We said goodbye to beloved Snowball on Thurs. April 16. A couple of weeks before we notice his breathing was hard when he got excited or was very active. Suspecting heart issues, we got an appointment with our mobile vet as soon as possible. Test showed his chest and abdomen filled with fluid and a mass in his prostate. More tests showed it was not his heart but was cancer. We kept him comfortable with diuretics for the remaining days and spent as much time with him as we could.
Snowball was a very important part of our lives and of all the white cats we took in. Let me share with you his story from the beginning.
In January of 2006, neighbors alerted us to a couple of white kitties, a mom and kitten, roaming the area searching for food. It was Snowball and his mom Lily, barely out of her own kitten hood.. I heard that there were three other kittens but we never knew what happened to them. We put food out on our back deck and Lily and Snowball showed up and took up residence there. Lily was often off on her own pursuits and left two - three month old Snowball on his own. We set up a shelter of sorts on the deck in a dog kennel cage with food and water. We gave Snowball toys to play with, towels to lay on and lots of attention through our porch window. He would sit on our Tiki carving and chatter to us throughout the day. If we stepped outside he was gone in a flash. Feral to the core still. We tried many times to trap Lily and Snowball but they eluded us.
|Talking through the window
Lily had a second litter in the spring of 2006 giving birth to Norm, Sam, Woody and Georgie. Snowball still stayed with the group even as a teen boy cat. He went off on his own but never for very long. Lily still avoided the trap I set out.
|With his nip frog
Sometime before the next litter in the fall of 2006, I trapped Georgie and brought her indoors. A short time later I was able to catch Snowball, Norm, Sam and Woody as they fed in the kennel cage on the deck. A neighbor let us use her heated storage shed with an attached screen outdoor area to house the boys. Our house was full of older cats at this point in time.
|Under the lilac tree
Snowball took all this in stride and claimed his head cat position over his brother cats. We finally caught Lily and her last litter of Smidge, Only, Two Spot and Tabitha. We moved to our current place in 2008, taking 21 cats with us: ten of them were in a separate cat shelter with a large screen porch. This included Snowball, Norm, Sam, Woody, Al, Smidge, Two Spot, Sam, Only and Georgie.
Always the confident gentlemanly cat, Snowball ruled the group with a firm paw but with calmness and kindness. He and Don formed a close bond. Don had the same calm personality as Snowball and his presence seemed to energize Snowball. Over the years, Snowball had many serious health issues - UTIs, and a urinary blockage, chronic constipation which evolved into mega colon but his even keeled personality never faltered.
Snowball was a portly mancat with a round face and jowls. His eyes were large almond shaped and an incredible green. He was such a handsome boy.
Snowball loved boxes and in spite of his heft would squeeze into any box left out for the cats. He also loved to climb the ramps and shelves Don later added to the cat house, exploring the views from up high. His weight gave him issues with his hips as the years went on but he was stubborn. He avoided our attempts of put steps to help him get up and down, preferring to use his usual route. He did things his way no matter what.
|On the shelf over the porch door
Norm became his best buddy from the get go. They were pretty much inseparable. If Snowball was there, Norm was right beside him even if he had to squash himself into the same space. They fought at times and this was the only time I saw Snowball be anything other than serene with the other cats. Norm would push him so far and he would retaliate. The bickering never lasted long and they would be napping together again a short time later.
|Snowball chastising Norm
|Norm and Snowball
|Two best buds
Snowball was never a lap cat - he was too dignified for that but he would sit next to you on the loveseat. He loved to be petted but got a bit too excited and would swat if you were not careful. He allowed us to love on him on his terms.
Snowball loved to eat and enjoyed treats. We got him to slim down a bit after the urinary blockage by just feeding wet food. His favorite toy was the Bizzy Kitty - the round plastic donut shaped toy with a ball inside.
Always handling himself with dignity, Snowball would not let me dress him in costumes but would allow me to put one item of clothing, usually a hat on him for a brief time to take a photo. I could pose him with props as well if I was quick about it.
|Sam, Snowball in center and Only
As the numbers in our cat shelter went down with loss and illness, Snowball could be found napping on the love seat with all the white cats in a row - Only, Norm, Sam and Smidge. Snowball loved sitting in the sun and would lay on the floor next to the window on the screen porch or on the hammick.
|With Sam on right
When Norm became ill in 2018 and we moved him into the house, Sam took his place next to Snowball.
Snowball spent his last days lounging in all his favorite places with Sam right next to him. He ate well and seemed to enjoy our attention. I spoke with our animal communicator during his last week and she said he felt it was a fulfilling job to be the "ambassador" as she put it to the other cats for all these years. They looked to Snowball for comfort, calmness and guidance in all things cat. He was their benevolent leader. Snowball helped them feel connected to each other and to us. He wanted to pass at home on his own as he did with everything but with his breathing getting worse we did not want to put him through that. He trusted me to make that decision for him and I did.
We had the mobile vet come to our house but with the pandemic going on we had to be satisfied with doing the procedure in the van. Don brought Snowball out and went in the van with him. It was a quiet peaceful passing and Snowball slipped away without any distress. According to our communicator Snowball was met by Lily his mom and Norm of course. There was a sense of deep peace about him. Snowball requested that we call the cat room in our new house the Snowball Room so he can still watch over the cats.
|His last week
We let the other cats sit with his body for a bit before we wrapped Snowball with his favorite mouse toy in a soft fleece blanket and buried him next to Norm in our graveyard. A bouquet of spring flowers graces his burial spot. Snowball left this Earthly plane two months and three days after Norm. I know they are all together again - Lily, Norm, Georgie, Only, and hopefully the other three kittens from his litter if they have passed on.
We will miss you Snowball. You were our rock, our calm in the storm - for us and for the other cats. No one can replace you. Until we meet again....