1996? - 01 Jul. 2003
Wotan moved in with me in December of 2000. He'd been a regular at my stray feeder for a couple of years, a neighborhood tom who spent cold winter nights in a cardboard box in my garage (with a nice, warm Polartec pad in it.) He had gradually become friendly enough for me to touch and handle him, and during a nasty spell of ice storms I decided he needed someplace better than a garage and brought him inside.
He went through the usual exam at the vet's office, which revealed that he had FIV. This wasn't a big surprise, since Juma also had it and where one local tom is carrying the virus, there's a good chance others will, too. Wotan also had a heart murmur, and further tests showed that he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a degenerative heart disorder. And on top of that, he also had some kidney failure, which could have resulted from an infection or exposure to a toxin.
With all of that stacked up against him, I knew that Wotan would not be with me for as long as I could wish. However, he benefitted from being in a secure environment, with medication to help compensate for his heart problems and a special diet to reduce stress on his kidneys. His condition remained stable for over a year before starting a slow deterioration.
Wotan adapted surprisingly well to living indoors; apparently he was so glad to be someplace warm and dry that he didn't object to the confinement. However, he was not so quick to accept the notion of living in close quarters with other cats. He seemed to feel threatened by them, and his reaction was to try to launch a pre-emptive attack. After a gradual program of controlled exposure, with Wotan in my large cat-cage to prevent him from biting anyone (and hence possibly infecting them with FIV), he eventually realized that the other cats weren't really out to get him. After that, he settled down to peaceably sharing his quarters with everyone else. He was a very gentle cat, and never had any quarrels with the others after he was established in the household.
There was another connection between Wotan and Juma, besides the FIV. Juma was the probable father of Scaramouche, and Wotan was very likely to have fathered Scaramouche's littermate, Thor, who lives with friends of mine.
Wotan was sweet and affectionate with me, though he never quite absorbed the idea of playing gently; he was always inclined to use his claws rather freely. He loved having his cheeks scritched, and would reach out and grab my hand if I tried to stop scritching before he was ready. Like most of the strays, he didn't understand about playing with toys at first, but soon picked up the idea. He liked his stuffed mouse and an occasional pipe cleaner, but his favorite toy was the Cat Track (a plastic ring with a ball inside and slots to allow the cat to bat it around.) He was also an habitual tail-chaser, especially on the sofa in the early morning, when he would whirl madly around in circles after his tail and then suddenly get very dignified and pretend he'd never done any such thing. And he liked to climb up on top of the bookcases and squeak triumphantly at me.
After I'd had him for about a year, Wotan's kidney failure progressed to the point where it was necessary to start giving him subcutaneous fluids to compensate. Fortunately, he tolerated the procedure very well. Over the following year and a half I had to gradually increase the amount of fluids he was getting and keep him on some medications to help control other effects of the kidney failure, but he continued to be his lively and cheerful self. Finally, in early June of 2003, he began a final decline. Another increase in his fluids helped him keep going for a little while longer, but by the end of the month his strength had clearly run out, and on July 1st I said good-bye and had him put to sleep.
Wotan was only middle-aged when he died, but he'd led a hard life in his early years and just had too much damage to live any longer. He did have two and a half good years as a pampered housecat, and while I wish it could have been more, I'm glad I had him with me as long as I did.