cats

Russell Sprout Gently on My Mind

Orange and white cat

This is my favorite picture of Russell Sprout. He was surprisingly interested in my writing a few years ago, hanging out with me a lot then.

I’ve been thinking about Russell Sprout lately. (If you missed his passing, it is mentioned in an earlier post about loss in general, 8 Lessons about Letting Go.) He was pretty aloof most of the time, not what I expected. I’ve had such affectionate cats, that I didn’t know what to do with a cat that wasn’t interested in very much human contact. In all fairness, Pixar was such a love-bug that Russell Sprout probably didn’t have much of a chance to get close to me.

abyssinian cat in pine tree

Pixar was the love of my life. I still miss him terribly.

I got Russell Sprout from the human society, where he had been fostered since he was picked up as a very young kit. His mother was feral, and volunteers culled the kittens after their eyes opened so that they could be socialized and adopted out. We were determined to keep Russ in the house because of the homeowners’ association that demanded that cats not leave owners’ property. They had the animal control trucks tour our neighborhood regularly just to remind everyone they meant business. Russell Sprout would have none of that. He made a run for the door every time it opened and tried to escape. Once, he made it out and didn’t come back.

orange and white cat in a window

Russell Sprout was about a year old in this picture. What you don’t see is that this window is near the top of a two-story vaulted ceiling and it was quite the accomplishment to have jumped to this location from the nearest perch. He took it all in stride. He couldn’t jump at all when he left the human society – too much time in a cage. Look at him here, though! Quite the athlete.

We put up fliers and scoured the neighborhood. No sign of him. Eventually, my husband and I agreed that Russell Sprout we were wrong to prohibit Russell Sprout’s true nature. We decided we would install The Cat Fence, so that he could at least go into the backyard for his outdoors fix, yet be prevented from leaving the yard. On cue, Russ returned home. We installed the cat fence, and he used the dog door to go in and out as he pleased, and peace was restored.

orange and white cat in grass

He is 13 years old in this picture, a few months before his passing.

Russ loved the garden. He tending the grapes, tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, and peppers with care. The garden was where he was fully in his element. Whenever I complimented him for the beauty of the plants and the vegetables we harvested, his tail rose straight and tall with pride. He felt totally responsible for all the goodness in the garden, and I believe he was right!

Orange and white catDuring his last year, when he got really sick, his demeanor changed. He suddenly wanted to be around me and would snuggle with me when I was on the computer. He began to sleep between my pillow and my husband’s at night. He often woke me in the night making biscuits with his claws out and purring loudly. He wasn’t mellow and happy at all; I realized he was anxious and trying to comfort himself. I asked the vet to help him with palliative care for his cancer. What she offered wasn’t enough, but when I added hemp CBD oil, we got his pain under control.

orange and white cat

Russell Sprout is hanging out in the cat tree my husband built.

 

I think that he was surprised to discover that my presence comforted him. The cuddles, the affection, and care I gave him was a bit of a surprise to him, I think. Until then, he really didn’t see the need for humans. He shared our home, as it was convenient for him, but he remained aloof until his illness. Wherever he is now in the afterlife, I hope he thinks about my love for him and the closeness of that relationship.

orange and white catRussell Sprout helped me to learn how to accept others’ love in whatever form it was extended rather than expecting everyone to love me the way that I wanted them to. I recognized his way was different, and I accepted that. It was a relationship in which we both learned something. Thank you for a good life together, Russell Sprout. You are missed.

orange and white cat

35 replies »

    • I miss them both something awful. Nami-San is working hard as the only cat in the house. Russell Sprout, Pixar, and Jackson set a high bar, but Nami is doing well, with her own sense of style.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a handsome cat he was! Since I didn’t know you back when you lost him, I am very sorry for your loss, and the other losses you suffered last year as well. One loss is enough, but piled on top of each other is especially tough.
    We had a shelter cat who could be aloof as well; though he was always loving with us. When he got elderly he suddenly wanted to love everyone, dogs included. They seem to know some things.
    It sounds like you gave Russell a wonderful life, and especially made his last days and comfortable as possible; and that he appreciated it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so understand. Lexi was not an affectionate puppy or dog, but was always there when I needed her, and was my heart dog. She was on my mind strongly just at the time of Kali (Canadian Cats) passing, even before I know Kali had left for the rainbow bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very nice tribute to Russell Sprout. I do think everyone in our life is here to teach us something and he clearly did. I know I gave condolences before, but I want to tell you again how sorry I am for the loss of your handsome boy. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t share much about his life at the time, and I just wanted to do that now. I appreciate your thoughts. I know that you have also had far too much experience in loss. Thank you.

      Like

  4. Very nice, Karel. I have come to realize that raising pets is very much like raising children. They each have a different drummer. It is important to listen to the drums.

    Liked by 1 person

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