Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goodbye, Leo

In 1995, some kids in a Bremerton street were playing with kittens like they were toys. Let's leave it at that. Animals are not toys.

Leo and Fearless
Leo was one of them. Tiny, skinny, white, with wispy soft fur and sore sunburned ears. Got him home, and he drank and drank water, ate as much as he could hold, and passed out on the couch asleep. 

Reason for name: He had a charcoal upside-down V on his head, a "mark," and St. Mark's animal is the lion, so, of course - Leo. I'm a Leo, too. The mark faded over the years, until he was completely white.

We had a lot of desperate rescue cats underfoot. Food and water sat on the kitchen floor. We were busy. By the time anybody noticed what had happened, Leo had ballooned up into the Fat Boy he'd be the rest of his life. In his last days, he was called regal.

Leo and Bluebear
He was with us for 20 years.

Many of you remember the lordly, bossy, white - and possible - Turkish Van who purred up at you from the couch or floor when you came in the door.

As a half-grown boy, he terrorized a block watch meeting with great glee and verve. And an obviously long-dead robin chick, that came apart more every time he dashed through the back cat door and came flipping about its increasingly disarticulated and lengthening carcass, throwing feathers and panic, before tearing back through the door with a great clack.

Fearless and Leo
The third time he stormed in, he was swinging the appalling leg-waving bird like a golf-club. It was the end of the blockwatch meeting, as everybody jumped back to miss the pair of them.

One woman - a nice church lady who would never swear - leaped to her feet and roared, "Get your nasty-ass dead bird out of here!" Leo romped back out, swinging his horrible avian toy like a victory flag. His work was done.

He was mother to all the new cats, especially to two tiny kittens nicknamed The Potatoes - Fearless and her brother Shadow. He even let Shadow suckle on him. Shadow and Fearless kept him warm and snug until the end.

Shadow and Leo in the Snuggery
Bluebear, a stuffed toy found at the mouth of the Clallam river, showing signs of having come from Japan the hard way, was cleaned, re-stuffed, and soon became Leo's best toy.

When Leo was diagnosed with failing kidneys in January, 2015, I began to pet Shadow a lot more. Shadow was always shy and scary, but Leo was his best friend. They snuggled and hugged themselves to sleep a lot. I knew Shadow would miss Leo badly before long, so I made a point of petting and holding the reluctant Shadow. He got so he liked being petted. This worked when the time came.

Last summer, Dan and I got very sick. Some kind of 'flu. And could do nothing but lie in the sun in backyard, or sit in a chair and read.

Leo sleeping in the yard.
When the neighbor's dog came down the yard and Leo got up to hiss him away, I finally got the materials to built a backyard fence, and put it up quickly, sick or no. Then I let the cage chickens loose and they joined us all, Leo making sure they stayed off his plastic carpet. He loved having his family out in the sun on a blanket, under the California Lilac's dappled shade.

After the sunny days ended, in October, we never thought Leo would get another day in the sun, but this year he did, and grumped when we made him come in out of the evening cold.

On March, 2, 2015, Leo passed from us in front of a wood stove, on an old Marine blanket, after a year of fluids and medication and treats. He got a last summer in the sun in the back yard. A local store drained beef-liver blood so he could have it to lap up in a bowl. It did him good.
Big Mo, Leo, and Jim in the yard.

He probably died as the sun topped the ridge. His blanket was still warm. His right paw was curled in contentment. His last moment had been a good one.

So many people in social media  - old friends and new -  wished Leo well, and genuinely helped with suggestions and instructions. 

We miss him so much.

Maybe more later.

Goodbye Leo. Goodbye, sweet man.

Leo in bed. Red is his color.
Beef blood drained by a local store for the old man.
Note the tiny red Van Dyke.