(Our sweet Copycat)
The first time I saw Copycat was in the summer of 2002. I saw him through our front door (our front door is all glass and double wide) while he was on our deck eating food from Kitty-Cat's food dish. I walked a bit closer to the door to get a better look at this beautiful longhaired cat and when I was about 5 feet form the door he looked up and saw me. The took off like a bat out of hell, ran down the stairs (the front deck is 1 story up in the front of the house) to the driveway, ran across the driveway, down the mountain side, across the valley and towards the next mountain. I stood and watched as this beautiful cat raced away as though I were chasing him the whole way swinging an axe. I saw him again a few days later as he was once again eating on the deck. As soon as he saw me he repeated his Olympic class running performance. This repeated for months, but I continued to make sure there was food out for him and water. Then one day in the waning warmth of late summer, he climbed into the cat cup/bed that was on the deck and had been Kitty-Cat's. From the kitchen, and out of view from him, I could see he was laying in the cup and sleeping. At this point I decided to give him a name. I thought he looked a bit like Electra (long hair, stripes and I thought he was a girl) so the name Copycat came to mind.
He began to use the cup daily and then one night in the fall I saw that he was sleeping in the cup at night. Copycat began to consider our deck his home and was now staying the night. We knew the warmish days would soon be replaced with the cool and then cold, so we bought a large pillow (3½ feet wide), a small dog house and an outdoor heated pad for cats. Copycat took right to the pillow and would be there sleeping daily. He would not use the dog house, no matter what I did to entice him to it. While all this happened I was also making sure he saw me daily. He would run still, but less frequently and for a shorter distance. Then one day he did not run when I came to the closed door. He looked up at me and lay on the pillow watching me. I reached for the doorknob and turned it and in a flash he was in the next state. No matter, I was gaining his trust, all be it slowly.
(laying on his big pillow)
I moved the heated pad under the cup in October and Copycat began to avoid the cup. He took to sleeping on the pillow all the time or our Halloween welcome mat. I moved the heated pad under the mat and he avoid the mat in favor of the cup and pillow. When moved under the pillow he used only the cup and door mat. I eventually gave up on trying to force him to use the heated pad, and I placed it in the doghouse and left it plugged in on the chance he one day discovered how warm it was in there. That day never came. He never used the mat.
I remember watching him in the yard one fall afternoon as he played in the tall grass. Then a deer came by and Copycat lowered himself so he was invisible in a tall section of the grass. The deer moved slowly toward the exact spot Copycat lay, munching on some grass as he neared the spot. When the deer cam within 2 feet of Copycat, Copycat leaped up and toward the deer. The deer was startled and jumped back perhaps 5 or 6 feet, then suddenly the tables turned and the deer charged brave little Copycat. Copycat ran like the wind up the hill and into the back yard, all the time a large deer close behind. Copycat ran around the house back and to the other side and the deer continued to chase him. Finally Copycat made a fast turn and doubled back on the deer and ran onto the deck. It was so funny to watch it all pay out. It happened so fast. I did worry for Copycat for a few seconds too.
(watching me watch him)
By the time winter started Copycat realized that I was feeding him. He would not run away if I opened the door, but would back off to a safe 15 or 20 feet and hiss the whole time. Copycat made the connection with my car driving into the garage, the garage door opening then closing and all the CoolCyberCats gathering in the kitchen to my also putting out the daily food. Copycat began to come to the door when I got home and wait for me. He knew if I held out my had to him that he would be fed next. He still backed off and hissed though, but he left me put out his food and refill his water and did not leave. He also began to come to the door when I tapped on the glass. My morning ritual of holding Leo and walking him around the house for 5 minutes now included taking Leo to the door and tapping on the glass, Copycat jumping up form the bed or just looking up and Leo and I saying "hello" to our outside friend. Itchy would play with Copycat though the windows and door and often Itchy would wait at the door to see him at night, or Copycat would jump on the chest on the deck so he was level with the living room picture window, and look into the room. The cold weather really hit and I replaced his water dish with a heated dish so his water was no longer frozen. I began to put out canned food every few days for him and Copycat loved it. We were fast becoming "through the glass" friends.
(after I come home he waits at the door to say "hello")
Over the next year I gained more of Copycat's trust. I could now open the door and fill his dishes and leave the door open and the screen closed and sit 3 feet back while he ate less than 2 feet from the door. He no longer hissed full time at me, but would give me a mix of meows, hisses, growls and purrs. If I did not know where he was I could now open the door and call his name and he could come running. He was a part of the family.
In 2003 we had a family of grouse that lived in the yard. I would sit at the window and watch Copycat try to stalk these birds that were as tall as he. A few times he staked the chicks and I made sure to run outside and call him back. He would come most of the time. Sometimes the mother or father grouse would race after him to protect the chicks and Copycat would run far and fast. I think if a chicken that was 6 feet tall chased me I would also make like the wind. In mid summer he brought a small twig to the deck. Okay, not a real branch, more like a branch like weed, but he brought it. It sat there next to the pillow. Through wind, rain, sleet, snow... it was always there, as if when it blew off Copycat made a point to go get it and bring it back. I like to think it was some kind of gift from him and it decorated our deck.
