In urban neighborhoods, smart feral cats domesticate themselves enough to get fed. Lemur was one of those. He “worked” his “hood” going from house to house winning his way into the hearts and warm kitchens of the people.
My friend, Paul, was one of Lemur’s people. Paul was my travel agent back in the days before we could book our airline tickets online for ourselves. My family and I took at least six trips a year so Paul was almost always working on travel plans for us. Over the years a friendship developed and sitting across his desk from me he told me his stories while I waited for tickets to print.
His stories were often about this cat of his he called Lemur. He told me about the day he moved from one side of town to the other. His car was parked at the curbside with the doors standing open as he went back and forth to his apartment loading his things. As he put in his last load he saw Lemur curled up in a basket of clothes. He took it as a sign that Lemur had just moved from feral neighborhood cat to HIS cat and took him with him. For the next seven years Lemur was Paul’s best friend and constant companion.
Lemur is large. I’ve seen huge cats and he isn’t huge but at 17 lbs. he is sizable. His medium length coat is white with a few small marbled markings on his noble face and long legs. His remarkable feature, however, is his tail. Looking like a photo shop joke, the tail of ringed lemur rises out of his white rump.
In his 49th year Paul’s health failed and I took him on as a client treating him with CranioSacral Therapy. He would come on his lunch hour and we would work together to find the key that might unlock his immune system and restore his health. We didn’t find it. Twelve months after his first treatment I was in the ICU holding Paul’s hand as he drifted in and out of consciousness.
At his funeral, I stood with his four sisters and asked which of them was taking Lemur? They looked at each other and with self-consciousness admitted that none of them were. I was shocked! “Well, who then?” I asked. “We are taking his to the animal shelter.”
The words that came out of my mouth surprised me. “No, you can’t! Lemur was Paul’s best friend! If you don’t care for him, Paul will haunt you!”
That was an inappropriate thing to say to four grieving sisters but I wasn’t thinking about their feelings, I was thinking about Paul’s. The next words surprised me even more. “I’ll take him.” I said.
I already had four dogs and five cats! What’s one more? I planned to find him a good home…and I did.
I was also in a state of turmoil getting ready to leave my marriage. When I left, about six months later, Lemur went with me.
Lemur and I lived alone in a log cabin in the deep oak woods of southern Illinois for two years. Perched over a lake it was our “Walden Pond” experience. Lemur entertained me with his intelligence and wit. He soothed me with his attention and gentle nature. I have had over forty cats in my lifetime…none hold a candle to Lemur.
The lady I rented the cabin from told me, “Cats won’t survive out here.” She had two Bull Mastiffs and a German shepherd name Uma. She told me Uma killed squirrels and would kill Lemur if given the chance. I kept Lemur inside.
One summer day I was going to take Lemur on the porch with me so he could lie in the sun. As I opened the door he stepped through and there was Uma. Face to face with the “killer dog” Lemur didn’t even get a “fat tail!” He didn’t hiss or run. He stood fully present and looked Uma in the eye. Uma stood frozen and then deferred to Lemur by dropping her head to one side and looking down. I was blown away! They became friends and would lie together on the porch unless Uma could sneak inside and then I would find them curled up on the couch, the alpha cat and his submissive dog.
Lemur won’t drink standing water from a small bowl. I hadn’t experienced this phenomenon with any of my previous cats so it took a while before I finally bought a running fountain for him. In the meantime, he would sit in the bathtub or jump up on a sink and yowl until someone turned the water on for him. Big water is acceptable so he also has a pool outside where he likes to dip his paw and drink from it like a cup. Life with Lemur is a trip.
Four years ago I packed a U-Hall and Lemur and I headed west. We now reside in the mountains of San Diego’s back country. Lemur has two best friends now. My boyfriend George is smitten with him. He likes to say Lemur is the best dog he has ever had.
Yesterday I walked outside and Lemur and G were in the truck. Lemur had walked out to the worksite where G was clearing some trees and sat on a big rock as a good supervisor would, then followed G to the truck and climbed in to ride to the brush pile and unload.
Lemur is pushing fifteen and doesn’t catch mice or birds and lay them ceremoniously in the center of the doormat for my approval any more. He spends a lot of hours curled up in his chair by the fireplace or in a lap when one is present. He sleeps between our heads at night or if it’s really cold he crawls under the covers and curls up at my belly. He loves his people and we can’t imagine what life will be without him. I smile when I think of Paul and know that giving Lemur a good home was a gift for all of us…a true win-win-win.