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Story ID:2014
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Gilboa New York USA
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By Fred Wickert
April 26, 2007

In January 1996, there was a severe flood on the Schoharie Creek. The Schoharie Creek is a stream that begins in the Catskill Mountains and flows North to the Mohawk River.
There are two dams built on the Schoharie. One of them is a New York City owned dam, forming a reservoir used for New York Cityís water supply system. The other is a New York Power Authority dam for the purpose of making electricity. Both dams are in the southern tip of Schoharie County, mostly in the town of Gilboa, New York.

My home was more than two hundred years old and had never had water in the house, with the exception of the basement. In January of 1996 the water overflowed the New York City dam so high, that my home suddenly was in the center of a very wide river, which was flowing through the house at a depth of three feet or more. Needless to say, it didnít do the house any good.

FEMA came on the scene, but was very slow in getting around. They purchased fourteen homes and destroyed them so no one could ever live there again. My home was one of them, but it took a long time to get it done. We continued to live in our house until August of 1997.

The house next door had been moved several feet off the foundation and could not be lived in. Under it was a full basement. In the spring of 1996, we became aware of a feral cat, half grown, living under the house next door.

We put food out for the cat, in hopes he found it and within two or three days he did. So did skunks and foxes. Instead of feeding a cat, we found ourselves feeding a menagerie.
We were rewarded as they all came to feed at dusk every day, and they ate together and in peace. The foxes were young ones, and they were full of play. We sat watching them every evening, enthralled as they played with one another like good friends.

The cat was adorable. He was black and white in color, and had a white heart shaped face. He was also wild as they come. He never came out during the day. We saw him at dusk, and sometimes saw him early in the morning, having a wash before going back into hiding.

When fall came we were concerned that he was not going to be protected from the cold, so I set a Haveahart trap and caught him. I transferred him into a large parrot cage with iron bars until we were able to get him to the Vet. When we went to take him to the vet, Tae, my wife, and I suffered many bites and scratches on our arms in the process.

When we went back a couple of days later to pick him up and bring him home, the Vet said wryly, ďHeís no cat. Heís a flying tiger, that one!Ē We brought him home and put him in a room with some other cats and kept him in the cage for a couple of days so they
could all get used to each other. Then I released him to join the others. A little curiosity type sniffing ensued, but there were no disagreements and he was accepted. We named him Sasha.

In a few weeks Sasha decided Tae was worthy of his love and he began showing her his affection, while shunning me. In time, he became tame enough I could pet him, but he was all Taeís cat. He loved to lie in her lap when she was watching television in the evenings, and he began sleeping with her in her bed.

A curios thing was that he got fat, but never grew any taller or longer. We believed him to be only half grown when we got him, but he never grew any bigger. Another curious thing was that he only came out at night. He always hid somewhere and slept during the day, just as he had in the wild.

Eventually FEMA got around and we moved to another house. Sasha and all our other pets went with us. He enjoyed life in the new home and all was well. Then he got a urinary infection and he had to be given pills. Tae gave them to him.

For the first couple of days, Sasha cooperated with taking the pills and then he rebelled. He had to be caught, held down by me, and then Tae shoved the pills down his throat. He fought hard against them. He was cured for a while but the urinary infection came back in a few months. This time was worse than before.

From that time on, he ran and hid from Tae. He never let her pet him or hold him again. He feared another pill every time he saw her. He transferred his love to me. He adored me from then on. We never understood why, because I was the one who held him in an iron grip so she could give him the pills.

For years, he always greeted me at night with rubbing and loud purring. He slept with me on the bed, and I woke up each morning being affectionately head butted by him, and the purring was so loud I was sure it could be heard a mile away.

A few weeks ago, Sasha stopped getting on the bed with me. He was seen to be weak. The diagnosis was cancer. There was a large growing tumor on his chest. Nothing could be done. I would not have him put down because he displayed no pain, and he responded always when touched or spoken to, appearing to be grateful for the attention. Gradually he became weaker and weaker.

Yesterday I was away all day. When I returned home last night, Tae informed me that he had just passed away about a half hour before I got home. I buried Sasha last night in the dark and pouring rain. I greatly miss him already.

In the mornings when I awake, I look for his loving head butt and listen for his loud joyful purring, but he donít do it anymore.

First photo - Sasha RIP

Second photo - Our house. Sasha was being fed on the door stoop to the right of the right end of the house.

Third photo - the house next door that Sasha was living under.

Fourth photo - A sign on a tree in front of the house Sasha was living under, showing the irritation of the people with FEMA.

Fifth photo, showing the aftermath of the flood in front of our house.