Yesterday we lost a friend. Mr. Washington was a resident of VOKRA’s Southlands Barn Sanctuary which houses a number of feral and shy cats who are not adoptable. As a no-kill shelter, we find a place for our rescued cats, even if that place can’t be a traditional home. Mr. Washington called the Southlands Barn Sanctuary home for four years. He was quite elderly and, in the past two years, began to show his age and medical problems arose. On May 19th, he was accompanied by his volunteer medical caretaker Carley to Intercity Animal Emergency Clinic and supported to pass away in a gentle, dignified way. VOKRA volunteer Ellen is one of the people who loved Mr. Washington well and she wrote this tribute to him.
Sometimes after a time spent under the care of humans, semi-feral cats slowly begin to warm up to the point where they are tame enough to pet and accept the care of their human guardians–there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing that change. Mr. Washington was one such special case, and his love seemed to grow daily, warming the hearts of his feline and human friends alike.
While we can only half guess at the life Mr. Washington lived prior to coming to VOKRA, we can speculate that it was the kind of life that led him to have such a regal and formal name bestowed upon him. His benevolent and welcoming air would match any politician in his namesake capital city! With a twinkle in his eye, and the older, wise air of a gentleman about him, Mr. Washington was always sure to greet each visitor and volunteer, whether he strolled calmly up to you, or gently eyed you from his favorite perch. His right eye was semi encircled in black, monocle-like, as though born to watch over, like some kind of purring detective.
And watch over he did! Mr. Washington loved to know what was going on, whether you were merely cleaning, or dinner had finally begun. He could often be found grooming or cuddling with his feline friends, and even seemed to teach and assure the other cats, who were much more feral than him, that us humans weren’t so bad. He led his friends in his brave interactions with us, accepting pets (and treats!) graciously.
Mr. Washington is truly an example of how a cat can say more with their eyes and affection than words ever could. With Washington it was always love at first sight–he burrowed his way into the heart of everyone he met, and it is doubtful that he will ever leave. He spent his last day enjoying the simple pleasure of lying in the sun, and knowing that he was loved. No one warns you of the tears you will shed when you become a volunteer, but having known such a special boy is worth every one.
Thank you to Ellen, for this lovely piece, to Sharon Darling for the wonderful photos, and to all the volunteers who give their time and love to our Southlands Barn Sanctuary cats.