He was taken in from a shelter, but the people who gave him a home booted him outside for reasons that changed over time. The dog hated him. The daughter was allergic. We never met these people, the information was conveyed via another neighbor who knew we liked the little orange cat that played in our yard. Who we fed and played with and looked forward to seeing every day. He ran through the long yard at a gallop when we'd come home, outpacing us as we hauled groceries to the house, waiting for us by or on the tiny back porch that was basically a large step and entrance. He was a happy cat, easily bullied by the local strays, including Spooky, the aggressive black cat that smacked him around. We feared but liked Spooky, I fed him with gloves on because of his belligerence, it turned out he was de-clawed and put up a great front everybody bought into (Spooky was eventually adopted by the neighbors across the street). Crushy would roll around on the floor or the step when we'd come home. We fed him and came to think of him as our "outdoor cat". We built a little shelter for him when the weather got cold, and I sneaked him into the house a few times, only a few feet in from the back door, knowing Sarah would give me a lighthearted hassle over it.
I desperately wanted to adopt Crushy. We had two cats at the time, Mr Jinx and Pixel aka Pixie. We were renting a large house at the time, a thrid cat didn't look like a problem. But Crushy was wearing a flea collar, and we learned he was an erstwhile member of the mysterious neighbors who seemingly never took him back inside. One day we came home to find him hobbling along, one paw stuck inside his flea collar, a pathetic little orange cat wandering in the rain. I think that's when I really lost my heart to him.
One day I wrote a small note and slipped it inside his collar, basically asking whoever owned him if they were interested in letting someone else have him, and wondering if he was abandoned or not. In polite terms. The neighbors let us know, via a third party, and in fairly snippy terms, that things were fine as they were, and that their cat wouldn't be in our yard so much, appearing abandoned, if we weren't feeding him. let me add here that while outside, Crushy was a skinny animal, slightly underweight, to say the least. He acted like a hngry stray, not a well-nourished pet that was allowed to roam the neighborhood.
Anyway, to make a long story short, because I wasn't planning on writing a belabored post and I'm tearing up and pet stories are usually about as interesting as "Hey, look at what my kid made at school today" type indulgences -- eventually we ended up taking in a third cat, a kitten we found through a message board flyer at the Japanese shopping center, Mitsuwa (then called Yohan, iirc). Mimsy is a beautiful cat looks-wise exactly the kind of cat Sarah had always wanted. Long haired, Maine Coon-type. beautiful. Personality-wise, she didn't turn out to be ideal -- she's still fairly wild even though she was rescued from the street as a kitten, and she's got the brains of a peanut -- but we love her anyway. We couldn't adopt Crushy, as I probably was calling him by then (his "real" name was "Crushinto", my mistaken memory of the name for the Mexican mascot for Orange Crush, who is actually called "Crushito"), but Mimsy filled the bill of third cat just fine. She was a swett kitten, crazy about Pixel, and wasn't the nut job she'd later become.
Shortly after we took her in, we found a note on our car's windshield that let us know that "that little orange cat you like is available for adoption", or something very similar. I'll always remember the first part, though, "that little orange cat you like". We still have the note. The rotten neighbors were moving away, and they planned to abandon Crushy to the street. They told our other neighbors, who left the note for us. Shortly afterward, Crushy was ours. He proved to be one cat too many, and a difficult fit for the household, especially after we moved into a smaller place with less room for him to be sequestered or hidden away from Mr Jinx. Jinx hated him, it took a long while to acclimate Crushy into the house proper, things never really settled down until he filled out some (regular feedings did wonders for him, go figure) and became a bit bolder -- and Jinx grew too old to cause too many problems.
Crushy was with us most of his life, we never knew out how old he really was, his previous owners were not looking to discuss him in person and we never approached them for information on him. He was perhaps a year old when we took him in, give or take. He was around 15 or 16, we assume, when he grew sick late last year. At the time, some folks responded to our offer of art and commissions to help pay for his exam and initial treatment, for which I'll always be grateful. We thought we were losing him then, but he responded to the high blood pressure medicine they put him on. Still, he was visibly aging and getting thinner and running down, all we hoped was he'd make it, in good health, until Emily's birthday in late December. Which he did, with flying colors. Then we hoped he'd make it to the new year and bit beyond, and then my birthday in April, etc. We knew time was against us, but were grateful for any time we had with him. We spoiled him and tried to make his last days happy. I'm grateful for the six months "extra" we had with him, it meant a lot to us.
This past week the usual awful signs appeared, the ones you wait for and dread, and when we got back from a short vacation he was flat-out refusing food and water and his breathing had become ragged. We didn't want him to suffer, didn't want to keep him propped up like a zombie even if we could finance it, we went through that with Jinx and especially Pixel, sometimes you can keep a cat healthy through medicine and treatment, sometimes you're just making a sad puppet out of the animal because it's too damned hard to say goodbye, and you keep hoping, even against the facts. Because it is hard to say goodbye, which is why I'm starting to lose my shit and I can't see the keyboard through the blur of tears.
So I'll end this, after succumbing to a final burst of sheer, unapologetic emotionalism and sentiment to say that I loved Crushy very, very much, we all did, he was a wonderful cat and part of the family, and I'm thankful he was ours and we could take him off the street and give him a home and a good life filled with love and affection, and I'll miss him like crazy. And I thank you for the indulgence.
Goodbye, Crushy. R.I.P. You were awesome.