It was early the morning of May 1, 1995, when Scott heard the cries of kittens from the shrubs under his bedroom window. There was a stray female we called “Momma Kitty” at the apartment complex where we lived; she had given birth during a rainstorm. When Scott checked, there were three tiny kittens. We monitored them for as long as we could, before deciding the bring them inside the apartment to protect them.
While we hadn’t planned on adopting them, we ended up keeping them together. In the early years, Scott would take them outside in his lap to see Momma Kitty. We’d like to think that she understood they were safe and loved.
J.C. was a soft, easy-to-purr, relaxed gentleman. Definitely not the dominating Gaius for whom he was named. His coat was fine and soft, a fluffy and cuddly boy.
When we rescued the boys, J.C. was the first to climb into laps and look for people. One reason we saved the boys was because J.C. was starting to wander from the safety of bushes. He didn’t see any reason to fear people or other animals.
J.C. was a “happy-go-lucky” cat with a purr motor that rarely stopped. You could hear his purr from across a room. He didn’t fear anyone, and would purr for any person willing to show him a little attention. He would even purr for the vet technicians during exams, right until his final weeks.
Nothing, not even traveling from California to Minnesota or from Minnesota to Pennsylvania seemed to upset him. As long as he could look around, J.C. was calm and even happy. J.C. was also one of the most low-key cats we've seen.
A Great Papa Kitty
You might say he was a hero. He was the most “parental” and nurturing cat in our lives. Any cats we rescued, he wanted to play with them and help them. He was gentle and protective of kittens. J.C. was even a blood donor for Simba before she died. He helped her feel a little better before her body failed. J.C. was a great adoptive papa kitty.
J.C. was so laid back that even Pumpkin Kitty was relaxed sharing space with him. It was impossible to feel tense knowing all you had to do was look at J.C. to start up his purr motor. He helped Pumpkin handle the moves, simply by being a good travel companion.
Playful and Active
A very active bundle of energy, J.C. loved “wrestling” and playing until his last few weeks. In his younger years, J.C. was quite the jumper. His favorite game was to try to catch a paper ball being tossed down the hall. We’d sit at each end of a short hallway and toss the ball several feet into the air while J.C. would jump to swat at it. More often than not, he'd manage to swat the ball back at us with his paw. The last time we really played paper ball was in our Bloomington, Minn., apartment. That was in 2006, right after moving to Minnesota for graduate school.
Loved His People
For the last few years, J.C.’s favorite nighttime sleeping spot was sharing a pillow with one of us. He’d climb the stairs onto the bed and amble up to plop down with his front legs and face propped up on a pillow, right up next to one of our faces. He particularly liked it if Sue would hold his paw or if his paw was on top of her hand while she went to sleep listening to a very loud purr motor running next to her head.
J.C. spent his last night sharing a pillow with Scott.
The Final Weeks
The weekend of July 30-31, 2011, J.C. started to drool with spots of blood. We thought he might have chewed a cardboard box or some plastic, a bad habit of his. Sadly, he was diagnosed with oral cancer on August 2 and underwent emergency surgery the next day.
The surgery went well, but the cancer had already spread beyond his mouth. He also was suffering from dehydration and partial kidney failure. The cancer was a particularly fast moving form of oral cancer. Less than two weeks after receiving laser surgery to remove the cancer from his mouth, his drinking slowed and he stopped eating.
He was hospitalized from Monday afternoon, August 15, through Wednesday afternoon to receive IV fluids in an attempt to reverse his dehydration. He seemed perkier after receiving the fluids. Tuesday afternoon he looked a lot better and purred and demanded attention from Sue when she visited him in the hospital. He went home Wednesday afternoon with Scott, but the cancer had caused enough damage to his throat and lungs to create problems breathing overnight. By dawn, he was only semi-conscious and by the time the vet opened on Thursday morning, J.C. was unresponsive and barely breathing.
J.C. passed away at 10:30 a.m. on August 18, 2011. He spent the night next to Scott, sharing a soft blue pillow. J.C. was too tired to drink or eat that morning. Scott held him and talked to him for several hours, knowing J.C. was out of energy — after having been active and happy until those last few weeks.
He will be missed.