Does anyone besides me remember this cartoon? Alan thinks I’m nutso, but I swear I used to watch it as a kid. I’ve seen "Kimba" stuff for sale on ebay, so at least I know it existed…. anyway, that is where my lovely kitten got the name Kimba. (you can look back and find a Photo Album titled Kimba if you want a look) Well, he is now 18 years old (and he’s been an outdoor cat more often than indoors!) but I think he is finally on his 9th life. In fact, after all he’s been thru, I’ve often suspected that he’s actually on a borrowed life – maybe 10th or 11th at this point! He has long fluffy white hair, and we’ve never had to brush him because he did a wonderful job of keeping himself tidy – even when he lived with the dogs out in the dog house, with straw bedding to keep them warm in the snowy winters, and living in the mud and muck of the horsey acre, he always looked beautiful. For about the last 12 years, he’s lived with my parents. Wow, I didn’t realize until now how he’s been with them longer than I had him after I rescued him! Huh. I took him there when I moved back in when Alan and I were separated, and when we (Alan and I) moved out of state and into an apartment, I didn’t want to drag the poor guy into a city with busy streets and all. I always intended to get him back after we found a house, but by then Kimba was comfortably ensconced into my parent’s home and into their hearts as well. The last couple years, he’s spent much less time outdoors and much more time curled up on my parent’s bed or in my mom’s lap. In all these years, tho, I’ve always been his favorite. He always comes running when I go over (which is often) and he will do anything to climb up onto my shoulder – something he does with no one else. You see, when I had him on the acre, twice a day I would go out to feed the horses, and as soon as I came out the back door he would jump on top of the dog house and from there onto my shoulder. You have to understand that it was always the same – up onto the right side, nearest the dog house, then across to the left shoulder where he would drape himself and mercilessly knead my shoulder on the "ride" out to the barn. It was fine in the winter when I was wearing my heavy parka – you can still see the nearly new look of the right shoulder, compared with the nearly shredded shoulder on the left. Summer was a different matter – I have a wonderful network of spider-webby white scars covering my left shoulder! At the barn I dropped him off into the grain bin, where he’d nearly always find a mouse. After the feeding he’d walk on up to the house under his own power… unless he was still enjoying his ‘mouse game’. Lately, about the last 6 months, we’ve seen a real decline in poor ol’ Kimmy. Like, he can’t seem to retract his claws easily, and they are always getting stuck in stuff. Like my shoulder. Which is way uncool. Also, he hasn’t been keeping himself tidy, and he took to growling and nipping if we tried to brush him, so he looks like crap now, all matted and nasty. We tried to work on them, but gave up because it just makes him mad. And this is a cat who never got mad, who wouldn’t bite or scratch even if you were a dog chewing him up (a pitbull nearly ended him one day) and even the vets loved him because as they attended to his awful wounds, he just sat still and purred his loud, loud purr. So we knew he wasn’t quite himself lately. He’s also become pretty thin, but he seemed happy and fine, just old – and well, dang it, he is old! Well, a couple days ago, he planted himself in one of his favorite spots – in my dad’s garage, between the pump for the well and the water heater. He basically hasn’t moved much since then. I went the next day, and petted and petted him, to tell him "goodbye". He never really even raised his head. The next day, he was still hanging in, so I went again, and this time he stirred at the sound of my voice, so I picked him up and loved on him. Mom and I were absolutely sure he’d be gone by the next day, as dad said he’d quit eating and drinking. (all the cat’s stuff is in the workshop, and my dad practically lives out there, so he knows these things.) He didn’t seem to be suffering, so we thought, well, just let him go "quietly into that good night". But, no. It’s the 3rd day – 4th? and he’s still hanging on. In fact, he actually seems a bit better – he’s getting up to eat and drink, if only a tiny bit. But dad said he seems to be hurting when he uses his box. So, today mom and I discussed the ever-dreaded "maybe we need to take him to the vet" deal. Dreaded, because at the age of 18 I don’t think we can really get him all "fixed up" you know – it’s more of the ‘end of life’ kind of talk. Uhg. I hate that. It’s always the hard part of having pets, isn’t it? I took Kiki today to tell him goodbye… I’m going to pray really hard that Kimba decides to just drift away in his sleep tonight.