Four-Pawed Father Figure

I’m sure Father’s Day means something, different to everyone. Many people out there have lost their fathers, either to the Covid-19 pandemic, or other natural diseases. My stepfather died in 2005 to cancer. My father recently turned 70, the oldest man on his side of the family to achieve such a milestone in a long time, if ever.

I don’t have kids of my own, but I do have grandkids and great-grandchildren. I don’t have the time to discuss it here but my ex’s daughters never considered me a stepparent but I was there for the grandkids and hope to be there as much as I can for the great-grandchildren.

Mind you, I turn 43 in September, and like I said before, I don’t have the time to discuss here except to say I got in a relationship young with an older woman who had a child when she was almost 18, who had a daughter when she was 20, whose had two children herself.

Well, maybe that’s all I need to explain.

Anyway, I was a daddy to a many furbabies over the years, dogs and especially cats. We had a Pomeranian, Nellie, and a Beagle, Barney, and many cats. They were all special but the one who sticks out for the purpose of this blog is Pookie.

It was late November 2005 when I first saw Pookie. We were staying at an old house in the small Oklahoma town of Hulbert when it had been sold to a local businessman who wanted to start a Subway franchise. We moved to a house near the lake about five miles away, but not before I was able to get the stray cat that had been hanging around.

In June 2005, a stray female cat had two tuxedo males that would later be named Bandit (because the black fur over his eyes looked like an old-fashioned bandit mask in old movies) and Sir Roland, which got his name because one of my grandsons said he looked like the cat in Garfield: The Movie.

And if you’re a Garfield fan, you know his favorite teddy bear is named Pooky. And it seemed like a good name for him with a little spelling change.

Pookie was fiesty when he was little. I was going to take him to the vet to be neutered and he decided to climb up under the bed and hide in the bedsprings, meaning I had to take the whole bed apart getting him and to be at the vet before 9 a.m.

And as we were moving out, Pookie was able to crawl through a hole in the floor under the kitchen sink and go back outside. I had to trick him with food to grab him. I had to later trap Bandit and Sir Roland, but their mother was too feisty and ran off.

At the new house, the tuxedo cats stayed around the house for a while but I think Sir Roland ran across the street to the neighbors. I never saw him again. Bandit hanged around outside for a year before he got injured and I brought him in and he got well and stayed an inside cat with his buddy, Pookie.

Pookie loved all the other cats…even when they didn’t like him. Hopper, our grey tappy manx cat, never liked any of the cats. She would gladly spend her time outside. She liked Nellie and Barney.

In May of 2005, another stray cat had a set of babies near our house in Hulbert and we bottle fed those after she disappeared. We’re assuming she either got ran over on the road or someone took her in. Of those four babies, we had C.C. and B.B. to keep. We were able to find homes for the other two. They were black cats and very friendly.

But B.B. (Baby Boy) didn’t have too much time on this planet as he got very sick at 6 months old and had to be euthanized. C.C. (Curious Cat) was sadden, so Pookie was like her newest brother to play with. Hopper, Pumpkin (our tort) and Mama KItty (our grey long-hair) didn’t care for C.C., but Pookie was a good friend/buddy to C.C. and Bandit.

Then in 2007, Heidi, another tabby showed up one July evening, around the time of Shark Week, I remember, and Pookie had another buddy.

Then, again in July of 2008, when I was covering a Wagoner City Council meeting, or leaving it, I must say, I heard a kitten crying. I look to my left and this little kitten is running up to me. I didn’t need another cat and I tried to persuade the members of the Council to take it with them, but I took it home, saying I was going to call the local animal shelter later that week.

But that never happened, because Pookie became attached to that kitten. Or she became attached to him. Pookie now had his own baby. I don’t know how old Heidi was but she has about a year younger than Pookie, but this new cat, which we named Baby Kitty, because we couldn’t think of anything else, became Pookie’s shadow for the years to come. Wherever he went, she went.

But I noticed two things. One, Pookie didn’t care. And two, Pookie was actually asserting his role as the dominant male and sitting next to Baby Kitty as she ate, so the other cats wouldn’t fight with her.

The next five years went by with no new cats. Baby Kitty, who was starving and little, grew into a chonk after she was spayed. Mama Kitty was aging during those years and by November of 2011 was barely eating and barely able to walk and keep a balance. She had been losing control of her bladder and often lying in her own urine.

So, we took her to the vet so she could cross Rainbow Bridge.

In the spring of 2013, another female stray showed up and she was pregnant. She took shelter in an old Ford Taurus I had and had five kittens. We named the mother, Sweetie, and gave the totally white one to my ex’s youngest daughter, who in turn gave it to her ex-boyfriend when they split.

Another kitten that looked like Sweetie was given to one of my colleagues at the time, who later split with her boyfriend and probably took the cat.

So, we kept the other cats, BeeBee (another grey tabby) and Skitty, a mostly white cat with grey on her tail and top of her head, and Caramel, who got the name because the brown swirls in his white fur looked like caramel swirls.

With new and younger cats in a house, the older cats don’t take kindly, but Pookie was always accepting of the cats. And I think it’s because he was the dominant male that the other cats weren’t as hostile.

Nellie got sick in the fall of 2013 and had to cross Rainbow Bridge.

