When I was younger, my family had an orange tabby cat named Tuffy.  My brother brought him to our home in Louisiana when I was seven years old.  We didn’t have to keep a litter box for Tuffy.  If he had to relieve himself, he would paw at the bottom of the kitchen door.  One of us would open it for him, and when he was done he would come back and wait to be let in.  Sometimes Tuffy would sleep outside in the garage, and other times he would sleep inside.  Tuffy knew his own name and he would come when called.  He was the perfect cat, and I loved him very much.

One night, I went to close the garage door before going to bed.  We left a brick in the corner where the door met the ground so that Tuffy could go in and out as he pleased.  I didn’t see Tuffy, so I called for him.

He came into the garage slowly and I scooped him up in my arms.  I felt something wet, so I put him down and looked at my hands.  Blood. I yelled for my mom.

“Tuffy’s bleeding!” I said.

My mom knelt down on the ground and examined him.  On his left side, there was a small section of fur soaked with blood.  “I think he’ll be fine,” she assured me.  “He’ll heal right up, now off to bed.”

Tuffy slept in the garage that night.  The next morning, he seemed worse.  He hardly moved, and he was constantly crying.  It was a Sunday and the veterinarian’s office was closed.  We got hold of an emergency number and called it.

The doctor gave us the costly option of bringing Tuffy in to a pet emergency room, or to administer some home remedies.  We chose the home remedies.  There wasn’t a lot of bleeding, so the vet told us to wrap Tuffy in a blanket and try to give him a small dose of Pepto Bismol.  In retrospect I find this to be an odd treatment, but at the time we did as instructed.

In the laundry room adjacent to the kitchen, my father held Tuffy wrapped in a towel.  I watched as Tuffy seemed to struggle with whatever strength he had left while my father fed him a tiny spoonful of medication.  “Is he going to be okay?  Tuffy, you’re going to be okay,” I was repeating.

Suddenly, I saw Tuffy’s entire body stiffen.  His four legs shot out from the towel, straight and rigid.  I screamed his name.  His body relaxed, and he was dead.  The look on my parents’ faces confirmed the grim truth.  My very best animal friend had died right in front of me, and there was nothing I could do to save him.

“No!” I yelled.  I ran to my room and cried.  My adolescent mind was overwhelmed with guilt and grieving.  Maybe if he would have slept inside… Maybe if we would have brought him to the emergency room… Did a snake bite him?… What if someone shot him?…

We buried Tuffy underneath a tree in the backyard, wrapped in the same towel he had died in.  I put a clear plastic Barbie necklace on a chain of pink and purple string in his grave.

The vet said that we could bring Tuffy’s body in for an autopsy, but we never did.  To this day, I have no idea what killed him.

Photos of Tuffy from my childhood scrapbook (below)


2 Responses to “Tuffy”

  1. Tova Says:

    aw. <3

  2. Crackers (a.k.a. Muffins the Attack Cat) | Keep My Words Says:

    [...] after Tuffy died, we got another cat.  Her name was Crackers, or Muffins the Attack Cat according to my [...]

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