| Shadow's story
I will always say it was fate that brought Shadow to us. One rainy night in 1988, my mother went to the local library for an event. She saw that cats were being brought out of the building and loaded into a van. Since she had gotten the time wrong, and was early, she went inside, just "for a look". She found Shadow sitting alone on a table - he was one of the few still there. (Had my mother been on time for the event, he would have been long gone). At her very slight touch (not knowing how he would react) he began purring; a purr that filled an entire room.
My mother was told that Shadow had been found with his brother in a box outsite a veternarian's door, and brought to the animal shelter. They were hoping to have the two of them adopted together, but the woman who took Shadow's brother only wanted one. My mother's response was "How could anyone resist that face?" I've wondered that myself - how anyone could pick just one (the people at the shelter said they looked exactly the same). How could anyone take one, and leave the other behind. But I can only be grateful now that he WAS left behind.
He immediately became a part of our family. He loved to cuddle with my mother and I, but was always a bit nervous around my father and brother. He loved to bug our older cat, Buffy, who seemed otherwise unaware of his presence. We nicknamed him Gretzsky, after the hockey player - he felt any swoopable object that was left on a table or counter was fair game, and once he had it on the floor, he'd bat it all over the room. He never meowed, but instead talked to us. If you found him in a good mood, and asked "Do you love me?", he'd quickly respond with a squeaky purr that sounded just like "Yeah".
Although he was never a big eater, he was always under foot when turkey, chicken, or tuna was around...yet he refused to eat the cat food version of these foods. He was definately a spoiled little guy, and I'd often have to open three or four cans before he found something that suited him (even if he had eaten, and liked it, the night before).
|This is a very special award given to Shadow in recognition of his bravery.|
It was so very hard, and we were so far from him, when that decision had to be made, but we all knew that he had been so brave and strong - just like he said he would be - and that it was our turn now to be strong and let him go.
I've wondered if he could have been saved, had we done something sooner, but the doctors all agree the disease had been with him for a long time. Shadow lived with it for so long - hurting - and not until a week before had he ever made it known. How strong he was indeed, more than we ever knew.
We loved him and he loved right back; if you wanted to be sure, all you had to do was ask him. We all thank a higher power for arranging that Shadow and my mother meet that fall day at the Dolley Madison (his middle name) Library. It was pure serendipity: He came home with her; and for 12 years, our home has been a better place because he was there.
The next page contains Shadow's last photo and poems....
|In August of 1993, a Golden Retriever puppy moved in, and quickly took over the house. Destiny immediately claimed Shadow's cat bed as his. Shadow - never one to fight back - didn't seem to mind. He preferred sleeping under beds, on windowsills and chairs - any place where he could be tucked away. Even at 130 pounds, Destiny still likes to rest his head in the cat bed.
In July of 1997, karma came to kick Shadow in the rear (for bothering Buffy) with the addition of two stray kittens. Shadow first stood his ground - after all, they were barely bigger than my hand and would tip over when they tried to walk - pretty harmless. But they grew quickly, and soon were bigger than him.
Bumper (the sweetheart) only ever wanted to cuddle with Shadow, or brush against him, and occasionally he'd let her. Scrappy on the other hand, is our wild one, and easily gets lost in what starts out as a game. All day long, the pitter-patter of tiny paws were heard scampering around the house, and seconds later Shadow would come running into the room with Scrappy right behind him.
|About a year after we brought the "kids" home, Shadow gradually began losing weight. While it was noticable, it was hard to know what it was due to. He had always been a small cat, and next to Bumper and Scrappy he looked even smaller. We thought there were so many factors - Scrappy's "excercizing" him just being one - that sadly, we didn't think much of it. Although Shadow had definately quieted down some, (wasn't coming around as much) we figured that was what came with age. For the most part, he was still his same self; so affectionate (always wanting to sleep on my legs), still talking, and still looking for every oppurtunity to escape outside on a warm day.
It wasn't until he started throwing up regularly (almost everything he ate), - and once when I pet him, and could feel all his bones jutting out - that I finally admitted to myself that there could be something seriously wrong with him. We called the vet right away.
X-rays were taken on June 2, a large mass -- thought to be a tumor -- was seen crowding his esophagus and diaphram (it was twice the size of his heart!). Our vet suggested having a radiologist look at the x-rays and "good news" came back that same Friday that the mass didn't have the appearance of a tumor; that it most likely was the stomach somehow (inverted, or flipped through a hernia?) into his chest. We were told that the hiatal hernia could be corrected through surgery, but that there was a possibility that a tumor (behind the mass) might be there and the reason, and could be the reason his stomach was pulled into his chest. Fighting dehydration, Shadow was hospitalized on Saturday, June 3, basically to hydrate him and give him electrolites; to have him in better condition for surgery on Monday, which was at 4 p.m. I went with a friend to visit him on Sunday, my mom was too upset to go. He was loving and responsive for some time - more than I had seen in a long time (at home, for the previous week, it had seemed he didn't want me around him) - and then he calmly settled back, I guess to say he was done visiting. I know he was extrememly tired, and those ten minutes or so was all he could stand. Now knowing a visit wouldn't upset him, my mother was brave enough to visit him, too.
We went to see him on Monday, right before the surgery. We found him lying in his litter pan, but once again, he mustered up the strength to cuddle and give us love, and he purred and I prayed for him to make it through. Just before we left, my mom told him "You be strong, okay Shadow?" He said "Yeah", and I know he was.