For as rough as his life had been, for all of the injuries life had dealt to him, Edgar was a very loving and constant companion. There were four things he ever wanted out of life: a full bowl of Fancy Feast; a chest underneath him; a hand on his head; and a soft, warm bed to squish himself into. |
Edgar was a friend to every other cat who came around him. He was a full-time nanny and springboard to the kittens he fostered. He was also a peacekeeper, at times keeping himself between two fighting cats when he wanted calm and quiet.
He and his almost twin brother, Allan, showed up at our home in very late 2009. They quickly learned the benefits of the woodshop with its neverending supply of crunchies, and also that if they behaved themselves, they would even get let into the house whenever they wanted for as long as they wanted. With Edgar, though, the inside life rarely ever lasted more than an hour or so as there was always something "out there" to sniff, one of the other cats to play with, or just general Edgar stuff to do (There was very much a sense of Edgar's Oscar Madison unkempt nature - especially as one thing he loved to go was roll around in fresh gopher holes, as opposed to Allan's Felix Unger-like princess complex).
Edgar also had a mischievous side. In his and Allan's apartment triplex, they had a bifurcated bowl of one half Edgar's Fancy Feast and the other half with Allan's Meow Mix. From time to time Allan would do Allan stuff to irritate Edgar, so Edgar would proceed to eat Allan's Meow Mix until Allan would panic and see what Edgar was doing. Vice versa was sometimes true as well, which would prompt bouts of pouting from the both of them. On one occasion, Edgar was so eager to plow into his Fancy Feast that he didn't realize he still had gravy from the meat he'd just been eating. He narfed a couple of shovelfuls then sat up and looked at me, one of the Fancy Feast bits still stuck to his lower lip. As he sat and happily chewed, looking at me wondering what I was going to do next, slowly... ever so slowly... it fell off, and Edgar, nonplussed, kept right on shoveling away.
I'm going to miss Edgar every day for the rest of my life. Every time I sit in my recliner and wait to feel three heavy legs hit my chest with all claws out, every time I pass by the trunk of the car and miss that "hey, look at me" wail and the face so expectant for me to pick him up, every time I see Scooby Doo and Bagheera from "The Jungle Book," I will miss Edgar. He was more than just a cat, he was my best friend.
UPDATE 11-17-2013: April and Roxie from New York wanted me to send them a biography of Edgar so they could mention him on their radio show. I present to you, kind reader, what I posted to them. It's a bit expanded on the earlier post, so please enjoy my memories of Edgar:
Edgar and his (almost) twin brother Allan came to our house in the evening hours in the Fall of 2009. We noticed this black, undulating mass in the shadows of our propane tank, so we went out to investigate. We found two half-grown black kittens in dire need of feeding, rubs, and a flea pill. Well, that night they were fed meat and crunchies to the point of crossed eyes, petted to within an inch of their lives, given flea pills (not a high point of their lives that night, but they took it like troopers), and they stayed at our place from then on.
The next day, I took the Poe Brothers to my woodshop and introduced them to the rest of my cats. They weren't an instant hit, but they were accepted by the others in very short order, and quickly claimed one of the many fleece-lined sleeping boxes as their own and figured out that the cut section of stock panel set into the east wall was to let the cats in and out any time of the day or night.
Edgar and Allan were inseparable. The only three distinguishing physical features that separated Edgar from Allan were that Edgar was slightly bigger, had a broader nose which made him look like a miniature panther and almost earned him the name Bagheera, and a solitary white whisker over his right eye that made him look like he was missing an eyebrow. Little did I know that this was the perfect metaphor of Edgar's life, that there was always something about his personality that was charmingly "off." Whenever I was working outside, Edgar was never beyond six feet from me. If I was changing a mower blade, he was laying right on my side. He and Allan would go "hunting" in our woods or our hay field -- but only if the grass had just been mowed, of course -- and if there was a fresh gopher mound anywhere in the yard, you can bet Edgar was wearing half of it by the time he decided he needed to rub himself off on your pants leg.
In October of 2011, we noticed that Edgar, everpresent if you ever looked for him, could not be found. I fed all my cats in the shop as I do every morning before I go to work, but I didn't see him either. Mom looked for him later that morning and discovered that he had made it into a bed box on one of our high shelves in the shop. She saw that there was blood, so she took him to the vet where he found that he had been shot with a small caliber hollow point through the shoulder and had shattered his shoulder blade. He said the only thing to do was to remove the bone fragments as well as the entire leg because it would be useless for the rest of his life, and so for the rest of his life there was another distinguishing feature between him and Allan. However, through the pain he felt he was always happy to see me and purred as I held him during his convalescence at the vet's office.
He learned very quickly that he had a serious limitation. Edgar loved to climb trees in his younger days. After his surgery was healed and he was let out of the recovery cage, he made it up to a low limb of one of the pecan trees. I saw him inching along the branch and I went over to him. He kept inching along until he tried to grab on with his missing paw and wound up swinging underneath the branch. Had I not caught him before he fell, he certainly would have done himself an injury, but he knew from then on that climbing trees was off the list and he never once tried it again. It was also disheartening to see him use a hole for a restroom, seeing his legless shoulder muscle waving away, and the confusion on his face when the hole wasn't covered.
