In the spring of 1994, when we still lived in South Minneapolis, I was feeding a feral pregnant cat who gave birth under a neighbor’s porch. When the two (surviving?) kittens were five or six weeks old, she brought them to the food dish on our front porch. I spent the entire summer of 1994 earning the trust of two feral kittens who were terribly afraid of humans. By Labor Day, they were in our home and a part of our family. Since our nearly-19-year-old cat, Mandy, was in failing health, I called these kittens my “kittens from God.” Mandy was my first cat as an adult, adopted when I was 20, and her death in late September was devastating. We were a childless couple, and Mandy was the third member of our family. If it hadn’t been for my “kittens from God,” I don’t think I would have pulled through that loss as well as I did — which wasn’t at all well at times. However, Katie, the little calico, and Bubba, the bigger white guy with the black ears and tail, taught me about the healing power of love and the need to move on.
Katie died two years and four months ago from chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure. Bubba and I struggled on, bringing 8-month-old Mia, a brown tabby, into the family four weeks later. In a very short amount of time for a senior cat, he had accepted her as a baby sister. A year ago, we added then-3-month-old Ralphie, an orange tabby, into the family, and Bubba accepted him as well. Ralphie looked up to him as the figureative patriarch that he was.
Bubba coped these past few years with chronic health issues. He had hyperthyroidism that we successfully treated with radioactive iodine (I-131) and essentially cured this disease process. He also had issues with chronic pancreatitis these last couple of years which we tried to control with prednisone this last year. The chronic inflammation eventually led to the development of diabetes. He was diagnosed with this the day after his 19th birthday in March. We were trying to get that under control with daily insulin injections when respiratory problems set in a few weeks ago. In spite of antibiotic therapy, he developed pneumonia and died from respiratory distress on the morning of July 1.
He was very, very loved and he is now very, very missed. A huge, wonderful presence is now gone from our lives, and we’re all trying to pull it together now. Particularly this grieving mama.
I made this slideshow video for Bubba on Monday after he died. If you’d like to view it, please do so. I share it with love in his memory.