We lost our Cappy two days ago. This past weekend he began to have labored breathing so on Monday I took him to our vet. I knew he hadn’t been doing well for the past two weeks but I was in denial. I knew that when I took him to the vet it would be for the last time. I was putting off the inevitable. But when Captain began to gasp for air I put him in the car and drove him to the vet. He listened to his chest and told me that it was full of fluid. The first X-ray showed nothing but fluid and perhaps some tumors but it wasn’t clear enough for a real diagnosis. So the vet gave Captain something to help his kidneys rid his body of the fluid and waited to take another X-ray. The tumors were large and revealed there was very little lung function left.
My husband, daughter and I were there in the backroom of the vet clinic, petting Captain and considering the hopeless prognosis. We could take him home for a few days to love him and receive the great love he always offered and then bring him back before the other horrible symptoms such as seizures presented or we could make Monday, August 6th, the day he would leave us.
Considering the events of this weekend and Captains’ inability to move around (and obvious pain) we couldn’t take him home for more of that.
We made the dreaded decision.
We took Cappy home one more time but it was the saddest trip we have ever made with him.
Captain lies near the backyard bushes he would hide under when he was able to escape the house. The deep pink Crepe Myrtles are beautiful right now and they provide shade for him.
Captain, with his lion-like personality, enriched every year we spent with him. One extremely cold winter night in February, 1994 at Fort Drum, New York as we were going to sleep, I could hear a cat calling outside. It was sixteen degrees below zero, (not the wind chill, the actual temperature) and the snow was piled high. The cat was meowing loudly and sounded so mournful. I had a hard time sleeping that night thinking about him. I couldn’t imagine how any animal could survive in that frigid environment. We were living in Army housing at Fort Drum and the thought that any person would send their pet out of doors or abandon them made me angry.
I was haunted by the clamor the cat made and determined to rescue him. He was like the town caller, calling to all who would listen, to rescue him. The next morning I put our cat, Abbey’s pet carrier outside on the front doorstep, with dry food and water in it. I placed a blanket on top to give the carrier some kind of warmth. The water kept freezing so I would put hot water from the tap into the bowl and change it every hour because it would freeze so quickly. I kept opening the door to check to see if we had a boarder in the little shelter but all day Saturday there were no takers. Sunday morning I opened the door and there he was, sitting inside the carrier. I shut the door to it and quickly brought him inside putting the carrier in the bathroom.
We already had two cats, Abbey and Sabby, so I wanted to make sure the huge cat inside the carrier wasn’t wild. I opened the door to the pet carrier and let the cat out to get a good look at him. He immediately meowed at me and rubbed his body next to my legs. I bent down to pet him and he licked my hand. It was love at first sight for me. My husband was a battalion commander at the time and always at work and on that Sunday he came home at lunch and found me sitting with our soon to be named “Captain”. Bob harrumphed and fussed, saying we didn’t need another cat. It was good that I had rescued him, he told me but he wanted me to take the cat to the Humane Society the next day.
I made sure my husband was present when I called the Watertown Humane Society on the following Monday. I asked them what their policy was with stray cats. Did they euthanize them if they didn’t find a home? They did. After I got off the phone I looked at my husband and he said, “we’re keeping him.”
I took Captain to the vet in Watertown to make sure he was in good health and he was. The vet thought he was about two years old. We knew he must have been someone’s pet so I made a flyer and put it around the neighborhood advertising that we had found a great cat. I hoped no one would claim him though. Thankfully, no one did.
Our youngest daughter, Charlotte suggested naming him Captain because she thought he was a brave cat. My husband said that he was a better company commander than any of his own Captains so he was officially named Captain. It wasn’t long before he acquired the nickname, Cappy and one day while enjoying Captain’s presence, my husband made up a song about him called, Captain the Wonder Cat. He earned that title.
Captain loved all of us but his absolute favorite person was my husband, Bob. Captain loved to be near him and slept right near his legs every night. He had a special chair that Captain liked to sit on in the computer room and if anyone was sitting in it when Captain wanted in it they were ordered by Bob to get up and let Captain sit in it. If Bob was in the den watching t.v. Captain was on his lap. They had a very special bond.
Captain was like a giant to our other two cats, Sabby and Abbey, yet, he was the gentlest of all giants. He never sought out a fight with the other two cats but would defend himself when attacked. He loved to play, chase and romp through the house. Although the other cats were afraid of balloons, Captain loved to play balloon soccer, chasing the balloons through the house. When Captain came through the room with a balloon the other cats would scatter.
He was also the prankster, walking across the piano keys at three a.m. and planting a live mouse on the end of the bed when my husband was out of town. Captain was the ring leader of the celebration by our cats of the National Bad Cat Days.
Everywhere we lived, Captain, being an outdoorsman, always managed to catch a moment when a door was left ajar or a window without a screen was open. He would take off, leaving us searching everywhere to find him. But several times when we couldn’t find him, Captain came home on his own. He had chosen us. Something tells me he knew from the beginning that we had receptive ears at the house on Fort Drum and that is why he called us.
Captain, along with Sabby and Abbey, went through many moves with our Army family but when we went to Germany it was Captain alone who made the trip. Sabby and Abbey stayed with our daughters at their college apartment. Sabby and Abbey went to college, Captain went abroad.
Cappy loved being in command at our home in Germany. Being the most social of all of our cats, he became very popular with all of our friends and guests from overseas. When I would leave to go to work the last year we were stationed in Germany he would be in the living room window to farewell me and when I came home he would be there in the window to welcome me.
Captain made his home with us, staying close by, keeping us company. If Captain were a character in literature he would be Thomas Hardy’s Gabriel Oak,
At home by the fire, whenever I look up, there you will be. And whenever you look up, there I shall be.
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