We currently have three little dogs and a cat that lives in the closet. We also set food outside for the neighbor’s cat and some other miscellaneous cats that come around. Over the years we have had many dogs and cats. I like dogs and my wife and daughters tend to collect cats wherever they find them. One of the cats stands out above all the others. Herbie was a most remarkable cat.
In the early ’90’s my wife and I were both in the U.S.. Army stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I was a Food Inspection NCO and Doreen was the NCOIC of the Veterinary Facility at Vogelweh. In the military the Veterinary Service performs several roles, one of which is running shelters for stray animals in military communities. This is where and when Herbie enters the scene.
A group of Turkish laborers came to the Veterinary facility and told Doreen that they had found an injured stray kitten on some steps nearby. She asked me to help her get the kitten. Herb was at the bottom of some stairs leading into a basement, I went down the steps and carefully got hold of Herb to take him to the stray animal shelter.
Herb was all beat up from some encounters with other animals and he had some sort of infection which was concentrated in his eyes. Herb was in a precarious position indeed. It was likely that he would die from his wounds and the infection. Normally a stray such as Herb would have been euthanized, but Sweetous decided she wanted to take care of him.
We took Herbie to our apartment and nursed him back to health. He recovered nicely with the exception being his eyes; the infection caused Herbie to go blind. We still had Herb when we returned to the USA in 1992. We bought a house with a big yard and a large field in back. We tried to keep Herbie indoors, but he did not like being cooped up. Herb, like most cats, was a free spirit. So, we allowed Herb to go outside whenever he wanted to. Fences will keep dogs in the yard, but cats are not at all deterred by a mere fence.
Even though he was blind, Herbie loved being outside. He would go all over the place; over the fence and into the field. He would even catch rodents and bring them back to the house to show us. Herb had the good sense to avoid the road in front of the house; he always went out over the back fence into the field. He would stay out for a couple days, but always he came back. Herb liked to be petted and get some food. Sometimes he would spend a night inside with us.
About three years ago Hurricane Isabelle came to visit. Although nothing like Katrina in New Orleans, this was still quite a storm. Many trees came down and we were without power for a week. In the hours before the storm I was outside calling for Herb, but he didn’t come back. Herb was on one of his expeditions when the storm came. When it was over, we looked for Herb, but we were not able to find him. We figured the storm had done him in.
Such was not the case ! Nearly a month after the storm, we heard Herbie outside the door and let him back in. He was very hungry and a little beat up, but otherwise still healthy. After that experience, Herb usually came back inside everyday. He still liked to go out, but he was not nearly as adventurous as he once was. Herb lived a couple more years, but his age was showing. Eventually he had some sort of stroke and was not able to move anymore. We took him to the vet and had him put to sleep.
Herb was a most remarkable cat.