Letter to the editor: With decent nutrition, cats can live a very long time

I sympathize with Matthew Dickerson’s loss of his beloved cat. I’ll say that, in my estimation, 15 years is way too young for a cat to die from health problems. It generally occurs due to improper nutrition, such as feeding food containing grains and/or “animal by-products,” which often contain euthanization chemicals.

Geneticists say that the normal domestic feline lifespan is 30 years. When I last checked, two cats had documented ages of 38 years. There might be undocumented cats over 40. When I was first on the family farm in Connecticut, there was a surly, elderly female, that my uncle — the farm manager — had named “Grandma Growl.” She had strayed onto the farm as an aged cat years before. She ruled the roost.

The last year of her life was stressful, due to the invasion of a young, equally tough, female which my late older brother, Bob, named Minerva — mythical goddess of war. I remember remarking that for the first time of her life, Grandma had not gifted us with a litter of kittens. Shortly afterward, I found her dead on the threshing bay floor. I presumed it was a heart attack. She was apparently well into her thirties. If not for the stresses from Minerva, she might have lived significantly longer. Her diet consisted primarily of rodents and incredibly rich milk from real purebred Guernseys. (The fat-scare hoax, prompted by the vegetable oil hucksters, eliminated the real Guernseys, the highest butterfat milking breed, from the scene).

People claim that milk kills cats. It does if it is pasteurized and homogenized. Given enough time, it also kills humans. For their longevity, feed your kitties well with raw milk and rodents. I could write a book on the personalities of farm cats, but I will bore you with only one more.

About 40 years ago, here in Bridport, we had a litter of young kittens scampering around the cow stable. One day, we noticed a very cute yellow kitten dragging his rear legs behind him — apparently injured by a cow’s hoof. I asked a vet, who was checking out one of the cows, if he had any input on the kitten. He said his training involved only large animals, but correctly pointed out that cats are very adept at healing. He advised giving him time.

The woman I was dating at the time started calling him “the draggin’ ass cat”. From then on, he was “Dragon.” It wasn’t long before Dragon started gaining use of the legs. My brother and I started carrying him around on our shoulders for a bit more mobility and view of the world. He expressed his pleasure and gratitude with an amazingly loud purr. As he got more healed, we started gently tossing him up and catching him. He loved it. The tosses got greater and greater, until we were throwing him as high as we could. The purr would diminish as he gained altitude and increase as he came down. He also enjoyed our standing 20 or more feet apart and playing catch. He could be heard coming and going. He never got dropped.

For the life of me, I don’t remember whatever happened to him in the end. A friend suggested that he got thrown so high that he never came down. So if you happen to hear a slight purr going overhead, it just might be the orbiting ghost of the flying Dragon cat.

Joe Gleason


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