Barney the Beagle and Hopper both crossed in 2015 within a month of each other. Barney, I couldn’t take to the vet in time. One night, he went outside one last time and went around to the rear of the house where he had lied many times and had one last sleep. I think something got a hold of Hopper but she wasn’t doing too good and tried to go hide in my neighbor’s tool shed to die, but I found her. And after an unsuccessful attempt to get her to recover, she had to take a trip to the vet.

In the summer of 2013, we had found another cat, a mostly white cat, named Brat, for his fondness to tear up the toilet paper. But he ended up being a good cat and was outside a lot until one day around Thanksgiving 2018, he went outside one morning and never came back.

2018 was a bad year. Actually, in November of 2017, Bandit got fatally ill and had to euthanized. Heidi had been hazing seizures and I wasn’t able to get her to the vet in time. I put her in the cat carrier to take her to the vet and she had one final seizure and died. That was a few days before Christmas 2017.

After the new year, my ex got very sick with pneumonia and RSV and as she was bouncing back from that in late February of 2018, she fell in a bathroom at her former doctor’s office and had to spend a week in the hospital following some complications. It was at this time, Caramel started to show signs of illness but I was unable to take care of him because of my ex being in the hospital. Unfortunately, Caramel stopped eating or drinking and the vet said it was probably feline leukemia and Caramel crossed Rainbow Bridge.

Sweetie also developed feline leukemia that summer and crossed.

Pumpkin in September of 2018 started wanting to go outside a lot to the point she was spending all her time out there, but I knew she was wanting to be alone for a reason. So, when she stopped eating, I took her to the vet.

And C.C., having lost another buddy, got worse herself. She didn’t last much time either and in December of 2018, she crossed Rainbow Bridge.

Pookie tried to keep his head up but I can tell it would be a matter of time for him. All his buddies had gone. He was still loving to the younger cats as they would come up to him. He would pet and lick them and even play with them the best he could.

But by the winter of 2019-2020, Pookie was showing his age. He was now mostly blind, but he was holding on.

Unfortunately, my relationship was ending for a number of reasons I won’t mention here, not at this time, at least.

Pookie held on through the winter, but every time the heater kicked on, he would go to the nearest vent to get warm. And he was getting a little weary. He would forget that I just fed him earlier and he would go in the kitchen with me anytime I went in there. I was already feeding him wet canned food by this time.

Pookie held on tougher and longer than the older cats. My ex said that when Pumpkin was sick and dying, “She loves us too much.”

I think Pookie loved everyone too much but all his furbuddies were gone.

It was incidentally Father’s Day Weekend 2020 when Pookie took a turn for the worst and never rebounded. He would itch sometimes and fall off beds and couches and I guess he fell off the bed this one time and dazed himself.

He sat or lied on the floor for a few minutes. After getting better, I gave him a quick bath, but it was putting a band-aid on a situation. I had been giving Pookie flea medication, but I could sense something worse.

We determined Pookie probably had feline dementia. It would explain his behavior.

Pookie got through most of July but I could tell he wasn’t eating much and getting thinner. I posted a pic of him one time on social media and a friend thought he was a new kitten.

During the last week of July, Pookie went downhill fast. I was taking a shower on the Wednesday when Pookie walked into the bathroom disoriented and stumbled around. After I got out and dried off, I observed Pookie walking around in circles until he got dizzy,

His constant walking and roaming around the house was upsetting Baby KItty, the one kitten who went everywhere he went. My vet closed early on Wednesday. Otherwise, I would’ve taken him that afternoon.

But for some reason, I thought he’d pull through. But by the next day, it was obvious that if I didn’t get Pookie to the vet on Friday, he’d suffer too much on the weekend and I didn’t want that.

So, on Thursday, July 30, one last night, Pookie and I went to bed and he slept next to me. But he got disoriented during the night and at one point in the early morning, fell off the bed. But I got him back and held him.

That Friday morning, I woke up and Pookie wasn’t eating. He’d go to the water bowl and just hang his head over it. So, when the vet office opened at 9 a.m., I called and got an appointment that afternoon.

It was hard having to wait but maybe it was better that Pookie was there with me that day. I forced myself to make some eggs and toast to eat something. After taking my back pills, I went out and dug the hole amongst the other furbuddies in the yard. I watched Heat on DVD as it was the only thing I could think of to get my mind off things.

As the appointment neared, I put the carrier out in the car. I knew I could probably just carry him out to my car. But before I left the house, I carried him around to BeeBee, Skitty and Baby Kitty to say goodbye. Outside, I set Pookie on the ground and let him walk in the grass one last time.

He had run out several times earlier but he was more or less had resigned to the fact that he was going to be an inside cat.

He didn’t resist or cry being put in the carrier. He just lied down. I think animals know sometimes. It was a long drive to the vet as she is on the other side of the county but maybe I needed a longer drive.

And the vet was busy but maybe I needed a little more time to say goodbye myself.

Because Pookie went quickly. After giving him the shot to make him unconscious, she said it didn’t take her long with the second shot.

Pookie had given me 15 years when he could’ve gave me 5 like Brat, Caramel or Sweetie. I’ll have more furbabies in the future. I still have some.

Shortly after Pookie died, a ginger that hangs around here amongst my and my neighbors’ land had a littler of gingers.

The cycle goes on.

But they’ll never be another Pookie. He might have been frisky when he was younger but he calmed down. You could almost say Heidi and Baby Kitty did it. All cats are different as all people are different.

I can say this, he was a great father and I hope I was a great father to him and the other furbabies.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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