Disciples of Otis,
Brother Oliver here… and Brother Henry… and Sir Thomas.
After much consideration, and after reading the many supportive and encouraging comments you all left on the blog, we decided that it would be best if the three of us shared the responsibilities of Master of Ceremonies for this Meowmorial Day observance. We have suffered a great and painful loss, as have all whose kitties are honored here today. Today let us all look beyond the feeling of loss and remember the feelings of love that preceded it. Most of all, let us just acknowledge that these amazing, beautiful kitties once walked the earth, and they forever changed the lives of those who were fortunate enough to have known them.
I will now turn it over to Brother Henry for our first meowmorial.
Thanks Brother Oliver. Our first submission for this year’s Meowmorial Day observance came from Disciple Erin. She would like to honor her kitty Brandie, who left us very recently.
Erin said that Brandie was 16 when he got sick, and she had to make the hardest decision a Guardian has to make only a few weeks ago. Brandie was in Erin’s arms, purring as he departed. A testament to the fact that he felt well-loved right up to the end.
There is more to Erin’s story though. She has found a way to honor Brandie’s memory in a manner that would truly make Leader Otis proud. She said that on the very night Brandie left to be with The Leader, her cousin called her with news about a kitten in need. A person who does outreach with the homeless had found the kitty at a house where people go to use their equivalent of catnip. The kitten was too young to be without his mother and he had a bad case of worms. Erin picked up the kitty from her cousin, took him to the vet, and invited him into her family!
The kitten is know called Joey, and Erin said, “He is getting along well with my other two cats, and he’s sweet and playful as can be. I hope that by rescuing Joey and giving him a good, happy indoor life, I can honor the memory of Brandie, who, like the Leader and Joey, was found on the streets.”
Hi everyone. It’s Thomas. We would next like to honor Brindle and Misha, two kitties that are badly missed by their Guardian Batya. Here is what Batya had to say about these two amazing ladies:
“Their photos are on my desk, as are containers with their ashes, so they’re never out of my thoughts. And even though I don’t have their photos, Otis and Mama Cat are in my thoughts every day. I miss them both very much, and like Brothers Henry and Oliver, it’s hard to believe they are gone.”
Brother Oliver here. Disciple Christina would like to honor her lovely girl Miss Bitty today. Miss Bitty passed away in January after a short fight against an autoimmune disease. Christina described Miss Bitty as sassy and fluffy. Sounds like she and Mama Cat had a lot in common! Miss Bitty started life as an outdoor kitten, until she was swept up by a kind man who fostered her. Christina and her husband then adopted her. She is very much missed by both of them.
Brother Henry again. Disciple Christine would like to honor her beloved kitty Little Man. Here is what she had to say about this handsome tabby boy:
July 26, 2006 – February 18, 2014
On a cold night in February, we lost our baby boy very suddenly. He was in perfect health and the loss was a tremendous shock. We brought him home when he was just a tiny little fluff ball and he was such an important member of our family. He had many nicknames–Mooster, Papa, Little Buddy, Nosy Parker and Pooper–and he had a huge personality and a voice to match. He was the sun in our little solar system and without him, life is dark and hard and lonely. He loved us intensely and was never far from his beloved Genevieve. We miss him with every single breath we take and feel so grateful to have known and loved him.”
It’s Thomas. We would next like to honor Disciple Connie’s kitty Hobbes who I think bears a striking resemblance to Brother Henry. Connie had this to say about her sweet boy:
“In September of 2012 we lost our dear, dear friend, Horribly Handsome Hollywood Hobbes (Hobbes for short.) He was truly one in a million. We are heartbroken. He was a good kitty. The best kitty. His gregarious and sweet nature will never be surpassed. Hobbes was the best company. Of my many, many lasting memories, the one I will hold on to the most will likely be how he stayed so close to me in the difficult days following my first son’s arrival home. He knew I needed a calm, soothing presence. Peace, good buddy.”
