Today is the culmination of a few sad days. We had to say goodbye this morning to our eldest cat, Squeaker. We’ve had him since 2006, and he’s always been my friend, a prince among cats, if you can call a doughnut-stealin’, potato chip- and popsicle-lickin’, and corn-on-the-cob-nibblin’ cat a prince. And I think I will.
He was a cute orange tabby kitten when he came to stately Murray Manor, and he has helped us through a ton of stuff – good and bad. Always loyal, always vocal, always a comfort; sometimes a pest, sometimes a load, sometimes a secret (as in we didn’t exactly know where you were).
One of those times he was a secret was the start of “Squeaker’s Big Adventure.” It was back in 2009ish, before I got laid off at the magazine. Karen and I had been somewhere – I can’t remember where – and when we came back home the back door to the house was open. Not unlocked, but wide open. And Squeaker (and his brother Smokey, were nowhere to be found. We searched that night. A lot. We called out to him and called out to him, but he didn’t respond.
We thought he was gone.
The next day, I – despite a heavy, heavy heart – went to work, a drive of 25 or so miles. I stopped to get gas along South Boulevard and continued to the magazine, which was just off Tyvola.
I went to work and tried to get over losing my buddy. It didn’t really work. About an hour or so into the day, I did a walkabout at work and took a peak out the back window. I saw an orange blotch near the car.
Surely that can’t be Squeaker, I thought. But it was – his tabby markings were quite distinctive – stripes and spots. I went out and coaxed him to me – the folks at work thought I was crazy. Got him inside, put together a makeshift box and some water and went out to get him some food at lunch time.
My little buddy had hitched a ride with me, stayed in the car when I got gas, and surfaced at the perfect time for me to see him. I called it “Take Your Cat to Work Day” and got him home safe and sound – the only damage was a small burn on his tail.
After that, he never tried to go outside again. Though he was probably tempted to last Christmas when we got Lenny – a gray tabby kitten who is – shall we say – active. Then Stirling – a pleasingly plump black and white feline – joined the family a few months later.
We think Squeaker had a crush on Stirling; he merely tolerated Lenny.
But our little cat family figured out how to co-exist and thrive. Until about a week ago. Squeaker stopped eating. Totally. He wasn’t himself. I won’t go into a lot of particulars, but after a blood test the vet said he had a long-term problem – and something else. Meanwhile, he moved under the bed, starting to meow with something like a moan, and still wouldn’t eat. His breathing was labored.
We lost him this morning, and it hurts. I’m really missing him already, but I’m thankful we had more than 12 years together. I’ll never forget you, buddy.