My not-so-little arm warmer succumbed to kidney disease yesterday. When we adopted him from an acquaintance, she said his name was Shadow. We called him CatLoaf. We quickly surmised that he was called ‘Shadow’ not for his dark fur but for his preferred loafing spot, behind you in direct opposition to the sun. When he wasn’t desperately attempting to sneak underfoot, he would sit on the couch behind your head and give you a scalp massage whether you wanted it or not, find devious ways to climb on the table and sit on your hand or stuff his entire head into a drinking glass like a feline Jerry Lewis, or knead the pillow by your head and purr in your ear.
CatLoaf needed to be within three feet of a human at all times, but not touched by one. He was a feline electron, negatively charged, in a rigid orbit around you. Petting was okay, sometimes. Holding was forbidden. He never achieved his dream of living inside our refrigerator, sleeping on Firecracker’s keyboard, or climbing on top of my head while I used the toilet, but he never quit trying. His last days were spent loafing, getting stroked, and eating treats and drinking tuna water when he could keep it down.
He was a friendly cat who would approach any stranger without an inkling of fear, only an expression of deep curiosity and comradeship. He would let you pet him, and when he had enough, he would tell you in his way, which was by nipping the tender skin between your fingers. The only things he ever ran from were his nemesis and nap buddy Charlie Crookedpaw, our rescued Siamese, and his own droppings, which when caught in the fur of his prodigious hindquarters must have felt like the very jaws of death snapping at his empty scrotum. I have wrestled 300lb athletes to submission, but was not able to hold CatLoaf still for more than a few moments during his prime. He would rather die than give you control. And he was of course, black as your soul.
He was a companion that grew on you, and stepped on you, sat on you, leaned on you, sneezed on you, and occasionally hawked hairballs on your shoes, bed, and clothing, but over the years he became a beloved part of our lives, and we will miss him terribly. But not his breath. No, not his breath, which fellow cat-lover H.P. Lovecraft would tenderly describe as more wretchedly unwholesome than the fetid emissions of Azathoth’s hindmost parts.
Goodbye, sweet CatLoaf. We made you happy for a time, and you returned the favor.