Dec 1

Jack, 1992-2008

Jack loved the outdoors, but was allergic to fleas.
Jack slept in funny configurations.

Jack came home with me in the summer of 1992. I fell in love with the little guy when my aunt showed us her cat’s new kittens. He was stubbular, round-eyed and looked like his belly might burst from glutting himself on milk. Even as a kitten, his paws were ENORMOUS. He looked like he was wearing fuzzy slippers. I smuggled him home tucked inside my sports bra, thinking it was far better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Jack would follow you like a dog all over the house, but was afraid of strangers. As soon as the doorbell rang, he would hide under my parents’ bed until the coast was clear, sometimes staying for hours after guests had left. My grandmother never laid eyes on Jack except for pictures.

Jack lived to bite string and wire. He also enjoyed asparagus and fresh herbs. He was a mean drunk when it came to catnip. He liked escaping the house and going on adventures, much to my chagrin. Jack loved being petted: he’d demand attention by body-checking your shins and love-biting any dangling or convenient part of your body. Until his older years, he particularly liked being pet like a dog. He’d dig his claws into the back of the couch for stability, and purr with his mouth open as you aggressively raked your hands from the scruff of his neck to his tail. When Matthew and I got married, we marveled at how similar Jack’s body language was to that of the great cats we saw in Vegas. He was just as regal, slinky, playful and tough as any tiger.

Jack liked string, and arty photography.

When Mom died, Jack came to live with me full time. He spent two months under the bed, eating and using the litterbox only when I brought them to him. One day, he emerged from his hiding place to rejoin the world, and has been an incredibly personable, even boisterously friendly cat.  He soon discovered he loved crowds, and especially women. He particularly liked it when women would drape his cookie-sized paws over their shoulder and allow him to stand on their cleavage. I like to think that was his favorite way to ride around because that’s how he came into my life.

Jack had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. From the time he woke up in the morning until he settled into the crow’s nest on the cat tree, he was treated like a prince. He dined on turkey, asparagus, cheese, fresh cream and tuna. We bustled through the kitchen more carefully, allowing him to ankleshark as we worked. I even “dropped” a few morsels for him to greedily “steal,” so he would feel like his careful plots to trip us worked to his advantage.

Jack loved television, because we'd sit still and pet him.

His breathing became rapid Thursday night, which meant fluid was building up around his heart, hindering his breathing. When I woke up to check on him early Friday morning, his breathing was so shallow, we knew the time had come. I’d hoped to avoid the vet, but he had to take one last car trip. He didn’t flirt with the vet techs, which is a big sign of how poorly he was feeling.  When we were ready, I draped Jack over my shoulder and let him stand on my cleavage for the last time.

Jack was such a “big” cat, personality-wise. The whole house feels colder and a little empty without him. It’s likely I’ll never have another asparagus-eating, ass-biting, dog-chasing cat. It’s a certainty there’ll never be another cat quite like Jack. He was a fierce defender, a sexy beast, an adept nad-stomper, a gracious host, a devoted omnivore, a jewelry thief, and a mildly sadistic lover of humans. Jack taught me that you get what you give out of a relationship with an animal, and how earning a cat’s trust and respect is a humbling and prideful matter.

Writing this makes me even more aware that I haven’t written about Mau. It’s still difficult to talk about, but I need to do it. Royalty deserve good eulogies.

There are 3 Responses

  1. Such a beautiful boy. So sorry.

  2. Aw, I’m sorry — it’s just so hard to lose pets.

    My oldest standard poodle has congestive heart failure too, and I think this is a decision we’ll be making in the next few weeks. So I’m right there with you, and it hurts.

  3. Quite lovely.

    Two of my great cat friends have passed on, but both before I had a place on line to write about them. I should still give it a try, many years afterwards.

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