Syracuse, New York
Domestic medium-hair Female
I first saw Shadow in 2001. I don't remember the exact date, but I do know it was after Palm Sunday. (On Palm Sunday, the building on the lot that became Shadow's home had been destroyed by fire.) I called her 'Sylvester' at first, because of her markings and her playful nature. She would try to play with other cats, and get chased for her troubles. She had one friend, a pet cat who would play with her. They'd just lie in the sun together sometimes. 'Sylvester' would also play on her own. She would chase squirrels up and down the trees. One gray winter morning, I saw her batting a piece of ice around the road. On Christmas morning, 2001, I looked out my window and saw Shadow sitting in a tree, looking into my apartment. That was one of the first days that I fed her. I fed her whenever food was scarce that winter, but she wouldn't come close to me. In the spring, I realized that 'Sylvester' was female; she had three kittens following her around. Throughout the summer, I saw her off and on. She kept her distance, preoccupied with motherhood. I live near Syracuse University, and in August, even the summer students are gone. The cats' food supply of discarded chicken wings, pizza, etc. dries up. One day there was a commotion under my bird feeders: 'Sylvester' was trying to catch a bird. This surprised me: since the feeders are very high, the cats soon learn they can't catch the birds and content themselves with watching. 'Sylvester' didn't run when I came out, just sat there meowing. I told her to leave my birds alone, and I'd feed her. To my surprise, she ran right over. Whenever she wanted to be fed, she would chase the birds away from the feeders to gain my attention. As we became friends, I didn't know what to call her. 'Sylvester' didn't seem right for a pretty young lady. I settled on Shadow, because of her stealthy movements. After a few days, Shadow started bringing her kittens to dine. (her three kittens had been joined by a slightly older kitty. She soon took to leaving them in my backyard for daycare, as she went about her business. She would often sleep in the backseat of my car. When the students returned, food became plentiful again, but Shadow still came by twice a day. One morning, she brought me a chicken wing for breakfast. In September, 2002, I took Shadow to the vet. I made the mistake of putting her in a cardboard carrying case. Halfway there, she bit and clawed her way out. She then climbed onto the back window shelf. Shadow sat there sedately, only growling at cars that came too close, too fast. As winter approached, I was considering building a shelter for her and her family. Shadow, however, had a better solution: she moved in. In effect, she domesticated herself. When the cold rains started, she just followed me inside. After a period of isolation, I introduced her to my feline roommate , Bugsy Bobtail. Their relationship always was a bit stormy, but they learned to cohabitate. Meanwhile, I found homes for Shadow's kittens. Since then, Shadow has become a very affectionate housecat. She goes outside on a lease, and seems very happy. After Bugsy's death, she was mistress of the house, and a great comfort to me. She tolerated the other cats who joined me, but she is a loner.
Shadow took ill on September 29, 2012. After many tests, she was diagnosed with lung cancer on October 26. The last few weeks of her life, she started burrowing under the covers to sleep in my arms. She purred us both to sleep. This was something she hadn’t done before.
She passed away on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. She was scheduled for a CT on Thursday morning. If the cancer hadn’t spread, surgery might have been possible. This was a forlorn hope, but I didn’t want to kill her without checking everything. The day before the appointment, November 7, 2012, she had greater difficulty breathing. She didn’t appear to be able to breathe lying down. She cried in pain when I picked her up.
The fluid was removed from her lung at the clinic, but it was obvious that the cancer had spread. I put her to sleep. She died fairly easily. She was in my arms, and let out a little cry when the drug was pushed, and then a yelp when she died. She didn’t void her bladder or bowels; they were apparently empty.
She is survived by her kittens, including daughter Xena and adopted son Lucky, and best friend James.
I miss her so.