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Jim Was a Good One

John W. Pinkerton


A few days ago, Jim walked across our back porch, collapsed, and died.  Of course we tried to revive him, but he wasn't having any of that.

Linda is pretty emotional about our cats' deaths and shed a few tears for Jim.  I, on the other hand, was just glad it was Jim and not me.

Bless his heart, Jim was a good one.

Most cats when they know the end is near will excuse themselves from human company and hide themselves away usually never to be discovered.  Apparently, Jim never saw it coming.  He seemed perfectly healthy until he collapsed.

Like all of our cats, Jim was a volunteer who showed up a little over ten years ago.  He was from four to six months old at the time.  He accepted us, and we were glad to take him in.  He developed into a big, handsome fellow.

Being that he tried to eat the indoor cats when allowed in the house, he was immediately assigned the hard life of an outdoor cat.  He didn't seem to mind.

I don't remember Jim ever being ill.  In the winter to avoid the cold nights I'd let him in my studio connected to the back porch.  He discovered how to open the studio door by himself and was often out of the room the next morning.

When Jim was a couple of years old, a young kitten similarly colored and marked as Jim found our house.  She was so dirty that I at first thought she was gray.

Jim found his purpose in life, taking care of this kitten.  Jim cleaned her and even let her pretend to suckle from him.  I saw Jim once flatten a cat threatening the young kitten.  He was like a sixteen-wheeler running over a Beetle.  The stranger got the message.  Jim and the new kitten were inseparable.

And then it got weird….  Someone or something must have frightened Jim mightily because he decided he was going to live on the roof of our house.  When I added rooms to our house, I topped the addition with a metal roof which was accessible to the cats from a couple of handy trees.  Jim had access to the attic of the old portion of our house from there, so he wasn't forced to be out in the elements.  Apparently, living there was to his liking.  Of course, his charge, Dolly, accompanied him there and faithfully stayed with him but would come down often to eat and do normal cat stuff, but Jim, apparently, wanted no part of  the ground.  Several times I watched Dolly attempting to lure Jim to follow her down the tree to the ground, but Jim wouldn't budge.

Linda, being soft hearted, would climb a ladder each day for about two years to provide food and water for Jim and Dolly.  If it had been up to me, I would have allowed him to get hungry enough to come down on his own.

The saddest day for Dolly was the day that Dixie, Daisy, and Bubba---all small kittens--- showed up on the roof.  Of course, Jim, being a specialist in little lost kittens, allowed them to stay on the roof and tolerated their youthful attacks. 

And then, believe it or not, it got weirder….  Sharing Jim with these interlopers was too much for Dolly; she moved out, and to this day, lives on a neighbor's roof from which she keeps an eye on Jim and the other cats.  Naturally, she still comes home to eat in the evenings.

Jim fell from the roof twice.  The falls were only about eleven feet and he handled it well, and once Linda was able to grab him and carry him down the ladder, but in each case within a few days, he returned to the roof.  The last time Jim fell from the roof, I think he decided that he was too old and too fat to climb the tree again.   The last time he was weighed, he was 22 pounds.  Jim had been back among the cats on the ground for about a year and a half when he passed away.  He spent a lot of time in a chair on the back porch.  Occasionally, Dolly would see him when she returned home to eat and was always very excited by the meetings. 

Jim had decided he didn't care to associate with me much.  He tolerated me, but didn't look forward to my head rubs: cats are good judges of character.  Of course, Linda was a different story.

Still, I'll miss Jim.  He, indeed, was a good cat.