IN MEMORIAM: MR POTTER
by Alexia Bonnici
My name is Alexia, and I’m an independent rescuer in Astoria (Queens), New York.
On August 29, 2021, I responded to a plea to rescue a friendly tuxedo in bad shape at a local school yard. He was dirty, skinny, with blood and snot bubbling from his nostrils. His food bowl was filled with flies and bugs. He was living behind a metal container amidst some discarded equipment, and asking passerbys for help. He was ear-tipped and very sick, so I assume his colony kicked him out.
It took about 2 weeks of visiting him and 3 days of waiting out the heavy summer rains, but I slowly won his trust, finally managed to trap him, and named him Mr Potter. I took him to the vet, and he had to be put on oyxgen for the day for bad upper respiratory failure. His kidneys were in poor shape from the spoiled food and from the hard life of living out there for 10 years. He had only 3 teeth left and a serious gum infection. His paw pads were messed up from the boiling hot asphalt.
After several thousand dollars of treatment and a good bath, he stayed with me and everything changed. The day I brought him home after the rescue. freshly washed and deflea’d at the vet, he walked to the door of the crate and stared at me for at least 5 long minutes. He seemed to know he was finally rescued, and his eyes pierced right into me. It was definitely a communion of sorts. He then turned slowly and walked into the Kitty City to sleep on something soft for the first time in his life. At last, he had his own bed and loved curling up in his Kitty City, cozy and warm, or sitting on cushions under the dining table. I had cat mats scattered around and he would hang out in various areas of the apartment.
He grew to love being brushed, his fur became sleek and shiny, and he had a very elegant fluffy collar. In the beginning, he had some fungal patches which would become weeping open wounds, but a home visit from the vet helped clear this up completely.
My other cats immediately respected him, probably sensing that he was delicate. He became friendly with my feral Nina and would join her in the closet to keep her company. As time passed, he started to play. His favorite toy was the 3-tiered track balls; he could easily spend an hour swatting them around and around. He loved hanging out in the tube. When I rescued a young tuxedo Elsie, he was transfixed with her youth and playfulness, and followed her around. And when I rescued kittens for the first time, he nestled next to them, offering them comfort.
He loved to walk to my feet when I was preparing the evening meals, joining the other waiting cats, his huge eyes staring up. And after dinner he would pad over to his mat outside his bed to receive his nightly treats, which he couldn’t get enough of. He loved hanging out at his water fountain, knowing his water was always fresh and bug free. He also loved lying in the sun in the scratcher bowl, curled up in the rays, his fur warm.
Unfortunately, his lungs were compromised from his years in the cold, which made him prone to catching colds and upper respiratory infections. I’d treat them immediately, and after a few days he’d be back to normal. But the last one knocked him for a loop, and nothing would help. He stopped eating, and then one day collapsed in front of me. I rushed him to the emergency hospital, and an x-ray showed a mass in his lungs, and his stomach filled with air from gulping for breath. Sadly, it had finally caught up with him and nothing would help. He was going to be suffering, so I had to let him go, holding him, talking to him.
My darling Mr Potter died 2 weeks shy of a year after coming into my life. I loved him with all of my heart, and his story of resilience touched a lot of people. He taught me so much about strength and grace, and I have been truly honored to have walked along the same path as him during his last year. He will always leave a hole in my heart as well as fill it. I’m a better person for having known him and only wish he could have had more than a year wrapped in love and peace. But I’m grateful for having been able to offer him that, so he could pass in peace with the certainty he was loved.
Many people don’t understand the huge hearts of street cats, and even fewer are willing to give them a chance to enjoy their golden years in a safe and loving home. Rather than being throw-aways, these cats are highly capable of becoming valued and beloved members of our families. Mr Potter was a very gentle soul. If he could inspire anyone to open their eyes and hearts to bring in a cat in need, he would be passing his life forward.
Thank you, Mr Potter. The world is a little dimmer without you in it. You will live forever in my heart. I love you, my beloved boy.
Mr Potter’s story can be seen as it unfolded on my Instagram @lexibonyc
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