On the morning of Thursday, July 16, 2009, our dear little cat Ringo, a soft and gentle soul, finished his fight with a rare form of bone cancer. He was 12 years old. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his furry family and his people. He finished up under our bed, close to us but private & hidden, which is just how he wanted it.
When Wendy met Ringo, she was newly in practice. Ringo was a cat available for adoption at her hospital, but because he had severe allergies, he was “boogery” most of the time. As a result, no one adopted him. He had lived only in steel cages, waiting for his ‘forever home’. One day, Wendy gave him a blanket for his cage and he sat on it and purred and purred contentedly while “making biscuits” on the blanket, thus beginning his life-long love of lounging on soft things. It was at that moment that Ringo captured Wendy’s heart and became her cat, and in the process found his ‘forever home’. No laundry baskets were safe once Ringo discovered the softness contained therein!
Ringo possessed a very soft black and white coat, which he meticulously groomed to keep looking great and feeling soft & smooth. Ringo was an understated cat. He was quiet and unassuming, without bad habits. He was a good groomer (unlike Merrick, who just doesn’t give a damn), very shy (unlike Oliver who will eat food right out of your mouth, given the chance), able to hit the litter box every time (I’m looking at you, Oliver!), and a little stand-offish (unlike Stompy who sleeps ON Wendy’s face). Even his broken meow was soft and unassuming. His meow sounded like “<click>-Eow” and was quite distinctive.
A vibe one received from Ringo was one of gratitude. He loved his furry family. He loved his people. He loved his surroundings. He was a content, happy cat. A stranger would have to take our word on it, though… Ringo loved exactly two people in the world (me and Wendy, but not in that order) and was mysteriously absent whenever a visitor to our house tried to find him.
Ringo was an intrepid mouse-catcher – the best of the brood, and was known to surprise Wendy with a gift of a dead mouse or two from time to time. This is an amazing feat for a cat that had an allergy that made his little lips puffy and sore for much of his life. As a result, Ringo was an “inefficient eater” who struggled with eating food from the bowls while the other cats just plowed through it. Fortunately, in later years, Ringo grew tolerant of whatever was causing the allergy and he lost those “duck lips”, revealing his handsome face.
He was the first cat to welcome furry newcomers, be they canine or feline, into our brood. Ringo bonded with Mr. Face when no other cats could figure him out (because Mr. Face is blind, he doesn’t display feline social signals – he doesn’t know the other cats are there! – which was very off-putting to everyone but Ringo). Ringo saw through Face’s disability and befriended him, creating a lifelong bond.
In February 2009, I mentioned to Wendy that Ringo had lost some weight. Concerned, Wendy ran blood tests which revealed that Ringo had a rare strain of feline leukemia. Wendy met with specialists who put Ringo on chemotherapy and a cocktail of other medications to buy him some time. He responded well to the therapy by rallying and having several good months, receiving (without complaint) twice-daily shots and pills. It also helped that, during this time, Wendy fed Ringo a steady stream of “whatever he wanted”. This gentle ministration by Wendy kept a little bit of weight on Ringo and kept him hydrated, even when he didn’t want to eat. Plus, it was nice time for Wendy & Ringo to spend together.
Merrick (l) and Ringo. Ringo usually lounged with his
legs tucked up, as in this picture.
In late June and early July 2009, Ringo began slipping away. His already-reduced appetite, even for the smelliest cat delight, diminished to the point that when he ate even a couple treats or took a couple laps of cream felt like a victory. His weight dropped even further as his strength began to fade. More often, we’d find him cuddled up on the daybed or on a comforter in the basement, two of his favorite locations. We’d have to take treats to him, instead of him coming up to the kitchen to receive them.
Soon, it became clear that Ringo’s time was nearly upon him. On Monday, July 6, 2009, Wendy decided to stop the chemotherapy drugs. We struggled to get any food into Ringo, who had lost all interest in eating. On Tuesday, July 7, Wendy gave Ringo a dose of antibiotics which seemed to perk him up.
He started to hide – removing himself from the brood of animals – which is a signal that he knew his end was coming. Each morning, I would get up and find Ringo, relieved to find him still breathing. His interest in food evaporated, and his weight started to plummet. He got weaker and weaker.
Wednesday, July 15, we came home and located Ringo in the basement on the daybed. We decided to bring him up to the bedroom with us, so he could be near us. He hid under our bed, and, in the early hours of Thursday July 16, 2009, passed away.
Bon voyage, Ringo. You were such a good cat! We loved you very, very much. (Any mice in heaven had better watch their backs!)