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Heartbreak Ridge

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
In Dusty Rainbolt's latest book, Ghost Cats, I share a story about a little calico feral kitty by the name of Calli (I know, original name) But Callie was a part of a litter that was born under my neighbor's home (who detests cats). I talk about fetching out the mom Funny Face from under the porch, she was pregnant and fighting me, but I managed to get her safely upstairs. She delivered kittens the next day.

We named the two pitch black ones, Bravo and Charley (having just seen Heartbreak Ridge the night before). Then there was Callie she was a manx-cross, there were mostly Manx-crosses in the bunch; Stryker a gray, white and black male. Cleo looking much like stryker but with more white and then there was Hissy, the spitting image of his mom.

Funny Face was a good mom, during that time, the road outside the house hadn't been widened. This was still a rural area and life was busy but quiet. We kept all the kittens and they went inside and out at will. Active and loving, beautiful souls.
Funny Face left us one afternoon quite suddenly and though I searched high and low, pounded on doors and put up fliers, she remained missing. We finally gave her up to God and concentrated on her family. I would find out years later, that Funny went over a few roads and set up housekeeping with a lonely, elderly man. She had blessed our home, now it was time to continue her work elsewhere. That story is printed in Catnip the newsletter out of Tufts University.

Cleo was the last remaining kitten of the litter. He didn't want to be indoors, and when having to be confined for illness or other reasons, he would squawl his raspy one-of-a-kind meow, shred wallpaper, eat the carpet, destroy the door. He wanted outside. He got his way. When I took him in to be neutered- they "thought" he was under. He woke up- and he destroyed the entire surgical room. I was called, the phone call was pretty nasty. I was told that he would be neutered the next day, but the vet would prefer never to see him again! He was a character, and yes, the vet did see him again, several times. He is also featured on several feral cat banners on Heidi and Laurie's website

A few years ago, he showed up for his nightly meal and his eye was swollen and bloody. I rushed him to the reluctant vet (although Cleo did mellow with age) It was found he had a claw hole in the center of his eye. I was told that I needed to confine him for two weeks, for treatment and meds or he would lose his eye. Well, I did try, but five days later, I called the vet and asked him what would happen if I just let him out? He was so stressed that he had stopped eating. I was told, he would either lose his eye or die.

I went into the room and gathered Cleo into my lap. I told him the severity of the issue at hand and asked him to please show up regularly so I could treat his eye. Then I hugged him and let him outside. He did show up, every day for treatment which was a rarity because before he would just show up every so often. He had taken up residence under an old barn down the way, and seemed to like it over there. I believe that except for marauding tomcats, he was the only cat over there.

So he lived with us, and he didn't lose his eye. He would be laying in the yard, and we would walk over and say "Cleo fall over!" And this beautiful boy would roll over on his belly and show us his whiteness and allow us the luxury of rubbing his belly without him wanting to go to war.

He defied the statistics that outside cats only live for four years. He survived the pet food recall fiasco, becoming so ill that for the first time in his life, he wanted to be inside the porch. He laid for days on his heated cat bed without moving much, and vets tested him and pondered over him and I prayed over him...and he survived.

This morning, my big beautiful feral boy died. He would have been fifteen years old soon. There was not a mark on him, though he died not peacefully because his mouth was open in a snarl. Whatever got him, got him pretty quickly.
The dogs had gone off about 4:00 a.m. They were in the bedroom sleeping and suddenly they both started howling, like wolves at the moon. Mike let them out and they went to the back gate and pawed it, they were whining. But mike wouldn't let them out and they returned to their crates. They must have heard Cleo saying goodbye.
post #2 of 23
A beautiful memorial to your feral boy MA.
Goodbye for now Cleo....
you were loved and will be missed.
post #3 of 23
What a brave and beautiful soul he had. Rest in peace Cleo.
post #4 of 23
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Rest In Peace Cleo.
post #5 of 23
I'm so sorry! Play happily over the bridge Cleo and know you will always be
post #6 of 23
I've got a 13+ year old feral right now. I understand your feelings for Cleo completely.

Your tribute to Cleo is absolutely touching. You might find this completely odd, but it makes me want to stand up and give his life a standing ovation. I'm overwhelmed by the feeling that I get when I've just seen an exceptional show or play. Cleo is one of those "larger than life" cats that grace your presence rarely in life.

Great job Cleo, for being who you were!! May you have carefree days romping over the bridge!! You deserve every moment of them.
post #7 of 23
RIP Cleo
You were a Great Cat.
post #8 of 23
I'm so sorry MA. A beautiful tribute for such a tough but loving soul.

Rest in Peace Cleo, sweet boy. You will be missed but not forgotten.

Run free and be happy at the RB till you see mom again.
post #9 of 23
I'm sorry MA. It hurts when they go, but there is always one that touches you in a very special way.
post #10 of 23
Oh Mary Anne...

Reading your tribute to Cleo brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing, strong, beautiful soul! My deepest condolences to you and Mike on this great loss to your family and your home.

Since I had a couple pictures of Cleo in my files that MA had donated to Save Samoa for our Feral Awareness Banners, I made two visual tributes to him. A strong, independent, and beautiful prince of a feral who allowed a very special lady a treasured trust... For those who haven't seen him before, his face tells so much of his spirit.

post #11 of 23
MA, why do you have to have such a gift for writing? I'm sure I'd be bawling anyway, but your wonderful heart-breaking stories are also heart-wrenching.

Bless you, Cleo. You truly knew love and lived life on your own terms. I'm sure you're free and whole romping over the rainbow bridge. Send your adopted mom as much comfort as you can.

Heidi - those are beautiful.


post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you Heidi- I can't stop crying. I miss him so much that life feels empty~ even with a houseful of cats.
post #13 of 23
What a touching tribute, he sounds like a very special cat, and thanks to his spirit and your wonderful care, he defied the odds more than once. RIP little one, and I hope things get easier for you MA
post #14 of 23
What a gorgeous boy Rainbow Bridge has gained

Have a wonderful time Cleo, but keep looking down on those that love you and miss you so much

post #15 of 23
What a wonderful tribute to your special guy! I'm so sorry for your loss, MA!
Cleo had a happy life, thanks to you, and now he is playing at the bridge just wating to see you again!

RIP Sweet handsome boy!
post #16 of 23
Oh MA I am so sorryMy your sweet ferel boy Cleo rest peacefully now
post #17 of 23
What a really sweet tribute MA.

For Cleo

RIP little one and play happily forever.
post #18 of 23

I'm slow catching this thread, but you know you have my heart and my prayers. Hopefully Cleo is showing around a wee feral kitten that I lost to something of the same circumstances last week. R.I.P. Cleo!
post #19 of 23
Rest in peace Cleo.
post #20 of 23
I'm so sorry to hear about your beautiful Cleo.

Rest in peace, sweet boy.
post #21 of 23
My picture does not contain any images of your baby Cleo, but it is designed to express my sympathy.

post #22 of 23
He must've been a wonderful cat. Fourteen years old, and feral... quite an accomplishment.

Also, it's possible he died peacefully after all--sometimes the mouth just looks that way because of the way the muscles tighten up...
post #23 of 23
I am so sorry for your loss. What a strong boy Cleo was! He lived his life on his terms, didn't he?

Rest in peace, big guy!

May your many memories bring you comfort at this difficult time. ((Hissy))
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