The perseverance through the pain and tragedy led to one of the happiest changes in Edgar's life. From the time he returned home to his very last night in this physical world, Edgar and Allan got put up together every night inside the cat condominium my Dad had built a couple of years before he died (see below for a pic of him building it). This was to keep Edgar safe from the vermin and wandering cats in the countryside and to keep him and Allan together. Edgar's favorite place was on the top level just at the stairway landing, because he knew I would open the door and pet him sometime before I said good night. They never once resisted or resented being put up, either. There was a definite sense of Edgar's Oscar Madison-like slovenliness irritating Allan's Felix Unger-like prissiness, but they remained as inseparable as when we first found them.
Edgar was never prone to panic save for one area of his comfort: his Fancy Feast. The only time I've ever seen him truly alarmed was when either his bowl got too low or I'd throw out the crumbs and set the empty bowl back in before I had a chance to refill it. You've never seen a cat go wide-eyed, dilated pupil horrified as when he thought he wasn't going to be getting his Fancy Feast; nor a cat with more relaxed, purr-filled contentment as when his bowl was freshly filled and he plowed through it like a backhoe through soft earth. In their condo, Edgar and Allan have a bifurcated bowl of one half Edgar's Fancy Feast and the other half with Allan's Meow Mix. From time to time Allan would do Allan stuff to irritate Edgar, so Edgar would proceed to eat Allan's Meow Mix until Allan would panic and see what Edgar was doing. Vice versa was sometimes true as well, which would prompt bouts of pouting from the both of them. On one occasion, Edgar was so eager to plow into his Fancy Feast that he didn't realize he still had gravy from the meat he'd just been eating. He narfed a couple of shovelfuls then sat up and looked at me, one of the Fancy Feast bits still stuck to his lower lip. As he sat and happily chewed, looking at me wondering what I was going to do next, slowly... ever so slowly... it fell off, and Edgar, nonplussed, kept right on shoveling away.
Edgar and Allan also were let into the house often because both were so well-behaved indoors. He would stay in for just a few minutes after I left for work, then bounce to the door and yowl to Mom to open the door so he could go off and do Edgar stuff. If I was home, he'd stay in for hours until he absolutely had to go drown a gopher. His favorite thing to do in the house was have me sit in my recliner so he could jump in the middle of my chest on his three pins (he was a heavy cat and never once considered the concept of "retract claws"), flomp down in the crook of my arm, monopolize the other in a neverending barrage of head rubs, and drool like a leaky fire hydrant. Every breath was a rumbling purr, and if I ever stopped he would look at me then up to the ceiling as if to say, "where's the hand?" On cold days, both Edgar and Allan would lie on my chest and soak up the warmth, the two inseparable motors just cranking away. Many times Edgar would finally find a comfortable spot in the middle of my chest and sleep for an hour or two until he got his fill of warm and moved on to the of their overstuffed beds in the living room.
The older Edgar got, the more grandfatherly he became. A small, longhaired creamcicle cat with a need of human companionship showed up outside the funeral home where I work, so I brought her home. Nefertiti (or Titi to coincide with her cuteness -- named so because the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as well as perfected the earliest of embalming processes [and Anubis is a dog's name]) would play with Edgar because with only three legs, he couldn't get very far very fast and he was big enough that she couldn't hurt him though she never tried to. He also looked out after her and kept her safe from fights with the others oftentimes by jumping between Titi and whomever else was doing the instigating. The older she became, the more of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship they developed, and they'd be seen sitting together, eating together, and lying together. The latest addition to our feline brood is in the form of Elizabeth, a solid orange kitten who has two speeds: stop and warp. Edgar was a most capable nanny to Elizabeth, forever following her and keeping her within eyesight, and always making sure she was in no real danger.
When I arrived home from work on November 10, 2013, Mom said she couldn't find Edgar. She hadn't seen him all afternoon. I checked in the shop, in our old barn, down each of the four roads, in the woods, in our hay field, and I found no trace. Three hours after I started searching, I looked in the empty horse field across the street north of the house. Edgar was lying about twenty feet away from an algae-filled pond in the middle of the field. He had at some recent point been drenched. I can imagine, given his past experience and the way he seemed to view the world, he was in the field on the bank of the pond and jumped in thinking the algae was actually a solid surface. I'm sure that he would have either gotten too much water in his lungs before he could get out or the effort of getting back out would have given him a heart attack.
Edgar was more than just another stray cat, he was more than his Bombay breed's description, he was a devoted brother, he was a caring nanny, he was a fearless peacemaker, he was a loving boyfriend, and he was my best friend. Titi still sniffs the places Edgar's been and goes off on his trails. Elizabeth and Titi chase each other around the place and up the pecan trees, but the play just isn't the same without the big black marshmallow to rub against. Allan gets let inside more now to show that we love him and he still gets put up every night, and he will for the rest of his life, but when he goes in, he always stares expectantly for a while at the east wall and listens for the sound of three bouncing paws. As for me, I will miss the pinpricks in my shirts from his kneading and general walking all over me, the wet shoulder from the drool of happiness, the slow-blinking smiles particular to all cats Edgar gave when I spoke to him, his constant "help" as I worked around the house, and the way he'd meet me at the front of the house when I'd get home from work and yowl his joy at seeing me again. Perhaps... if I'm lucky and do my job well... I'll once again hear that yowl... and there will be joy at seeing each other again.