Beeker Belle – the bell-shaped cat – was bigger than she should have been. This was a function of her habit of plopping herself down in front of a food bowl and emptying it. All of them. At one time we had seven cats, seven bowls. Beeker batted cleanup. Hence her nickname, The Fat Cat.
We met her when she was what? two years old? and residing in the local shelter in 2001. She was saved from what happens to unwanted cats by her uncanny resemblance to my recently passed feline friend Baxter, who (sorry guys) remains my favorite cat ever. My first glimpse of Beeker led me to gasp, well up, and exclaim, “I’m not ready for this.” But I was. And we took her home. She wasn’t Baxter, but she had a sweetness all her own.
She clearly had been a mother at some point in her life, because she liked to groom the other cats if they’d let her lick. When Hemi took ill last February and lost the ability to walk, and I came to take him to his final vet appointment, she was curled up on his cold back legs, having kept him warm in the night.
She had lost her prodigious appetite in recent days, and Tuesday night I found her lying in the litter box, not much interested in – or unable to find – a more comfortable place. I placed her gently in the easy chair and planned to check back in the morning. She apparently fell asleep and stayed asleep. Wednesday morning I found her with Boop – another one of our geriatric cats – curled up against her to keep her warm. Boop always means well, but he was unable to warm her up enough this time.
We had seven cats when we decided we had too many and it was time to let attrition take its course. Now we have four. Strangely, each of our losses has been the second-youngest cat. Our survivors are approximately 17, 17, 15 and 6 years old. I should probably introduce you to them now, while their stories are still progressing, instead of when there’s nothing left to say.