Once upon a time (around September of 1996) a stray can showed up on my front porch. He was adorable with a little round head, bright green eyes and the softest short coat of fur ever. The little guy adopted me and basically took up residence at the house. Here is a photo of adorable Oscar with those bright green eyes joining in the pumpkin carving fun at Halloween.
Next spring I suddenly noticed some behavioral changes in Oscar and quickly realized that Oscar was a female cat and was indeed pregnant. Now being called Oscarina I took good care of the expectant mama. One day while at work I received a call from a roommate stating she thought Oscarina was going into labor. I left work early and arrived to find her in labor. From what I had heard most cats tend to seek out private and hidden areas when it came time to deliver. Not Oscarina. She was in the bed I had prepared for her but she didn’t want to be left alone. She even rolled on her back and I rubbed her belly a little. She had me right there by her side as she delivered four kittens into this world on April 8, 1997. It was amazing to watch as she birthed all four and then went into mama mode, cleaning and caring for them.
Each of the kittens had a unique appearance. One kitten looked like he had the Phantom of the Opera mask across its face and was named Phantom. A little black and white kitten had a cute little white goatee type look and we named it Foo Man Chu. The third looked a bit like a racoon with a mask around the eyes and we named it Bandito. The fourth didn’t really get a name that stuck and as it would happen she was the one adopted by a friend of a friend. If I remember right after all these years I think the plan was to name her Daisy.
As it worked out only one of the kittens was a boy, that being Phantom. Foo Man Chu a little girl kitten, ended up being nicknamed Fooey. Bandito, also a girl , continued to be called Bandito. About 6 weeks or so after the kittens were born a friend found an abandoned kitten and brought it to me to add to the family. This new kitten dubbed Cracker came with some issues but mama kitty and the other kittens took her in. Mama would turn on her once or twice when Cracker would become aggressive about food with her other kittens. Sadly one day mama kitty came limping into the house and proceeded to die. All we could think is that she had been side swiped by a car and had sustained internal injuries. We gave her a proper burial and mourned her passing.
The kittens continued to grow into healthy young cats. Bandito was the kitten I chose to keep for sure. One of my nieces ended up adopting handsome Phantom. Cracker, the step-sister, also found a new home. Little Fooey stayed with me, but was always a skittish, so unlike her confident and friendly siblings. I now think Fooey was just waiting to find her human soul mate. She did finally find him when she met my dad. That little thing claimed him as her person and my dad fell in love with her in return.
The years passed and it was nice that most had gone to family so I could stay up-to-date on how they were doing. As these things happen eventually my niece’s Phantom developed a cat illness and passed away. About two years ago my dad’s precious Fooey showed signs of illness. He took her into the vet and learned she had some serious mouth issues going on. They recommended mouth surgery and my dad proceeded with the treatment. Fooey had a couple of teeth extracted and the vet thought there might be a mouth cancer at play. Fooey never fully recovered and passed away three months later.
My matriarch Bandito has been the ruling kitty queen in our home for many years. When we added our dog Shanti to the family in 2003 she begrudgingly accepted the new addition, but made it clear that she rules. Shanti to this day will roll over and be submissive to Queen Bandito. When our twin daughters were born I wasn’t sure how Bandito would respond. She ignored them for a few years, but when they developed good petting skills she finally gave them stamps of approval. She used to jump up on the bathroom sink for her food and water.
Bandito turned 17 years old in April of 2014. A few years ago she began to develop a cloudy cataract in her one eye. We have also made various adjustments in the home over the years and recent months to make accommodations for her. As a strong cat she used to jump up onto the bathroom counter to eat and drink her water. This kept the dog from scarfing down the cat food. Eventually she didn’t want to jump high anymore, so we put a kitty door in the bathroom door for her. In recent months she didn’t want to use her cat box with the lid on, so I removed and then bought a smaller box with a lower lip for her to step over. We also took off the kitty door flap because it seemed to be bugging her.
About a month ago she appeared to have an episode of some sort. Maybe a seizure or min stroke. Yet after a short pause she was back to normal. Except for losing some extra fur around the house. Then this last week things turned suddenly. She wanted to hide in a closet and I finally noticed a strong disagreeable order coming from her. I googled a few things and grew concerned it might be renal kidney failure. Just this past Friday we took her to the vet. The examination of her mouth revealed a couple bad teeth and a horrible mouth infection. They took blood and urine to test, gave her an antibiotic shot that would last for two weeks to help with the infection, and suggested having her come back in when she was a little better for surgery to extract some teeth. We left the vet unsure of the outcome. When they called with the lab results it was surprising for a cat her age that there wasn’t anything significant to be concerned about. Yet it also became clear that at her age the infection and tooth issues could be very serious. When I heard about her sister’s results after mouth surgery I grew more worried. I was questioning whether to put a cat her age through such an ordeal. My dad recommended to not do it.
Yesterday and today I have watched my beloved Bandito grow more listless. She has been refusing food for about 48 hours now. I have been able to get her to drink some water by bringing it to her bed. I hold her for stretches of time. She purrs and cuddles in tight with me. She lets me pet her all over and brush her. She doesn’t indicate she is in pain, even if I pet her near her chin and mouth, which is good. She just looks so tired and listless. She has tried walking, but is wobbly. I wonder if the time has arrived for her to pass on. Every couple of hours I tear up and cry. Like right now. In finishing up this posting I just want to go and get her and cuddle her close. Not knowing if it will be the last time.
Bandito has been in my life for nearly 18 years.
I have been her person since the day she was born.
This fur kid has been such an important part of my life.
She will be forever in my heart.
Do you have fur kids?
Are there fur kids who have passed on
that will remain in your heart forever?
(I had a cat named Holly who lived to be 18 years old too.
She holds a special place in my heart too. I still have photos of her.)
We track the lineage and ancestry of humans.
What would it look like if we tracked the
lineage of our furry family members?
(I know for me it feels very special to have know Bandito’s mama
and to have been there when she was born.)