Aug. 1990 - 04 Jan. 2007
The part of Arawn's story that I know started in December of '90. It was a few days before Christmas, and we were having a typical Dallas winter storm -- gale-force icy winds, freezing rain, sleet, etc. In the midst of it all I heard a cat crying outside my door, and when I went out to check I found a kitten, about 4 months old. He'd gotten wet from the rain and sleet, and with the strong wind and temperatures being in the teens, he was shivering so hard he could barely stand up. I took him inside, got him warmed up and established him in the spare bathroom with food, water, and a litter box. My first thought was that someone had left him outside when they went to work, not realizing the storm was coming so soon (it had moved in ahead of predictions). I put a notice on the board by the mailboxes at the front of the condominium complex. No one called.
I put up more notices, checked the newspaper, called a locating service for lost pets, and checked with the vets' office a couple of blocks away, but no one ever claimed him. I even took him for a little walk around the complex, to see if he appeared familiar with any particular apartment. Though often distracted by chasing leaves, we finally did find one door where he bounded right up and wanted in. It was mine. I had four cats at the time, and had decided that was going to be my limit (ironic, in retrospect), but the Cat Gods decided otherwise. He obviously needed a home, and he stayed.
I'd noticed the little guy walked with a bit of a limp and had a patch of fur missing over his left hip. When I took him to the vet for shots and general examination I had them take a look, and they wound up doing X-rays, which revealed a lesion on his lower spine, apparently from some kind of injury. As I got to know him better I could see that his hind legs and tail were impaired; he lacked strength, coordination, and apparently some sensation in them. Evidently there was some nerve damage from the spinal injury; the vet said the damage would be permanent, but it wasn't so bad he couldn't adapt. After he'd been with me a few weeks, I found that he also was subject to seizures. More vet work, including an EEG and various tests, showed no sign of any infectious disease which might cause this, and the conclusion was that he had epilepsy, probably resulting from a head injury. He was put on phenobarbitol to control the seizures, which was very effective. He also showed some personality oddities that could result from brain damage; his intelligence appeared normal, but his emotional development was always a bit off. He was very interested in things, but had a hard time "connecting" socially, either with me or the other cats; he was kind of in his own little world. It was something that's hard to describe, but cat-people noticed very quickly that he didn't react normally. He made quite a bit of slow but definite progress over the years, though.
Arawn was a medium-sized, shorthaired blue cat, with a very thick, plush coat and a stocky, cobby build, like a little bear. You could see a slight oddness in his gait when he walked, but in his more active days it never kept him from charging around the house and playing. He couldn't jump or climb much, but could get up onto things if he could hook his front claws in and pull himself up, and could climb up stairs. I installed several cat-trees and platforms that had steps, so he could get up to windowsill levels and onto various pieces of furniture. Arawn was also very vocal, chittering and chirping a lot, apparently more because he liked the sound than to communicate with anyone else. He loved objects that he could disassemble somehow -- pulling books off shelves was a favorite hobby, and once he got behind the dryer, detached the exhaust hose, and left one of his jingle-balls inside it. He didn't purr or show much affection, but would sometimes rub against me and enjoy having his head scritched.
When Arawn was elderly he developed kidney failure, a very common problem in geriatric cats, and required some supportive care -- medication and subcutaneous fluids. He grew quite thin and was less active in his later days, but seemed comfortable and enjoyed basking in his favorite napping places in sunny windows, or in his heated cat-bed. The kidney failure progressed gradually for a few years, until on 4 Jan. 2007 it finally reached the point where it was impossible for me to keep him comfortable any longer, and I had to have him put to sleep. He was sixteen years old, so he had a good long life in spite of his handicaps.