My cat died a couple weeks ago. I had him for 20 years and he’s left a large hole in my life. I know not everybody gets cats the way cat people do, but he was honestly one of my closest friends. I just wanted to write a bit about him now that the grief is a bit less raw and just remember him for the legend he was.
My ex and I were around when Yeti’s mom had her litter. She had health problems and sadly had to be euthanized shortly after Yeti and his siblings were weaned. I had my pick of the litter. I had recently lost a tuxedo cat (Trouble) to a pit bull attack, and thought I’d take the one tuxedo in the litter. Aditi’s mom suggested I also take this one bashful kitten who had a hairline similar to mine. I agreed. Jezebel (the Tuxedo) became Aditi’s cat, and Yeti almost immediately became very bonded to me. I’ve always been thankful I was talked into taking him.
Both Yeti and Jezebel were polydactyl, and Yeti’s front paws had six toes each. I almost named him Big Foot, but given his long, thick white hair, “Yeti” seemed more apropos.
Yeti displayed what can only be anthropomorphized as “empathy.” He always understood when I was sad or sick and would lay by me, placing one paw on my thigh, or curl up on the couch behind me and put his paw on my shoulder. And when I was happy or comfortable, he would be in my lap. He loved to sit facing me with his paws on my chest and give me nose bumps. He learned very young that licking my nose repeatedly was a bit painful, and would just give one lick or tap and then stop.
Speaking of understanding pain, Yeti learned at a very young age that his claws and teeth hurt me, and after he got past the part of his life where he would try to climb my leg with his sharp little kitten claws, he never bit or scratched anybody, ever. I once held him while a urinary crystal was removed through his urethra; he held onto my arm and yowled, but never clawed or bit, which was impressive. I think if someone was squeezing a rock through my private bits I would probably try to bite the nearest arm I could.
Jezebel passed away under the care of Aditi a few years back. We honestly never expected Yeti to outlive her, but he lived to 19 years and 9 months and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve spent more time with Yeti than with any human in my entire life. He was always around. I never even saw my parents that much from 0-18. And I’ve never had a romantic relationship longer than about 13 years. So Yeti was my longest relationship and the “partner” I’ve spent the most of my life with. I appreciate humans and all, but Yeti and I never had a fight or even a misunderstanding. He was just always there for me. I gave him all my love, and he returned it.
Yeti has been living with my partner Elle and I for about 5 years now. It took him a while, but he eventually accepted Elle as his other person. He worked his way into her heart and Elle loved him as much as I did. He helped pull our little “family” together, and I know she’s missing him right now, too.
The last couple years have been full of health scares. He went from 20 pounds to 6 pounds at the end. He had a bout of pancreatitis, and then kidney failure. We’d been expecting him to die for quite a while now, so we had plenty of time to prepare for this. And he gave me the best ending I could imagine…
He was energetic and loving on Thursday, and then at 2am on Friday he crawled under my covers and fell asleep. That was the last time he moved on his own. He spent the day with me Friday, with his paw in my hand or on my leg. I would place him in the middle of the couch and then work on my laptop on the side, and he would pull himself over to me to put his paw on me or bury his head in my thigh. I took him to bed with me that night. On Saturday at 5:15am, I rolled over and put my hand on him. He took two deep breaths and then exhaled his last. Man, he waited until I woke up to say goodbye. Seriously, he was the most caring cat you’ll ever meet.
I will always miss Yeti, but he gave me a great 20 years in the prime of my life. I’m not nearly as devastated as I thought I’d be. It was all so peaceful. He stayed by me all the way to the end, and I’ll be eternally grateful that he passed peacefully at home and I didn’t have to make the decision to end his life in a cold vet’s office. I’ve done that with beloved pets a dozen times over the years, and it’s a horrible thing to go through. Yeti gave me a fairy tale of an ending.
I made a video out of 20 years’ worth of pictures. It’s too long, but if you want to enjoy it and have the patience for it, consider it my tribute to the best cat ever.