by Candy Reaid
(Acworth, GA USA)
We adopted Salem from the shelter in 1995. We had been looking for a black cat to name Salem; after a TV cat. Though we didn't find a black one, the volunteer at the shelter said she had just gotten a tiny kitten in that needed a home right away and he was just a ball of fur.
My son saw him and fell in love with him. We still named him Salem but his name was moot. He was so adorable!
Like she said, he was a massive ball of fur and so soft, he almost disappeared in your hands. Two huge, gorgeous green eyes stared at us all the way home.
Eventually, my son left for college, some 10 years later so Salem became my newest baby. He got sick and was taken to the vet many times but they could not tell me what was wrong with him.
He stayed sick with "allergies," a runny/stuffy nose, and lost his ability to eat comfortably, due to congestion. He gradually lost so much weight, he was nothing but skin and bones anymore.
I had made the decision to end his suffering and was to take him this very week to the vet. Today, my husband came to tell me that he found Salem beside the driveway, not breathing.
Salem had lived for 16 years with us, outliving all other pets over the years, even after a car hit him and he had a hip replacement in 1999.
We live in the woods, so his favorite things to play with were wildlife, grass, climbing trees and climbing my backdoor when he wanted back inside.
Once I saw him lying out in the front woods, not doing anything at all. His paw was stretched out in front of him as he just lay there quietly.
Upon inspection, I found a small snake was being held by Salem's paw. The snake was trying its best to get away and couldn't. As I reprimanded Salem, his paw loosened slightly--enough to allow the little guy to take off.
Salem was very confused that I would distract him so his prize would slither away, but quickly forgot it when I gave him treats instead.
One of the things that made Salem so cute was the hair growing out of his ears. It was so long that it curled around each ear, effectively blocking his ear canals. Hard to keep clean, but adorable!
His eyes were a beautiful soft green color, but the way they angled made him earn the nickname "rattlesnake." When he looked at you, he looked as mean as a rattlesnake! But he was a doll.
As he was getting older, he was getting short-tempered and began drooling on everything. Gross, but I'd wipe his nose and mouth and so much time had passed in his illness that his nose became sore to the touch. We had to use a warm wash cloth to clean his nose then, to soothe him.
Our baby will be so missed, but I'm glad his suffering is finally over. He is buried in our back woods, where he loved to play in the garden and chase lizards and ground squirrels. He is better now, with his old pal, the yellow lab we lost last Thanksgiving.
I'm sure Orlando was there to greet him near the Rainbow Bridge. May they both tumble to their heart's content!
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