Oreo The Courageous Cat

Oreo cried miserably as I drove him home for the first time.  He was half grown, not really a kitten but not a fully grown cat either  The adoption papers from the San Jose Humane Society said that he’d been found abandoned on a street corner of that city.  There was no sign of his mother or litter-mates about.  Too young for adoption he’d been fostered by a volunteer until he was deemed old enough to find his forever home.  Considering the mournful wails emanating from the port a pet it seemed that his experience as a foundling had left deep emotional scares.  I wondered if I’d made a mistake. 

Upon returning home I opened the pet carrier and, like a flash, Oreo went in search of a hiding place.  I had anticipated this and so had taken care to close all the windows and doors leading to the outside.  Even so I saw nothing of him for more than twenty-four hours.  The cat food I had set out for him was untouched.  I was beginning to wonder if I’d hallucinated bring him home.  Finely I found him curled up cowering under the sink in the laundry room.   

As Oreo grew older he became an indoor/outdoor cat.  Although he never bit or scratched there was always something a bit wild about him particularly when he was outside.  His skittish nature and distrustfulness of humans remained.  He was the quintessential scaredy-cat and a far cry from my previous cat who had been a real snuggle bunny.  Whenever I returned home Oreo would give me a startled look as if to say, Who are you?  What are you doing in my house?  What do you want from me? 

Oreo hated trips to the vet and anything that would take him away from the house.  As I drove him home after a two day stay at the pet boarding facility he frantically started to claw his way through the cardboard pet carrier and even managed to get one foreleg out.   You’d have thought I was taking him to his execution.  Once home I set him free from the now tattered carrier and, delirious with joy, he ran from one room to the next to make sure that everything was in its proper place and no strange animals had taken the opportunity to move in during his absence.  I’d never seen a cat so happy.

There were times when I regretted adopting Oreo but, as I saw it, a commitment is a commitment.   Returning him was out of the question and in time I began to see his frittered nature as a bit endearing.  Although he was just a cat and had only a cat’s life that life was precious to him and he didn’t want to lose it.  And there was something else.  Inexplicably Oreo bonded with my mother.  This was very odd as I was the one who fed him.   Perhaps I reminded Oreo of someone from his past, or perhaps he was frittered by my size.  But where he’d give me the cold shoulder he was willing to cuddle up with my mom and show his affection. 

As my mother entered her late 80’s she became increasingly frail and spent more time at home.  I was grateful for Oreo then as he was very good at keeping her company.  It was almost as if Oreo knew that my mom was in failing health and needed to be comforted particularly when I was away from the house.  The two became inseparable. 

My mom spend the last fifteen months of her life in a care facility.  She missed Oreo and Oreo seemed to miss her.  For the first time in his life Oreo began to take an interest in me.  He wanted to sit in my lap and snuggle.  He would come to greet me each morning.  Perhaps he was lonely for my mom.  Perhaps at age fifteen he was simply getting older and so needed to be comforted himself.  Conceivably Oreo understood that I was distraught.  I’ll never know. 

The last few months of her life my mother’s decline seemed to mirror Oreo’s failing health, or perhaps it was the other way around.   As my mom slowly grew closer to death Oreo became increasingly unsteady on his paws, he lost weight and lost control of his bladder.  The night after my mother passed away I was awaken to hear Oreo crying from the bathroom.   Checking up on him I discovered that he had wet himself and lacked the dexterity to clean up.  Oreo wasn’t having any fun and I knew that the time had come.  Prolonging the inevitable would’ve been a cruelty.  I carried him to the car and drove to the twenty-four hour emergency veterinary clinic.  On his final car drive Oreo didn’t cry at all.  I had dried him off and he seemed at peace trusting me to care for him. 

The staff at the veterinary clinic were all very sympathetic.  They provided us with a small private room where Oreo and I could sit and enjoy our last moments together.  I told him that he was a good cat.  I told him that he had comforted my mother when she needed it most.  I told him that he would now be departing for a new adventure.  He would see new places and meet new people. 

Oreo meet my gaze.  He looked deep into my eyes and he seemed to send me a workless message.  Perhaps it was all just my imagination but the way he looked at me he seemed to say, Don’t worry about me.  I can take care of myself.

I pressed the button to signal the attendant to come and administer the medication that would set Oreo free. Oreo made no fuss.  He was as good as gold.  And when he was given the shot he simply drifted away as peaceful and as content as could be.  He was a courageous cat.

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: LEICA X2
  • Taken: May 10, 2015
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 500
  • Shutter speed: 1/30s