The Kohagen home and sanctuary lacked the sweet purr of a cat. Our hearts were heavy over the loss of Spike. A little girl searched throughout the house for her feline friend.
It was time, we drove down to the local county shelter to pick out a cat in need. The three of us took our time meeting all of the cats who had been there the longest. Jason and I were going back and forth over two cats that we liked. My pick, a little black cat. For Jason, a large grey tabby. We paused our debate to watch Hadley playing with a sweet male tuxedo cat. He followed her all over the place. They played and exchanged affection. We looked at each other and knew neither of us would be getting our pick. A cat had chosen us instead.
We notified the front desk that we were interested in adopting the young tuxedo cat. The kind lady was very excited and told us more about him. He had been captured as a stray. He patiently waited to be claimed. Then he patiently waited to be adopted. One day, his owners walked in, saw him and mentioned to the front desk that he was their cat. She assumed they would be back up to the desk to bring him home. Sadly they disappeared. Imagine the heartbreak of that cat watching his family leave him behind.
Hearing this story melted our hearts and we knew he was the one. We named him Gatsby. He became the greeter of the house. The purr and cuddle we longed for. Gatsby was Hadley's best friend. If she was upset he would run into the room at the sound of her cry and lovingly bump heads.
Gatsby had medical issues from the start. we were in and out of the veterinary clinic multiple times for mysterious allergies and symptoms. We cared for him the best we could and found a diet that made his symptoms manageable.
Around a year later, Jaxon arrived. Gatsby immediately became his big brother. Those two were the most loving and playful pair that I have ever seen.
Then, after another year passed, we took in a two to three week old kitten. At first, Gatsby and Jaxon were completely spooked by the little fluff ball. After a few weeks of quarantine, I began to let them see each other. Jaxon wanted nothing to do with the kitten. Gatsby however, started licking the little newborn. I couldn't believe his paternal instincts and concern for those in need. This abandoned kitten needed the love of a cat so bad and Gatsby took to his every need. We named him Wyatt.
Gatsby, Jaxon, and Wyatt were quite the crew. The house was never quiet, especially when we were trying to go to bed. But our hearts were full and they were happy.
A few weeks ago, we noticed a change in his behavior. He very quickly declined and we rushed him to the vet. He was held at the clinic for days while they treated his urinary obstruction. He had many complications due to the condition of his bladder and need for nutritional adjustment with consideration for his severe allergies.
He had finally stabilized enough to come home. We were happy to care for him, Hadley included. Gatsby seemed to be recovering.
One morning, Hadley and Jason were monitoring him and he seemed perfectly fine. Hours later, we were shocked to discover he had died. After consulting with our veterinarian, we came to the conclusion that there must have been an unknown condition or maybe his organs had just been too taxed to fully recover. We will never know.
What I do know is that the sweet cat who came in as a stray, who was abandoned by his owners at the shelter, was absolutely loved to the end. I wish he could have known that when we were getting hammered financially, people came to our aid for him. Ranch supporters donated to his care and checked on him. The unwanted shelter cat's story had raised over $1,000 for our vet bills.
While we are deeply saddened by the loss of Gatsby, there is a beauty to his story. I believe that we all just want someone to love us and be willing to fight for us. His last years were filled with the love of a family, feline fun with his brothers, and his impact through interactions at our sanctuary.
Our Great Gatsby is gone from our physical touch. But as we have explained to Hadley, he lives in our hearts. And that is the best home you can give anyone.