Dan The Man


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Aug 4, 2009
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Hertfordshire, UK
Some of you may have seen the other thread where I chronicled the last few days of Dan's long life. Now he's crossed the bridge and this is his story, as far as I know it.

We first met him in 2006. We often walk to the centre of the city where we live, for shopping, a restaurant or a bar. One day, when we were almost home, this huge ball of fluff trotted out of a front yard to say hello. This became a regular date. Beside the door to the house was a food bowl and, having got our attention, he would often trot to the bowl and look back to us, miaowing. He wanted us to fill his bowl! This happened so often that we dubbed him Desperate Dan.

One winter's night we were walking home. It was snowing heavily but there, as usual, was Dan, waiting. It was late but there were no lights in the house, no cars, no food in the bowl. We fussed Dan and cursed his owners for leaving him out in such terrible weather. When we set off home, he followed us - all the way to our door (not actually very far away). We didn't dare let him in because of our little rescue sisters Sooty and Charlie (Charlie, in particular, was a very timid little scairdey cat and was terrified of everyone except us and her sister). So, we fed him in our porch and arranged a little nest of blankets there for him. He emptied the bowl and, to our horror, strode out of the porch back into the snow! In the sodium lights we watched him disappear around the corner where he came from, the snow settling thickly on his back. That was the first time he broke our hearts.

In good weather, when we are home, we leave the doors open from the house to the yard. And one day, next spring, who should stroll in but Dan! He'd found his way to us through yards and over fences. He went straight to the sisters' food bowls and emptied them! This happened several more times. We had a problem: we had a vacation booked soon, and if Dan came to rely on us for food he was gonna go hungry!

So we went to "his" house to discuss the situation with his people. But they weren't his people! They were students renting the house, and Dan was already hanging around when they moved in! They felt sorry for him so they fed him when they remembered but they were moving out in a week, and they'd made no plans for Dan.

So, we now had a third cat - but still had a vacation problem! The sisters were going to the cattery, but for Dan to go too he'd need vaccination certificates. Also he couldn't share a pen with the sisters: he and they were strangers so goodness knows what might happen! We were about to make a non-trivial financial commitment to Dan - and so we did. We booked him into the cattery in his own pen, and took him to the vet for his jabs.

We saw Steve, the practice principal. He examined Dan, and fell silent. We were worried. Steve removed the stethoscope from his ears. "He's got a heart murmur. No need to worry, it's pretty low-grade. Now, has he got a microchip?". Beep! He has!

Steve saw our faces. "Should I just forget about the chip?"

"Erm, thanks, but no: if our cat went missing we'd want the microchip followed up. That's what it's for!"

Steve nodded and tapped the microchip details into a computer. He dialled the phone number that came up. No answer. He wrote the contact details on a slip of paper and handed it over. The address was in an apartment block complex about a mile from us. We also learned when Dan was born (he was now five) and that he was originally named Fluffy (which we thought was a daft name for a huge cat with torn ears - although it must've been perfect when he was a gorgeous kitten - so we stuck with Dan).

No-one ever answered the 'phone. Dan went to jail and came back out again after our vacation. After a bit of early suspicion he got on just fine with the sisters. I went old-school and wrote a letter. Nothing. I 'phoned the microchip company and, on payment of a fee, they re-registered the chip in my name. I had to agree that they could give my details to the original registrant if they ever surfaced. "Don't worry" said the lovely woman on the 'phone, "I've done this a thousand times. They threw him out for sure and you'll hear nothing from them".

So, he was ours! We had lots of fun and all the usual ups-and-downs. My beloved, timid Charlie was constantly sick but, to our horror, it was Sooty who was found to have a huge mass inside at an annual check-up, and she was gone a week later. Charlie went the same way a couple of years after.

Charlie would jump on my chest every night at bedtime, and sleep there. When she was gone Dan happily took her place, which was uncomfortable (but still tolerable) because he was much heavier!

