So Long, Good Boy

We had to put our friend Jackson to sleep this week.  He was our unique 14 year-old cat, as singular a breed as he was in every other way.

He was beautiful. Mostly white with beautiful brown markings and white socks.  When Brenda and I were at the shelter looking for cats to adopt, he was, to my eye, the most gorgeous cat in there.  For that matter, he may have been the most gorgeous in the city. He was never the most graceful cat, but when he sat just so, looking out the window with the sun on him, he was the most majestic snow leopard in a fantasy world.

Jackson looked at the world in a state of relaxed confusion.  He generally walked around with a look of wonderment that undercut his movie star good looks.  It was the kind of look that says, “huh, I wonder what that is.  Maybe I’ll have a look after lunch.” It is an incredibly endearing look, and we wanted to put it on billboards and car wraps so the rest of the world could enjoy it with us.  I’d give a lot to see it again.

His relaxed demeanor was unflappable.  On the rare occasions that he was upset or uncomfortable it was often hard to tell until he peed in your shoes. He was more vocal with me, the junior member of his staff.  He’d recline leisurely with Brenda, overseeing whatever she was doing contentedly with a sleepy eye until I came home.  When I appeared he’d amble over and list out the things I needed to do – generally fill the food bowl.

He did love to eat. Because his hunting skills were hilariously sub-par, that meant he loved the Ted & Brenda restaurant experience.

He knew all the sounds of food preparation, and would stroll into the kitchen to let you know the current state of the meal timer.  That timer ran from following closely and maybe rubbing a leg (“I know you just fed me, but I’m sure there are treats”), to standing underfoot and purring (“it’s time to eat, and here I am in case you missed me”), to a kindly reprimand (“Hey, it’s dark and the bowl’s empty.  I’m hungry and can’t make it myself”). He did this all with his same cheerful demeanor – all those quotes are missing a “my good man” as an address. If mealtime had come and no one showed signs of noticing, he would walk loudly into the kitchen. Not many cats can stomp, but he had it down.  When he was fed, he could sneak up on you pretty well; when he was hungry you heard him coming.

I can’t really do his quirks, beauty, and nature justice with a few paragraphs.  He was a bright spot of joy in my life for 14 years and I’ll miss him for 14 more. Just seeing that handsome face with its confused but cheerful look brightened many a long day.

When you lose a cat who loved to eat, every mealtime is a reminder.  When I sit down to eat, I still hear that purr that says “My good man: in case you forgot, I’m here, and I wouldn’t mind a spot of food at all.”  I hope I hear it for a while.

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