He was fine. He seemed happy and healthy, but within two weeks he was gone. He died and there wasn’t anything I could do to save him.
Mr. Joey and his brother Pretty came to me one morning three years ago. I stepped out back to feed a few of my adopted porch cats and found their tiny, little selves playing on a chair. Like most feral kitties they were intimidated by me at first and it took a few months for them to trust me enough to love on them. As soon as Joey made up with me I fell in love.
Left to right, Pretty, Nimbly and Joey.
I spent every morning after work playing with and gaining the trust of Joey and four other porch kittens. One day while the kitties were inside the apartment playing Joey curled up in my lap and fell asleep. I was wearing fleece pajama pants and they quickly became his favorite thing to sleep on.
A lovely local group of women who trap, spay/neuter and release came by my apartment and took about four of the cats, Joey included, away to be fixed. He was gone for two days and I wasn’t sure if they were going to bring him back or not. I was leaving for work one evening and immediately heard intense meowing. I turned and spotted Joey galloping towards me. He greeted me in a way no other animal or human ever has, he was sincerely overjoyed to see me. I burst into tears and almost called in sick to work just so I could spend the night with him.
He spent the next year in and out of the apartment, staying inside about 50% of the day, but never wanting to fully commit to the indoor lifestyle. I spent every night off from work with him and we developed a bond that I’ve never had with any other animal and will probably never have again.
All of a sudden he started having trouble breathing and lost his appetite. I don’t make a lot of money, but my boyfriend at the time was kind enough to pay for a vet visit. We took him in that afternoon and they looked him over and decided he had an upper respiratory infection and wanted to test for FeLV before offering any treatment options. Up until that moment I hadn’t even considered him testing positive for it, but once the doctor left the room with him to do blood work, everything came crashing down.
He tested positive.
The only option we had was to give him steroids to increase his appetite, but without an immune system he was unable to fight off the infection. The steroids prolonged his life for about a week, but when the day came, I knew. He could barely walk, he no longer purred and didn’t want us to handle him. I called into work and spent the afternoon comforting him the best I could.
I was seated beside him on the bathroom floor. He would arch his back, scream out, and stare into my eyes as if he was seeking an answer for his pain. I stroked his face, apologized and told him I loved him, over and over again. I felt so helpless. After what seemed like an eternity, he took two heavy breaths and he went still.
My father came over the next afternoon and helped me bury Joey out back where we had first met years before. It’s been about six months since he passed and I still mourn for him everyday. He is the last thing I think about before I fall asleep.
This is the last picture I took of him.
Animals always take a piece of your heart with them when they leave. I’m trying to fill the void he left in mine with his memories.