On sunny June mornings when I look out the basement door at the sun dappling the brick patio I’d built there, I always picture Moses reclining on the bricks, now and then rolling on her back and slowly rolling all the way over, soaking in the sun from above and its reflected heat from below. She rolled around on those bricks nearly every day of the year, even in winter, even when I had to clear snow. She was as stubborn as the bricks she rolled on, but I would have parted the clouds myself for her to have her daily sunny nap on the bricks. As one of my occasional Friday vintage photos, here is Moses enjoying a June morning just as I’ll always remember her.
Moses was 12 before she sat on my lap, and I could never pet her with both hands, only one at a time. Long before she trusted me enough to pet her, I was besotted with her shy and gentle personality, and as long as I didn’t make any attempt to pick her up or entrap her in any way, or any loud noises or fast moves, she would sit near me purring and blinking at me happily. I nearly cried with happiness when she did this. With her thick gray fur and sweet personality—”If she was any sweeter, she’d melt,” I always said—I called her The Velveteen Kitty.
When other people entered the house, she sidled off behind something and seemed to disappear. If she was frightened and couldn’t hide she rolled up in a ball and hid her face but never ran away. And she was absolutely silent, only after several years giving a little “silent meow” but talking happily to herself late at night when all other cats were in bed with me as I heard the sound of a bizzy ball downstairs.
I initially thought she was simply too wary or frightened to run and play like other kittens, but I also noticed that sometimes her hind legs wobbled. She could jump short distances but certainly not like the others, and she never ran but only trotted and went up and down the steps like a bunny. But when her hind legs didn’t seem to catch up to the rest of her body I asked the veterinarian about it and had her X-rayed. Her legs had seemed to quit developing at some point, the joint not completed and working properly, the bones smaller than they should be, the muscles undeveloped. Whether this was from prenatal or post-natal malnutrition, a genetic condition or all of the above no one could know. Though she couldn’t run and play but could only sit or lie down and only do a partial cat stretch, and this condition must have been quite painful, she never let this get in her way of enjoying her day, always ready with a soft purr and an eye blink for me.
When glucosamine/chondroitin supplements became available I gave her the pills for about a month. It made no difference in her ability and only served to make her wary of me, and while she tolerated the pill she gave me one of her very direct looks and headed for a spot of sunshine, or asked to be allowed into her outside areas so she could soak in the sunshine. This was her preferred therapy.
In her later years she was the spirit of my garden, her main goal to find the sunniest spot on some nice, warm bricks and have a really good nap as birds, voles and other creatures went about their daily habits to her sleepy disregard. She quit running when strangers arrived as her hearing and eyesight began to fail in her later teens and she simply wasn’t as aware of them. She made it to her nineteenth year, accepting all of her physical limitations but enjoying life no less than some other cats who race around the house, beg for attention and steal food.
Read more about Moses in My Favorite Feral, and My Enlightenment.
And a few other photos: Early, and Late, in the Year
And browse the archives for Moses
This was first published in June 2012.
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