This past Friday, a beloved member of my extended kitty family, Mandarin, was helped on his way to the next life. Mandarin was diagnosed early this year with a rare and untreatable brain tumor. Beth did everything possible to make the remainder of his life happy and comfortable, and it was.
I wanted to share some memories of this beautiful boy, as I’ve done for other dear departed felines in my life.
Mandarin came to Beth and me around October of 2010 with his sister Mango, at a time when we were doing work with a rescue group. The two were considered feral cats, and were very afraid of people.
We had to do a lot of painstaking work with the two of them, getting them used to interacting with humans and being treated kindly by them. It was challenging and often stressful work, but we won them over rather quickly — they were both kind kittens, and wanted to be loved.
It was a real joy to get them to trust us enough to play, as well. Soon we had them chasing ribbons and not being concerned with us, and eventually were able to let them out of their isolation room and interact with the other cats in the house.
Mango ended up not being comfortable with so many cats in the house, so she went back to the rescue group, and eventually was adopted out to a young girl where she received all the special attention she wanted and needed. Mandarin remained with us while we looked for a home.
Mandarin quickly won us over with his gentleness. He was a high-strung cat who could act up when things weren’t going his way (like vet trips), but he was incredibly relaxed most of the time.
Not long after we took Mandarin in, we had a falling out with the woman who ran the rescue group. She didn’t want to let us foster Mandarin anymore, but the day she came over to pick him up, Beth handed her a check for the adoption fee and he became one of the family. It was an easy decision to make.
Did I mention that he was easygoing and largely relaxed?
Mandarin got along well with the other cats for the most part. One example of this was an incident with our late kitty Simon, who I’ve written about before. In August of 2012, when I was home alone, Mandarin somehow got a lamp cord wrapped around his neck and he panicked and was trapped under the dining room table. He was flailing about and screeching and the other cats were trying to attack him because of it. I managed to get the cord off of him (with some scratches for my effort) and he went to hide under the couch for a while. When he came out later, calmer, Simon came over to check on him.
Simon and Mandarin got along well, and were often just hanging out together.
But Mandarin found an even more special connection in our household: he found a family within a family. Beth’s cat Sasha took a liking to him, and though he was annoyed at first, they soon became a couple.
Soon they were together most of the time, and when they weren’t, Sasha would come fetch Mandarin when it was time to eat. They would meow at each other, and apparently shared their own special language.
But their family was even bigger, as they themselves adopted our young adopted kitten Fluff, and acted as parents to him. They even looked the part, and Fluff could have been their biological baby from all appearances and behaviors.
I wish I had more photos of the three of them together; they were together so regularly that I often didn’t think to capture how special their connection was.
I’ll have to make do with the images that I do have, and the memories I hold.
Fluff sadly passed away, much too young, in 2018. But Sasha and Mandarin remained a couple throughout the rest of Mandarin’s life.
I have so many photographs of Mandarin. He was a regal feline, and generally radiated a calmness that was soothing to me. Sometimes he looked angry, but that was just his kitty expression; he was a happy and content boy.
When Beth and I separated, I didn’t get to see Mandarin as much, and he grew a bit wary of me from the distance. But I treasured the chance to see him when I occasionally looked after Beth’s cats.
I have one video of Mandarin that I uploaded to YouTube, because I loved Mandarin’s tiny, squeaky meow, as well as the fact that he became friendly and comfortable enough with us to finally speak to us. You can see Sasha come up to him in the video as well, the beginning of their relationship.
I’ll always remember his kindness and gentleness, his playfulness, and the love that he had for us and for his adopted kitty family. Though he came to us as a feral animal, he left us as a dear member of the family. He will be missed and remembered.