Shady Cat Pet ID: 2026
My hang out:  St. Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec (Canada)

My mug shots …

Here’s my story ...

I was in my early thirties when Indy came into my life. My beloved one-year-old black cat Becky, who’d turned out to be a male after I’d given him a girl’s name, had disappeared and hadn’t turned up after days of searching. Finding my now catless house too quiet to bear, I headed to a local pet shop in search of a kitten.

Among the varied batch of kittens eagerly awaiting new homes, I found a short-haired black and white female with brilliant yellow-green eyes. It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but she clung to me and purred when I held her, and that was enough.
Not shy in the least, the kitten immediately began exploring the farmhouse where I lived with my then fiancé. I named her Indy after Indiana Jones, the fictional adventurer. Even though it was a boy’s name, it suited her perfectly.

Becky returned a couple of days later. I never knew where he’d been, but it didn’t matter as long as he was home. He and Indy bonded immediately, becoming a perfect little fur couple, the two of them my loyal companions. They accompanied me through the heartache of breakup with my fiancé and the subsequent unsettling move from our farm to a one-bedroom apartment in a nearby town where I found a new job.

Although I knew the risks of city living, I continued letting my cats go out because they’d always spent their days outside on the farm. A year later, the worst happened: Becky was hit by a car and died instantly. For the first time in her life, Indy was an only kitty—a situation she absolutely hated!

My poor lonely furbaby cried day and night, emitting gut-wrenching meows and a sound I can only describe as a yowl that had my neighbors complaining. As soon as I could, I brought a kitten home from the equestrian center where I worked as a companion for her. I named him Buddy, but Indy spent three weeks growling and hissing at him before allowing him near her and finally accepting to share her home with him.

My kitties and I eventually moved into a nice house with my new partner, Serge. Indy approved, strutting around and exploring every nook and cranny, upstairs and down, obviously delighted to be out of that cramped apartment. I’d decided I wasn’t going to lose another kitty to the hazards of the road, so Serge and I went about teaching the cats to walk on a leash. Buddy accepted it well enough with time, but Indy took to it immediately. She channeled her inner doggy, trotting proudly around the block on her pink leash with her head and tail in the air like any well-behaved canine.

The cats grew from playful youngsters to happy, confident adults. Although Indy had become an indoor cat, she was still an outdoor cat at heart. On more than one occasion she slipped through an open door or window, leading us on a merry chase around the neighborhood. But she didn’t want to run away. She only wanted to explore, and she always let us catch her in the end. She loved to drink running water from the tap while Serge shaved before going to work in the morning. She also loved to chew shoelaces and open closet doors—both of which she did frequently—and we often found her curled up in a bag or cardboard box one of us had left on the closet floor. For some unfathomable reason, she had a particular fondness for Serge’s smelly gym bag and on more than one occasion he almost took her to his workout!

Indy wasn’t exactly what you would call a lap cat, but she always wanted to be near us. Whenever we went out, she would be waiting at the front door when we arrived home. She and Buddy got into the habit of sleeping with us, the two of them taking up nearly as much room in the bed as we did! And if we happened to forget to set the alarm clock, we had no worries. Indy would faithfully wake us up, meowing persistently and knocking things off the dresser until we were roused and she was satisfied breakfast was on the way. We laughingly called her Princess Indy because she ruled the house.

When Serge and I went to bed one winter evening, Indy didn’t join us. That in itself wasn’t unusual; she often hopped onto the bed during the night, squeezing a place between us or stretching out across his or my legs or stomach. But instead of coming into the bedroom, she began to meow.

“Indy, be quiet and come to bed,” Serge and I called out a couple of times each. We were warm and comfortable, and neither one of us wanted to get out of bed. When Indy’s cries escalated into the continued distressed yowling she’d displayed during that month alone after Becky’s death, we knew we wouldn’t get any sleep until we found out what the heck she was going on about. We got up to look for her with Buddy at our heels, following her cries to the spare bedroom we’d converted into an office. As we reached the door, we smelled the acrid odor of something burning. Sure enough, a plastic page protector had fallen onto the electric heater behind the desk and was in the process of melting into a smoking black blob.

Indy was standing on the floor in the middle of the room, her tail stiff behind her and her gaze fixed on that wall. She looked up at us when we came in as if to say, “Well, it’s about time you humans showed up!”

We immediately remedied the situation by picking up the burned sheet of plastic and turning off the heater for the night. I hugged Indy, told her what a good girl she was, and gave her some kitty treats. When we went to bed she joined us to sprawl across Serge’s legs, satisfied that everything was now right with the world.

It didn’t really hit us until the next morning: Indy had almost certainly saved us from a house fire! Sure, there was a smoke detector in the hallway and I assume it would have gone off eventually. But Indy went off first with that insistent yowl of hers, alerting us to danger before any damage was done.

During her yearly health examination when Indy was four or five years old, the vet had informed us that she had a heart murmur. This type of problem was common in female cats, she said, and usually didn’t cause a problem.

In Indy’s case it didn’t, but something far worse was waiting in the wings.

One evening when she was 15, Indy walked into the living room, let out a cry as if in pain, and began wandering aimlessly in circles. By the time Serge and I realized that something was terribly wrong, she’d slipped through the railing above the stairs to the basement and fallen straight down.

She was sitting at the bottom of the stairs looking shaken but uninjured, when I scooped her up seconds later. It was Sunday and of course the local veterinary hospitals were all closed, so I put her on the bed to be watched over through night. When we got her to the vet the next day, my suspicions were confirmed.

Indy had suffered a serious stroke. Only time would tell if she would recover.
Although she didn’t seem to be in pain, she was limp as a rag for the first week. We fed her by hand and carried her to the litterbox, but the light never left her eyes and she gradually regained her strength. A few months later she was back to her usual mischievous self, waking us up too early in the morning and sneaking into the closet to nap in Serge’s gym bag.

A year later, Indy bravely fought back from a second stroke, although this one left her with some balance issues, weakness in her hind legs, and occasional mild epileptic seizures. She gave us two more years after that and we took each day as a precious gift.

Gradually, however, she began to slow down. When she stopped eating solid food, we fed her with liquids and made sure she drank enough water. Then one day, it was as if she’d forgotten how to eat and drink. Her little mouth would work but she wouldn’t take anything in, and we could see that she was nearing the end of her natural life.

One evening later that week—it was the Thursday, I’ll never forget—she had a seizure, then another. And another. When Serge picked up her she peed on him, the first time in 18 years that she’d ever lost control of her bodily functions. That told me as clearly as anything could that she was done fighting.

Having made the heartbreaking decision to take her to the vet in the morning to be put to sleep, Serge and I left Indy comfortably wrapped in a blanket on the sofa when we went to bed. But she would have her own say about that. I can’t imagine what it took for her to get down from the sofa and walk to the bedroom, growing stiff with a seizure, falling over, then recovering to take a few more steps before the next seizure hit. What it took for her to climb up onto the bed. She came to us with the last of her strength to spend her final night on Earth curled up on the bed with Serge and me, Buddy at her side. We loved on her and cried on her and promised her that tomorrow she would see Becky again. She purred and let us know that that was fine. She was ready to go.

Indy wasn’t a big cat—maybe 10 pounds in her prime and less than half of that at the end—but she was the embodiment of determination, a faithful and courageous adventurer with a voice I couldn’t ignore and a spirit I’ll never forget.

Author:  Donna W.

Shady Pet Awards/Notes:

  • Pets Gone Shady (Series 2) Green #8 – Shady Cat Card.
  • Honorable Mention – Amazing Stories Contest