RIP Kitty Jesse James


He was his daddy’s right hand guy

Hello and welcome to the blog on this sad day.  Today my little camping buddy and companion, Jesse James, had to be euthanized due to cancer.  He was diagnosed months ago and we spent many wonderful days together until the very end when he was too weak to move.  As time grew short, he was still gentle and loving.  It was beautiful to see with how much dignity Jesse lived his life, even when terminally ill.  Our last meal was breakfast this morning and we enjoyed popcorn shrimp (I got the coating and he ate the shrimp)

Jesse James Tiberius Harris was born in December of 2006 near Marion, Iowa.  He and his sister were the last of a litter of kittens- two tiny felines who were on a one-way trip to the animal shelter.  I took the kitten home on Christmas eve of ’06.  The cat’s name became “Jessica” and “she” was very timid.  A short time later I noticed Jessica was not female at all as a pair of testicles started to grow! I had him neutered and he was then known as “Jesse”.   After it became apparent that this little guy would steal the food right off a person’s plate, I told him he was as bad as “Jesse James” … and the name stuck.


Always a food thief!

Jesse loved to eat as much as I, especially fish.  Trout was right up there at the top of the list.  But other favorites included shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster, ribeye steak, venison, turkey, rotisserie chicken, ham, bacon, pork steak and the list goes on.  For all of his life, Jesse had digestive issues and was not able to tolerate most kinds of cat food.  I remember telling him one day as he was throwing up some canned Friskies pâté, “I wouldn’t eat that shit either.”  He sure lived in the right house for being a carnivore!  Just calling, “Jesse!  Shrimpies!” would cause him to run across the trailer and eagerly wait for a treat.


Jesse on a park bench in Postville, Iowa

Jesse James traveled with me to a number of locations in northeast Iowa to camp and fish.  He was fond of the campground and trout streams in Decorah, particular the shallow stream called Twin Springs and the Dunning Springs waterfall.  Never wandering too far, Jesse would check out the sights while I cooked us dinner.  Though he loved exploring, Jesse had a strong instinct for avoiding danger and knew to return.


Even in the last stages of cancer, he was a trooper!

This fall, the little guy was diagnosed with a large tumor which was presumed to be cancer.  The vet advised against operating due to the tumor’s size and the fact it had already likely spread.  Though it seemed the kitty knew he was going to die, it didn’t slow him down too much.  The picture above was taken as he sat on top of the deck railing watching me mow the yard.

Over the weekend Jesse started to weaken and on Sunday eating and breathing started to become difficult.  The end was near.  I spent a lot of time with him and Jesse knew me until the very end.  But today I had to release him to the “Rainbow Bridge.”  I will miss this little guy and his intense expression!  We were very close.  It’s like losing a child.


“I have been… and ever shall be … your friend.”

Jesse is survived by my other intrepid cat, Jennifer Stefanie.  The two were very close and she’s fussed over him for weeks.  Jenny’s going to accompany me on future warm weather camping trips in the future.

Just as I did when Serena passed, I’m ordering a mounted photo of Jesse for the wall of the van.  This memory will be with us on future journeys.


For a single person, losing an animal is tough.  We bond with them much like children, I guess because we both need love.  Thankfully, I still have Jennifer.  She’s a good little girl and will fill the void for years to come.  But Jesse will be missed… and remembered fondly.

Rest in peace, little buddy.

Brad and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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