This is the story of Osiris - the best cat/kitten who ever lived, but who only lived for 7 months. 


OsirisMy husband and I had been taking care of a feral colony in the parking lot under our apartment building.  Queenie, the mother cat, had delivered another litter and after about six weeks there were two survivors left - a grey and a black kitten.  They lived in a grease spot under a car in the parking lot, occasionally coming out for naps in the sunshine, on the asphalt.

On our anniversary in 2005, we went to a movie.  When we returned, the kittens were sound asleep in the sun and the birds were being very, very noisy.  We got out of the car and sneaked up on the kittens.  They didn't stir, because of the background bird noise.  My husband grabbed the grey one by the scruff of the neck.  He froze - he was completely petrified.  He had seen his brothers and sisters disappearing and assumed we were going to eat him.

We put him in our bathroom with towels, blankets, food, water and litter.  He was very sad the first night.  He knew what to do with the wet food, but not the water or litter.  He was covered in grease and had a white crusty substance on his belly and private parts.  He had several accidents, until I caught him trying to eliminate, and immediately moved him to the litter.  He loved it!  He used the litter every time thereafter.

During his first two days in our bathroom, he was still adjusting to his new situation and was still scared.  He spent the entire time with all of his claws fully extended.  Whenever his feet would impact the bathroom tiles, there would be these clicking noises.  We looked at his feet and saw the claws fully extended over and over, such that we thought he had an abnormality.  Finally, he relaxed his claws and the clicking stopped.  Phew, we managed to avoid yet another vet visit.

OsirisHe taught me what "weak as a kitten" really meant.  He was almost starving to death, with ribs, vertebral ridges and hips protruding out at alarming angles.  He also had no energy, not even for play at first.  Finally, during his first bath, he completely relaxed into the warm water and let his head slip under.  I am convinced he would have drowned if I had not forced his head up, holding it over the edge with one hand while I gently washed him with the other.  At eight weeks he was still just one pound.  But, he was an enthusiastic eater and quickly grew stronger and began to thrive.

He came out of the bathroom after only a few days.  We named him Osiris, as we already had two cats with Egyptian pantheon names called Isis and Nephthys.  They quickly learned to get along and Osiris fell in love with Nephthys.  Isis and Nephthys taught him many things like how to eat dry food, how to drink water, how to play nice, etc.

It took three baths to get enough of the grease off that the vet was able to diagnose a raging case of ringworm and upper respiratory infection.  We treated his ailments, and the application of the topical ringworm medication increased our bonding.

Soon he was spending most of his time with me.  He would sit on my lap, facing me with the most loving looks, and then would thrust forward while purring.  We called these "love attacks."  The love attacks quickly evolved into a ritual where he would jump on my chest and put his little paws around my neck for hugs.  He would then blissfully relax and slide into the crook of my right arm.  He loved sleeping on my head, in my hair, in my face, etc.  I think he liked feeling my breath on him.

He was the best behaved cat.  Such a good boy.  He never tried to go outside - he knew how tough it was out there and wanted to stay with us where it was warm and soft.  He would eat absolutely anything, as he had had such a hard early life.  He was appalled at what we defined as garbage and would have happily eaten our garbage if we had permitted it.  He liked to share his Dad's breakfast, taking little bites of egg, bacon and toast.

After he had spent a bit over five months with us he got very sick.  No matter what the vet did, he just got worse.  After some expensive tests, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) was diagnosed, a terminal condition.  He got progressively worse over a few days, refusing to eat and drink.  He spent his last three days in the bed with me.  My husband slept on the couch, so as not to disturb us.  Finally, we had to put him to sleep, because he was suffering and his lungs were filling with fluid.  He was so brave and stoic when it came to painful medical procedures (getting fixed, needles, etc.)

I will always love him so much.  I will always miss him.  He was my hug-buddy and I suspect that I will never get another one.  I love all our cats, indoor and feral, but Osiris was the best cat/kitten ever.  There is still a hole in my heart and no matter how many cats I have or help, it is not filled.

© Barbara M Schatz

A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras

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