Reb was a skinny, hungry, beat-up, scruffy-looking tomcat when he showed up on the front porch of our rental house seven years ago. Cherie, being the kind-hearted animal lover that she is, fed him and started taking care of him. I’ve never been a cat person, but even I found Reb to be a cat with an irresistible personality and became attached to him. Cherie had him fixed, Will gave him a name, and Reb had found a home.
In those days, even after he quit his tomcat fighting, Reb would still wander off for days at a time, eventually returning home hungry and tired. Not long after we had him fixed, his “wife” Zelda showed up. She had kittens under the house and she too joined our ever-increasing household.
Once the house on our farm was finally built, we moved. Naturally, we took Reb with us. Even though we only moved a few miles, the process totally freaked him out. As soon as we let him out at our new house, he bolted and disappeared. He was gone for weeks. Cherie and I drove all over looking for him, but no luck. It was a sad time, thinking we’d lost Reb. But just when we thought we’d never see him again, Reb came back. And he was a changed cat. From that day forward he never wandered out of sight of the house. Whatever happened to him in those weeks, it convinced him to stay close to home in the future. Reb’s life was to be spent in the barn, or on our porch.
Reb was a very easy cat to please. All you had to do was look at him and he’d start purring. He purred while eating. When being petted, he’d purr and drool. If you held Reb while petting him, you’d end up with cat drool on you. Every time.
Yesterday when I put food in his bowl in the barn, he came over and started eating. As always, he started purring. I rubbed his head, and he just purred more.
This morning I filled his bowl. I was smiling as I did it, because I knew he’d come sprinting out of the haystack or the hayloft when he heard the food hit the bowl. But he didn’t. It struck me as unusual. Reb would always come running when he heard the food hit the bowl.
Later this morning, while getting ready to leave for church, I saw Reb stretched out sleeping by our back door. I smiled, thinking of how comfortable he looked. Then I felt my stomach drop. That was the exact some sleeping pose I’d seen him in when we went to bed last night. Not wanting to believe my eyes, I saw the truth. Reb was dead.
I don’t know why he died. Maybe it was just his time. He seemed healthy and happy, with no sign of illness or injury. I’m still having trouble processing it.
Will and I buried our good cat Reb. Once we had the grave dug, Cherie carried him out to us. As we were preparing to put him in, Cherie noticed that he had drool on his chin. Reb had died purring.
May we all be so fortunate.
Rest in peace Reb.