Lopsided Cat Followup

A quick note of thanks to everyone who passed along their condolences with regard to Lopsided Cat yesterday; they were and are appreciated. It is sort of remarkable to me how much grief can well up when a pet dies, until one remembers that they are in fact people, who just happen not to be human. I don’t think of my pets as my children (at least, not once they are done being kittens or puppies), but they are family members, and it’s right to mourn their passing and miss them when they go. Your good thoughts and words in that respect helped.

For those of you wondering where he’ll spend his eternity, it’s here:

That’s the maple tree in the backyard, under which Ghlaghghee is also buried. Lopsided Cat and Ghlaghghee arrived here within a couple months of each other and we long suspected they might have been related (Lopsided Cat had markings very similar to Ghlaghghee’s mother, who lived next door. They would have been separate litters), so it seemed appropriate that they would be next to each other there. As we did with Ghlaghghee, the site is currently marked by a cairn of wood logs (which also solves the practical purpose of making it difficult for local dogs/coyotes/etc to dig up remains); we’ll replace those with a marker probably in the spring. It’s a nice place to have a rest, eternal or otherwise, and it will be good to have him here with us.

People have made the observation that it must help to have two new kittens in the house, or that possibly the timing of their arrival was something more than coincidental. My feeling about it is that it really was coincidental, but coincidence or not, having them here indeed makes the passing slightly easier to deal with. We lost two cats this year; we have two new cats to keep us company, and both of the kittens are exhibiting their own personalities and quirks already. Thing One and Thing Two (again, temporary names, although if Athena waits too much longer with the new names it may be too late) aren’t replacements for Ghlaghghee and Lopsided Cat, in the sense of it would be foolish to expect them to be like or have personalities like those two. It is fun to see them become who they are. I’m glad and grateful they are here.

In its way the last week is a bit of a microcosm of life, with pets as the players: People come into your life, people go out of it. You miss the ones that go, and remember them. You welcome the ones that come in, and try to make their stay in it worth the memory. Life goes on, and it is good. You get to be part of it, too.

And there it is.

61 Comments on “Lopsided Cat Followup”

  1. > They are in fact people, who just happen not to be human


    From one internet stranger to another, I’m sorry to hear about Lopsided Cat. I know that can never make up for the loss of a pet.

  2. Much love. Sorry for your loss. I also have the habit of burying my passed animal companions nearby. It is a strange but very real comfort to know and celebrate their final resting places.

  3. Wise words. Our two old cats are buried some 120 miles away in the garden of my husband’s family home, where they have the company of several other family cats, a dog and a goat. (Yes, a goat. Amiable but omnivorous, I gathered.)

  4. I’m also glad you obviously have many fine pictures of all the critters.

    When I browse photos and see one of the departed cats or dogs, it gives me a warm close feeling. We have a very close close up of Boomer’s nose and tongue on the Fridge, he wasn’t typically cute, but in that picture, you get his wet slobbery loving personality perfectly presented.

    So enjoy the pictures of Lopsided Cat, and take plenty of ThingOne and ThingTwo for future use.

  5. I see you’re following the proper prescription for grief: 2 kittens applied externally when needed.

  6. Yes, never replacements, but rather new personalities to get to know. I am on my second generation of sibling cats. I have never forgotten the amazing Per cat and his sister Froeken. Per has been gone for twenty years and yet he is somehow always in my heart. Your post yesterday seemed to have triggered a dream of Froeken. She also had kidney failure at the end. The present generation of sibling cats is moving to late middle age. Time does not stand still for us, does it? Your writing on your grief with the passing of your cats is exemplary. It resonates. May Lopsided Cat rest in peace under the cairn by the tree.

  7. Particularly poignant for me this morning. Our 2 year old cat just died quite unexpectedly. He was so awesome, and I will miss him so much. But it was a great two years, all the same.

  8. When I lose a cat, and then a new cat comes (in my case like yours they usually choose me and move in), I’ve come to realize that learning the new cat and its ways is also a way of learning more about myself.

  9. None of my cats can ever replace the ones that came before. I’ve had 7 of them in my life. My little profile picture shows Birdie, who was my second cat, and the one who stayed with me the longest. All of my cats were feral at one time, rescued by a shelter in Huber Heights, OH, and have come to my home. I miss every one of the ones who are gone, but cherish the ones I have now.

