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A fine and peculiar lady

I mentioned in a comment thread this week that my old girl Charlotte had died. I said I wasn’t going to post about it — who needs more downers in their lives, am I right? — but there is a curious fact about Charlotte’s death that cat observers will find interesting.

She chose the spot where she wanted to die weeks before she died there.

She was seventeen years old, and some of those years weren’t easy. She’d been failing for a long time: eating constantly but getting skinnier and skinnier, as if her food had no virtue. When you picked her up, she weighed nothing at all. I didn’t take her to the vet; she was old and cranky and hated being interfered with. Any kind of major medical intervention was out of the question. I was going to have to make an awful decision soon, but I figured as long as she snoozed in the sun and purred when you patted her, she had sufficient quality of life.

She hadn’t wandered outside the boundary of our yard for years, but a few weeks ago the next door neighbor called to say Charlotte was in the middle of her gravel driveway. And she was, lying curled up perfectly composed. In a drizzling rain.

That was so odd, I figured right then she had decided her time was up, but I carried her home and she ate and fell asleep in her usual spot. She kept going back, though. And I kept carrying her home. Eventually, she came home on her own to eat and then right back to her spot. Not the exact spot; it was several spots within a small radius. The neighbor was awfully nice about it.

Last week, the neighbor had a friend over. He parked near Her Spot, and Charlotte took the opportunity to crawl under his car and die. Poor man. He was so sure he had run her over. He didn’t, though. There wasn’t a mark on her.

In fact — I know this is an awful old cliché — she looked better than she had in a long time. She was warm when I picked her up and looked groomed and well. She looked so alive we held a sort of wake for her, afraid she wasn’t dead but in some kind of weird coma. But no.

And that’s my ‘aren’t cats strange’ story. Please don’t be sad for Charlotte — she had a long and interesting life, including a trans-Atlantic move. She was one of the great ones.

Have a good weekend!


Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: August 30, 2019, 8:49 pm

That’s a good run, can’t ask for more really.

But you need to dust more often in here.
It seems to be very dusty today.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: August 30, 2019, 9:29 pm

Sorry to hear of your loss. I grew up in a house with many indoor/outdoor cats, and I gotta say I can’t remember any drama around their departure, unlike the dogs. They just didn’t come home one night. I agree they seem to know, and go find their spot. The weird thing was almost 100% of the time a new stray would show up at mom’s doorstep within a week or so. It’s like they knew a slot was open at Barb’s home for wayward cats/dogs/ducks/rabbits.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 30, 2019, 10:04 pm

There’s definitely something in this, both with cats knowing where (if not exactly when) their entry to the Elysian Fields will take place and also with the next one in the queue reporting for duty.

I’ve had several cat servants say this has happened to them too, so I’m willing to believe it’s a regular phenomenon. But how does it work?

We’re not exactly cat shopping at the moment but The Weasel has a glint in her eye and I’m just a complete slop bag for cats, so…

Meanwhile, Charlotte was very kind to me when she arrived from the colonies, didn’t seem to mind my stuck-up accent or my big feet at all and was always willing to share my dinner on the one night a week Her Stoatliness goes to bed early and I eat alone… well, save for Charlotte, who would usually take pity on my solitary state and dutifully share my pork chop or chicken breast.

She was, certainly, one of the Great Cats and much beloved.

Comment from Ric
Time: August 31, 2019, 1:01 am

I typed out a long response then lost it. Shorter version is that I will miss hearing about Charlotte. Hope you buried her in a pretty & peaceful spot.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: August 31, 2019, 1:30 am

I’m sorry to hear Charlotte passed. My princess also lived to be 17. She also had a “funny” story for her passing. She was a “dump kitty” when she appeared on my property. Somebody dumped her and her litter mates and she was the sole survivor. I had seen her a couple of days and thought my dogs or the coyotes would soon make short work of her. We had some friends over, she appeared, a friend noticed her and I said she would be gone soon. My friend laughed….and then that dump kitty became my princess. My friend would ask after her over the years and we would laugh at how I had planned to take her to the pound. My friend died suddenly about 7 years ago- brain aneurysm. We flew back for her funeral. We came home and my girl died a few hours later. I know my girl waited till we came home to die and I know she and my friend are waiting together for me on the other side.

Comment from Sister
Time: August 31, 2019, 1:42 am

Tales of moggies past are making me sad. I will hug my fuzzybutt Jack a little harder tonight.

Anybody have Valerie Harper in the ‘pool? She is mort at the age of 80.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: August 31, 2019, 2:17 am

Congrats @ thefritz who won the Celebrity Dead Pool with Valerie Harper…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 31, 2019, 10:23 am

Good lord, Valerie Harper was still alive? Hasn’t she been struggling with that brain tumor for like a decade?

