Buddy is dead. I found his body on the walkway in front of my house this morning, when I went to collect the newspaper from the driveway. It wasn't completely unexpected- the past couple of days he suddenly looked bad- f ur gone ragged, much thinner in the hindquarters and moving much more slowly than usual.
Buddy was a grey and white homeless tabby, who was the star of my post 'Feline Family Values.' He showed up at my door in the summer of 2003, thin, limp and desperately in need of food and especially water.
So, cat sucker that I am - I filled an empty plastic container with water, and an empty cat tuna can whose contents had just been consumed, with dry cat food and put it out for him. It was gratefully accepted. And since the offerings were repeated the following day and the next...he stuck around, knowing a good thing when he experienced it. My yard and that of an equally feline besotted neighbour became his. I could get close, but never pet him. His level of trust and appreciation did not extend that far.
Over the years, Buddy became the alpha leader of his own little tribe. He fathered two sets of kittens before I was able to get him, his lady and the kittens fixed. A couple of them did manage to find homes, a couple still hang around and the others, including his mate eventually just disappeared.
In 2005, an extremely unmaternal mother cat who was passing through my neighbourhood, abandoned her twin kittens litterally on my door step. As I had two of my own cats, including a rather cranky almost 19 year old, I couldn't do a personal rescue. Anyway, the kittens were too skittish to catch, so, they moved in with Buddy and his family. During the hot summer months, I would see the entire family lying on the damp, shady ground behind my hedges, one or both of the kittens snuggled up to Buddy's stomach.
I owe Buddy big time for his paternal instinct. A year later, the kittens he rescued turned out to be the mothers of the current feline love of my life- Wesley, and his sister Gracie.
I think he probably died of old age. Buddy was already an adult when he showed up on my door step, and lived here for almost eight more years. I guess he had as good a life as any street cat could have. I can't really say homeless, even though technically that's what he was, because he had two homes, two places he felt safe and comfortable. I would see him sleeping in my back yard, or in the hedges, or on the carport. Sometimes in the morning, when I would put out the dry food, I would see him crossing the street, coming from Margaret's driveway. She called him Leo, and also provided a safe harbour.
I guess I should be honoured that he came to my place to die. I guess he considered it home...