Cat, Interrupted.

For Shaggy.

B. Kliban

Is Shaggy gone? I hope not. Is it Shaggy’s birthday?

My gf recently lost her cat, Mickey. Awww …

Oh please, not something bad happening to a kitteh. Anything but that.

At least the beast will be spared the indignities of the coming hungry time, when we will be forced to eat all the cats and dogs and then even the slower and weaker humans. From what I am reading, the total cessation of all commerce and trade has begun, which will be followed quickly by famine, pestilence, war, and the total collapse of civilization. Heckuva job, Georgie!

@Prommie: Geeze – and I though I was glass-half-empty. Eat the rich first!

@Prommie: I’m not eating any dachshunds. Yes, you heard me aright. My new motto is: Will work for tofu.

@Lyndon LaDouche: You would make a lousy Sioux*. No lead in “Little Big Man II: The Wild West Show Days” for you.

* It’s OK – they make that joke about themselves.

@SanFranLefty: Very ugly story about a dog and its irresponsible owner.

@nojo: Oh, no, this is so horrible….. there are so many bad dog owners out there. Then I wonder how bad of a parent they must be. Many wishes of good karma and thoughts of little furry paws and soft kitteh ears going up to St. Francis and the FSM and the Community Organizer in the sky. I’m so sorry, babe. Is Shaggy still with us and in the kitteh hospital or is Shaggy at the catnip field in the sky?

@SanFranLefty: Shaggy is making the most fucking loud purr the gods have ever encountered.

I tend to be cryptic, so better spell it out: It all happened very quickly, and Shaggy was DOA at the vet. We found a nice place in the garden for him.

So sorry to hear. I still think about my little Pommie buried in the side yard.

@nojo: I’m so sorry, Nojo, that’s terrible. Truly, my heart goes out to you.

@nojo: Nojo, as a cat person myself, I send my deepest condolences. We lost Mr. HF’s cat last year and I know how rough it is. If you treated Shaggy a tenth as nicely as you treat us, I am sure you sent kitty heaven one very happy cat.

All cats go to heaven, bro, but I know you probably wish yours was still here. My condolences.

Shaggy was a stray who adopted me a few years ago — probably feral, since we have more than a few of those in the neighborhood. And he was very much an outdoor cat, only choosing to come inside when it was cold or wet.

And that’s the bargain you make with outdoor cats: they’re free to roam because their nature demands it, you hope they’re smart enough to avoid cars and raccoons, and maybe (or maybe not) you can drag them to the vet for shots. You know the risks, but they’re cats, and they have a pretty settled idea about how their world works. That’s what’s fascinating about them.

So you become part of their world, not the other way around, and you try to make your corner of their world as welcoming as possible, always remembering, first and foremost, they need to be cats, goddammit. They’ll let you know what they need from you.

I’ve gone through a lot of cats and dogs in my life — from birth, they were always part of the family. My dad always hated The Inevitable Moment, since he was the one who had to deal with it. Never again, he would say, I can’t handle going through that again. And soon enough, another critter would somehow show up, and Dad could never resist.

I can’t either. That’s part of my nature.

@nojo: We had a cat come around some time ago who was auditioning homes for her new circuit. She kept moving despite our offerings of two different brands of cat food. We still have that shit in the pantry, and see her around once in a while.

@nojo: Sounds like he had a great cat life and was lucky to have you in it. I’m sure there’s another kitty walking around that carries a bit of the Spirit of Shaggy in her or him, and hopefully will be able to walk in to your life when you’re ready. I will light the St. Francis candle tonight in honor of Mr. Shaggy.

@nojo: I’m so sorry to hear that. My thoughts are with you.

@redmanlaw: The night my mom and I brought home a pregnant Siamese from an overwhelmed cousin was the night my dad almost lost it. (Not to mention our two dogs.) Siamese stayed, as did two of her litter, the dogs quickly learned to deal with it, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Out of four dogs and eight cats in my life, I don’t think we’ve ever chosen one. We all just end up with them.

@SanFranLefty: There’s a black feral cat who’s been hanging out on the periphery the past couple of years. Keeps his distance for the most part — very cautious — but he knows who puts out the food, and most mornings he’s waiting in the bushes. Some mornings he’s even waiting on the patio table, looking in the window.

Few weeks ago, something very odd happened: He jumped on the table while I was setting the bowl down, and insisted I scratch his head. Now he does that every day.

And that’s how it begins. Never fails.

@nojo: It feels ridiculous to say something as trite as “I’m sorry,” but that’s all I can come up with. I’ve certainly lost pets in my life, and it’s affected me more or less depending on the situation (the one that sticks in my mind involved an impromptu burial in the corner of a field, on the way to school one morning, although I was already so fucked up on teen angst that the cat nearly didn’t register; I was probably an insufferable teenager).

Anyway, memories of angst aside, I’m sorry to hear about Shaggy. …Now all I can think about is the profound basso rumble of my ex-gf’s cat Miloš purring as he was pressed against my ear. Alas, I’m pretty dang allergic to cats now, but the sneezing was worth it for that.

