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Babe Ruth

I wish outdoor cats groups were more active. My cats have always gone outdoors. I blame this book:

My girl cat tortie, Babe Ruth, didn’t come home last Saturday. She has a Sure Pet Networked cat door so it’s pretty easy to keep track of when she’s in or out. She (and my boy cats, Twix and Miles) have a curfew of a few hours before sunset until 8am. They’re inside at night 99% of the time. Such good babies.

Kallie and I finally walked all over my neighborhood looking for her on Friday and found her body in a neighbor’s front yard. Just 10 feet from the street, in some beautiful green grass (not much of that around here in Nevada). I feel most sad because I didn’t look hard enough to find her sooner. ??

I don’t know if it was just her time and something happened or if she got into some kind of poison. I didn’t want to go through a necropsy, plus it was Friday night and the vet wouldn’t be around until Monday. She definitely lived her 9 lives fully. We buried her yesterday.

What makes me the maddest is that all of my neighbors mentioned coyotes. I know they are here. She was just too smart for that. She climbs 30+ feet up into trees. She has her claws and isn’t afraid to defend herself. I’ve seen her tell off dogs and chase them. I’m pretty sure she beat up my neighbor’s male cat once. He bit her foot and ended up at the vet in much worse shape. Of course, bad luck can happen to anyone, but after lying in the grass for 6 days, it was still 100% clear she hadn’t been bitten or mangled or, as my mom says, “chewed on” by any predator. I’m grateful for that even though I don’t know for sure what did happen.

Ok, done ranting.

Babe was from my second set of foster kittens ever in 2011. I had their mom (Almond Joy) and 4 kittens: Babe Ruth, Snickerdoodle, Twix, and Musketeer. The Candy Bar kittens. They were with me for a long time because Twix kept having a runny nose and being put on antibiotics. By the time I took them back to the shelter (I DID take them back!), my partner, Don, had fallen in love with her. The morning after returning them he said to me, “I miss her so much, I never had a pet of my own before.” So I decided immediately we had to adopt. Babe for Don and Twix for me. Of course, as cats do, Babe always liked me better and Twix was always trying to be Don’s buddy. When we broke up and I moved across the country in 2016 they both came with me.

She was almost entirely black when she was tiny. As she grew, the orange parts expanded. Don called her a fruit bat but it wasn’t until a few years later that I saw a video of one and could agree. She was part monkey. In Tahoe she decided she was going to hang out on top of a cabinet that was only accessible by jumping up the wall, onto a window sill, walking across the rail of the shower door, and then leaping 3 feet. I put her food up there and Twix couldn’t get to it. In Reno, I built shelves up the wall to make a place for her food.

Babe LOVED being outside. She had her territory. Here it was probably the largest consisting of our yard and the neighboring houses of our cul de sac, about 6-8 houses but we all have an acre of land. She really enjoyed it when we were outside too. Visiting her in Her domain. When she didn’t want to come in at sunset she would try to get me to play tag. I’d chase her, she’d let me almost catch her, then sprint off 20′ away until I chased her again. Sometimes I’d pretend to hide and she’d come to find me. Her eyes would be wide and it was obvious she was playing with me. After 5 minutes of this, she’d let me catch her and we’d go inside for the night.

She loved joining me on walks around the neighborhood. This made me nervous though as I didn’t want her to get spooked and run off when we were far from home. Once we walked around Willoughby, down my street, across a yard, onto the trail, and then back through the woods to our house. Twix came with me the whole way but Babe took off into someone’s yard, hopping a fence, and met us back at home. Once we walked into Montreux and she tagged along the whole way. The guy in the gatehouse saw her leaving with us and yelled out, “Is that your cat? I just want to make sure she doesn’t belong to someone who lives here.” Usually, I’d trick her to go inside and then sneak off quickly to walk before she noticed.

She loved to get locked into private places where Twix (and later Miles) wouldn’t be able to pester her. In Charlottesville, it was the bedroom. Here it was my shop. No cat door out here so she’d ask to come in and out and in and out. With nice weather, I’d leave the door open and she liked that the best. Some evenings, I’d be working late and mom would see her waiting at the door and send me a message to let her in. She’d stay with me until I quit working and carried her inside for the night.

She hunted. Lizards, snakes, mice, baby bunnies in season, and birds. Most of the time she’d bring them into the house alive. I have a webcam video somewhere of her carrying a blue jay through the cat door by its feet. In March, my neighbor sent me a grumpy text about my “black calico shorthair killing the birds at our bird feeders.” So I put a bell on her collar. I expected her to lose the whole collar at the first chance she got, but instead, it only took her a few days to be able to move without it ringing at all. Ninja cat. There are still some stray feathers floating around in my bedroom. Once she brought a bird in and it flew into the vaulted ceiling of our living room. Miles and Twix just sat below and stared at it but Babe went up on the roof to the outside the window it was sitting at and scared it into flying down where I could trap it in the sunroom. The groundskeeper for the nearby condos in Tahoe greeted her “there’s my girl!” and said she’d been cutting down the number of voles in the lawn he had to care for.

She loved to play. I remember my friend Xtina discovering she would chase a hand dragged across the carpet and then Leap into the air after it doing a backflip. All without ever using her razor-sharp claws on human skin. She lost a baby tooth roughhousing with Xtina. She still loved to play that game. She loved hiding in the cloth laundry hamper and waiting for something to be dropped on top of it. She’d pounce straight up and send it flying into the air. Run out of the hamper to chase it, then back into the hamper to do it all again.

She loved projects. Building furniture was her favorite. I have great photos of her helping me clean out a shower drain. She always helped me at work.

She didn’t like people food, except for some kinds of cheese. She could hear a Bodo’s Bagels wrapper being opened from wherever she was. She wouldn’t touch wet cat food but wolfed down Greenie’s dental treats whole (no help to her teeth since she didn’t chew them).

She slept with me almost every night. She loved to be the little spoon, curled up in a ball with my arm crooked around her feet. When she was small, she’d gently suck on her own tummy for comfort while kneading. Her favorite thing was being in bed between two people petting her at the same time. Undivided attention required.

We buried her under a lilac bush yesterday. Miles and Twix both checked out her body, interrupting me as I put the dirt on top of it. We added the three tiny foster kittens that had been in my freezer since they died this winter (one a week old and two stillborn). Maybe she’ll train them to be ninjas even though she never had any patience for kittens.

The bottle baby kittens I’m fostering now are carbon copies of Babe and Twix. It’s been kind of therapeutic that they need me to feed them every few hours. Babe is the third cat I’ve lost as an adult and all three times have been different. With the first two I had to make that awful “is it time” decision. This time I definitely wasn’t ready, but I know she had the best life she could.


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