I didn’t want another cat after Poco died. I wanted to travel more, that was the official reason, and I decided it didn’t make sense to have an animal if that’s what I was going to do. But mostly, my heart couldn’t take it. Pets come into your life to teach you about unconditional love and for that love you eventually have to pay the toll.
The Egyptian, however, believed I needed another cat. In fact, he later confessed that he had planned to steer me into a shelter to look at kittens on the same morning we took Poco to be cremated. He decided it was a little too soon but I understood where he was coming from. It took a long time before my apartment began to feel normal with just me inhabiting it.
But one day in 2011, around the time The Egyptian was finishing up packing his apartment to move overseas, my buzzer rang. I knew he was coming but I answered it with a question anyway, like anyone would ever show up at my place unannounced, “Hello?”
“It’s me,” he said, “and guess who’s with me.” He was supposed to deliver the cat to his son for safekeeping but drove to my apartment instead.
Fitzer and I needed each other right then, and although he wasn’t thrilled about the situation at first – any time I visited the Egyptian, the cat made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t interested in sharing his human – it was the start of a love story. But now, it’s just me inhabiting this place again.
When I got home from Jamaica, Fitzer just wasn’t himself. Sweet, lovely Fitzer … his kidneys were failing. On the morning, of March 6th, Fitzer started purring again, something he very uncharacteristically hadn’t done for a few days, and wanted to cuddle in my lap. He was saying goodbye. We spent a long, long time like that.
Finally, my father and I took him to the clinic, the details of which I can’t bear to get into except to say that I will never recover from the sadness of that trip.
We snuffled and wiped our eyes as we left the clinic with Fitzer’s empty carrier my dad said glumly, “I don’t even like cats!”
That was the charm of Fitzer.
One thing I always thought was really special about Fitzer was how talkative he was. Did you know that domestic cats develop a complex language shared only between each individual cat and their human? It’s true, I learned this while watching a recent episode of The Nature of Things. Other humans cannot understand what your cat is saying, even other experienced cat owners, because their cat made up a different language to talk to them. Cats don’t use this language to communicate with other cats, either. It’s just for you. That episode also taught me that the appearance of ginger cats follows the same route as the Norse exploration of Europe. The Norse settled the Scottish Highlands, where Sinclairs originated. I can’t say that the fact that Fitzer and I both descended from Vikings ultimately increased our bond, not like our secret feline language anyway, but it’s something.
Nobody wants to speak ill of the dead, apparently not even when the dead are cats, but finally Dad said what my Mom and I were thinking, too.
“I think he might have been the best cat you ever had.”
Poco and Stella were great cats, but I am sure that if asked, they would have to agree that they had their moments of total dickishness that Fitzer never, ever did. Fitzer was a magical cat. He spread joy and sunshine to everyone he met. It was a gift to have him as my companion for the last four years – I just thought we would have more time.
Fitzer’s story starts and ends with the Egyptian. I wrote to him later that Wednesday evening to give him the sad news. He wrote back shortly:
Fitzer, in his short* life, gave us both such joy and happiness and as you said he was a magical cat!! A colleague saved a stray kitten and I was baby sitting it for a week. During that week I really appreciated how magical Fitzer was (he was an angel compared to other cats). Don’t be sad, just always remember how amazing Fitzer was and that might draw a smile on your face!
* We think Fitzer was 15.