Brother Oliver again. Next we would like to honor Disciple Cynthia’s kitty Chloe. I have to admit I was mesmerized by Chloe’s photo. She had an intense glare that reminded me of Saint Marvie. Here is what Cynthia had to say about Chloe:
“Here is my sweet little girl Chloe. She was the product of despicable breeders who bred Scottish Folds with other Scottish Folds. The kittens all faced a myriad of issues. I took her to several doctors for a limp before Chloe was diagnosed with osteodystrophy, a degenerative bone disease. Many vets said to put her to sleep…all but one. He told me that it took three years for Scottish Folds to fully grow and that I should wait and see what happens over the next few years. And guess what? Her limp went away. She still had issues, of course, her bones were very brittle and deformed in her paws. But she loved to spend time on the deck basking in the sun. She loved her grooming sessions and formed a very close bond with another one of my charges. She made it to 16 years old before it became apparent that her bad days were outnumbering her good ones. I miss her every day.”
Brother Henry here. Next, Disciple Emily would like to honor three kitties this Meowmorial Day. The first is Butterscotch. Here is what Emily had to say about this handsome, orange tabby boy:
“Butterscotch was abandonded as a two-year old in the fall of 1998 near my sister’s house. He was very skittish at first, but she put out food and water for him and he started coming closer. Then in December we had a very heavy snowstorm with very cold temperatures and she found him sheltering in her dumpster. She took him inside her house. She already had all the cats she could care for so she asked me if I wanted him. I said yes and he became my cat. He was skinny and had a rough coat, so I feed him up and brushed out his fur every day. He soon settled in, fat and sassy. I named him Butterscotch for his color. He had a loud, rasping purr. He was a very sweet cat who loved to cuddle. He was determined about two things: one, he was never going to miss another meal; and two, he was NEVER going outside again! I think he was afraid of being abandoned again. He enjoyed seven happy years with me before his sudden death in 2005.”
Emily also wanted to honor Smokey and his sister The Bandit. Here’s what she had to say about these two sweet siblings:
“Smokey and his sister The Bandit were brought to me as eight-week old kittens by my brother. Their mother was abarn cat at the dairy farm where he was working who was killed in an accident. Smokey got his name for his dark grey color. Bandit liked to run fast, steal things, and had a little mask around her eyes. I also liked the movie “Smokey and the Bandit”. When they were little Butterscotch let them “nurse” from him. It was so cute.
Smokey had long, thick fur, green eyes, and was very “talkative”. He passed away in 2007.
Bandit also had long hair. Her eyes were a beautiful emerald green. She purred a lot and loved to sleep on top of my ankles. I lost her last year on August 15th. I still miss her.”
It’s Thomas again. We continue our Meowmorial Day observance by honoring Disciple Jenn’s kitties Pava and Onyx. Like Leader Otis and Her Majesty The Queen Mama Cat, Pava and Onyx departed just four weeks apart from one another. Jenn said this about Pava:
“I found Pava sitting in the middle of a semi-rural highway in the middle of the night, in fact my brother and I narrowly avoided hitting her. I leapt out of the car and went running toward her only to realize I would probably scare her and make her dash away. But she didn’t and in fact she was purring when I reached to pick her up. She was only about 10 weeks old and of course I was instantly in love with her. She was an outgoing, athletic and devilish kitty, there was no height she couldn’t jump to or item she wouldn’t try to break. She knocked things off counters when she wanted something, loved cat grass so much she would follow you around the house if you had some and she made churtling noises if you made kissy faces at her. She was also incredibly smart and she kicked off my love affair with the perfection that are tabbies. Her suffering was ended last April after a battle with what we can only assume was cancer in her brain (definitive tests would have been too painful and invasive) at the much too young age of 8. She is missed deeply.”
And here is what Jenn had to say about Onyx:
“Oynx was an elderly stray that had basically spent years being given some kibble and a garage to squat in by a woman who lived across the street from me, but received no vet or other basic care. He’d been declawed by some previous owner, so he was even more at risk in the world without walls. He was very friendly and I actually took him into the shelter at one point, but this misguided, though well-intentioned, neighbor got him back and put him on the street again! This time he had a collar and she was ordered to give him a rabies shot, but he was still not receiving any of the care a cat, especially an elderly one, needs.
I ran across him again a few months later, now severely matted, and that’s when I decided he couldn’t remain outdoors any longer. With the blessing of the neighbor I took him into my home (and got him groomed!). It took some time for him to adjust, he used to howl and pace at the front door, wanting to go out. And due to his declaw and years on the street he always had litter box issues, but he was also extremely loving (although his time on the streets did give him a tendency to lash out if he felt at all nervous, however this decreased greatly with time).