  10. “…people, who just happen not to be human” – I love this phrase. It so neatly and beautifully sums up my feelings for our critters. May I borrow it occasionally? With attribution, of course.

    Thank you also for the glimpse of Lopsided Cat’s resting place, near his maybe-sibling (or at least cousin) Ghlaghghee. What a peaceful, beautiful spot for them to share eternity, and for you, Krissy and Athena to be able to remember them whenever you see their maple in the sunset.

    Our pair of tuxedo boys, both around ten years old at this point, have been getting extra snuggling and love since you posted your beautiful tribute to your late family member, Mr. Scalzi. They always get plenty of both, mind you, but the reminder that our time with them is limited was well taken. I’ll soak ’em both up for as long as we have them, ever grateful for the unconditional love they return in ample measure.

    I am grinning through my tears about LC’s death as I look at the photo of you with your two shoulderkittens. It looks to me as though the Thinglets are bonding very nicely with you, exactly as I had hoped they would. I hope that bond continues to grow and deepen.

    Just one word of caution about shoulderkittens, though. They do grow up. And a full-grown shouldercat can be a mixed blessing, particularly if they figure out that a human person closely resembles a tree in climbabilty, and that it really isn’t difficult at all to reach that much-desired shoulder perch if one takes a running leap to land in the middle of said human’s back, from which point it is a piece of cake to scramble up to the shoulder.

    Yes, I speak from experience. Yes, I have chronic vertical scratches up and down my back. And yes, I still let my shouldercat jump up to clamber up my back to my shoulders, because when he arrives at his destination, the first thing he does is to nuzzle my ear while he purrs like a mad thing. So, very much a mixed blessing.

  11. Is it really ever too late to name cats?

    My two most recent ones were named within moments, before they had even been taken out of the cage at the re-homing centre: Digger and Squeak. As apt now, three years later, as it was at the time — Squeak may be a 13 pound giant now, but the voice never grew,

    Determined efforts to name cats in the past (including going through books and making up words) proved pointless in the end. The names so laboriously chosen never “stuck”. And before you knew what had happened, the right one would sneak up on you.

    So Min grew into Slug (yes, big, orange, lazy and voracious), and Smudge will be forever Baby (the last of the litter).

    Anyway, I suspect there is no reason to worry about T1 and T2 — they will come into their names soon enough.

    Incidentally, you have had me in tears a couple of times over the past two days; Lop-sided was clearly a great cat, and I am so sorry he has gone.

  12. I’m sorry for your loss, but glad that you’ve shared your thoughts on your pet’s passing with the rest of us. As Arthur Miller said in another context, attention must be paid.

  13. I had the thought that the kittens could be named Scylla and Charybdis [keeping with the Greek mythology theme of Zeus and Athena]. So it amused me to see you caught between Scylla and Charybdis in this photo, John.

    I find that sometimes the Universe seems to assign a cosmic number in regards to pets. My perfect cat level seems to be three. We lost our beloved Duncan a couple years ago and have been down to two cats since then…and it’s always seemed off somehow. When you shared that you had lost Lop-sided Cat so soon after getting the Things, it brought that cosmic-number thought into my head again.

    Blessings to you and your family as you mourn the loss of one special cat.

  14. Names should be personally appropriate, and personal to both you and the kittens, In our house, we have had names stemming from the kitchen, e.i.: Biscuit, Butter, Pepper, Nutmeg. And also ones more personality based: Rascal, Millicent, Shart.
    Not knowing anything about their personalities, would the names Baby and Pinto fit?

  15. In my experience (15 or so cats over the years), cats don’t really come into their full personalities until they’re about 5 years old. They settle down, settle in, and become most themselves. You have an adventurous half-decade ahead of you. Enjoy.

  16. So sorry for your loss John. Pets are special gifts to the heart. Thank you for sharing your tribute with us.

  17. I’ve had many cats throughout my life. New ones are never replacements for deceased ones. They’re all different. But still, damn, it hurts when they’re gone. I wouldn’t worry too much about how long it takes the kittens to come into their names. I think it took me a good 6-8 weeks to name my Thing Two, and it didn’t take her long at all to start responding to the new name.

