One day at least ten years ago I heard a cat mewing in my garage. She was gray and fluffy and very hungry. She was also mostly feral. I took her to the vet and they said she was healthy but would be difficult to find a home for because she was so feral.
I knew we couldn’t keep her because my husband and I had rescued two stray cats previously and had to find other homes for them because we both have severe allergic reactions to cats, including asthma, hives, etc. Our kids inherited those allergies, especially my oldest son.
I told my sons we couldn’t keep her and we had to find her another home. We never could find her another home. No shelter would take her because they were full and would not take feral cats. She kept the placeholder name we gave her, Gray Cat.
She had to live outside because of our allergies. We always felt guilty about that situation, but we had little choice. She lived in our fenced yard and garage. She was always sneaking into the house and we all suffered greatly when she did. But it happened too many times for it to be accidental.
I think she was a gift for my oldest son. She taught him love, compassion, and personal sacrifice. Holding Gray Cat, brushing her, and petting her were always personal sacrifices because of the subsequent allergy-induced suffering.
In the summer I would wear a mask and goggles when I brushed her and cleaned her litter box because she would shed fur in never-ending storms of hair and dander. She loved to be brushed while she lay rolling in the granite rocks in the sun.
She always came out to greet us when we returned home. We talked to her so she talked back to us. Never has a cat talked as much as Gray Cat. I don’t recommend initiating such conversations with your cat. I had to apologize to the neighbors for her very loud demands for more attention. She never could get enough loving.
Gray Cat was a lover. She wanted petting more than food. She was happiest purring in your lap while allergic welts raised on your skin from contact with her fur and kneedling claws.
We loved her. She loved us.
She was always skinny. When she became too skinny in 2013 we brought her to the vet and they said she had a chronic condition characterized by failure to absorb nutrients. She almost died but my son couldn’t bear her loss and the vet saved her (at exorbitant cost). Last summer she couldn’t handle the heat and we had to bring her into the house to save her life.
Yesterday Gray Cat died. We had to euthanize her because she had kidney failure and the vet couldn’t save her this time, although trying with dialysis. She died in my arms surrounded by our family.
I believe Gray Cat was a gift to my son with Asperger’s who needed a teacher to help him with empathy and responsibility toward the other. She was the perfect teacher. He is heartbroken.
I told him Gray Cat knew the time was right to leave us because she had come for him and he had moved on to college.
He and I keep hearing her meows.
Gray Cat we will miss you.