New Cat was huddled in a dark corner of the cat cabin crying. Something was very wrong.
My guess is that he was bitten by a snake. The farm is thick with copperheads, and a bite to a small animal is deadly.
"He's not gonna make it, honey," Joe said softly.
"That's what I'm afraid of."
"He had a good run."
"Yes he did."
"He left a place where he obviously wasn't happy and came to live with us. That was what, five years ago?"
New Cat appeared one day out beyond the hayfield, but it was nearly a week before he made his way up to the house, having apparently decided that life here looked pretty good.
He moved into the cat cabin with J2, who had shown up years ago at Windridge Farm in much the same way, and the two quickly became inseparable. I've never known two cats who were better friends.
In the 17 years that Joe has lived on this farm, which is miles from the nearest neighbor, he is the only cat to have simply turned up. New cat.
He wore a gorgeous superfluff suit each winter and shed it for a sleek look in summer. New cat.
He was terrified of Bear and Robin and spent most of his life above dog level. He seldom allowed me to pet him, and I can't remember ever picking him up.
"He may not have been all that friendly," said Joe, "but it sure was nice to look around the farm and see him."
My most recent memory of New Cat is from a week or so ago. It was early evening and he was in the garden, presiding over a large rabbit he had obviously just caught.
My favorite memory of New Cat took place one morning a few years ago. He and J2 were hanging out in the sunshine next to the cat cabin on a little table that Joe had once slapped together from scraps of wood. J2 was grooming himself, and New Cat wanted to play. He kept rolling around on the table, batting at J2 and trying to get his attention, but J2 ignored him. New Cat wouldn't give up, though, and after a couple minutes J2 stopped what he was doing, lifted his two front paws high in the air, and tackled New Cat with a massive hug.
New Cat died very early this morning while I slept fitfully next to him, my hand resting on the side of his curled-up body. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted him to know he wasn't alone. And this cat who rarely liked to be touched would start to cry if I took my hand away.
I buried New Cat in the garden next to Hansel cat and Lindy The Chicken, not far from the spot where he caught that rabbit. In early spring I planted a small clump of spiderwort there, and it has flourished. Today I addded some more.
He was a magnificent creature who was a joy to watch and photograph. He was our New Cat. He left us in his prime, but he had a good run. He is already missed.
More about Whitey and her new brood soon. The circle of farm life always continues.
© 2007 FarmgirlFare.com, the full on, fur loving foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.