Simba was my first orange tabby. He came to us from our neighbor, Annette, when she found him and his bro, Copper, as a kitten near her church. She adopted Copper and asked if we would take Simba. Annette thinks this happened in 2005, I think it was 2007. Simba and Copper were nearly identical except that Simba’s eyes were green and Cooper’s were amber. But if you saw them close together like this, you could hardly tell them apart.
Over the years, Simba was the alpha cat – not mean, but firm about his positions among the cats we had. When younger, one of his favorite spots was on top of my desk, just sitting there looking regal as I worked, as in the top photo.
Outside, he and Copper often climbed a tree in our front yard that enabled them to get to the roof, where they would sit together watching the world below. This tree: and that’s Copper during catobatics, with Simba just visible above him. When Copper was hit by a car three years ago, Annette and her family buried him next to this tree. I would often spot Simba sitting on that grave.
One summer, we stated finding dead mice around the house – in the shower, the kitchen. And then we started seeing Simba crouched in various places around the house where he sensed a mouse was hiding. We realized we had an infestation and Rob started placing mousetraps in cabinets Simba had pinpointed. Eventually, they were all caught. He was our mouse detector.
Noah, our Golden Retriever, was like a horse next to Simba but Simba befriended him early on. The same was true of Nigel and of Megan’s dog, Nika. There are Nika and Nigel at the end of the sidewalk, with Simba watching them.
He was tolerant of our other cats, but not exactly warm and fuzzy.
As he got older, his spot at night was next to my head on my bed,where we often tussled over who got the extra pillow.
When Nala entered our lives last Christmas, she quickly cozied up to Noah and Simba gradually accepted her.
For the last several days, he hadn’t been eating and yesterday, didn’t eat at all or go outside to his favorite spot by the pile of wood we use for our fire pit during the winter. He was also bloated – we thought he’d just gained weight – so I took him to our vet.
X rays revealed so much fluid in his chest that his lungs were floating. His stomach was also filled with fluid. Ira, our vet, walked me through the X rays and pointed out what he thought might be a mass, a tumor, close to his lungs, which would explain the buildup of fluid. Even if the fluid was drained, it probably would return, he said. Simba was already having difficulty breathing. Rather than put him through additional tests and blood work, I felt it was best to euthanize him.
Ira and his technician, Juan, were wonderfully compassionate.
I miss seeing Simba by that fire pit in the morning. Or in the backyard by the pool, stalking lizards or trying to teach Nala about the etiquette of outside freedoms. I miss him by my head at night. I hope Noah and our other cats were with him as he passed.
Rob dug a grave for him close to where we buried Powder not that long ago. Now there are 4 cats and a bird buried in our backyard. And I’m waiting for Simba to pay us a visit.