Panda came into our lives shortly before we moved to this house. Our neighbor lost her husband, and then her ability to care for herself and her animals. We went over to see if Panda was willing to live with us (he was kinda feral, in the sense that he never lived indoors). He saw us coming (he was on the roof) and did what he always did – rolled over over so we could pet his tummy…never mind that pesky thing called gravity! He shook himself off the ground, and came running over to us. We laughed and brought him home – I gave him a flea bath and took him to the vet to get checked out. The girls were not thrilled with the new addition. Lucy was though!
We tried to keep Panda as an inside cat at our new house – there were far too many things that could eat him – including that mountain lion (or REALLY big bobcat I saw when we first moved in). This did not last too long. Panda destroyed a number of pieces of furniture by peeing on them. After returning from a trip back east and finding our couch utterly destroyed – out he went, even with the dangers he’d face.
And did he ever find danger! He fought numerous fights with various bobcats (large and small) that visited our yard – and survived. He did lose a few teeth and had a number of vet visits to get fixed up. Eventually I got pretty good at emergency Panda-medicine. Nothing got him down.
He became much more affectionate as time went on as well. Don’t get me wrong – he’d still bite you to let you know he’d had enough when he was done with the cuddling, but he loved to cuddle. He slept most nights right on me in bed (when he wasn’t out getting in mischief). He was so good with the kids – even letting them lay next to him, to pet him, and try to feed him cupcakes (can you guess who?).
I would have never thought he’d could be so good…and so naughty! He also liked to let you know it was time to feed him, like last week when he decided a 5 am wake-up was a good idea. What was our problem – he was up! He could be a pain, but he was our little scamp. A good-natured little scamp, who didn’t mind if we practiced on him in preparation for the babies.
Last night, in between feeding Gabriel, I heard lots of howling outside. I had a moment of fear for Panda, knowing he’d gone outside for his nightly patrol. I shook it off, knowing if he died, he’d do it on his terms. I went back to sleep…
This morning, Jon went outside to get some eggs from the chickens. He saw Panda laying in the wash and thought – oh that cat! Rolling around in the dirt as usual, just before he comes in for breakfast. As Jon got closer, it was clear Panda wasn’t rolling around. He wouldn’t be rolling around anymore. Jon came and got me.
Panda wasn’t mangled by any animals, which was a relief for me. It looked as if he just laid down in the wash and went to sleep after a big night out. I was sobbing while Jon offered to bury him. I want to believe that howling I heard was just the coyotes and other animals paying tribute to a great cat.
We selected a spot by the wash where he often liked to wait by one of the ground squirrel holes, in hopes that one unsuspecting squirrel would pop out unexpectedly and into his mouth. He did actually catch some squirrels this way. I think he’ll like it there…
We’ll miss you Panda, our mischievous scamp of a cat. You leave a big hole behind…