By the time Vernon came to us, he was on his seventh or eighth life. Dr. Lobo found him hiding under our old VW Bus in the carport, more dead than alive. Being the softie he is (underneath a rough exterior), Dr. Lobo brought food and water to him, hoping to make his last hours on earth as pleasant as possible. But Vern was tougher than we expected.
After many days under the VW Bus, he was hobbling around again, but he wouldn’t come near anyone except Dr. Lobo. Eventually he allowed Dr. Lobo to pet him.
Most likely, a car had hit him. His head seemed misshaped. (Our neighbors referred to him as “that square-headed cat.”) He had dried blood around his ear, and he appeared to be hearing impaired. He had an eye infection that we never were able to cure, and he seemed at least partially blind. His grating voice, somewhere between a growl and a screech, sounded like he had laryngitis. Since he reminded us of a little old man, we gave him a little old man’s name: Vernon, or Vern.
In spite of his flaws, I liked him. He was orange, and I’ve always been partial to orange cats. He never did become as domesticated as our other cats, but he was tame enough that we allowed him into the house. He warmed up enough to let all of us pet him.
Vern got along fairly well with our other cats, but he had social problems with cats outside our family. He often showed up with blood and scratches, souvenirs from unfortunate run-ins with cats who didn’t share our enthusiasm for him. When we tried to doctor him, he fought us, so mostly he recovered on his own.
Ultimately he used up all his lives. A neighbor accidentally ran over him. Vern had been sleeping under his car and didn’t move when the engine started. Over a year later, another neighbor told us she’d seen a dog attack Vern that day. He may have hid under the car after the attack, and he may have been dead even before the car ran over him. Since he didn’t see or hear well, even if he were still alive, he might have slept through it.
Rest in peace, Vern.
We buried him in a marked box in the backyard, where two cat statues watch over him. If we ever get another cat, I'd like for it to be orange.
Rest in peace, Vern.