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: August 31, 2019, 8:18 pm

Similar occurrence. In June, a couple of weeks shy of being 20 years old, our family cat died. We live at the very edge of town in what is basically a rural area. She had been losing weight and had become basically an indoor only cat over the last few months. When she was born, it was under one of my daughter’s bed so we have an exact birthday for her.

The daughter whose bed she was born under had to be out of state for a week, and the day she came back, Jumpy had gone outside and vanished. We were searching the area, and just as my daughter home, I found Jumpy in a wild grape thicket along an irrigation ditch near the house. She was asleep and not really responsive when I woke her and carried her out of the thicket and put her in my daughter’s arms and we brought her into the house, where she acted normally.

The next day she would not get up and move, and we basically comforted her and stayed by her until she passed in the middle of the night. She is buried in a part of the yard we call the Ash Grove, marked with a stone.

We were not really up for another cat, but a couple of weeks later a friend of my wife’s, who lived alone, died in her house. Her cat, who we later found out was about 15, was locked in the house with her for 3 days. We kinda inherited, involuntarily, a really traumatized cat. It took us several days to find the vet she was taken to and get information on her. The cat was terrified of us, and voraciously hungry. Would not let us pet her for a bit over a week and hid around the house facing walls and furniture. Finally she decided we were safe, and actually let us play with her [with a laser cat toy]. The day after she let us play with her, she would not get up and move, and passed later that day. After we buried her, I was really not ready for another cat.

There had been a gray tabby and white tom, fixed, wandering around the neighborhood. We assumed it belonged to a neighbor or was feral. My wife and daughter started feeding it outside, then petting it. Suddenly, we had an indoor-outdoor cat. Checked with all the neighbors, and he does not belong to them, but they have seen him around outside for a couple of years. Posted ads and no one claimed him.

He loves laps, being petted, having his belly rubbed [!!???!!], and views cat food as a delicacy. Daughter named him “Orion the Hunter”, and he has reduced the squirrel population raiding our bird feeders. We figure he had a home once and lost it, because a truly feral cat would not be as friendly with people.

In fact, I think I will go let him in.

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from BJM
Time: August 31, 2019, 11:11 pm

Six months ago my Charlotte lookalike, Molly, did pretty much the same thing. She grew thin and slept much of the day but curled up next to me at night purring softly as she always had done. She and I had 19 good years and then one day she curled up in her usual sunny afternoon spot and left.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 1, 2019, 9:43 am

When I was a student and very poor, a cat began to roam the halls of our apartment building. No-one owned him and he was starving. I called the local shelter and they said they’d come get him…for $20 I didn’t have.

So I lured him into my apartment and kept him. He lived to be 20 and we never really got along. I mean, he tolerated me and graciously accepted my offer of food, but we weren’t best buds or anything.

When he was 20, he began to eat ravenously and lose weight, just like Charlotte did. Some months into this, I came home and found his back legs paralyzed and him panicky.

I took him to an emergency vet, so they could make him comfortable while he died. Not only did the sumbitch do $500 worth of unnecessary tests, he scolded me for not bringing him in when I noticed he was eating hard and losing weight. It was a thyroid issue and could have been corrected with a pill given daily. Twenty year old cat.

Anyway, the idea of giving Charlotte a daily pill was just not to be entertained.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 1, 2019, 12:16 pm

Very sorry about Charlotte.

Comment from Steve
Time: September 2, 2019, 1:57 am

We gots 2 thyroid kittehs.

Ate like normal, but persistent weight loss.

They are both pretty bad about taking the pills. So we pulverize them in one of those pill crushers. And blend it into a dollop of baby food.

Cats think they are getting a pretty good treat out of the deal, and their weight loss is in check.

Happy to hear that your old gal passed so softly.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: September 2, 2019, 12:54 pm

Lovely photo of Charlotte. I love how her ears and whiskers are highlighted, and how attentive she looks. She was a splendid cat. I will miss the stories about Charlotte and Mad Jack. But I look forward to reading more about Boston Blackie. (Oh I know that’s not his name—but it’s what I call him. Maybe you could give him an alias.)

Comment from drew458
Time: September 2, 2019, 4:52 pm

I’m sad about Charlotte, but I have good kitteh news of my own. My 5 year old outdoor cat Ginger, missing for over a month, sauntered by today looking for something to eat. And he’s FAT !!! Somebody must have taken him in and fed him really well for the past 5 weeks.

Comment from Teej
Time: September 2, 2019, 6:47 pm

I’m not sad for Charlotte. We’re never sad for those who go, we’re sad for those left behind.
Awesome stories, everyone! drew458, so happy you got your cat back…

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: September 3, 2019, 8:11 pm

I remember the day Charlotte had to have a wrecked fang removed. After coming home, she insisted on going outside, and came back with a mouse.

“…she can kill and eat mice with just two fangs. While bombed out of her skull on kitty smack.”

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