Monday, April 25, 2011



We adopted Jasper in the summer of 1999. He wasn't supposed to come home with us; we were actually getting a kitten for Youngest Sister following the death of our latest cat. Every time we went to the SPCA, though, there was this one adult cat who kept sticking in our minds. When Youngest finally picked out a kitten, a little calico baby, my mom said, spontaneously, "Let's get the tabby, too; your dad really likes him."

He had been at the shelter so long (over a year)1 that we didn't have to pay any adoption fees for him; they were just happy that he was going to a home. Later, we would remark that we couldn't understand how he'd gone unnoticed for so long: while he wasn't the most beautiful cat, his personality more than made up for it. He loved all of us (excepting, perhaps, Youngest) devotedly. Even though he and Padme2 were not litter-mates or even related, they were best friends3, often snuggling up together:

Padme and Jasper

Of all of us, though, Jazz was most devoted to my mother. He would stay up at night when she was working nights at the hospital, and he would wait for her to come home in the morning. If she didn't arrive home at 7:30, he would start to prowl around the house to look for her. He would then sleep on the bed with her for the day. He would sit on the computer desk when she was using the computer, and he would come up behind her and poke her in the back if he thought she wasn't paying enough attention to him.

He was an exceptionally friendly cat. My dad nicknamed him, "The WalMart Greeter" because he would forget about everything as soon as he heard someone on the doorstep, and run to the front door to say hello.

Unlike most cats, Jasper loved having his tail pulled. If you put your hand on his tail, he'd lean away from you so that you were pulling on it. We always had a hard time explaining this to people, who thought that we were making it up--until they saw him in action, and how loudly it would make him purr.

You may have noticed that this post is mostly written in the past tense. Jasper got sick about two weeks ago. Youngest took him to the vet's after he failed to get up for breakfast one morning. His bladder was enlarged, and he was unable to pee. After a few days of being catheterized, he peed on his own and came home, only to wind up back at the vet's for the same reason the next day. He spent a few more days with a catheter in, peed successfully, and came home again...and went back to the vet again two days later. My parents made the decision to euthanize him, and they buried him in our backyard on Thursday evening.

It was very strange to be home for Easter. Between missing him and wondering if she'd made the right decision, my poor mum was so sad. For me, the hard parts weren't the big things--I knew he wouldn't be there to greet us, and I knew that he wouldn't be begging for food around dinnertime. It was the small things: coming around a corner and expecting to see him on a chair; finding his fur on the bedspread in my bedroom; listening for him in the morning.

I'll miss him for a long, long time.
1 Thank heaven we lived in an area that could afford to have a no-kill shelter.
2 Yes, 1999 was the year that The Phantom Menace came out. Why do you ask?
3 Except when he would forget about the time he had the Big Operation and force himself upon her.

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