January 9, 1998

Obituary for a Pussycat

Fritz the Cat is now in Heaven,

And in Heaven he'll remain;

For he lost his urge to travel

When his testicles were ta'en.

Our cat Fritz died after 10 good years. He developed diabetes and slowly faded away. When he could no longer eat, we took him to Dr. Wright, who gently drugged him to his final sleep. He will be missed.

We acquired Fritz and his sister Lady as kittens. Their mother was a good hunter and so were they. They killed and ate innumerable mice, wood rats, ground squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, and an occasional quail. Fritz even caught a hummingbird which he brought to me. While I was inspecting it, it just took off. That was one lucky hummingbird. Between Fritz and his sister, they kept the rodent population down enough to keep the rattlesnakes away from the house. They earned their keep.

Fritz didn't have any sex life. Dr.Jacobs took care of that when he removed Fritz's testicles at an early age. Just as the books say happens with castrated male cats, he was a homebody. While he sometimes took a walk with us, that was the extent of his wandering.

When we retired for the night, we put both cats out, rain or shine, snow, sleet, cold or hot. From 10p.m. to 6a.m. they were wild cats. This insured that they caught mostly rodents rather than lizards.We don't know what they did all night, except that we were often greeted in the morning by a tail and some animal intestines on the front door mat. That was all; they ate the rest. Cat food couldn't hold a candle to a fresh rat.

To insure that our cats would never go hungry, even if we were gone for a week or two, I built a screened box in the greenhouse that contained a food hopper. It opened to the outside through a hanging swinging door. On extra cold nights, Fritz sometimes slept there, even though he also had his very own padded and labeled box next to Lady's in the wood shed.

Fritz was a loving cat. He never seemed to get enough petting or getting his belly scratched. He was indiscriminate as to who could pet him. Unlike his sister, who shies away from strangers, Fritz didn't care; petting was petting and people were people.

Fritz's favorite roosting spots were the back of the couch, our bed, or a chair.The softness of the surface didn't matter to him and he would sleep in a box of papers or on a folded up rug. Of course, he wasn't one to ignore a freshly folded pile of clothes.

Fritz was not one to be pushed around by a mere human. Often, when I opened the door to let him in, he would dawdle, sniff at everything in the vicinity, until I closed the door in disgust. A few minutes later, when I opened it again, he would dash in.

He definitely detested being put out at night, so when he thought that the time was approaching, he hid. It was a challenge to find Fritz. During his last days, his favorite spot was inside an empty large plastic waste basket. I don't think that it was going out that bothered him, because he often asked to go out during the day; it was an antipathy to being put out. I shall miss our nightly battle of wits. Finding him could be a real challenge.

Rambunctious was the word for Fritz.We had to fish him out of the pond one day when he jumped onto some thin ice. I had a 250 gallon water tank covered with a piece of canvas. One day we heard something that sounded like a cat howling in a barrel. It was Fritz, who had jumped on the canvas and fallen into the tank. Fortunately, there was only about 10 inches of water in it at the time. I jumped into to the tank and handed Fritz to Lu. She then brought a small ladder so that I could get out. The cat and I both had wet feet.

He had once apparently tangled with a skunk because he stunk like skunk on one spot just above his eyes, and dead center. That only happened once. Fritz did learn from his experiences. He was adept at avoiding night time predators; he had to be.

So, goodbye Fritz. Lu and I both loved you very much and we will miss you.

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