Panther came to live with me when I was first in Washington state, in 2001. I’ve written quite a bit about him before. He was just a little black cat with birth defects that caused his front legs to grow into a funny shape. This didn’t bother him one bit.
As my first foster, Panther came to live with Yeti and I, and he made no attempt to take over or push her aside.
He seemed to acknowledge her “seniority”.
As more cats came to live with me, Panther appeared to organize them. Yeti was the Matriarch and Panther ensured that everyone deferred to her. Then to him.
As I have described previously, Panther became very special to me. Safe to say that I was besotted with that little boy. He was precious.
But my poor little boy didn’t have the strongest constitution. He suffered from eosinophilic granuloma, otherwise known as rodent ulcer.
In Panther’s case, it affected his gums which became very sore. To keep it at bay, he was treated with trans-dermal cortisone.
It worked, but as a side effect, his kidneys began to fail.
I don’t think I realized this was a possibility but I don’t know that I would have been able to keep my boy going longer, whatever I did. I trusted his vet.
Life after Panther was not a happy time and while I understood that I needed to focus on my remaining cats and put things in perspective, I was just not able to shift gears.
Until one day…
…a six month old kitten walked down my hill.
Sometimes, I think, maybe animals can come back. I don’t know how it all works. I’m sure there are all sorts of conditions that have to be right. I did not think Willow was Panther re-incarnated. But I did think he had “sent” her. Maybe that is what I needed to believe.
I didn’t expect Willow to behave like Panther, and she didn’t.
For one thing, Panther liked to be close to me. Really close. If I laid down on the floor he would creep inside my sweatshirt and curl up there.
He slept next to me on my bed. He followed me about.
Willow tolerates being held for a nano-second.
She comes to check on me sometimes, but she doesn’t follow me around.
She sleeps on my bed, sometimes.
If I am upset, or unwell, however, Willow knows and will come to sit nearby for the duration. She also tries to supervise certain things, such as brushing my teeth, as if Panther told her to make sure I did those things right. Or maybe it’s a token way of letting me know she’s in charge of me, as he was.
But I needed my cuddle cat.
No, I’m not strangling him!
So in due course, Panther dispatched another. From…..
…………….beyond the Rainbow Bridge……..
She came to me in the garden. Sat watching everything I did and soon I was cuddling instead of gardening.
So now I have Blackie to cuddle and Willow to supervise, and yes, there is Panther still in the middle. I very much feel he is still around.
It is very appropriate that it would take two cats to fill Panther’s tiny shoes.