May 1999 - 28 Oct. 2012
Scaramouche had a difficult start in life. His mother was a stray; she wore a bedraggled collar, indicating that she might once have been a pet, but by the time she started showing up at my stray feeder in the spring of 1999 she was obviously on her own. She was very shy and I never got too close to her, but when her kittens (probably born around mid-May) were old enough, she started bringing them to the feeder as well. I sometimes got a look at the family; originally there were four kittens, but one apparently didn't live long and soon disappeared.
In late July, I found the mother cat dead in my front yard. It appeared she had been hit by a car and was trying to run back to the gap in the fence that led to wherever she had her den, when she collapsed and died. I knew the kittens would be on their own, and even with the free food available in my garage, it wasn't a very good prospect. So, I set out to capture them, hoping to give them a chance at a better life. It wasn't easy, but after about two weeks of trying I managed to catch the two boldest kittens, a black-and-white male and a calico-tabby female. It was another week before I caught their black brother, who was the shyest of the three and kept a very low profile.
All the kittens were extremely wary and frightened of me at first, not having had any human contact before. The black-and-white boy, smaller than his siblings but the boldest of the three, soon showed signs of becoming tame, purring when I petted him and becoming accustomed to my presence. The little girl was more cautious but also made steady progress, while the black one remained very shy. When I'd had them a few weeks, the girl and the black-and-white boy were adopted by friends of mine.
The black kitten remained with me, and I named him Scaramouche. He grew up to be a fine, big cat with a beautiful black-velvet coat, but never decided that he could really trust me and would usually run if I approached him. If he was in a place where he felt fairly safe I could sometimes manage to pet him, though he clearly hated it. He made some progress, very slowly; I could walk past him and even stop to talk to him without him invariably running away. He often slept on the bed with me, and would sometimes creep up and nibble on my toes while I was dishing out catfood in the kitchen.
In contrast to his wariness about humans, Scaramouche socialized very well with other cats. He absolutely adored Clovis, who adopted him and appeared to assume responsibility for his upbringing. Given Clovis' propensity for mischief, the two of them were uneasily reminiscent of Fagin and the Artful Dodger, but I hoped that Scaramouche would pick up some of Clovis' confidence around people. (Didn't work, alas.) He also played with Musetta and Anzu, and showed a distinct fondness for Juma. The latter, a stray tomcat before I adopted him in 1999, was quite probably Scaramouche's father, and the two looked very much alike, though Scaramouche ended up being much bigger.
In the spring of 2001 I installed three bird-feeders and a birdbath in my back yard, to provide amusement for the cats. Most of the gang took a lively interest in the birds (and an occasional squirrel), gathering at the windows at peak feeding times. Scaramouche staked out a position at the bedroom window, overlooking the birdbath. During the summer he spent just about every afternoon there, watching with fascination as the cowbirds held raucous pool-parties in the bath. During cooler weather the population dwindled to a few sparrows and cardinals, but Scaramouche still kept an eye on the bath most days.
During a routine exam in July, 2012, Scaramouche was found to have hyperthyroidism, a fairly common disorder in older cats. He was put on medication for it and appeared to be responding well; his blood tests looked good, and he adapted surprisingly well to having to take a pill twice a day. However, he died suddenly and unexpectedly during the night of 27-28 October, probably due to cardiomyopathy. This was a shock as well as a sorrow; I had hoped to have him for another year or two. But he had a comfortable and secure life, not bad at all for such a shy little orphan kitten.