Losing Bootsie hurts because he came to me as older cat. Thrown away, unloved, he hung around the church. There is a baseball field there and he learned to go there for food. He also learned to jump in the stone trash cans -- there he found food, and he would burrow under the paper trash to stay warm on cold nights - also safe from other predators. He learned to get water from the girls bathrooms in the pavilion. The church school tossed out dried bread to the birds, which he stole to stay alive. He found me because I left food out for the strays. He would sneak up on the porch and eat a little bit. His stomach was so shrunken that he couldn't eat very much. Once day I tried to approach him, to encourage him to eat more. He was all skin and bones. It was bitter cold winter. He wouldn't let me get too near, but he would come and eat, and then eat a little more. I was scared he wouldn't make it through the harsh winter. When I learned it was going down to -20 degrees, I took the risk and snatched him up.
He stayed with me, recovered, and I found he loved to walk on a leash. Until one man at the church deliberately stomped his feet at him to scare him away. He was gone from Thanksgiving. Candy and I walked and called the church grounds and baseball fields trying to get him to come back. By Christmas I had just about given up, thinking he wouldn't come home. I used to sleep on the couch, with the front door open, so I would be there if he came back. On New Years Eve, I gave up. Then, I looked at the door that night and he was there. I cried out his name and he looked at me with his big sad eyes like, you don't want me anymore. He turned and ran. He was about halfway down the drive when I caught up with him. He finally stopped and I grabbed him and brought him in.
He stayed inside from that day. I never took him walking again for fear he would run away once more. He got FAT. He must have been 25 pounds when he got sick with kitty version of HIV. They said he could live a few more years with care. Boots would purr and purr when you brushed him. He and Loki were like litter mates. They romped and played like kittens.
Loki walks the floor tonight, and keeps looking at me with an expression that says, "Where is our Bootsie?"
He was just a piece of garbage to the person who threw him away, left him to freeze and starve. To me, he was a special magical creature that I was lucky he came to share my life.