OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack in the spring of 2003 I was living in a motorhome on Cudjoe Key.  It was my first foray into living in the Keys and when I had moved down the year previous, I brought with me an old black and white cat named Harley, whom I adopted from a friend.  Harley was pretty cool but old, and over the holiday season when I went north to visit family, she died, leaving me without a cat for the first time in 30 years.  I decided at that time to not get another but I found my self roaming the cat food section of the grocery store now and then, and petting any stray feline I happened to pass.

One fine day that spring I got a call from the same person whom I adopted Harley.  She had been driving around all day and kept hearing strange noises coming from underneath her truck.  When she got home she had her boyfriend look underneath and there, wedged between the fuel tank and truck bed was a tiny ball of gray fur with huge ears.  It was a very scared little kitten.  My friend, who was actually a dog person decided that the only person she could call was me.  So she did.  She said she had no idea what to do with the poor thing and would I come and take it.  I resisted but she then played dirty and said she would take it to the pound where they would most likely kill it.

Well, you know me.  Hard shell.  Gooey insides.  I agreed to come and get the damn thing.  Not like I had anything else to do and I missed having a cat around.

BTW.  Did I mention at the time I was living in Cudjoe in the Keys.  And said kitten was in north east Orlando, 500 miles away?

Yes, I did.  I got ready and drove all the way to Orlando for this damn cat.  Even I was questioning my sanity at this point.

So, off I went and came to the friends house.  There, hiding under the bed was a tiny little grey kitten with the greenest eyes you could ever imagine.  And huge ears.  Never saw a cat with such big ears.  She was scared at first until I brought out the bonkers.  Bonkers was the name of a kitty treat I always gave to my cats.  She learned right quick what a bonker was and within minutes was purring in my hands.  That night I slept on the couch and the kitten immediately came up and crawled into the crook of my arm, and slept and purred the rest of the night.

So I took her back to the Keys and named her KC, or Keys Cat for short.  KC was a playful thing and one of the most affectionate cats I ever had.  She had to be near me all the time, sleeping in the printer tray while I was on the computer, and sleeping on the bed with me.  She would play fetch.  I would crumple up some paper and throw it, and she would bring it back for me to throw again.  We became bestest of friends.

IMG_21422 years later we had another addition to the family, Charley.  Charley was born during the hurricane of the same name and I found her outside my door after the storm.  I took her in but she was totally different.  For one, KC, was extremely jealous of her.  Anytime Charley came near me, KC would growl and swat at her.  KC was the queen no matter where we lived and Charley was always hiding from her.

We moved many a time since then.  From motorhome to house to rv to boat to rv to apartment to boat to this boat.  The two of them always adapting.  KC taking over the living space, and Charley finding a place to hide.

KC remained affection as always, but she was quite the pig.  Eating constantly, which was my fault and she got very fat over the years.  She was always jealous of Charley and growled anytime Charley invaded her space.  She was stubborn and would not hesitate to bite me if I played too rough.  But she would always be purring minutes later.

Her favorite place to sleep.
Her favorite place to sleep.

She would continue to occasionally come up and sleep in the crook of my arm especially when it was cold.  Lay her head on my arm and just purr away whilst I occasionally scratch her ears.  In the warmer days, she would lie all stretched out with her big fat belly sticking up inviting me to come and pet her.

Lately KC developed a rash on her back and was quite sensitive to being touched there.  I had to be careful as it obviously was painful.  And she continued to gain a lot of weight.  But overall she seemed to be healthy enough at 12 years.

Well, last night, I was lying on the berth looking at something on my computer and KC came up as usual and laid down at the crook of my arm.  She seemed fine and I petted her now and then.  But sometime around midnight, she let out a meow, and passed away right there in my arm.  It was quiet and peaceful.  She simply stopped breathing and moving and that was it.  It might have been her heart, maybe something else.

My friend KC was gone.

She was family.  I confided in her, talked to her like a human, and she was always there when I came home.  No matter how bad things got, or what happened, I knew when I came home, those big green eyes would be waiting for me.  I would have to feed her first of course.  Then we could sit and talk about our day.  For 12 years we were together.  A long time for a cat.  It’s going to be real hard getting used to the fact KC is not around.

I had another cat before name of Snorkles.  Snorkles was a big yellow male and we were together for 17 years.  I had to take him to the vet to be put down at the end and when I did I was blubbering fool.  The vet clinic even sent me a sympathy card signed by the entire staff and I literally lost it for a few days.  Quit my job and was royal mess.  Losing KC is feeling the same way, except I have no job to quit.  But I’m not going to be fully functional for awhile.

I do have Charley still but I don’t know how she is going to act or change now that KC is not around.  I’m hoping she warms up a bit and becomes friendlier.  We’ll see how it goes.  But my mind is made up.  When she is gone, no more pets.  The years of joy and companionship are great.  But the loss is devastating.  No different than losing a family member.  If any of you out there have had a close pet, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

My little girl is gone.  I’m really going to miss KC.  There will never be another like her.

Capt. Fritter