Red Fox

This is the story of our family’s beloved cat, a red and white short-hair we named Red Fox. Back in 1986, when I was just a kid, our female cat had a litter of kittens. One of these kittens may not have pulled through because his mother after giving birth to him, had left him in the corner of the box with a membrane covering his mouth and nose. The tiny kitten wasn’t moving, and I was afraid it had suffocated, but I removed the membrane from it’s face and the kitten thankfully started to move some. I gently put the little thing by the mother cat and eventually it started nursing with the rest of its brothers and sisters. I kept an eye on that red and white kitten (which my Mom said I’d “birthed”) and saw him grow stronger day by day. Soon this kitten was leading his pack of wobbly-legged siblings to greet me when I’d go out to the garage. He and I shared a bond – Maybe he knew that I was the one who had saved his life when he was born. He’d run up to me and want to be held and loved it when I’d pet his back with a quick back and forth motion, ruffling his fur.

Once the kittens got old enough, we gave them away to good homes (Mom ensured this by grilling the prospective parents, and refusing kittens to people who would use them as mousers, or otherwise not give them a good life.) But I just couldn’t part with the little red and white kitten who had become my special friend, so my parents let me keep him and I named him Red Fox.

Foxey grew up with me and we spent many lazy days on the farm. I recall one particularly lazy day in the summer, sitting with him under the old willow tree. I didn’t have a care on my mind, as I crumbled dirt clods into fine mounds of dust with my fingers, talking to Foxey, who was purring as he rolled contentedly in the dust and played with twigs or insects he saw. We would have great times climbing up in the trees and in the barn rafters, and oftentimes I’d have to help Foxey get down from a high perch. And then as I worked out in my flower garden, Foxey would be right there with me, watching me curiously as I planted the seeds or plucked out the weeds. He enjoyed being with Mom and Dad too, when they were working out in the big garden. We felt he was sort of a “guard cat” keeping an eye on us out there. Foxey never seemed to be bored in our company, but stayed right there with us, contentedly rolling in the grass or cleaning his ears with his forearm. Everything seemed right with the world when Foxey was there with us.

As Foxey got older, he started to go visiting the females, and sometimes he was gone for days at a time before returning. We were always worried that during his travels, he might fall victim to wild coyotes, or be hit on the road. But in all the years, he only had one close encounter with a dog of some sort, in which his back left leg was hurt. Afterwards, he walked with a slight limp, and he had a little arthritis in that leg in his later years.

Foxey was the most human cat we ever had. He had compassion, and could sense when we were lonely and needed a friend. Anytime you’d be sitting in the house and call to him, patting your leg, he’d get up to come over and sit on your lap. One time while sitting in the living room, my Mom and I did a test. Foxey was sitting on Mom’s lap, so I looked downcast, tapped my leg, and said in a pathetic voice, “Foxey, nobody wants to sit on my lap”. So Foxey looked over at me with a sad look, then looked up at Mom, then hopped down and came over to sit on my lap. He purred and purred. Then in a bit, Mom put on the same show, acting like SHE was lonely, and Foxey looked over at her sadly and went back to her. This went on for a little while, and Foxey probably would have continued to go back and forth between the two of us, had we kept the gag going.

Foxey lived to be 16 years old. He died in January, 2002. Though I was already living away from home at the time, I knew that he was slowly winding down due to old age. My Mom said that one morning Foxey came slowly from the porch into the kitchen. He was having a hard time breathing and was coughing some. She knew the end was near for him, and had anticipated that day for some time. So she held little Foxey and told him “It’s alright, Foxey, if you need to go now” and continued to speak to him softly as his breathing became slower and slower and he passed away. She and Dad buried him near our fruit orchard, and near my flower garden where Foxey and I had spent so much time through the years. She scattered some hollyhock seeds upon the ground there in remembrance of him. When I go out there to the orchard to work with my flowers, I sometimes go over there to where he was buried and say “Hi, Foxey, we love you.”

There will never be another Foxey- he was friendly to everyone, but not overbearing. He had a kingly dignity, and he treated fellow cats and dogs with kindness and respect. He was one of the sweetest and happiest cats I’ve ever been around. I believe that Foxey is in Heaven and that we will see him again there some day.

Laura from IL