@nojo: Same as my family, out there in the sticks near the Idaho panhandle. And my mother used her B. Kliban checkbook cover (which featured the cat with the banjo singing about nibbling on mousies’ tiny feet) until it fell irretrievably apart. Condolences on the loss of Mr. Shaggy.

It’s never easy to lose a pet.

I feel little lump of something in my throat. It’s a cold, I swear!

@nojo: Well it’s always been obvious from your gravatar that you’re a kitty-magnet.

@nojo: I’ve said in grief: “Never again” so many times, yet somehow another always comes along to stabilize our Oort cloud of cats/dogs, and our shared lives lurch on.
Nojo, all I can offer right now are my tears and condolences.

Condolences appreciated from all — I know how hard it is to find something to say without sounding trite, and sometimes all you can manage is silence.

I forget the writer now, but years ago I came across a passage from someone who got it — who understood cats as they are, not as cute purring throw pillows.

The story was this: Cats never walk a straight line between Point A and Point B because it’s not interesting. They’ll take a detour across the couch and over the coffee table because that’s where the adventure is. Cats are in it for the journey, not the destination.

Here’s how bad I am:

My mom likes to tell the story about how I was all distraught one afternoon when she picked me up from the babysitter. Seems I had just watched some movie about A Boy and His Cow wandering across the European countryside — war refugees, maybe, I don’t recall — and at the end of the movie, the boy returns to the warm embrace of civilization.

So why was I upset? The movie never said what happened to the cow.

Hey, I still won’t watch Bambi again.

@ManchuCandidate: Dude, that was the first movie I ever saw. And I think it explains why I am the way I am now.

@rptrcub: Mary Poppins. I don’t even want to think of the consequences.

@nojo: Brave hamster! Or just so bloody talented the quips can’t be held back. Are you trying to cheer us up?

@nojo: Makes perfect sense to me. Not wrapping up the storyline for a significant character is unforgiveable.

@Pedonator: I could tell you how Shaggy was the Bestest Cat in the Whole World, but we all have those stories. If I’m going to drag this out in public, I’m gonna make a conversation out of it. Cats fascinate me, and I don’t mind sharing the reasons why.

@nojo: I am so, so sorry. Since moving to Oregon, I’ve let my kittehs be indoor/outdoor cats and I can tell they’re happier, although it causes me no end of anxiety. When one disappeared for a month I feared the worst, but she came back when she was good and ready. I, too, am fascinated by the nature of cats –people can say they’re “domesticated” but really they’re just miniature lions and tigers who view us as their pets.

@Mistress Cynica: Unlike dogs, cats were very late to be domesticated — probably still in the process, really. I think that’s what accounts for their “alien” nature to many folks: Cats aren’t human, although all mammals share more than they exclude from each other. Birds I’ve never understood.

Sometime back, somebody suggested that “domestication” is really infantilization — that by making cats and dogs dependent upon us, we actually prevent them from maturing. I still don’t know what to make of that, except to note that similar things have been said recently about American society. If life here is a high school, that means we’re all aging adolescents…

@nojo: I’ve been away all day and just found out that what I feared was what happened. I’m so sorry.

We lost our cat Romilda to a Rottweiler/something else that had trampled down his fence and gone marauding in the neighborhood. At least the owner wrote us a letter of condolence and apology, but still! It was very hard (and she wasn’t even one of our all-time favorites.) It’s hard enough when a loved pet or person dies at a ripe old age of an illness, but when it’s murder that snatches them away . . . Our vet told me that their practice sees about once every two weeks a small dog or a cat either badly mauled or killed by a big dog.

I’m glad there’s a needy darling waiting in the wings for you. Please do continue a conversation about cats and why they fascinate you. I too love them. And if we all talk about the wonderful ones we’ve known and loved, I can tell you about the tomcat we had that was a bodhisattva. My husband used to say that Swanson was his spiritual adviser.

@lynnlightfoot: Yeah, that’s the hard part. You worry about cars, you worry about raccoons (they show up on the patio at night, and that’s when the food goes inside), you worry about various nasty diseases making the rounds, you worry about, well, catfights. And if you live up the road in L.A., you worry about coyotes. These things are all Known Hazards, and if your cat needs to roam to flourish, that’s the bargain you strike with the devil.

But a fucking dog?

New neighbor, new dog, no fence, no chain. Very, very ugly. That’s not part of the bargain, and the devil owes me one.

@nojo: All my adult life until I hooked up with a puppy lover and we got our doggie, the thought of having a pet was kinda creepy to me, because I also equated domestication with infantilization or anthropomorphization. Took about 24 hours after a visit to a shelter to make up my mind, I had to have that creature who seemed so excited to see us he was just shouting, hey guys, get me the fuck outta here, I guarantee you won’t regret it! And we haven’t.