His last 18 months were spent safely inside, where he loved to lounge on top of pillows and roll in ‘nip. His illness was sudden, he started showing signs of URI and was rushed to the vet, where the doctor thought something more was going on. The very next day he seemed markedly worse and given his advanced age we determined it was best to give him a quick, gentle release. He was somewhere around 17, and his loss was heartbreaking coming only 4 weeks after Pava died. He was a sweet, old man and I’m happy his last months were spent in comfort and safety.”
Brother Henry here. Brother Oliver asked me to step in out of turn here because he needed to take a moment. Next, Disciple Melissa would like to honor her beautiful tortie girl, Tara. Melissa said:
“Tara was with me for only a short 6 years, but she will live on my heart forever. Following a courageous two year battle with diabetes, congestive heart failure, and a splenic mass, she took her last breath on July 7, 2013, with me lying by her side, holding her paw, whispering that it was okay to let go. She was a life-changing, one of a kind cat who will never, ever be forgotten. I miss her desperately.”
Brother Oliver here. Sorry about that. I really did just need a moment. I’m sure everyone reading this can understand.Thanks for helping me out there, Brother Henry.
Disciple Mike would like to honor his beloved Savannah Pants. This kitty went through a lot, and Mike, his wife, and many other people helped her out in her time of need. Here is her story as told by Mike:
In late October of 2005 my wife called me at work to let me know that she found a cat in the road and had taken it to the hospital. She was bleeding badly from wounds to her face that we later found out were from being hit by a car. Her jaw was broken in several places and she likely had other injuries. The vet didn’t think the outlook was good but was willing to try if we were. Well-meaning friends advised us to have her euthanized, so as to not prolong her suffering and for her own good.
Despite her injuries and ample reason not to, she’d purred as best she could when my wife picked her up and put her in the car, and of such things are connections made. The bills associated with saving her were likely going to be more than we could afford, but we resolved to try. A further complication was that I had shown an allergic reaction to cats in the past, so we weren’t sure if we’d even be able to keep her if she did make it!
The vet’s office put out a donation jar with her story on it, and people donated. The vet and his staff donated time and supplies to attempt to keep costs down. We reached out to some friends online and the story was passed on – donations poured in from across the country and beyond for “Frankenkitty”, (so named for the bolts keeping her jaw in place).
During our first visit to see her at the vet’s office, after her first (of what would turn out to be six) surgeries, they let us into the back part of the office where the animals were kept to visit with her. She walked (a bit wobbly) from her cage and immediately walked over to my wife and demanded her lap, before my wife had even finished sitting down – all the while purring (and hissing at the other animals in the room). She was a fighter; there was no way we’d be able to give her up! As it turned out, my allergies were not going to be a problem, and “Frankenkitty” became Savannah, and came home with us a few weeks later.
She ultimately had her jaw reconstructed through a series of several surgeries. She lost most of her teeth and initially had to be fed through a tube, although we were eventually able to put her on a blend of wet food and water that was more of a soup; she couldn’t really chew anything but she could lap it up, so all of her meals were mixed for her.
Thanks to the jaw reconstruction, her tongue always stuck out of her mouth just a tiny bit, as if she was giving a raspberry to the world at large and anyone who tried to limit her. She was an active, playful, affectionate cat who would follow us from room to room and demand attention and a free lap. She would get the crazy bursts of energy that most cats do and charge from room to room – one of us dubbed these times as when she had her “crazy pants” on. This was eventually made a nickname and shortened to just “Pants”. When we started bringing other cats into the household she made it abundantly clear to both them and us that she was in charge and that my wife was her person, and these were not to be questioned.
We lost her in 2011, a week before Meowmorial Day, very suddenly. We miss her every day, but she had opened the door for us for rescue cats, and we now have seven – all of whom were swept up in one Capture or another.”
Thomas? Are you OK? You need a moment too? Alright, I’ll continue then.
Next, Disciple Random Felines would like to honor Maestro. Random Felines described Maestro as a sweet old mancat that became her newest angel just a couple weeks ago.
