Oliver was a cat we weren't supposed to have. His mother was a stray who just appeared one day and made herself at home on our rather remote place in the country. Between her frequent roamings and our procrastination, she delivered a litter of kittens before we could get her to our local vet. Most were quickly given away one summer's day while we held a garage sale. The little white one was spoken for, but the family was on the way to town and asked if we could hold him until they returned. Mysteriously, they never came back, and so we ended up with two new cats, Oliver and his slightly demented sister, Tizzie.
Oliver displayed a remarkable propensity for getting into trouble, always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Neighbors would tell us of him showing up in their live traps on occasion. He also seemed to delight in taunting our dogs, since they were frequently shut up in their pen, while he got to wander freely about Naruna. One day he got carried away in his desire to rub the dogs' noses in his relative freedom, and ran into their pen when the gate was opened! Needless to say, the dogs exacted their revenge upon the annoying pussycat. After a quick trip to a kitty orthopedic specialist in Temple and a week long stay in the feline rehab center, a much subdued Oliver returned to Naruna. He regained his physical abilities with few limitations, but he was a changed cat. His sister, Tizzie, would have nothing to do with him since he apparently didn't smell like her little brother anymore.
After this traumatic experience, Oliver became more of a Momma's boy, seeming to spend more and more time with Susan. Even after recovering fully, he spent much of his time curled up in her lap or on the sofa next to her. Over time, he gradually began to roam farther afield and act more like his old self. He would prowl the neighboring pastures and frequently bring "presents" home to Susan. As the years passed, Susan and Oliver were a fixture, snoozing on their end of the couch in a patch of afternoon sun.
When we returned home late one night from a trip about a month ago, Tizzie was waiting, demanding attention and food. Oliver didn't make an appearance immediately which wasn't unusual, but the next morning, he still was not home. Calls to neighbors were fruitless, and no one at the church across the road had seen him. With time passing, hope ebbed, and now after being absent for more than a month, we are forced to face the reality that Oliver is gone. This is definitely harder than losing previous pets, where we knew what happened to them and frequently sat with them in their last hours.