  18. Hugh57 beat me to it; you referred to Zeus in the past tense at one point in that post on Lopsided Cat and it had me digging through the archives for the last time we’d seen him. I’m glad he’s okay.

  19. Has Athena ruled out Hickory and Dickory as names for these new kittens who’ve come in as a pair? It seems like a pair of names with solid heritage in Scalziworld.

  20. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s always hard when a beloved pet dies. Good to see that your two new kittens are helping you with this. Since I had already named one of the cats in my Sims Freeplay Ghlaghghee, as a small trbiute your Ghlaghghee – I have now also given my sims a Lopsided cat. I hope you don’t find that inappropriate, as I mean it as a tribute to the cats that I’ve come to see a little of, through your eyes. I picked the only long haired kind of cat they have, for both of them.

  21. I don’t mind telling you, I got kind of verklempt reading about the passing of Lopsided Cat. It brought back memories of when we lost our beloved (and last) greyhound, Frank, in 2008. It had to happen, but man, I still miss that dog so much.

    Great writing, JS. Here I go again.

  22. In our household, whenever one of our gang dies (as happened recently) another comes along. Not to fill the void, but to act as a comfort. Our bunch are all strays and have come to us shortly after one of our friends passed on. There isn’t less love when they go; it just expands. And, if possible, multiplies.

  23. So sorry for your loss. We had to say goodbye to our beloved little dog two months ago and its apparently not done knocking us for six. These creatures are, as you say, part of the family and its right to mourn them and remember them and acknowledge the love between you by giving it to another creature that needs it. Thanks for sharing your tribute – it helped me with my own loss.

  24. I’m verklempt again about Loppy. Such a beautiful cat. Have been paying extra attention to my beasties.

    The Things are helpful to us; virtual cheer for our virtual grief. And they are so cute, with the tiny pointy tails, the overlarge ears, and the blue eyes. T1 is going to be quite the beautiful princess.

    People who aren’t human — yes, that’s pets.

  25. The silver lining to losing pets is that there are pets, whatever species, to love, Each teaches us more and expands our hearts. There is no limit to love. I miss all my former feline and canine and other friends, as much as I love my current Zelda. (She seems to like me, and there’s no arguing with a tortie, right?) The Things are beyond adorable and I’m sure having them around helps a bit; getting to know new kitties is, for me, the best way to honor those who have gone before. I wish I could have them on MY shoulders!

  26. Has Zeus been informed that he is the senior cat now with all the duties and responsibilities that entails?

  27. Jack

    I suspect that Zeus is a bit stronger on the rights than the duties; after all, any cat who can hold his own with the princess Ghlaghghee is not exactly a shrinking violet.

    He’s more likely to set up a kitten rota to keep a constant watch on the pets water supply; that way he will never miss the ongoing quest to determine where the bubbles come from, without having to waste his time hanging around the lab…

  28. My sincerest condolences for your loss. I know what it’s like to have pets pass away throughout the years, and myself I’m on my 2nd cat, with the first having graciously pass away surrounded by loved one.

    Wonderful looking resting spot for your cats. I can just smell the woods oozing the through the pic (at least my imagination can).

  29. I am so sorry for your loss. My ginger cat, whom I long thought to be possibly immortal, is entering his winter at 17. It makes me so sad to see him decline.
    On a side note, have you ever thought of publishing a book of your families photography? The majority of it, especially of the pets and of Bradford positively glows. Good stuff.

  30. “…they are in fact people, who just happen not to be human.”

    Well said, and that’s how animals have always felt to me. And you’re right that the newcomers don’t replace the ones who have passed, but they allow us to move forward while cherishing the memories of their predecessors.

  31. That looks like an excellent place for a warrior to rest. Requiescat in pace, Lopsided One, you earned it.

  32. Take care in picking names. My Miles Vorkosigan is quite like his namesake. He’s only 15 months old — perhaps he’ll mellow.

  33. Love the picture of Lopsided Cat here. Reddit has a phrase they use for such poses: Majestic As F&ck. And he is certainly majestic!

