Nimitz was our Fearless Leaper. Of our three cats, he was the one who ran to jump into our laps, ran to jump from floor to the top of the cat tree, ran down the stairs to chase kibble.
His litter-mate Sisu broke teeth, but it was Nimitz who chewed on everything—catnip stalks, cardboard, Milton crackers, jay tail-feathers (all he could catch), the other cats' dinners.
No attached toy was safe from him: Nimitz discovered early how to chew loose the dangled mouse from its string. He would track back along any cat teaser to find the hand that held it, and leap for the easy catch.
Pounce is the ornery one, Sisu the lazy one, but Nimitz was the sweet one. When he grew too heavy to lie in my lap, he would snuggle against my thigh, and drape his chin over my knee.
Just ten days ago, he began to lose interest in his food. Instead of having to drive him away from Sisu's dish, we began to see him walk away to sit on his favorite piece of cardboard (an old pizza box) and watch disconsolate while his brother finished his dinner. He ate less and less, and we started to need to carry him from his easy chair in the back room at dinner time.
He lost weight; his once-burly haunches withered over a few days time. He needed professional help. Nimitz went to the local pet hospital, where he was diagnosed as severely dehydrated. One day of intravenous fluids gave us hope. When we visited him the next morning, here again was our bright-eyed, curious cat.
Then they found the mass in his belly. He was spewing back all the fluids he took by mouth, and it was plain that it was a fast-growing source of pain and distress for our sweet boy. We chose to end his pain.
Tomorrow he will go to the memorial site where all our Northern California cats are destined to rest. It's a lovely hillside spot, with a marker rock that we can see clearly from the road as we pass by. He joins his litter-mate Saskia there.
He leaves a huge hole in our hearts.