(saying good afternoon to me)
Then in March of 2004 I mentioned to Donna that he looked a bit off to me. I cannot say exactly what seemed wrong, but I felt something was not right. He began to eat a little less over the next month and I was getting very worried. Trying to catch him proved futile as he was as quick as ever. He knew to avoid the traps as well. Then April came to a close and things were in turmoil at home. Itchy was close to death, Electra was doing worse... By mid May Copycat was not on the deck any more. I was very worried and already in tears as Itchy had just died. Copycat suddenly came back and was on the pillow again one night, when a huge raccoon came up on the deck and began to eat his food! Copycat laid 2 feet away and hardly lifted his head. At one point the raccoon moved near Copycat and they touched noses. Copycat just lowered his head and went back to sleep. I knew he was very sick. I decided I would catch him the next day no matter what. I was prepared to chase him to Idaho is need be, but the next day he was gone again. Finally on the 24th he returned at night and would not eat. The next day after work I opened the door to feed him and he did not leave the pillow. I stepped out on the deck and he still did not leave. I slowly held the dish to his nose and he lifted his head and let out a soft growl. I ran inside and called the vet (who knew of Copycat from my stories) and told them I was coming in with him. Their office was closing in 10 minutes, but they agreed to wait for me and see him as an emergency case. I went back outside and took a towel and carrier. I walked up to Copycat and just picked him up in the towel and placed him in the carrier. He growled and mewed a bit, but nothing more.
(Copycat in the carrier when we arrived at the vet's office)
We rushed to the vet and stood helplessly by as the vet and tech went over him. Copycat had a 106.5f fever. They drew blood for a battery of tests. We tested him for the main things, FIV, FELV and such. All negative. The vet could feel his liver felt enlarged, he was dehydrated and he had an infection in his lymph nodes. We were there for perhaps 2 hours that evening. The tech set up towels in a large cage in the isolation room and we went in to say goodnight to our Copycat. We went home, stunned at how sick the seemed and still weeping over Itchy. The vet said that the following were on the top of his list by the time we left: Panleukopenia, Endocrditis, Bowel disease, Internal infection/abscess and FIP.
The next day I received a call from the vet. Copycat's heart was enlarged. His liver was 2 times normal size. He had a bad infection in his lymph nodes and his fever remained. He was not eating or drinking water still too. His urine was coming out orange, which indicated liver problems. His heard rate was very rapid, even when he was under anesthesia. Then we found that many of his symptoms could be from Tularemia. There had been 1 case in the area in the 90's and it was infectious and could be transmitted to people. Tests had to be done to see and the state vet had to be notified. Depending on the test results, the CDC would have to get involved as well since Tularemia is dangerous and listed on the CDC website under bio-terrorism! The vet felt the larger likelihood was now FIP, Panleukopenia, severe liver disease, Hepatitis or a mix. Copycat was placed on fluids and I told the vet to spare no expense on saving him and making him better. A watch was also placed on the vet, his tech and myself in case of Tularemia. I went to the vet's office after work to visit Copycat and I was not allowed closer than 3 feet from his cage incase of Tularemia. I sat there talking to him, telling him how much we loved him and miss him at home. At home that night I decided to bring his cup/bed in to the vet's so Copycat would smell something more familiar and perhaps feel a bit better.
(the vet and tech begin their initial exam)
I had a sick feeling in my stomach the morning of May 28th 2004. I drove to the vet's office and got there at 7:30am and dropped the cup off at the front desk. I got back in my car and the tech came running out. My heart was pounding. Copycat had passed away sometime between 4am and 7am. I began to cry. He was less than 2 years old and he died alone and scared, sick and in pain. My heart sank. I had lost 2 of our beloved cats in 15 days. Little did I know then that in a mere 2 days the count would include Electra.
The state would not let me cremate Copycat till Tularemia could be ruled out. I was fighting to get Copycat cremated and take his ashes home. It took over 40 more nail biting days till we had enough results from the many biopsies taken from him. It was not Tularemia. 2 days and close to $2000 is all it took to lose Copycat. We will never know exactly what killed him. Is heart? Liver? The white lesions found on his pancreas? The infection in his lymph nodes? The fever? The vet said that it may have been genetic too. Perhaps nothing could have been done to save Copycat.
When I got home I took the little branch gift he kept on the deck and placed it in a vase. It sits in the living room next to Copycat's urn. His beautiful gift will forever decorate our lives.
After he died I searched the deck for clumps of his fur. His fur would grow very thick and long in the winter and shed odd if the spring. I gathered several clumps of fur and placed them in a plastic bag with his name on the outside (I do this with all our cats, save all fur from brushing, whiskers I know are from a specific cat, and baby teeth as they fall out). I called the vet and asked him to clip off a tuft of fur for me as well and added this to his bag.
(we miss you Copycat)
I kept his pillow on the deck for months after he was gone. I could not bring myself to remove it. Each morning I would walk with Leo to the door and tap several times on the glass, then look down at the small indentation left by 1½ years of Copycat sleeping on the same spot. Finally in August I removed the pillow when I realized chipmunks or mice were chewing holes in the side. I threw it out, but not without a very heavy heart and tears.
Copycat lost his fight and left for the rainbow bridge early on 5/27/2004. He was a constant companion through the glass or screen to us all. He and Itchy used to play through the glass with each other at night. Now they are free to play in the heavens. We are and will for ever be devastated by his loss. Our deck became a cold, barren and empty place that day, and it will never be the same warm, friendly and wonderful place Copycat made it.
In loving memory of Copycat.