Jonathan came to live with my family during the summer of 1993. My mom said that she kept hearing a cat meowing at the bedroom window in the middle of the night. Dad never heard it and thought my mom was dreaming. It went on for a couple of weeks so they put out food and had a flashlight handy so when this midnight serenader came by, they might see who it was. All they could see was a black streak in the night. After about 3 weeks they could finally see him and the plan moved to luring him in. He looked like a mess, with fur falling out. In the end, he still had enough playfulness in him that he chased a string into the house and they trapped him. Mom was afraid that he'd be wild, but when he got to the vet he purred and enjoyed the exam. He spent the night at the vet while they ran tests on him. He was released the next day with a clean bill of health and a neuter. Mom and dad were sure there was no way he would consent to being an indoor kitty. They named him Scrapper John because he was a scrapper, with all the marks of being in a ton of fights. They did not know his age but the vet said he had to be a minimum of 3-5 years old to get in his condition. Later my mom did some research because his teeth were worn down and rounded, not sharp at all. Either he was eating rocks or he was more like 8-12 years old.
This picture was taken of him as his fur was beginning to grow back that summer in 1993. It turns out that he didn't like being outside. He went outside every once in awhile, but for the first year or 2 he lived with my family, he stayed securely indoors, his choice. Jonathan was wise. Because he wasn't really a scrapper, his name was changed to Jonathan, because he was more gentlemanly than prize fighter.
Around 2000 or so, Jonathan had a bunch of health problems. His teeth needed work and he was diagnosed with hyperthyroid. During the diagnostic blood work they did for him, they discovered he was FIV+. Mom was in a panic, how could that happen? When he gifted himself to my family in 1993, FIV tests were not routinely run by our vet. The Dr. was pretty sure he came that way given his history and battle scars and his lack of fighting since he lived with us. All the other kitties in the house were given blood tests and all of them tested negative for FIV. Whew! In 7 years he didn't pass it along. Also because our vet said that it's mostly passed through biting, and given that my Jonathan had dull and rounded teeth, they thought he could continue to live his life with his family. He got radioactive iodine treatment for his hyperthyroid and life moved on until the fall of 2005.
Jonathan suddenly lost his sight when his retinas detached due to high blood pressure in October 2005. He endured this episode in his life with great dignity and learned to maneuver through the house just fine...as long as you didn't pick him up and carry him around without putting him back in the same position and spot he was in. He got eye drops, and his retinas reattached and eventually got his sight back but his health was beginning to decline. That's when my momma and I moved in, in May of 2006. My mom was sure that Jonathan might have trouble adjusting to us young girls, but it turns out he LOVED us. We LOVED him. Jonathan and I were inseparable.
Jonathan liked to drink water from the dripping faucet in the tub...we'd sit together and watch the water drip. I didn't want to leave his side.
This is my favorite picture of us together when I was just brand new and I thought he was the wisest and most wonderful cat on the planet.
Jonathan slowly declined and lost weight and got anemic until he finally gave up on Christmas Eve 2006. That was the day he decided he would no longer eat a bite. He also started having trouble breathing. We spent Christmas Day with him and that night we all camped out on the floor with him and read him stories and we listened to a tape of The Wind in the Willows. I stayed close to him the entire time. When we woke up, mom and dad had us say goodbye and he took that one way trip to the vet and then on over the bridge.
If my mom is right and he was at least 8 years old when he came to us then he was about 21 when he left us. My mom and dad found another family in the neighborhood up the street who had a cat who looked just like Jonathan, and he lived to be 23 years old...they could have been neighborhood cat litter mates...we'll never know for sure.
The only thing my mom and dad did special for Jonathan was good premium cat food and lots of love and a low stress life. They made sure his teeth were healthy and quickly acted if there was any sign of an infection. They gave him vitamins his last year because that's the first time he showed signs of anemia.
Jonathan had a theme song, Handle With Care by the Travelling Wilburys:
"Been beat up and battered 'round
Been sent up, and I've been shot down
You're the best thing that I've ever found
Handle me with care
But baby, you're adorable
Handle me with care
I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show me that you really care"
We all miss him very much. He taught me a lot.