Saying Good Bye

Somewhere in the mid-1990s, a little band of stray cats took up residence in my garden. I gave them food and water, and one at a time, was able to put them in carriers to bring to the vet to be "fixed" and vaccinated. The last little guy (for some reason, they were all male) showed up almost a year after the rest, toward the end of his kittenhood. More skittish than the others, he wouldn't let me touch him directly. I had to pet one of the other cats, then he'd sidle up next to the other cat and rub against it, and then I could pet him as long as he didn't look up and see I was touching him.
During Brighter Days in 2006
He never really lost his general distrust of people (probably a good thing, being an outdoor cat), but over time we reached an understanding that I could, for very short periods, scratch his head, and he became comfortable enough to follow me around the garden at a safe distance and meow at me as I worked. I named him Joxer the Mighty, after a tv character who was also a bit of a chicken, but he became my Booboo kitty.

One by one, my feline brood passed on or disappeared and Booboo was the last of the bunch. A friend who rescues cats brought another outdoor cat, Chuck, to keep him company. Things went well until this summer, when Booboo had a tumor removed from his leg. The tumor was not biopsied, but I suspect it was cancerous. Not long after its removal, Booboo lost a lot of weight.  And then he lost his strength, began walking unsteadily and his fur lost its lustre.
Supervising in the Garden, 2007
I decided to bring him indoors when the temperatures dropped and the rains came. Even in his weakened state, he made a couple of runs at the door to try and make it back outside. But in spite of the fact that I was giving him all the food he could eat, it just went right through him, and though I didn't know it at the time, tumors had developed around his abdominal area, and he was probably starving to death. He was in such bad shape, even Piglette didn't growl at him when he took a kibble from her bowl last night (she chases Gigi for even coming near her bowl).
Thin, but still on his feet, November 2012
When I woke up this morning, I found him on the floor, unable to move, and scrambled to bring him to the vet so that he wouldn't suffer. In retrospect, by the time I found him, he was probably beyond suffering, and I'm second guessing my decision to take him to the vet. Maybe it would have been better to wrap him in a blanket and make him as comfortable as possible so he could have passed on at home. I guess I'll never be sure.