Fall is a rough time for cats in our household, making it hard to be properly thankful on Thanksgiving: Benjamin Black died on October 30, 2010; Eurekatous on November 8, 2011; Phantom on October 27, 2018. And now we had to say goodbye to Ubaid on Monday November 23, 2020, ten years almost to the day since he came to live with us.
Ubaid was born in California’s northernmost county, Del Norte, in 2003. He was found abandoned in Klamath after the December 2005 flood of the Klamath River forced the evacuation of the Redwood RV Park, along with many other cats and dogs left behind. Later that winter he was caught in an operation to spay and neuter feral animals, where he was marked by clipping the tip of his right ear (standard procedure to avoid recapturing an animal already neutered or spayed.)
There were no animal shelters in this poor rural county but a sweet local woman went in and spent weeks catching as many orphaned pets as she could, bringing them back to her ranch, and finding their owners or putting them up for adoption. Ubaid lived there until we saw his photo and read his story nearly five years later. The fact that he also had a bit of an old injury to his lower back, and his beautiful black fur, had made him hard to find a home for. We’re grateful he waited for us that long.
He arrived just before Thanksgiving 2010. We got him as a companion for Valentine after Benjamin died and Val was clearly lonely. The two became fast friends and until a couple of months ago when Ubaid got too sick, they played and slept together. I referred to them as the Taiji Two because they so often looked like a yin-yang symbol.
His fur was velvety soft. In fact, when he came to live with us he was called “Fuzzy” but we felt it didn’t fit him. Instead we renamed him for a character in one of Edmund’s games, Ubaid (the name means “faithful”) who was apparently the abandoned familiar of a sorcerer but claimed to really be an ancient god, diminished in the God Wars. That fit our new friend to a T!
He loved belly rubs, sleeping on the bed, standing above us and looking down, and hanging out with us. He loved to play with cat toys but you could tell he had been feral and had had to survive on his own: he hunted to kill, not to play with the prey. He would jump on that toy, wham! and hold it for keeps.
Back in early fall of 2017, he started being sick and was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. It was managed with medication, but that was the beginning of his decline. In early 2018 he also developed a cyst on his chest that started filling with fluid and choking him; the vet drained it but it kept refilling. It was too close to Ubaid’s jugular to safely operate so all we could do was keep having it drained. For a while, we had weekly visits and we really though it was the end. But gradually the cyst stopped filling.
Throughout all the health scares, Ubaid would rally and fiercely hold on to life. But this year, he started losing weight and even though we fed him anything he wanted whenever he wanted it, he kept wasting away. We kept an eye on him; as long as he was happy and engaging with the world around him, as long as his quality of life was good, we would do everything we could to keep him.
But on Monday morning it was different. His back legs could no longer support him but he still insisted on trying to jump up and down between the floor and his favourite chair. He couldn’t fully stand up, he was just skin and bones and we had been unable to stop the weight loss. He wasn’t going to get his strength back. We called our vet and were fortunate enough to get an appointment that same day. He fell to sleep for the last time as we were petting him.
We miss him so much.