Moses naps in the morning sun as I prepare seedlings for transplant into my garden. She loved nothing more than to bask in the sun on the warm wood of the deck. I hated to disturb her, so I did as much as I could where I could keep an eye on her, but when I went down into the garden I couldn’t see her. She never wandered, and typically napped and bathed, but occasionally she would explore the yard. When she did, I would follow or watch at a distance. If I knew she’d stay and nap, I’d let her be, but I didn’t want her deciding to explore in the opposite direction from the garden. Usually, I could coax her down with me to move her nap to the bricks, as you see below in an archive photo from 2002. Likely that’s what I did here.
Moses was 18 years old here, enjoying her last summer. She had had two presumed strokes earlier that spring and seemed to have lost her eyesight, but recovered. I had been giving her fluids now and then, but her kidneys were beginning to fail. All the more important that she have her sunny nap and time outdoors every day.
In the background is the turquoise rocker and my round picnic table. I loved having that sitting area, and Cookie or Stanley would join me when I ate out there or worked at the table. Also is my red cooler with my hiking boots on top. I was involved in a lot of environmental work at that time, photographing conservation areas or proposed areas, before and after remediation, like abandoned mine drainage, and designing interpretive signs and writing up website and brochure copy, as well as regular stream and land cleanups, which is what I did later on this day. I prefer being barefoot, but I never knew where I’d be walking and the hiking boots gave me support if I had to climb. Having cold water was a good idea when I was out in the sun all day on a hot June afternoon. Moses always got her thermonuclear treatment first. Below are two photos from that day.
Photos from the Archives Shared in Previous years
A Sweet June Morning, 2002
My brick patio outside the basement door has seen better days since the time Moses occupied it on every sunny day. I’ve been happily bending over with my new hip to rehabilitate it, and bring it back to those happy days when I pulled weeds around little Miss Moses.
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 vintage photos, here is Moses enjoying a June morning just as I’ll always remember her.
I didn’t realize Moses had been a feral kitten until she was in her teens. When my niece rescued her and gave her to me in 1987, I didn’t even know feral cats existed, just ones who were friendly and ones who were not. Somehow, even without all the behavioral information I have today, Moses managed to socialize to our household and feel safe and confident as long as no strangers were around. She 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 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, before she came up to join us.
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.
Here’s a photo taken with my little 2MP digital camera from about the same time. How happy she was.
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
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Adopt a rescued kitty! June is Adopt a Cat Month.
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Photos pulled “From the Archives” were taken by one or another digital camera of mine between 2002 and, well, yesterday, but usually they are older than that, and I had never had the chance to feature them. Vintage Photos are from my film archives back to 1983 when I purchased my Pentax K-1000 camera. They’re a fun way to “introduce” other members of my feline family who came and went before I began blogging, and to illustrate my feline family in general from days gone by.
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Animal Sympathy Cards from Portraits of Animals!
This was one of the first sympathy cards I designed in the original set. The deceptive simplicity was a gentle message. Read more and order a print or a greeting card.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!