Brother Henry here again. Disciple of Otis Rhiannon has two wonderful kitties, Annie and Mo, that she would like to honor. Here is what Rhiannon said about Annie:
“This is the cat who taught me to love cats. In 1998, she walked onto the porch of my house, which I was sharing then with my friend Scott, and pawed desperately at the windows. I didn’t like cats back then (I know! HERESY!), but she won me over by a process that I describe here <http://rhiannonpaine.com/how-not-to-be-acquired-by-a-cat> . Scott suggested we name her Annie after the little orphan. Although shy of strangers, Annie loved us, and was adored by us both to the end of her life.”
Rhiannon had this to say about Mo. She sounds like a very caring kitty!
“While Mo was living with me, I tripped on a flight of stairs and banged my head hard into a wall. As I sat there screaming for help, terrified of brain damage, Mo walked down the stairs – toward the racket I was making – and stopped when she was level with my face. She sat there and gazed at me with what I swear was concern and compassion until help came. For those long minutes, Mo was my Guardian, and she was always a complete sweetheart.”
It’s Thomas. I am OK now so I can continue. Three feline Disciples of Otis named Sam, Lucy, and Coco, wanted to honor some of their departed brothers and sisters. The first kitty they would like to honor is Honey. They had no photo of Honey, but The Cult of Otis honors her as our dearly departed feline sister.
Next, Sam, Lucy, and Coco would like to honor Fred, a very mancatly tabby-and-white boy who departed 19 years ago at the age of 10.
Sam, Lucy, and Coco also want to honor Jessica. She departed 6 years ago at the ripe old age of 17. Sam says Jessica was like his furmum because he was orphaned at 2 weeks of age.
Sam, Lucy, and Coco also would like to honor Rajah. Rajah had a very short life, departing four years ago when he was only 18 months old.
Brother Henry here. Our last submission came from Disciple Susan who would like to honor Douce, Mr. George, and Rowan. She did not have photos, but here is what Susan had to say about her feline friends:
“First is my little girl kitty Douce. She was a stray living at my workplace. I adopted her when she was about 7. She had chronic bowel problems that suddenly got worse. I had her put to sleep on July 8, 2008 and I am still grieving for her.
Second is my friend’s cat Mr. George. He was young and vibrantly healthy. He went outside and got killed in late 2013.
Third is a very sick stray cat who I found at my workplace on Christmas Eve, 2013. I do not know if it was a male or a female. I named it Rowan. I tried to take it to my regular vet, but they were closed. I took it to an emergency vet. I was shocked and not thinking very well. I don’t know what happened to Rowan. I do know, though, that Rowan was very cold and wet when I found him or her, and I held and cuddled Rowan long enough that he or she was warm and dry. Rowan did not die with wet, cold feet.”
The Cult of Otis honors Douce and Mr. George, our dearly departed feline brother and sister. We also honor Rowan, our dearly departed brother or sister.
OK, Disciples of Otis, we’re almost there. It is almost time for The Cult of Otis to honor our two departed inner circle members. Before we do though, I just want to share something that we discovered while we were trying to decide which photos to include in today’s ceremony.
Did you know that there is only one photo that was ever taken that includes all five members of The Cult of Otis Inner Circle? We didn’t either, but it’s true! Only one photo exists in which myself, Brother Oliver, Leader Otis, Sir Thomas, and Mama Cat appear. It was taken on May 5, 2012, before Sir Thomas and Mama Cat became Inner Circle members. They were still in Limbo at the time, and Limbo kitty Beatrice appears in the photo as well. Here it is:
The photo brings back a flood of memories for me. It shows Brother Oliver and me, High Priests of The Cult of Otis, right where we belonged- at The Leader’s side, protecting and supporting Him as he reached out to less fortunate kitties in the world without walls. It clearly shows the ongoing struggle to keep kitties happy, healthy, and safely confined and, as we know, two of those three Limbo kitties did transition to a safe, happy life. The first to do so was Sir Thomas, and the second was, of course, Mama Cat. I’m going to turn it over to Brother Oliver now to say a few words about the kitty that would become “The Essence” of The Cult of Otis.
Thanks Brother Henry. I think I knew Mama Cat would eventually be a part of The Inner Circle fairly soon after I met her. She seemed drawn to Leader Otis, and He to her. I often provided support as He counseled her from our back door.
