Yesterday, the last of 2003's bad fortune came forth. For decades, a stray cat had been living outside the Armory. She was christened Meow Ma after having two litters of kittens and her tendency to sit on the back porch and meow if anyone addressed her.
Her appearance roughly coincided with the only cat to live at the Armory: Mugi. Apparently, Mugi would go out and play with her on occasion. On spcecdt's birthday 4 years ago, Mugi passed away. The theory was that Meow Ma hung around the back porch waiting for Mugi to come out and play.
Up until about a year ago, she wouldn't allow anyone near enough to touch her. She was extremely skittish (to the point that the wind scared her). Due to a lot of dedication on pax's part, we eventually got her to be somewhat OK with being petted as long as she was eating at the same time. This went on through a series of behavioral tests (eating from our hands, coming inside to retrieve food, and so on). Eventually, we had her to the point that we could pet her after a few initial starts.
While she was still skittish, I trained her to come inside and climb up on the chairs by placing food there. It wasn't long before I had her jumping into my lap. So long as I stayed perfectly still,
Over the years, she'd occasionally kill something and devour it messily in our backyard. At one point, she caught a mole. The corpse sat under the backyard chair for a while before spcecdt tossed it out into the bushes.
While it rained last year, spcecdt built a shed in our backyard. Shortly afterwards, he made a little house for Meow Ma. It really was like a little house. The ends came off so that we could clean it out easily. We didn't expect to see her in it, but one evening, we saw her face poking out the door.
She'd occasionally have standoffs with the racoons in the backyard. They outmassed her by a bit. One evening, she was in a standoff with two racoons. Understanding that she was in a bit of danger, I ran out and tossed a shoe at one of the racoons making all sorts of noise. pax went out and picked up Meow Ma and brought her inside. While she was OK with pax holding her, she was not OK when we closed the screen door and started meowing a bunch. When we were reasonably sure the racoons weren't waiting outside, we let her out again.
About six months ago, we noticed that she was missing a bit of her ear. As most feral cats do, we figured she had gotten into a bit of a fight. We watched the wound deteriorate bit by bit. pax took her to the vet.
It turned out that she had cancer. The vet tried to treat it without much fortune. Indeed, we didn't think she had much longer.
This was all shortly after my maternal Grandmother passed away and putting Pablo (my cat at home) to sleep.
I understand the difficulty which comes with euthanizing a loved one. There's a bit of a tradeoff and there generally isn't a specific time that it should be done.
With Meow Ma, I thought the choice was pretty clear. She wasn't going to get better, but pax wasn't comfortable putting her to sleep. So she stayed on our back porch getting a tad worse as the weeks went by.
This weekend, pax and spcecdt went to BayCon. Thursday evening, pax ran me through the procedure to puree Meow Ma's food and so on.
She passed away Friday morning. I suspect spcecdt buried her in the backyard.
It's gratifying that we were able to give her the sort of love that a domestic cat typically has. Most animals that we keep as pets practically become members of the household and every bit as real a "person" as the human members of the household. Even though she lived on our back porch, Meow Ma was very much a member of the house to pax and I. She'll be missed.