Roy joined our little family, just Colin, me and Dusty, in 1990 when we were still in our two room apartment in Belmont. A friend of mine, Sandy, couldn't keep him any longer because she was moving in with her "non-cat person" fiance. He was about three years old.
We thought having a friend would help Dusty, who was not used to her humans leaving for the whole day to work. She didn't quite take to the idea at first. Colin smoothed it over a bit by drugging the two of them on catnip but it still took a little while for them to enjoy spending time with each other.
Roy had a lot of adjustments to make between meeting a new kitty, having a new house and, the biggest one, being an indoor cat. He never quite managed the last one, still getting out every once in a while and carousing around the neighborhood until he finally deigned to return. Dusty, on the few times she left her house, we could catch easily, Roy, only when he was ready to come back.
Roy bonded mostly to me and so was indignant when his person was distracted by a squirming pink thing. He made sure he was not forgotten by cuddling as close as possible whenever I was still...mostly when I was nursing...and taking possession of the diaper changer since I spent so much time there.
Besides his cuddly nature, Roy was known as the mysterious corn thief. It all started when we were eating sweet delta corn on the cob while watching tv one night. I guess Roy decided that anything good enough for his humans was good enough for him. He certainly didn't have any compunctions about climbing up on Colin and taking hold of the other side of the cob, ready to pull it out of Colin's mouth to lay claim. Foolish human that Colin was :-), he thought it was cute. That was until he forgot to put the bowl of corn away one day and we returned to an apartment with cobs scattered all over--all of them picked clean.
Roy was a little skittish around strangers and so was often hidden when people came by. He had a totally different personality among those he was comfortable with, demanding attention and claiming laps as soon as they were available, at least unless there was a good sun patch. Roy was a window cat who loved to get his rays. He had a series of nicknames including Burr-Roy for his distinctive meow which went like Burrrowwww, almost a telephone ring. He was also called Roy-g-biv by a friend, Mike, who couldn't take a cat named just Roy :-).
Despite his skittish nature, he was the first to accept our newest family member Annabelle and even played a little with her. He didn't have enough energy to meet her kittenish needs, but I know she misses the company.
Roy left us at 11:40 pm on February 2nd, 2003, the month when he achieved approximately 16 years of age (his actual birthdate was unknown). He had been diagnosed with liver cancer or liver failure back in October and so we knew he didn't have long to live. The situation was further complicated when he caught ringworm from our rescue kitty Annabelle. The ringworm had spread throughout his body in what the vet said was a rare case of a systemic infection. Roy didn't have the strength to scratch that much, but he was experiencing dramatic hair loss and had become Mr. Bigglesworth on one side of his face. At that point he was still eating, cuddling and even purring so we didn't think he was ready to give up on this life.
Though he was skin and bone, eating little in those last months, he still cuddled with us at every opportunity and didn't seem to be in pain until the very end. On Saturday, he appeared to have stroke, losing some mobility on his right side, especially in the back. Sunday morning, he seemed slightly recovered, but then he started to cry every once in a while. We had already decided to put him to sleep if his liver became painful and made the decision to go to the vet on Monday. Sunday was already a start of mourning for us, knowing he would leave us soon.
I was with him when he passed, petting him to the last moment so he wouldn't be alone. This has been hard on all of us because Roy was so much a part of our family for so long, almost 14 years. We are trying to focus on the happy times and know that his spirit is still with us. It has been hardest on Sean and Jacob who have never seen death personally before, but they too have many happy memories and Roy lives on in our memories and our hearts.
We held a wake for Roy, talking about our memories. The kids mainly remembered him as a cuddly cat who nurtured them when they were down. This is a testimonial both to the boys' willingness to be patient and calm and to Roy's love for his family that he was willing to spend time with them even though they are the noisiest children in existence.
This song seems to characterize Roy for me so I'm including the lyrics below:
My Ramblin' Boy
He was a man and a friend always
We rambled on in the bad old days.
He never cared if I had no dough,
He stuck with me in the rain and snow.
And here's to you, my ramblin' boy,
May all your ramblin' bring you joy.
Here's to you, my ramblin' boy,
May all your ramblin' bring you joy.
In Tulsa town we chanced to stray.
We thought we try and work one day.
The boss said he had room for one,
Said my old pal, ``We'd rather bum.''
Late one night in a jungle camp
The weather it was cold and damp.
He got the chills and he got them bad,
I lost the only friend I had.
He left me here to ramble on,
My ramblin' pal is dead and gone.
When we die, we go somewhere,
I'll bet you a dollar he'll be ramblin' there.