When the weather was good Dan liked to stay out at night (it's what he was used to). One night the security light in the yard came on. I looked out the window and Dan was being chased around the yard by an enormous fox. I chased the fox away, but Dan still came home twice on other occasions with fox bites and needed vet treatment. The vet told us they'd had a couple of cats killed by foxes. Dan was now shut in at night, and he quickly accepted this with his usual good nature.

Sooty loved to catch rats, often bringing them alive into the house. Dan, sadly, preferred birds. One sunny day we were sat on our deck in the yard when Dan suddenly leapt and caught a blue tit in flight, which he dismembered on the lawn. We were horrified, but what can you do?

Dan was terrified of loud noises. He needed to be kept inside on garbage collection morning. In the UK, October to December is an awful time for many pets (and wildlife): the fireworks begin before Hallowe'en; they reach a crescendo on November 5th, Bonfire Night; and they carry on for weeks, reaching a couple more crescendos at Christmas and New Year. One Hallowe'en Dan disappeared before we could shut him in. Fireworks were exploding all around and the streets were full of trick-or-treaters. Dan wore a transponder on his collar and we could track him at a range of a hundred metres or so. That night I walked the streets for hours with the tracking handset, climbed fences and gates, pushed through undergrowth and trees, and found no sign of him. I 'phoned home to see if he'd turned up but no: my wife kept opening the door, hoping it was me with the furball in my arms, only to find it was more trick-or-treaters. Eventually I gave up and went home, and there he was! He must've hidden somewhere until the streets cleared, and then made his way home.

The heart murmur gradually worsened over the years but never became a problem. He had the usual health glitches and trips to the vet but never anything serious. He was the easiest cat to medicate: mostly he would eat anything put in his food but, if not, he would tolerate being held and having a pill popped into his throat.

Like most cats he loved sitting on things and he was really obsessed with paper. If you wanted him to curl up on your lap, just spread a sheet of newspaper first and up he would jump! Brown grocery bags were his favourite and we always kept a few for him.

His favourite trick when he wanted attention was to stand up on his hind legs and drum on something with his front paws. If he wanted to go out he would drum on the glass back door. If he wanted us to wake up and feed him he would drum on the glass closet doors in the bedroom. He loved to jump into the bathtub and drum on the bottom of it, which made so much noise we eventually had to keep the door closed!

He had beds all over the house and he frequently changed his mind about which was his favourite. He would also decide to start sleeping somewhere which had no bed, and if (as it often was) it was a hard stone or wood floor then, of course, we provided him with yet another bed! But if visitors stayed he would, invariably, sleep in their suitcase (they couldn't shut him out of the room because he would drum relentlessly on the door until it was opened).

Whenever we were away we tried to get a neighbour or friend to come and feed him but, sometimes, he had to go to jail. They loved him because of his good nature: he would even let them brush him without lacerating anyone!

Dan had an amazing capacity for "holding it in". He hated using a litter tray and, if necessary, he could wait two or three days for a chance to go outside. In fact, it was when he began using the tray a couple of years ago we knew there was a problem. The vet diagnosed kidney disease. He started drinking indoors (previously he would never drink anything other than rainwater, although the bowl was always there for him). And he started losing weight, despite eating as much as ever.

He was never a fussy eater so it wasn't difficult to change his diet. But he did get bored quickly and demand something different, so we had to rotate different brands of renal food, as well as fresh chicken cooked with rice (we are vegetarians so the chicken was bought specially for Dan).

He was more-or-less OK for a year or so but then the weight began to fall off him, and the litter trays mutiplied through the house because he needed to "go" so often. There was nothing the vet could do. We abandoned all ideas for vacations: we couldn't leave him. We cancelled our plans for Christmas 2019, telling family that we needed to stay home with Dan because it was probably his last Christmas.

And he soldiered on. Despite the regular tray visits and the weight loss he was entirely himself. We began to hope he might reach another Christmas after all, but it was not to be. About a month ago he developed diarrhoea. The vet said "He's skin and bone. You need to accept that he's reaching the end of his life". He administered several injections. "This is a bad idea for a cat with kidney disease, but we have no choice: we have to stop this diarrhoea".