@Pedonator: Having grown up around dogs and friends’ dogs, I can’t think of anyone who ever treated Sport as an accessory or toy or power trip, but that might be Oregon. They’re all just members of the family who enjoy car rides that much more.

@nojo: Late to the game. This sucks. Sorry for you. We lost ours last year about this time, and it was devastating. She was a gift from my wife when we just started dating, she had been everywhere we had been around this big globe (seven countries in fourteen years), and in some ways her death was like another *snip* on that thread that kept me tethered to my expat existence.

My kids were young enough to not be able to understand that she was dying when it was obvious to us (lung cancer ya know), and when we finally put her in a box and lowered her into the ground out back, and they saw my eyes, my son only said “wow, parents can cry”.

I too grew up around cats and dogs among other critters, but always come down on the side of the felines in any matchup. Portability proved important to us before, now it is just the sheer fact that our newest one gets it.

Pick up a copy of Paul Gallico’s Thomasina, read it if you haven’t already, re-read it if you have. My 7 yr old and I worked our way through it last winter, and it spoke volumes.

@nabisco: I’m not going to side between cats and dogs — my folks have a barrel-chested Husky who loves to drag me up hills when I visit the homestead. But as an apartment-dweller my adult life, cats are certainly convenient. Plus, they’re the ones who show up on the patio.


Love to eat them mousies,
Mousies what I love to eat!
Bite their little heads off,
Nibble on their tiny feet!

(I had the trashcan. And the note cards. And the calendar.)

@nojo: Animals and children sense good people. It’s not just the food, but it helps.

Our late Husky got out one day (they are escape artists) and killed some backyard chickens across the street from us. Our covenants said “no barnyard animals” but Mrs RML felt bad because some kid’s prize chicken got killed. We we out $50 for the illegal birds.

@JNOV: I had the nightshirt, until it fell apart from years of wear.

@Mistress Cynica: :-D

Cats. They’ll break your heart.

Scout has been missing since August 10th, the day before I went into the hospital. We put up 46 signs in the neighborhood, and I think he’s found a new family for now. He’ll come home if they let him out. I just about never let him out, but he just. had. to go. that day.

Lilly just came in. I was terrified that she went to go find Scout. She goes out with me when I smoke, and she follows me around like a dog. She’s got emotional problems: she pulls out her fur, chases her tail, and she has an eating disorder unless you feed her raw Cornish game hen.

Princess was named by the neighborhood kids in Atlantic City. She had a litter while she was still a kitten, and somehow the neighborhood kids broke her tail. I stole her from the neighborhood but kept her name. She is a rolly polly round thing now, and she has no desire whatsoever to go outside. She’s also the only cat I’ve ever had that will let me rub its stomach without attaching to my hand with fishhook claws and needle-sharp teeth. It’s like being stuck in kitty quicksand when they get a hold of you like that. You’re stuck until they disengage.

All of my cats are semi-feral miniature lions, and I just have to let them be cats.

I hope Scout comes home. At bedtime he licked my palm and did that kneading paw thing. Then he curled up between my knees which forced me to sleep on my back when I’m really a side sleeper. We miss him so very much, but in the past he’s been gone for a month and we found him none too worse for wear.

They will break your heart.

I have a Cat mug, Cat towels (now pretty much rags) — and a Cat Stick.

The Cat Stick was Kliban’s play for the Pet Rock market. It’s staring at me from atop my dormant turntable, and I’ll have to introduce it some day when Yoda Pez is on vacation.

@nojo: I eagerly await the appearance of The Cat Stick. I had a pet rock. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t think the joke was funny. Adults do stupid things.

Now a cat stick? That’s funny. That pet rock would move of its own volition before any of my cats would fetch a stick.

@JNOV: Cats don’t fetch the Cat Stick. You wave the Cat Stick at cats to annoy them. Works every time!

@JNOV: I told a kid and his dad buying fishing gear for the first time at wal-mart one day that lake fishing was like playing with a cat. “You know how they like to chase a string? It’s like that with fish (in that lake). You throw the lure in front of them, pull it, pause, pull it again and whammo!” His eyes lit up and I got a handshake from the dad, just like a fucking ad or something about wal-mart building community or some shit.

@redmanlaw: And after the kid handed RML a Coke, RML tossed back his jersey.

oh nojo,
i have no words. you know how i adore my furchildren, words haven’t been invented to decribe the pain when we lose them. mine are totaly infantalized because i don’t let them outside. the last cat i let outside was murdered by a neighbors lab. i loved this cat so much, i considered digging her up in bryn mawr and taking her to provo with us. mr. baked and i made a deal. i would leave my beloved zoe in her grave and he would leave jerry garcia’s faux grave stone in the yard.
i lost my 17 year old dog a year and a half ago, and i see his beautiful grave site every day, that i tend like a sicilian widow.
my deepest condolances nojo, but as you already discovered, there are more furry heads that need petting, and i like to think that maybe shaggy and zoe are up there blogging and drinking together.
hang in honey.

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