Tonight we said goodbye to our beloved cat, Edgar. He was a distinguished 20, although for most of the last several years the only way you could tell he was an elder cat was the one white whisker.
20 years ago, we were sitting in the front yard of our house when this adolescent cat bounded up our steps and settled in my lap. We did the usual rounds but nobody reported him missing. He had one of the worst tempers of any cat I've experienced, so it's possible someone abandoned him, but we took him in and loved him.
We, in this case, doesn't include our older cat, Rusty. She barely tolerated him, although to be fair the exercise she got running away from him probably added years to her life.
One of Edgar's distinguishing characteristics was that he was the most smell-focused cat I've ever known. He loved to smell the inside of people's mouths, so one of his nicknames was "Dental Kitty".
Edgar, we like to say, used up 14 of his 9 lives. He's been at death's door several times, and had always bounced back. That was consistent enough that even when we started finding blood in his urine, and the vet diagnosed "some kind of mass" in his abdomen, I half expected him to shake it off.
That didn't happen this time, but he gave it a good damn fight. The vet who helped us tonight was the same one who did the initial diagnosis, and he was so surprised he looked in the office records to see when it was he had first seen Edgar. It took two or three months, with a solid fight the whole way. Eventually, though, it just wore him out. That photo at the top is how he spent most of the last couple of weeks: under our dresser, enjoying the heat.
20 years is a good run for a cat. He was a great pet. We'll miss him.