Mouthwash #socs

I was tempted to do one of my song list posts, but one of the songs, “Within You Without You” by George Harrison (yes, when he was with the Beatles, but he was responsible for all the Indian music) was blocked by UMG, whoever the hell they are. So that’s out.

Over the years, most of my cats have been indoor cats, but I had one who liked to go out. She was a stray that I named Mouthwash, and I tried but couldn’t find any pictures of her. She was a gray tabby, who had a big white spot on her mouth, and she kind of looked green in certain kinds of light, kind of like Scope mouthwash, hence the name. A few years later, we took in another stray, Judy, who was pregnant and gave birth to five kittens. One of them, Lovey (also known as Spike, because she liked to hit cats and people) had a similar spot on her mouth, but the other side. We think there might have been a common relative.

I was never sure if Mouthwash actually belonged to someone else in the neighborhood or was actually a stray, but she liked us and would come in and sleep with us sometimes. We would feed her on the back deck, and with her a family of raccoons. We didn’t intend on feeding the raccoons, they just sort of came along. It was a mother and four kits, and they would eat the cat food we had left for Mouthwash. We had put a double dish out there with food in both compartments, and when the kits would eat, two would eat out of each bowl, one facing the house, the other facing the yard. Mom raccoon would sit there and watch the kits, and Mouthwash would sit a few feet away. They got along with each other. She got along well with our cats, too, never getting into fights with them. She left them alone, they left her alone.

When she wanted to go out, she’d stand at the front door and wait for one of us (usually me) to let her out. When she wanted to come back in, we’d hear her making noise on the porch and let her in. Occasionally she’d be standing out there yowling, and we knew she had brought us a gift. Sometimes it was a little bird, other times a mouse. Once she brought a little mole. We learned that you always accept a gift that the cat brings you, because they think, because we don’t hunt, we can’t feed ourselves, and that it’s best to thank the cat profusely and accept whatever they brought you, no matter how gross it might be, and dispose of it quietly.

She got to where she wanted to come and go about ten times a day. I’d let her out, and in, and out… We joked that the way she was going to get into heaven was to walk in and out the Pearly Gates until St. Peter said “Come in or go out!” Then she’d go in. When she slept in the house, she would sleep on the bed, at my feet. I had to be careful not to kick her out.

After a while, she took her meals outside, and we moved the food dish to the front porch, since she was going and coming via the front door all the time. In the morning, I’d go out with the food in the morning and she’d be waiting for me, and I’d feed her.

One morning I went out and didn’t see her there. I put some food in her bowl, figuring she had gone out exploring, but I was a little worried. I got more worried when the food remained untouched for several days, and finally realized she wasn’t coming back. Had she belonged to one of the neighbors, who decided to keep her inside, or moved? Had she wandered off and gotten hit by a car, or eaten by a hawk or owl? Had she gotten into a fight and died of her injuries? Had she wandered into the natural area behind the house and had a heart attack?

A couple of days before she disappeared, I was working in the yard and she came and wanted all kinds of attention and was climbing all over me. It wasn’t typical for her to do that, and it struck me that she was saying goodbye, telling me she loved me. She might have known she was headed for the Bridge soon, and wanted me to know that before she passed.

There are days I walk out the front door and expect to see her there, wanting to be fed. I know it’s impossible; this was almost twenty years ago and she was a grown cat. But we can always hope.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill, author of All Good Stories, available at Amazon.

16 thoughts on “Mouthwash #socs

  1. Great story! Thank you for sharing so many of your feline moments to remember. I had an indoor/outdoor cat (Ticker) who chased a raccoon out of our house, she was SUCH a good hunter. Like your Mouthwash, we’re not sure what happened to her. She was a good kitty for us for…seven years. She’d been a barn cat and never got over her love of the outdoors. We’ve had two of those — Ticker and Casey, and now my FIL has Casey.

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  2. Oh I love this story. It’s so sad though. I bet you’re right: she probably knew her time was coming. Animals know these things instinctively and I do believe she was saying her goodbyes and showing you gratitude for all the love and care you gave her. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know it was long ago, but I’m sure it still hurts. These sweet creatures worm their way into our hearts where they end up residing forever…
    Beautiful story John. Thanks for sharing.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  3. Oh our pets do become family and it is hard to let them go. My sister’s dog did the same as your cat. The night before she passed on, she came to each of us, giving us loving looks, and I knew then she was saying good bye. We’ve lost a lot of them over the years, and I just tell them I’ll see them later, which I do believe we will someday.


  4. Good story. Your story reminded me of our cat who died a few years ago. She had been my daughter’s cat and we inherited her when our daughter went off to college. Before I knew the cat was very ill, she would jump up on the bed and climb on me. She had not done this before. She might sit with me for a bit but never this other behavior. We found out she was gravely ill and she died at a vet hospital. I would be like you if I had a cat that disappeared and be wondering what happened.


    1. For the most part, Cats are very stoic and don’t let you know they’re that ill until it’s too late. We have a couple who are not doing so well, but even so they’re eating well and are still affectionate, so we have no idea how long they’ll stick around. They can go on like this for a couple of years, if previous experience holds.

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    1. We also had a possum coming up and eating for a while. We’re like that. We had a hornet’s nest in a bush around the mailbox and I didn’t have the heart to kill it until the mailman said he wouldn’t deliver the mail. And once a black and yellow spider (I looked it up, that’s what they’re called) built an intricate web across the front door we don’t use. She departed, leaving an egg sac on the web. We relocated the eggs to a natural area before taking down the web.


  5. Thanks for sharing a sweet and sad story, John. They do find a way into our hearts, don’t they? Ours are inside girls. I don’t think either would do well fending for themselves. It’s interesting that shr got along with the raccoon. That must have been cute to see.


  6. Aww! Your post made me smile, laugh and sad all at the same time. Mouthwash was obviously an interesting and generous feline – catching a mole is not a mean feat. The pearly gate part had me laughing out loud. Such dear furry one’s leave their indelible marks on our minds even years after they’ve moved on.


    1. Mouthwash was an excellent hunter. Once she was after these birds, and I think she caught one. One of the parents would try and intimidate her, flying low over her head when she was around. The bird didn’t fly too close, or it would have been Mouthwash’s next meal. Hey, she was a cat; that’s what they do…

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