for potential rabies. It was quite a day, and that’s why the date has stuck with me.

Sue sat with him in the garage that night. He curled up on her lap and from that point on the two of them were almost inseparable. She took him home with her and for 4-1/2 years he was almost never more than a foot from her if he could help it. For all of his time on the streets, he was one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever known.

Oreo

Oreo died on Thursday, June 9th. He’d been eating less and less over the last month or so. There was something wrong with his kidneys and though we tried various things to help him out, in the end there was nothing that we could do except try to make his last few days as comfortable as we could. We spoiled him with all of the treats and tuna that he could eat. He was a cuddlebug right up until the end.

When we picked him up I didn’t think he would have lived more than a couple of weeks considering the condition he was in. Instead, he got over four years of the good life with lots of love and tuna, which to a cat might be the same thing.

Oreo was definitely a momma’s boy. Although he only lived with me for a little while his passing hit me harder than I thought it would. When I think about why that is, I think about the kind of cat he was and the life that he lived. Like I mentioned above, the streets were not kind to him. Fights, injuries, illnesses. He was one tough cat. Through it all he was still just a fluffy ball of love that adored his humans, and we adored him. To endure so much difficulty and come out of it with so much love, how could I not be affected by that? Rare is the cat that makes me want to be a better human.

Goodbye little buddy. We miss you. I wish we’d had more time together.

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