Snowball was my next door neighbor’s cat. My family and I became interested in Snowball because his behavior showed human characteristics. He reminded my husband, my son and me of a cool dude. 

On Mother’s Day, my son was grilling hot dogs in the Weber, when Snowball walked into the backyard. My son hollered, “Get out of here, Snowball, I’m cooking.” Snowball, forever calm, stopped and glanced up at my son with a look in his eyes that asked, “What’s the matter with you? I’m walking through as usual.” After the pause, Snowball continued to stroll toward the front gate, unaffected by my son’s shouting. 

Even when he stalked prey, Snowball kept a cool head. He never chased after his prey. There was a time when he was tracking a mouse. He watched the mouse go through a hole into our garage. He sat and waited by the hole the mouse went through. When the mouse came out of the hole, Snowball pounced on him. 

Snowball’s health went into decline back in February. He was thin as a sheet of tissue paper and was no longer the robust and energetic cat of a year ago. He walked slower, but he still walked in a proud way. If he was in pain, he didn’t show it. 

Snowball was a special cat. Everyone who knew him was concerned about his health. A new homeowner who knew him only a few months asked me if Snowball was OK because she hadn’t seen him in a week. Snowball’s homeless friends were concerned about him too. When they met Snowball in the alley, they allowed him to pass by without bothering him. Neither did the homeless cats climb over my fence to visit Snowball as often as they had.

Back in January 2014, I wrote an essay titled, “The Intelligent Cats” in which I expressed the opinion that Snowball and his homeless friends acted a lot smarter than people. I explained that Snowball had the instinct to care about the welfare of his homeless friends, and he did something about it. He would walk away from his bowl of food and allowed his homeless friends to eat it. I also wrote that the cats didn’t fight or disagree. They sat in Snowball’s backyard, side by side, cleaning their own fur, napping, and enjoying each other’s company. 

Snowball had a protective nature too. When my neighbor went to her garage to get a package, Snowball stopped napping by the steps and walked her to the door. If she left the garage door opened, he waited until she came out and escorted her back to the house. 

Going further back to 2006, I wrote about how Snowball won me over. In the essay titled, “Snowball, the aggravating cat I just can’t dislike,” I revealed how I disliked cats but grew to like Snowball. He gained my affection through his wisdom and kindness. 

Snowball died on Aug. 4, 2014 early in the morning from kidney failure. His owner, my neighbor, found him lying on the grass in her backyard. She said that the day before, other than keeping his eyes closed most of the day, he acted no different. When night came, she said she wanted to keep him in the house, but he wasn’t having any of that. 

Snowball was an ordinary cat, no pedigree. He could be referred to as an alley cat because he roamed through the alley late at night and elsewhere. He was 16 human years old at the time of his death. This made him 80 in cat years. Snowball will be missed. Just yesterday, a black cat climbed my fence going to visit Snowball. The message that Snowball wasn’t there had not reached him. 

Snowball left an important legacy. He left us with an example as to how we should live.