I started writing this on November 14, 2013:
Just a little more than five years ago, a very hungry, pretty long haired black, white and tan kitten meowed piteously at the dining room window. He was starving. His eyes were being turned up at the outer corners he was so hungry! Annie gave him some milk, then he came back several times for food and soon he was adopted into our home, though he really belonged to the whole neighborhood. She named him George. We figured he was 4 or 5 months old; had him fixed a few months later.
George was very friendly but also very brave. Once he stood down two big dogs in the back yard! His bravery earned him some scars. Last year (2012) he tangled with what we figured must have been a squirrel who did such damage to his face we had to take him to the vet to get help for it to heal. He had way more moxie than sense and used up several of his nine lives when he was quite young. But all his scrapes healed each time till he looked good as new. Just this summer, we learned he was a Maine coon cat when a friend who came over met George.
He did not endear himself to Shasta, our older female cat, since they both wanted to be #1, but in time they got used to each other and mostly got along. His only other fault was scratching the carpet after every meal. He got really good at begging for more food and getting what he wanted. He would just sit in the kitchen and stare at me until I got the idea!
Sometimes when Arthur would let him in the door, he would leap in and gallop to his food dish. Arthur said he was a horse when he did that. George loved to jump over Shasta, which, of course, she did not appreciate!
He was such a good friend to us all. Whenever anyone went to work or play outside, he was out there too nearby, either watching or participating. He closely observed the ping pong games when the grandchildren came and they were delighted with him.
He would wait for us outside in the yard to come home, kind of like a dog would. He would lay on his belly with his hind legs splayed out behind him. Often he would sleep on his back with his paws in the air above him, right in the middle of the walkway! He'd often sleep on Arthur's bed during the days-- such a buddy he was.
Dennis found that George loved to have his back rubbed. George wasn't much of a cuddler but he would crawl up in Dennis' lap when he was cold. His purr was immense!
Sunday, November 10, 2013, he did not come in for the night as was his habit. The weather was warm so we didn't think much of it since he'd stayed out before occasionally. (He was great roamer, tried to go on long walks with us even!) The next morning our neighbors across the street, Karin and Scot, rang our doorbell about 7 am. Karin had noticed George across the street from their house, laying at the edge of the road. She and Scot brought George to us in a cardboard box. George was crying. We thanked them and brought George inside in the box, not wanting to think he wouldn't get better like all the other times before. We covered George's body with a towel to keep him warm. Dennis sat at the table and petted George's head, and cried and prayed for him for quite a while, then he got ready for work. Arthur prayed for George too and said he was good. I soon moved George's box under a light to keep him warmer. He would cry every once in a while; didn't move much at all.
Later we fixed lunch and took it and George in the box over to work with us. I told Andy about George, and right away when he saw him he was concerned that George should be in bigger box. When he moved him into a bigger box, he saw how stiff George was when he picked him up. Andy then encouraged us to take George to the vet in Pasco, the same one whom we'd taken Rita to years before, a no-nonsense type vet. So Arthur and I drove George over to the vet and waited about an hour, watching all the other pretty pets come and go, holding George in his box. The kind vet checked to see if there was any feeling in George's paws and there was none in any of them. He showed us how squeezing George's paws hard did not make him cry, and said George's spine had been broken. So I quickly said goodbye to George, but Arthur kept saying everything was good and didn't say goodbye. We paid the vet office to put George down and dispose of his body, then went back to work. I cried with Dennis there and at home later. Karin came over and cried with us too. She loved him too.
That was three months ago now. Dennis still deals with his loss of George by not thinking of him-- that's how much that cat had gotten into his heart and what deep loss he still feels since George is gone. Arthur never seemed to go past his denial though he knows George is gone and seems accepting about that fact. Shasta is happier and easier to care for since George is no longer here to threaten her domain. Never before experienced a cat like George. He sure knew how to make us feel loved.