Sputty (which, BTW is pronounced like "Puddy" as in "I tought I taw a Puddy Tat!") was diagnosed with a bladder tumor in December of 2012 and wasn't expected to make it more than a few weeks, but his indomitable little spirit carried him through for more than a year.
But it finally became apparent that the disease had gotten the better of him, and that any further attempts to prolong his life would only be prolonging his suffering, so I made the very difficult decision to let him go.
Sputnik was the most amazing little cat that I've ever known. I wish you all could have known him - though, truth be told he was pretty afraid of most people. Still, he was a very special little guy.
In the months before he officially adopted me, when he was still a wily alley cat, I watched him do some pretty amazing things.
The very first day I laid eyes on him, I saw him back away from a dish full of food so that a hungrier, more frightened cat could eat. I'd never seen a cat display such a selfless attitude.
He obviously hadn't had a lot of human contact, so it took weeks for him to let me touch him, but when I finally got brave enough to pick him up and put him in my lap he sat there purring for over an hour, and the only time he ever hissed or growled at me was because he didn't want me to put him down.
We soon developed a routine where he'd come by every night like clockwork for cuddles, playing and food - and that's how he got his name, because I had just seen the film "October Sky" where the main character watches the satellite Sputnik making it's nightly rounds.
I soon discovered that another lady in the neighborhood had been feeding him off and on for the past 3 years - although she'd never gotten close enough to touch him - and she called him Whiskars, hence the name Sputnik VonWhiskars was born.
But Sputty was pretty persuasive. It got to the point where I had a hard time going back inside after feeding him because he would leave the food dish to run after me, and then would sit crying at the door wanting to come in. What a little heart breaker!
|This is actually an indoor screen set up to keep Mow and Daisy separate - but that was Sputty's "Let Me In" look|
One day my cat Daisy was pressed up against the glass of the basement window - which seemed odd and a little concerning to me, so I went to investigate, and there was Sputty, pressed up against the other side of the glass purring.
A few weeks later when my other cat Mow was recovering from surgery, Sputty sat outside the screen a few feet from her purring loudly to comfort her for 3 hours. And that was the clincher - from that point on, Sputty became a pampered indoor kitty.
Daisy was 16 pounds of unbridled energy, and Mow was only 8 pounds & not in the best of health, so Sputty became Mow's protector. When Daisy would start to pick on Mow he'd tackle her, bite her on the scruff of the neck and force her to back off.
|Sputty with Mow a few days before she left us|
But he loved Daisy too, and spent many hours cuddling with her and keeping her company when she had to be kept separated from the elderly and ailing Mow.
|Sputty keeping Daisy company|
After the girls left us, Sputty was an only cat for a number of years, but he just continued to amaze me with the things he'd do.
|Head Cat In Charge|
|Sputty and his toy basket|
So one year I decided to hand out small toys to trick-or-treaters in lieu of candy - an idea that went over like a fart in church with the kids BTW. I was concerned about getting something appropriate for the really young ones, so I got a dozen miniature teddy bears for the under 3 crowd.
I had everything set up in a box by the door on Halloween, but for some reason I only counted 9 teddy bears. Then I looked over and discovered that Sputty had "liberated" 3 of the bears and put them in his toy basket. Needless to say, I let him keep them.
|Sputty on Halloween|
One day I brought home some new lamps for the bedroom that were touch activated - you just touched the base of the lamp to turn them off and on. Within a few months, I was waking up in the middle of the night with the lights on.
At first I thought the lamps were malfunctioning, but soon realized that Sputty had figured out how to operate them. He'd sit there for hours delightedly turning the lights off and on. It was very cute, but not terribly conducive to sleep, so poor Sputty lost his favorite lamp toys.
|Sputty looking up at his lamp toy|
Sputty's reign as an only cat came to an abrupt end one summer night when he alerted me that something was amiss on the back deck. At first I figured it was just a passing stray or maybe a raccoon in the yard and ignored it, but Sputty was pretty insistent, so I went outside to check it out and discovered 2 tiny kittens on the back deck.
|Smoky and Jasper the night they arrived|
They had apparently been sealed into a cardboard box and left in the alley to die. They had managed to claw their way out of the box and for some reason they headed for my deck where Sputnik was looking out the screen door. I guess they knew he would take care of them.
|Sputty with his Kittens|
|Teaching Jasper the fine art of bug watching|
|Ever-Protective Sputty with Smoky|
|Big Brother Sputty letting Jasper share his house|
And then one day Smoky and Jasper found a live mouse. They were quite literally beside themselves with excitement, and I was in full-on "eek-a-mouse" freak-out mode.
But Sputty just sauntered over and was like, "Chill guys, I got this." In about 2 seconds flat, with seemingly no effort at all, he had the thing caught. But he didn't hurt it. He just held it in his mouth while I went and got a box, and then spit it out into the box so I could take it outside to free it.
|Sputty with his boys|
I could go on for days telling stories of my Sputter-Cat, but suffice it to say, he was one special little fellow and a one-of-a-kind character.
When he got sick, there were some people in my life who didn't quite understand why I would put everything on hold to provide round the clock hospice care for a cat.
All I can say is that Sputty wasn't just a cat. He was my best friend, my rain maker, my little bodhisattva (in Buddhist tradition a bodhisattva is a being who has attained enlightenment, but instead of entering Nirvana, chooses to stay and help others.) Sputty always took care of everyone around him, so the least I could do was to return the favor. And I am so grateful for the "bonus year" that I got to spend with him.
|Enjoying a warm day during the winter of his "bonus year"|
I want to say a special thanks for all of wonderful and supportive comments that y'all have left for me over the past year. Knowing that there were a lot of loving people out there who understood, and who didn't think I was just nuts for wanting to take care of my little friend made the whole situation much easier to bear.
I am left with such a mix of emotions... from the deepest of sadness and grief at losing him, to the utter relief of knowing that his long struggle is over. I have the definite feeling that a chapter in my life has closed, and part of me feels adrift in an ocean of empty time.
I'm sure a new chapter will open soon, but I will never, ever forget my beautiful, sweet Sputty-Cat, and I will always be grateful for the joy and light that he brought into my life. He gave so much more than he took.
|Rest in peace my beautiful boy|