Earlier this year, we were adopted by a stray. He started showing up on our doorstep shortly before my aunt’s cat, Tiger passed away. He’d show up on our doormat every evening, yollering for food and scritches. I named him Stinky, for the faint smell of stale saliva he gave off. He had a possible tooth problem and a limp that seemed to get better only to get worse, and I’ve always felt guilty that I couldn’t afford to bring him to the vet. The most that I could offer him was a safe space to sleep and a full belly.
We started out by feeding him whatever scraps of food we had in the fridge, until we eventually started buying cat food for him. I soon found out that we shared custody over Stinky with one of the units on the third floor, on whose doorstep he could be found when he wasn’t at ours.
On most days, Stinky didn’t linger long after being fed and fawned over, but I noticed that whenever Mama was sick, he’d be on our doormat the whole night. Only resuming his nightly rounds when Mama was back on her feet again.
He went missing almost three months ago. He just never showed up again after a stormy couple of days. He must have gotten lost during the deluge, and considering he wasn’t in the best health to begin with, I’ve given up hope that he’s still alive.
A friend reminded me of Gaiman’s, “The Price,” after I updated her on Stinky. I hadn’t read or thought about that story in years, but I got a little emotional. I miss his smelly little butt. It was a comfort to hear his distinct meows at our door in the evenings, and his purring after being fed.
Whatever you were protecting us from, Stinky boy, we thank you for your love and your service.