(Quadra Island, BC, Canada)
14 years ago, a rag-tag family of humans on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, decided that they didn’t want a cat any more and abandoned him. He wandered to a nearby house, climbed in the window that they left open for their own cats, and proceeded to make himself at home. The patriarch of that household said “no more cats”.
I had recently lost my own cat, and was eventually talked into taking him, sight unseen. When I first saw him I said “How could someone abandon such a gorgeous cat?” He was about 2 years old at the time.
I will be forever grateful that circumstances evolved that brought him into my life. I have had cats all of my life, starting with barn cats when I was a kid on the farm in the Prairies, then later, housecats when I was a younger adult. Oliver is the king of them all.
I was single at the time Oliver came into my life. Within a year I had met my current partner, a person who had never had a pet, and wasn’t too enthused about the prospect of sharing life with a pet. Well, Oliver has a history of winning people over, and certainly did his job this time. No one makes more of a fuss over, and cares for, an animal more than the man of this house.
Not only did he quickly learn to love Oliver, he has learned to love animals, and he agreed to adopt a poor starving stray that was found near our house a year later. Over the years he has been the “soft touch” that has adopted 2 more abandoned cats. But no matter how much we love the others, Oliver has always remained the king.
He has always been a character and a clown. When we lived in the small town he would trot out to the street when people would be going by with kids in strollers, rolling over in front of them, waiting for a petting. My neighbor’s grandson learned to say “Oliver” before “daddy”. When we would go for walks, Oliver would trot along beside us like a pet dog. We would meet people on the street for blocks around that would say “Is that your cat? He stops by here for a snack every day”. That may have explained his 20+lb. girth! People would call him the Santa Claus cat because of his lush white beard.
7 years ago we moved from the small town to one of the Gulf Islands (between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada). We now live in the country/forest, adjacent to a very modern fish processing facility. The crew of the plant soon met Oliver as he would go down to the parking lot and “greet” them. The first Vet we saw in Campbell River said that he looked like a Norwegian Forest Cat. I had never heard of that breed before so Googled it when I went home. The first picture on the web site was the spitting image of Oliver.
This past winter (2009-2010), at the ripe old age of 16, we started to notice that he was losing weight, then drinking and peeing a lot. A trip to the Vet determined Diabetes. At nearly the same time we lost his long-time kitty friend to kidney failure. Devastated at the thought that we were about to lose the 2 of them so close together, I capitulated to the Vet’s suggestion of putting him on an insulin regimen. I have always taken the stand that it is cruel to prolong an animal’s life just so that the humans feel better.
However, after a lot of thought I decided to give it a try. I am so happy with that decision. It has taken a couple of months to get his dosages regulated, but now that his diabetes is “under control”, he is doing just fine. He seems to know when it is time for the shot, and waits for it (possibly is it the wee cheese treat he gets afterwards?). I give injections every 12 hours. It is far easier than giving a cat a pill – I would have never believed it until I found out for myself.
His fur is looking fluffy again, he has started to put weight back on so doesn’t feel fragile anymore; he has some of his old spark left, and seems to be stronger and more energetic. We have our wonderful, lovable old friend back for the time being. Every time he looks at us with that lovable kind old face it just melts your heart. We know it isn’t going to be forever, but I am so grateful that I have been able to do this for him. When people think I’m crazy, I just say “He has given me 14 wonderful years, this is the least I can do for him.”