|Fern, April 2010 - August 2015|
Fern staggered into the house on Sunday evening, soaking wet and not looking well at all. She hasn't been well for awhile, some problem with one of her kidneys that would slowly kill her but as long as she was doing what she was happy doing, we weren't going to worry about her. She was still joining us for supper, eating pieces of our meat -- "We don't feed the cat at the table," my husband would say as he put a piece of scallop in front of her -- and sitting by the shelf in the front hall where her treat jar sits.
The one sign that her health was failing was the change in her fur; her silky-soft black coat was changing into coarser brown fur. She also was getting skinnier, just bones when we patted her.
Fern was fine until she wasn't. She missed supper for a few evenings then she came in Sunday evening soaking wet and barely able to hold her head up. The dog's reaction to her confirmed to me that Fern was dying. I dried her off, carried up upstairs to my mother, then tucked her into her afghan on the chair in our bedroom and cried a bit.
A stray who joined our household in December 2010, Fern was always a funny cat; cuddly on rare occasions, easily upset by the new puppy, by the new kitten. If my husband was up early, sitting on the front deck in the pre-dawn dark, she would appear and crawl into his lap. She loved being outside, loved roaming the woods. She would join my mother when she went for a walk up the lane. She killed birds and mice and squirrels. If she slept inside, it was usually in a closet or on the spare room bed. Fern was never really our cat; we provided a safe, warm place to find good food and a comfortable place to sleep.
At three o'clock Monday morning, I heard the tapping of her toenails on the floor. She was sitting by the sliding door in the bedroom so I opened it. She staggered out into the dark and that is the last time I saw her. I'm sorry she wouldn't die inside where it was dry and safe, so we could bury her body, but I guess her instinct to be outside, perhaps even to die in the woods, was stronger than her attachment to us.