It was late November and one of the coldest stretches of winter Michigan had experienced in years. Night after night the thermometer dipped into the single digits. A blanket of snow covered the frozen ground by a foot or more and crunched under foot as I walked. Day after day of gray sky. So cold!
I only caught a glimpse of her as she ran seeking shelter under our deck from the snow and ice. It wasn’t uncommon. Our country homes’ large deck was often host to wildlife. Rabbits and chipmunks were frequent guests. But a cat was new and different. I remember thinking the chances of a ferrel cat surviving this bitter cold winter were slim. Weeks, then months would pass and only frozen tracks in the snow gave evidence to her presence there. Surely she had moved on.
It was a rare sunny February afternoon when I happen to glance out a frosty window and there she was, huddled against our sliding glass door trying to gather what little heat she could. Some how she had survived. Susan put a little tuna fish in a bowl and set it close to her which she immediately devoured. “Don’t let that cat in the house” I protested! “That cat is ferrel and will never be friendly.” It was at that point Susan extended her hand through the slightly opened door and made a friend for life. I was so wrong.
Her fur was matted and dirty, her ears bitten by frost, her body a mere six pounds, eight pounds under normal for a cat her size. She had no collar or tags but had been spayed. It was clear she had been abandoned by an uncaring individual or had gotten lost. As far as the cat was concerned, she was home. We named her ” Snickers”.
For the last five years she has been our constant companion. She never tried to escape and in fact wanted nothing to do with the outdoors. She transitioned from living in our home to our motorhome and traveled with us across this country. She was always at the door to greet us even though it sometimes meant disturbing her mid day nap! Snickers had become part of our family and we loved her dearly.
A year ago she was diagnosed with Hyperactive Thyroidism, a condition that is treatable albeit for the rest of her life. As the months passed, her condition complicated by what we, and the vets thought, were allergies. She struggled to breath and medication did little to nothing to help. Time passed. She continued to get worse. A blood test showed her thyroidism out of control in-spite of the med and getting worse. An x-ray revealed a tumor growing on her heart and was causing her difficult breathing. She fought to survive the freezing cold….this fight she would loose.
Its been five days since she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We mourn her loss and feel a void in our hearts left by her absence. She brought us so much joy and in her own way showed us an abundance of affection. We miss her deeply. Snickers may not have been here for the rest of our lives but we were there for hers. We were blessed to have had her.
Sometimes life lessons present themselves in strange ways. In Snickers’ passing, I’m reminded of how precious life is and how so often we take it for granted. Our time with friends and loved ones on this earth is short. Each day we spend with those we love is a gift. And when they are gone, it’s forever.