I was about 6 when we got our first cats. After losing our pet rabbit, we decided to look for a kitten or two. It took a long time until finally, in my absence, my older sister found the perfect pair at the SPCA. I remember coming home from my dad's place to find food bowls placed on the kitchen floor. When I got down to the den, there on the couch with my sister were two little tabby kittens. They were brother and sister. My sister had claimed the smaller blonde girl, while I settled for the bigger, darker tabby boy. The girl's name was originally Peaches due to the orange spot on her head, but my sister renamed her Mittens because of her white paws. As for myself, after hearing the tall tales of Figaro 1 and 2, whom I've never met, I decided to give my kitten the name Figaro III.
I loved Figaro from the beginning. He slept at the foot of my bed the first night. I even remember blocking the light from the window the next day just so we could repeat the process of sleeping together. He also loved his sister. They had a very tight bond, and were seen together frequently. They were shy around us at times, especially around me, but they did warm up to us in the end.
Then one day, Figaro disappeared. We don't know exactly what happened, but we think he may have gotten stuck in one of those drainage openings and got lost in the sewers. It felt like weeks during the time he was missing. My sister, her friend, and I looked all over the woods nearby, calling out for him. But despite our efforts, we could not find Figaro anywhere.
It was around this time that I had a very random dream. In this dream, my sister threw another one of her parties at our house. All her friends were hanging around my granddad's office, and for whatever reason, Jesus of all people showed up for the party. Now if that isn't random enough, my granddad's closet had a railroad cart track that lead straight to Mars, where a cool, groovy looking room awaited us. But here's the highlight of my dream... At one point, I remember sitting next to Jesus in the chairs at my granddad's desk, and asking him, "Jesus, can you help us find our cat?" And what happened next? Jesus responded, "Would this be your cat right here," as he magically pulled a kitten out of his sleeve, and sure enough, it was Figaro.
I forget how the rest of the dream went, but it wasn't quite as important. Not too long after I had that dream, Figaro really did show up at our doorstep, though he had changed. His meow went from normal to a pitiful croak. We think he may have taken up with raccoons because he would dip his paws in the water, and he got into the habit of drinking from the bathtub faucet. Nevertheless, we were all overjoyed by Figaro's return... except Mittens. Ever since he came back, she had treated him like a stranger, constantly acting ugly towards him.
As the years went on, they got sweeter and more plump. In fact, they were considerably huge! However, during their later years, we noticed Figaro was starting to lose weight. I first noticed when I stopped by the house (while I was staying at my dad’s) while grandma and granddad were out of town. I was one of the few family members left in charge of feeding the cats while they were gone. At the time, it may have been a while since Figgy had been inside. He looked rather scraggly and thinner than usual. He was so desperate he cried out in his usual croak, and he was usually quiet. At first, the weight loss seemed like a good thing, until he started getting underweight in his old age.
Another concern was his teeth. For some reason, we had stopped giving both cats dry food. I think it had to do with the fact that he had kidney stones as a result of not getting enough water (given that he preferred to drink from the tub faucet). The absence of dry food in his diet took a heavy toll on his dentition. He even lost one of his upper fangs. I guess when you can’t chew your food well, you can’t eat as much, so that might explain the increase in weight loss. Eventually, he stopped grooming himself, so his fur got matted in places. Finally, he started suffering from arthritis so bad that he couldn’t use the litter box.
Usually, whenever we took him to the vet’s, he would misbehave. There was usually a little cubbard on the counter he would hide under, which could easily be removed. He would hiss and swipe at anyone from his little cave, even at granddad. I found it so funny, I started bringing my camera to every vet visit just incase I could get some good footage. However, his health declined so much, he wouldn’t do anything even at the vet’s. Obviously, there wasn’t enough material to work with, so bringing my camera was now pointless. The vet even suggested it was time to put him down, which I did not want to do at all.
So, we kept him alive for a few months longer. But then his back legs started to give out. He stopped using the litter box altogether, and would do his business on the living room carpet instead. He could also no longer perch over the tub to reach the faucet, so we started putting cups of water on the bathroom floor for him. Eventually, his overall condition got so bad, even I decided it was time to end his suffering.
In early January of 2018, Figaro III was put to rest. It was the first time I had ever put down a pet. Unfortunately, for that year, it wouldn’t be the last, for Mittens soon followed. She was also starting to get weak and lethargic, so we decided to have her put down in summer. As if that weren’t enough, I even had to put down my kitten that same year, but that’s another story. 2018 was the Year of the Dog, but not such a great year for cats. At least Figaro and Mittens both lived to a ripe old age before they died. I’m just glad I got to cherish those 18 years with them. They helped shape me into the cat lover I am today, for better or worse.