  34. I am very sorry for your losses this year. They really do become part of our family, and their losses hurt. We lost one of our dogs a few months ago and I still feel her loss. I tend to struggle when it comes to these things, the emotions seem too large for a little text box, but wanted to pass on my condolences to you and your family. Take care.

  35. I’m so sorry for your loss. I went cat-free for three years because I lost two cats within a year but last month a new guy entered my life and having Frankie-cat around reminds me of what I was missing. BTW, love the video!

  36. Wonderfully written, John. I especially love the paragraph on how the week has been a microcosm for life. I’ll have to remember this.

  37. While I am sure you are still feeling your loss, take a minute and hold your head up a little higher, and know that you did right by your cats. They don’t live as long as we do, but it seems your cats had a life worth living. Food, care, shelter, time to be cats. They were loved, and it seems that they knew that. Thank you for taking the time and sharing the love.

  38. I’m sorry for your loss. I cried like a madman reading you very kind words the other day.

    I wish I had a chance to say goodbye to my dear 11 years old dog Dexter when he passed away a year ago… but I didn’t because some brain-dead bastard left poison on the side of the road where we used to take our evening walks. And I also spent his final moments speeding on the highway, trying to reach a vet in time to save him…

  39. And this is what I get for not checking Whatever on the weekend. I`m so terribly sorry for your loss, and you`re right, cats are people who just don`t happen to be human. Hugs to you and yours.

  40. You know, it’s the “people” nature of the non-humans that share our lives that bothers me so much about the Rainbow Bridge poem; it seems to me to be the height of narcisism to presume that a being would hang around in limbo, potentially for decades, waiting for his or her human to pass, just so they could fawn all over them again in heaven. I can’t imagine that any sensible being wouldn’t have far more important interests to engage them during that time.

  41. No, Thing One and Thing Two can never replace Ghlaghghee and Lopsided Cat, the way Penny could never replace Star for me. However, Penny has proven to be a more-than-worthy successor to Star. Here’s hoping Thing One and Thing Two carry on in that tradition.

  42. I’m so sorry about Lopsided Cat. We lost our outdoor tomcat this year too, to bobcat disease. Dopple found us, too, and we went through a lot together. He managed to escape when our house burned, although it took months for his hair to grow past the singed stage. He was a traveler, and when he left for a few days, we never knew if he’d be back. But he always did, even in the end. He came home before he passed, and that’s when we knew he saw us as home. I think pets know the shortcut to our hearts because they don’t put up the walls that people do. They make us laugh, they make us crazy, they make us better.

  43. To the person who said their cat names came from a kitchen: My youngest five, a mother and her four offspring, are Meringue, Praline, Walnut, Vanilla, and Five-Spice. This was after at least a month or two, and more in the case of Meringue, of being White Cat, Orange Kitten, Gray Kitten, White Kitten, and Calico Kitten respectively. White Kitten in particular was getting less and less white each day (her name is more a nod to vanilla bean ice cream, and she’s more dark than not now), and Gray Kitten is actually a dilute torbie and takes her name from wood rather than nuts.

    On the other hand, (Thing) One and Two are names whose meanings are unlikely to change no matter what their coats do. So there’s that.

  44. “… they are in fact people, who just happen not to be human.”

    Add my whole-hearted agreement to the others expressed here.

    And my condolences for your loss.

  45. I’m so sorry for your loss. And I’m sure it’s been commented already that your tribute and burial were beautiful. Recently I’ve been thinking of my dog, he’s 7 and a mastiff and is slowing down quite a bit. So we adopted a puppy, also a boy, and the trials and tribulations are not unlike the ones you’re writing about with the kittens right now. I’ve never lost a pet, other than my daughters hamster (who i dropper fed for a week and probably delayed the little guys demise..sorry stitch) so I don’t know what you are going through. But I do send some joy and happy thoughts. There are no coincidences! So the kittens arrival, was perfect timing, just as the universe had planned.. take care!

  46. A lopsided tree for a lopsided cat. Seems appropriate. OK, more like an asymmetrical tree, but, going with it.

    Thing 1 and Thing 2 — the names suit them. Does Zeus therefore get a hat?

    If they were male, you could go with Castor and Pollux; however, they’re neither of them flat, and one prefers Earth cats to remain non-flat.

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