The Guardians soon fell under Mama Cat’s spell and, following The Teachings of Otis, they did what they could to make her life better. They would have swept her up immediately, but she had people who were supposed to be her guardians. So the Guardians of The Cult of Otis watched over her as best they could knowing she belonged to someone else. They played with her, gave her love, built her a shelter, and did everything they could think of to make her happy and healthy. But even with these added comforts, the world without walls is no place for a domestic feline, and the dangers that are out there eventually caught up with Mama Cat. At that point, since her own guardian seemed unwilling to give her the medical care she needed, the Guardians of The Cult of Otis swept Mama Cat up in the Capture and brought her into The Promised Land.
I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t a major adjustment for us all having this fiery lady cat join our Inner Circle. She was smaller and older than any of us, but more fierce than even Brother Henry. She demanded respect and we gave it to her.
To be honest, we were completely mesmerized by Mama Cat. She was a senior citizen in cat years, but she was still a world class cathlete. I am still blown away by the memory of her signature “Flying Squirrel” move.
It is no wonder that Sir Thomas believed her to be royalty, and always addressed her as “Her Highness The Queen Mama Cat”. Our resident knight worshipped the ground she walked, doing his best to learn her cathletic skills while at the same time protecting her fiercely.
Even before Mama Cat entered The Promised Land, cancer had been growing and spreading in her body. None of us had any idea that was the case. Mama Cat did appear to be slowly dying in the world without walls, but once the Guardians brought her inside, she became a different cat. A sparkle came back into her eyes. Her coat became soft and luxurious. She was active and sassy. She was so very alive… until November 29, 2013… the day she died.
We realized afterward that the transformation we saw in her was the beauty of her True Spirit shining through. She was so relieved, so happy to finally be safe and loved, even the cancer growing within her could not overcome her joy. The sadness we feel at her passing is tempered by the knowledge that she spent the last 5 months of her life being worshipped as a Queen deserves.
I know Sir Thomas wanted to say something about Mama Cat too. Thomas?
Thank you Brother Oliver. I only have one thing to say… “LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!”
Well said, Sir Thomas… well said. May her beauty, inside and out, be forever remembered.
Brother Henry here. We now honor the memory of the namesake of our movement. He was The Leader, The Light and The Way. He was the kindest, smartest, most amazing cat I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He was all of this and more. He was Otis.
Brother Oliver and I were wary of The Leader when he first entered our lives, but He had a power within Him that was impossible to resist. We soon found ourselves under His spell, and we were proud to be His High Priests and co-founders of The Cult of Otis.
Thomas, you wanted to say something?
Yes, Brother Henry. I just wanted to say that I owe my life to Leader Otis. If it were not for His influence and His teachings, I would never have been swept up in The Capture and come to live in The Promised Land. And not only that, He helped me so much during my transition. It’s like He knew what I was going through and He wanted to comfort me. I will be forever grateful to Him for that kindness.
Brother Oliver here. There is so much I could say about Leader Otis that I could fill a book. Maybe, someday, I will. If you are new to The Cult of Otis though, I encourage you to go back to the beginning and read all of the blog posts so you may better know both Leader Otis and our beloved Mama Cat. There are over 1,170 posts in all.
But for today, I think there are only a few things that need to be said to sum up the importance of Leader Otis and His life. First, Otis was born in The Shadows. He was the son of two feral cats, and He could have easily been doomed to live the same tragic, brutal life as so many others that are left in The Shadows.
Otis was saved from that shadowy existence by a simple choice. Two humans saw His plight and chose to try to help Him. Through five months of patient effort they were finally able to reach Him, and when they finally reached out and touched him they found a previously hidden kind, thoughtful, and intelligent being reaching back.
Those two humans did not just save Otis’s life, they saved His spirit. They did not just provide Him with food and water so He could simply continue existing. They provided Him with protection, affection, and the feeling that He was a part of their family. In short, they provided Him not just with life, but with something to live for. They provided Him with love.
And Otis thrived on that love. Under its influence He embraced each day with a joy that touched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing Him. And this became the essence of Leader Otis’s enduring message, “Be The Miracle”. He doesn’t command us to simply save cats’ lives. He commands us to save their True Spirits. This cannot be done by leaving them in Limbo or in The Shadows.
Otis was born in The Shadows, but He did not die there. Otis died in the light, basking in the warm embrace of the love that surrounded Him.
Every single cat deserves to be so lucky.
In Otis’s Name,
Brother Oliver, Brother Henry, and Sir Thomas