sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 12, 2019


farewell, my very good boy
posted by soe 1:15 am

This isn’t new news, but it’s painful to contemplate, which means I haven’t wanted to write this post. But it seems unfair not to, so I’ll type through my tears and then maybe it will hurt less. Those of you who follow me on Twitter already saw this news and some of the rest of you had probably guessed based on my recent content.

Nearly three weeks ago, on January 25th, we became, for the first time in nearly 17 years, a family of three. Fifteen months after bidding goodbye to his sister, we had to say farewell to Jeremiah.

My Very Good Boy

The final details are largely irrelevant, except that we’d known he was fading from kidney disease, as have most of our cats, for a few weeks. He’d gotten quieter and had wanted more alone time curled up by the heater, but had continued to eat, if with some coaxing (he decided he didn’t like the special health food, and I eventually decided he could eat whatever he wanted) up to his final day, and never failed to come down to curl up with us to sleep. We were his people and in the end we did the kind thing, supported by our vet.


Jer's First Day Home

As I wrote when Posey died, we first met her and Jeremiah when they were kittens at a no-kill cat rescue in New Haven, Connecticut, one Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2002. We had become a family of three not long before then, and Della was clearly upset at being an only cat. We promised her a kitten, and blithely set out to bring home a companion for her. We were not planning on a pair, but fate had other ideas. On this particular afternoon, the cats in the shelter had all been vaccinated and were mostly dozy or reluctant to interact with more people. But this one small black and white short-haired kitten reached through the bars and grabbed our attention — and our hearts.

He and his fuzzier sister were the only two of their littermates left and the woman working at the time mentioned it was unusual for him to be the more outgoing; usually his sister was more personable. A week later we brought them both home with us. We didn’t even manage to sign the final paperwork before Jeremiah climbed up onto my shoulder and stuffed his nose in my ear to purr loudly and wetly at me that we were making the best decision of all of our lives.

Who can argue with that?

Jeremiah was inquisitive when we brought them home and, much to Della’s annoyance and disgust, he quickly found the plate of special food we’d given her to show her this was a celebration. I don’t think she forgave him for nearly a year for that.

Jer had big ears, long legs and tail, and a black mark under his nose that looked like a toothbrush moustache, particularly when he was small. I wanted to rename him Groucho to offset the more natural comparison to a German dictator, but technically the kittens were Rudi’s, and he was fine with the names the shelter had given them. As Jer grew into all of his characteristics, it turns out to have been a fine decision.

Jer and Me

While he did grow into everything, his tail did remain long. He didn’t need to chase after it in circles in order to tame it and he would would suck on it as a young cat — and then stick it in your ear while you were sleeping to get you to pay attention to him. As he grew older, he mostly abandoned that technique, but did like to wrap his tail around your head or your neck — and used it as a counterbalance for shoulder rides, which he loved.

Rudi & Jeremiah

While he was okay with visitors when he was small, he did not love company after we moved to D.C. We used to tell people who cat sit for us not to worry if they never saw him and our friend John once reported that he’d unintentionally managed to catch Jer partially off guard, causing Jer to sprint for the closet and miss his footing slightly, tumbling down like a Pachinko ball (he was fine). He once curled up under a tiny stool as we were packing to move, causing us to think he’d escaped and he hid on the shelf under the toilet tank the first time we had to have the phone company guy come in. His scarcity made him our most popular cat with friends, who yearned to catch a glance of him, rather than our more outgoing feline companions.

Sibling Portrait

A New Haven cat through and through, he loved pizza and garlicky tomato sauce. He was fine with other spices as well and was happy to clean out bowls that had contained tajines and other Middle Eastern or Asian dishes. He enjoyed ice cream and muffin crumbs and was particularly fond of puff pastry on the rare occasion that he got to sample crumbs of it. He had a rough tongue, but was a thorough licker, so you always knew he would be the final one at a bowl, long after the other cats had grown bored. He especially liked it if you would give him a spoon, so we sometimes left a little yogurt or ice cream on ours as a treat.

Jer

He was a smart cat and liked to communicate using mirrors. He fully understood how they worked and would respond to you if you were watching him in one. He was a chatty cat and we could hold long conversations with him where he would give various responses, fully holding up his end of a discussion. He did worry when you covered your face for too long and no matter how much of the rest of you he could see, eventually he had to go make sure you were okay.

Rudi and Jer

When we were a bigger family, his favorite place to sleep was curled up on pillows above my head. I’d reach under the pillows I was using and hold his paw or his tail or both and if I was slow to do so, he’d slap his tail down over my palm to indicate I should grab it or wrap it around my head if my hand wasn’t there. Once we became a smaller family, his favorite spot was between his two people, so much so that we jokingly referred to him as The Chaperone.

Jer and Rudi

He was the household comforter and if you were upset, he knew it and was right there. When he was younger, he wanted to be under your head, but as he got older, not wanting to hurt him, I’d convince him to curl around my head instead, like a hood. He’d stay there for hours, siphoning off your sadness to help you feel better.

Jer was a snuggly cat with his people and nearly always wanted to be on a lap or in your arms. Corey is doing his best, but mine feel very empty these days.

I See You

You aren’t supposed to have favorites amongst your animal companions, but I did anyway. Farewell, Jeremiah. You have always been my very good boy and I miss you so much.

Jeremiah and His Girl

Category: cats. There is/are 4 Comments.

4 Comments so far
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Oh, Sprite – I am so sorry about Jeremiah. Sending you love as you mourn the loss of this dear friend.

Comment by Kat 02.12.19 @ 8:35 am

Oh I am so sorry to read this, though I am glad that you were with him, and he didn’t suffer. That’s how it should be for all of us.

Take care. Everyone at our house will say a special prayer for him and for you. xo

Comment by Bridget 02.12.19 @ 9:38 am

I’m so very sorry. I’m crying as I write this. He sounds like a wonderful cat. We are facing/going through the same with our 18 year old Raya. She’s still eating, but is on antibiotics for cystitis. And so thin. Not quite 5 pounds. It’s a killer this animal love we have.

Comment by Nan 02.12.19 @ 10:34 am

animals are our truest friends; ready to comfort or forgive or just make you happy. We have been lucky to be pet people for a long time. How could you not smile when you think of Jer.

Comment by dod 02.12.19 @ 11:39 pm



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