Murphy

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I had to say goodbye to Murphy today.

I’ve never liked the term best friend because it always seemed too idealistic and too hard to live up to, but he was mine.  He was my best friend and a better friend than I ever could have imagined I’d have.

He was 20 years old and to ask any more of him would have been selfish.  He had already taken care of me for way too long.

He died in my arms while my amazing vet sang to him ( the gospel song, “Like a Lion”). It was exactly the kind of goodbye he deserved and I am so grateful I was able to give it to him.

– Linda

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Chase

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Chase, when he picked me at the Lawrence Humane Society: long limbs, long tail, slim head, ribs showing, vertebrae painfully obvious through the fur on his back. He reached his paws through the bars of his cage, encircled my neck as I walked past. I turned to look at him and we were eye to eye. Lightning to the heart: I knew that we knew each other, had always known each other, would always know each other. He was 15, ancient for a cat, skin and bones, arthritic. An ulcer covered one entire cornea, so that he squinted and wept at all times.It was the Fall of 2006; I didn’t want him to die in a cage.

I brought him home, and when I climbed into bed that night it took perhaps 30 seconds for him to jump up onto the bed to join me. He stalked from the foot of the mattress up to my face, sniffed me thoroughly, and then threw himself down beside me – as though he had waited, in misery, in a cage, and this right here was his reward. He stretched out  full-length, pressed firmly against my side, with his head on my shoulder and his arm thrown across my neck.

We slept that way every night for five years, with very few exceptions. I learned to sleep on my back, to be motionless, because sharing my immediate physical world with Chase was worth far more than comfort or uninterrupted sleep.

He was, in many ways, the love of my life. He was my teacher, my constant companion. He bore the indignities of old age with grace and patience. He took joy in the small things. He taught me to focus not on all the years that we did not get to spend together, but to instead be grateful for the fact that our paths aligned in his waning years. 

He died on Easter Sunday, 2011. It seemed a proper ending: the magnificent man cat, returning to the void on a day when choirs gathered and people raised their voices to the sky.

I have never felt so lost.

– Kelly

Stormy

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I grew up in a family of cats.  Three of them entered my world a week before Christmas in 1988.  They were a colorful crowd over the years.  All but one donned a beautiful coat of stripes or splotches.  The exception was Stormy, the plain Jane of my flamboyant family.  She was dressed in solid black – so black that when she closed her eyes in the dark she disappeared.

For reasons that I still fully don’t understand, Stormy’s two tabby siblings never really liked her.  She was an outsider to their feline world, often hissed at, usually ignored.  As such, she made the conscious decision early on to cross over into the human realm.  Her sole objective on earth, as far as I could tell, was to get as physically close to humans as possible.

Stormy’s favorite activity was to sit upright on my lap, rest her paws on my shoulders and nestle her face into my ear. She would bury her wet nose into my neck with determined intensity as if searching for something. Her purr within centimeters of my eardrum could sound like a roar.

If humans were not accessible, Stormy settled for lamps.  She would climb under the shade, rest her paws on either side of the light bulb and bask in her warm little house. Three lamps met their end this way, crashing to the floor when Stormy would lean too heavily into them.

She had other qualities worth mentioning, the most important being her pliability and forgiveness. As a child I would spin her in circles, strap her around my neck and shoulders (a very chic scarf, I would remind her), and toss her into bathtubs.  She hated these things but tolerated them with grace, sometimes hissing but rarely holding grudges.

By the time I left for college, Stormy was aging and seemed to recognize, intuitively, a new kinship with my mother. Neither enjoyed the role of empty nester. My mom had quit her job to go back to school and would sit for long stretches at the computer to write papers.  Stormy joined her on these late-night missions, unfailingly.  Here the two old ladies worked tirelessly together—the first reading her sentences out loud, the second agreeing whole-heartedly and purring the words back to her. Continue reading

Woody & Puddy

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Woody and Puddy are now together again in Heaven. Woody has been gone for two years now and I still have times when I just miss him so much that I can’t hold back the tears. Puddy, too. My love for animals has grown since I lost both of them. They just touch our lives like nothing else.

– Tom

Jupiter (aka Fluffaluffalus) & Mr. Socks (aka Sockalockalus)

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My two departed 19-year-old cats had been with me since they were kittens. I lost both of them about six months apart in 2010; they were brothers. Jupiter (aka Fluffaluffalus) was shy and loved to be scratched on the top of his head. Mr. Socks (aka Sockalockalus) was extroverted and would steal your egg salad sandwich if you weren’t careful. They were both exquisite purrers.

– Marge

Rosie

My beloved Rosie (1993-2008) stuck by me through 2 cities, 5 apts, 2
graduate degrees and 1 break up. In addition to standard cat fare, she
was crazy about chicken tikka and coconut cake icing. She lost one of
her back legs and became a tripod in 2003 but hopped around for five
more years, every one of them more precious than the one before. Her
little black nose, movie star green eyes and wry sense of humor are
still missed every day.

— Kathleen