In late 2000, some acquaintances with a large contingent of outdoor, semi-stray cats gave us two kittens: Freckles and Nicky. They were best friends, playing together, napping together—inseparable. They craved water the way most cats crave tuna. Then, suddenly, Nicky became sluggish. We took him to the vet, who discovered that he had (and may well have been born with) FIP, feline infectious peritonitis. The vet recommended that he be put down immediately to protect our other cats. We researched the illness some on our own, however; Cornell researchers had found that FIP does not transmit as easily as initially thought. So, we isolated Nicky in the library, allowing Freckles visiting privileges, and gave him the best care we could, taking him outside when we could be with him, which he enjoyed immensely. He lasted six more months. His death left Freckles without her brother and best friend.
Freckles, now eight, has stayed healthy, though her obsession with water continues. (I can’t drink ice water without her drinking along with me.) She’s a sweet, gentle cat with a deep melancholy loneliness that human contact never quite touches.