When we bought the house in Grand Forks we were warned there was a cat from the previous owner hanging around.
We didn’t see him for over a year until one day my Laurel said “I think that cat’s here.”
The next day Laurel, my wife and friend of 16 years, was killed on the highway.
The day after that this orange tabby cat showed up at my back door. Hungry, thirsty and cold.
The neighbour saw him and said: “I see you’ve met Jasper.”
This was a point of coincidence: one of the cats we brought with us was named Casper.
Then she told me that Jasper had been the cat who lived there.
He’d been born there and when the owner, Jasper’s human, lost the house had moved with him to a house on Hardy Mountain Road.
A month or so before my wife was killed that house burned down and Jasper’s human died.
So Jasper made his way home … to the only other house he’d ever known.
And found me.
I took him in: The Universe took my wife away and gave me a cat in return – I wasn’t about to turn him away.
I could go on and on about what a good cat he was but if you’re a cat person you know and if you’re not it wouldn’t make sense.
He was smart. He listened. He understood quite a lot that way.
He appreciated affection but he wasn’t a suck up. I gave him as much attention as he wanted and let him leave when he was sated.
He liked having a home but he needed to go out.
Jasper was a good predator. After we moved my neighbour mentioned to me how much he appreciated Jasper keeping down the small pests that damaged his landscaping.
Never pushy or needing to dominate but willing to defend his turf until blindness and old age made that a losing game.
He was always trim: never fat.
He had a minor heart murmur but that wasn’t a problem.
Jasper’s thyroid became more active than it needed to be so he got medication twice a day over the last few years. He never fought you over it (though he could struggle a bit).
He was one of those cats that knew about claws and skin and I never got a scratch from him unless it was my fault (but I can’t remember any incidents at all).
IF he didn’t use his litter box it was for a reason and then he wouldn’t go on the floor or carpet, no – he would go in the sink or the tub or in something. Which made cleaning up a lot easier for me. I appreciated that.
A while back the lens in his right eye became detached. Last year the other one went leaving him essentially blind. He could detect light and dark and sense moving shapes in front of him but he was blind.
But he coped. And he still went outside – he wanted to. He didn’t stray off the yard (I think). And fortune in the choice of house gave him a little safe space behind bars right near the front door where he could await our return.
This all slowed him down a bit but it didn’t stop him.
But there was this lump … in his throat.
It was there one day a few years back. Sometimes it was hard to find but it grew.
It never got so large as you’d notice it from afar but … eventually, recently, it affected his swallowing.
And he took in less food and water … and his energy levels dropped and his health was affected: He began to shut down.
We fed him tuna – he liked that when it was still wet but eventually he went off it.
We got him wet cat food paté and he’d try that for a little bit but eventually he ate less and less.
I’d see him amble over to the feeding area and find the water dish. He’d lean in for a drink and then stop and grumble and then try again and grumble some more and eventually get a bit to drink.
But each time it was less and with draining energy levels it was harder and less frequent.
The last few days he didn’t move far – could quite make the litter box. Ahh gee … I don’t mind that.
He was in such a state I took him to the vet this morning and said: Make him feel better or make him not feel.
She examined him and told me any respite she could give him was only temporary – he’d relapse and eventually shut down.
So we brought him to his end as peacefully as we could.
I will miss him.
I’ve had many cats – almost my whole life there’s been cats around.
But he stands out in that group as one of my all time favourites. One I’ll never forget, of course.
Jasper lived 15 years (I think it was). I know he had a loving home and was never alone for the last 7 of those.
I am glad we met.
Even though he was only a feline I’ve always considered him a friend; a fellow traveller on this path through life.
But the Universe only loans you things and creatures and people for a while … eventually it takes it all back.