And it worked! He improved overnight and was his (much skinnier) self again! He even still went outside and patrolled his territory (much reduced: he never left our yard now). But we knew it would only be a short reprieve. Saturday last he went out and didn't come back. We found him at the bottom of the yard in his favourite spot ("Danny's corner" we call it), unresponsive and just staring into space. We brought him back in and warmed him up. He curled up in a corner of the sofa and stayed there.

Sunday morning he went out and disappeared again. This time he wasn't in his corner. I stood on the fence rungs and peered over. There he was, curled up on next door's lawn. It was cold, he couldn't stay there! I called to him. He staggered to his feet, tried to turn and fell over. We knocked on the neighbour's door and she let us into her yard to retrieve him.

We put him back into the nest in the sofa corner and there he stayed. Occasionally he would get to his feet and turn himself around unsteadily, before sleeping again. He had a few sips of water but wouldn't eat.

We sat in the dark with him all through Sunday night. In the morning (yesterday) he was still breathing but barely responsive. I called the vet at 8:30 and they said to bring him straight away. We are in the second national virus lockdown in England and they were not permitting anyone inside (they collected animals at the door while the owners waited outside). The young vet said "we'll make an exception, he needs you with him". And that was the end: a few minutes later he was at rest.

And that is the story of a big, beautiful, gentle cat who had a miserable start to his life but, we hope, followed by a wonderful thirteen years.


Rules my home with an iron paw
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Oct 16, 2015
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Havelock, North Carolina
Rest you gentle, Dan, dream you deep. You walk in someone's heart forever.

What a magnificent cat he was, is, and always will be. You gave him so much, and I'm sure he gave just as much back to you. And now, from That Place Where All Things Are Known, he sends his love for you, translated and purified into Love, back to you forever.


Ms. Jeff's Legacy
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Jul 2, 2019
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This is a very engaging story about a unique tom kitty who managed to find two terrific people. I would have loved to have met this fine figure of a feline, Dan, and I know your life will forever be enriched for having known him.

Please know that he has only left you for a little while. You will see him again.

di and bob

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Dec 12, 2012
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Nebraska, USA
My heart hurts for your pain. I pray you can find comfort in knowing you gave him what he wanted most in life, a caring home, and people to love. It sounds like you went above and beyond in making him a wonderful home, to have so many beds and people who understand him was gratefully accepted by him, I'm sure, he lacked for nothing and when the time came you gathered strength from your love and spared him lingering pain.
The bond you have with his tiny spirit is strong, since it is spiritual it will be with you forever. Though you will always feel that pang of sadness when you think of him, the years will make it bearable and you will fill that hole of sadness in your life with wonderful memories and he will send his love to help you heal. He will forever be as close as your thoughts and prayers.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all, take care of yourself, that little boy wants nothing but happiness in your life like you gave him......RIP dear Dan. You will be dearly missed, you will forever have secure places in loving hearts. May the good Lord bless and keep you, until you meet again!


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Oct 20, 2013
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So sorry for your loss, but like most of us on here that love our pets you gave him an amazing life and if he could have said four words to you they would have been "thank you" and "love you".

Maria Bayote

Mama of 5 Cats, 4 Dogs , 2 Budgies & 2 Humans
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Jan 15, 2018
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I became so very emotional reading your post, and sincerely very sorry for your loss. You gave him the best life, and for that he will carry it with him to the eternal fields and grasses that he now roams freely.

He was a beautiful boy. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


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Feb 27, 2017
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Orbassano - Italy
You did thousands times more than most people would have done for him. You card for him since the first day you met him, you were heartbroken when he left you the first time, even if he wasn't your cat, you took care of him, nearly going to change your plans for vacation because of him, tried to contact the previous owner, invested time, love and omoney.
Who else would have done such a thing if not someone with a heart as big as the entire world?

Dan wanted to be with since the first moment, but also wanted you to slowly bond with him, and his trick worked.
Now your heart will always carry hiw pawprint, you wil lnever forget him, like he will never forget you.

Dan, you were incredibly lucky, and very smart too. RIP, sweet angel.