Joe Bones started sneaking in my house for food back in 2008. I’m not sure when he first started visiting because he was so careful not to be seen. Very scared of humans, he probably only came in when no-one was around initially … but then got bold enough to be noticed. He made the mistake of coming in one night when Jenni was visiting. We locked the cat flap and figured we’d be able to get him without the use of a trap. Wrong! Jenni did manage to grab him, but he flew out her arms, straight towards me, past me and … straight through the window, out onto the road and away up the street – apparently unharmed. Jen and I just stood for about 5 minutes with out mouths open – did the cat really go through the window???? Yup. Old, rotting window frames, combined with terrified cat resulted in catthroughwindow. Not to be recommended. For windows, or cats. We cleared up the glass in the street, saw no blood amongst it and figured the speed he’d disappeared at, he’d not done himself any damage.
And we decided a trap might be the way to go. Duly trapped and neutered, Joe was named after a classic, lightweight boxer – though he wasn’t particularly lightweight! He was a stunning cat, in excellent health, despite his apparent feralnesses. We kept him in for a couple of months as Shapoloh was FeLV positive and we needed to test him twice to be sure he hadn’t picked it up. He hadn’t. But he did NOT enjoy his confinement. Initially he was absolutely terrified. But showed none of the aggression that feral cats often exhibit. When snorgled he reluctantly purred and enjoyed the experience, but Did Not Want anyone approaching him. Mostly he wanted OUT.
So we set him free after his second FeLV test turned out negative. And he ran like billy-o. But it didn’t take him long to come back for food. I didn’t even think of trying to rehome him, he was so scaredy. But within weeks he was to be found sitting on the chair nearest the cat flap, quite relaxed. And slowly, over time, he worked his way into the house, ending up on my bed beside Skrootchie. And he’d moved in without me even realising it.
Skrootchie and he became the very best of buddies. They were like a pair of old queens, snuggled up beside each other most of the time. But Shapoloh and Duchess did not fare so great. Joe bullied them incessantly, often, I swear, egged on by Skrootchie. Over time everyone settled down though, and Joe became part of the household.
But in November 2010 my one healthy cat came home broken. I was thinking I hadn’t seen him in a while and thought I heard miaowing, but couldn’t place where it was coming from. Skrootchie moved to the kitchen door and pointed me towards the back door. There was Joe, unable to move his hind legs – we don’t know what happened but the vets reckoned something had fallen on, or been thrown at his back and had broken his spine in a clean break. Somehow he’d managed to drag himself home.
Eight weeks of cage rest and care and he was able to walk again. But his most beautimous, lush tail had to be removed and his bladder function wasn’t 100%. But he was grand. And life carried on as normal. With a bit more laundry than usual. And regular vet visits to be sure all was well.
In July 2011, when I was fostering Lexx, Joe’s leg gave out slightly again. I’m not sure if it was coincidence or if the dog had chased him and he’d strained himself. He was a bit the worse for wear after that, but seemed to mend again fine.
Then Skrootchie went downhill and died in Nov 2011. Joe’s best friend was gone. And Joe seemed to go downhill as a result. After numerous visits to the local vets (Fachtna and Eimear, Jenni’s vets, have been brilliant) he was referred to Gilabbey. Shane and Pat both looked after him really well and gave him some tests. Joe’s insides were damaged from long-term lack of bladder control. Nothing could be done for him and his time, the vets gently explained to me, had come.
So he came home on Sunday and got spoilt rotten for two days. Chicken, fish, posh cat food. snorgles and basking in the sun. What more could you ask for in your last few days?
And now he’s playing with his best friend, Skrootchie, at the Rainbow Bridge. And Shapoloh is watching them with disgust from a safe distance, no doubt. And I’m missing them all 🙁