This is the hardest blog post I have ever had to write. But I also feel privileged to be writing it.
My beloved Tuxedo Cat, Friday, passed away yesterday, on Sunday, July 21, 2013 at eighteen years of age. Above is one of the paintings I did of him.
Friday, as I knew him, had stopped being Friday some weeks before. And about five days ago he stopped eating. Going from about 10 ounces of canned food a day (because of his hyperthyroidism) to nothing, I knew he was telling me it was the end. He also started walking around in circles and pacing up and down yowling his head off.
For some time now I have been caught between not wanting to end his life too soon and not wanting to prolong it, only for my benefit. So I decided by not eating, his message was clear. I am grateful for that. Another of my paintings of him. He was a great model!
I adopted Friday at eight months old in November, 1995. I was interested in another cat at the animal shelter. But a gentleman who was hanging around there pointed out this big, muscular cat who was waving his paw out of the cage. “What about this one,” he asked. I don’t know why I didn’t notice him before but it was love at first sight.
The cat had to be transported to the vet to be fixed and I picked him up there the next day. It was a Friday. And so he was named.
This is a hand-painted ceramic tile I fired in my kiln.
At first he wasn’t that friendly and hated to be picked up. I nicknamed him Mr. Wriggly as all four legs, head and tail wriggled around whenever I picked him up to give him a hug. And he was such a strong cat I couldn’t hold him for more than a few seconds. Ugh, that was not his thing at all.
But after a couple of months of this he was waiting for me at the front door every night when I came home, meowing to be be picked up and hugged. Hugging became his favorite thing in life. Claws digging into my skin as if he couldn’t get close enough.
I believe he must have been raised with a dog and thought that was what he was. His tail wagged all the time and he followed me around like a puppy. I was constantly tripping over him. In the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, up and down the stairs, it didn’t matter. Wherever I was, there was Friday, usually ahead of me!
If I talked on the phone he would be annoyed and try to climb up my legs. Working on the computer he would lie across the keyboard or in front of the monitor so I couldn’t see what I was doing.
I have to take my blood pressure every morning and keep very still and calm. This didn’t phase Friday as he would jump in my lap or get tangled up in the cable. No wonder my blood pressure readings were always so high!
Another ceramic piece I painted.
When anybody came to the house he would be at the front door greeting them. Whenever I gave a party he would go from guest to guest making sure everybody knew he was the star of the show. Of course, he did have his favorites! And once I could not find Friday anywhere. One of my guests told me he was standing out on the sidewalk welcoming everybody to the party!
I had to be very careful opening the front door as he would shoot out down the stairs at lightning speed. He had a lovely roof deck and front balcony to enjoy the outdoors. But he rarely took advantage of that. Nothing was as fun as escaping out the front door. Even when he got out of the building he wouldn’t go very far. He was not an adventurous outdoor cat. Given a choice between being outside or inside, he preferred to be indoors.
He had some unusual habits. Every morning he liked to jump up on the washbasin in the bathroom and take a drink out of the faucet. But he wasn’t happy until I put down a line of jojoba oil for him to lick up. I researched this on the internet to make sure it was okay and it seemed the only side effect was a very shiny coat!
And when I turned on the hair dryer he had to have his turn under it. Oh, he would get really mad if he didn’t get his turn. Those nasty claws would be digging into my leg. The closer the hair dryer was to his skin, the more he liked it. Once or twice I could smell his fur singeing but he only begged for more!
At night he loved to sleep behind my pillow. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning unable to turn my neck, only to discover that he had wrapped his body around my head. Some days he would wake me up by licking and tugging at my hair. Yuck. I had to pull the sheet up around my head and at that point he would crawl under the covers.
Well, he didn’t exactly come to Mykonos, Greece with me but I painted him into this tile anyway!
When he first came to live with me I realized he could be very aggressive. One minute he was overly lovey dovey. The next he would be biting my arm. It became such a problem that at night when I was sleeping he was biting my cheeks and nose and drawing blood. I had so many bruises and wounds on my face that my co-workers even believed I was being abused by my boyfriend…. yes, my four-legged one!
My vet put him on a very low dose of amitriptyline. I was desperate and decided I didn’t care if it shortened his life (obviously it didn’t) or changed his personality. I just couldn’t live with this cat any longer, so it was drugs or back to the animal shelter. It was a miracle. Not only did it halt his aggressive tendencies but he still maintained all his wonderful Friday characteristics.
And, whereas before I could not have another cat because Friday had tried to kill three other cats when they were introduced into the household, he was now docile enough to try again. I adopted Pharoah and although there was one horrible fight in the beginning when Friday proved his dominance once and for all, after that peace reigned. (And, fortunately Pharoah, who had moved from home to home in his short six months of life, was so happy to have a permanent place to live he didn’t mind playing second fiddle.)
Friday and Pharoah trying to share the sofa.
I could tell so many stories about Friday. He was a one-of-a-kind cat. I have had cats all my life but he will always stand out.
A friend of mine wrote to me today to say that as Friday had died yesterday, his passing had made room for another spirit to enter the world in the form of a baby prince. That was the kind of cat he was. So as I watch the latest heir to the British throne grow up, I will think of Friday. Watch out world! He will be very outgoing. A meeter and greeter, always demanding attention, if that is the case! That was a beautiful thing for my friend to say, and I am willing to accept it as true.
So, farewell, my good pal, and I’ll be looking for you next time I open the laundry basket!
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