Fat Cat passed from this life in the waning hours of daylight on Wednesday the 25th of May. I’m writing this post between crying jags, so if the flow of this piece feels less than flow-y, that is why. If you’re worried that this is a sad post, it is and it isn’t. It’s equal parts laughter and tears – kinda like life.
Fat Cat was already an old dude when I met him, tucked in a dusty corner of the cat shelter, tended by staff, but forgotten by the world. I liked him immediately. I liked his big, innocent eyes and his ginormous dimensions. I loved the way he climbed up on my husband’s lap in the “Get Acquainted!” room, stretched out full length, and kneaded on his upper chest as he gazed into eyes. Clearly this was a feline who loved big. Who loved…
e x p a n s i v e l y.
I picked him up (“Oh my gawd, dude, you’re like a Kitteh the Hutt!”) and carried him to the front desk. When they asked me what name I’d like on the complimentary collar tag, I looked at him and said (rather dramatically), “The Universe has ordained him Fattimus Cattimus. Fat Cat for short.”
“Okaaaaay,” the guy behind the counter said, and noted the name in all the legaleeze parts of the adoption papers. I pulled out my wallet to pay the adoption fee, but the guy shook his head. “He’s old so we don’t charge nothing.”
“What?” I thought. “Old cats have no value?” My empathy reaction – which is like a fight or flight reaction but sorta the exact opposite – kicked in full gear. Well, thanks shelter dude, there’s a fine stab of depression right in the gut, since, you know, the statement is so reflective of our modern culture where old things, old cats, old people, are so often devalued (a subject for another post – one I’d rather not write so maybe someone else can). I hugged my fuzzable old man protectively as if to say, “FAT CAT HAS VALUE EVEN IF HE’S FROM THE LATE FATTIMUC CATTIMUS JURASSIC PERIOD!”
A shelter lady brought a slab of cardboard over and, like some sort of physics-design-magician, folded it into a nifty cat carrier. “Wait,” the dude behind the counter said. “I’ll get some duct tape or somethin’. That thing needs some…” he looked at Fat Cat’s belly “…added reinforcement.”
By now I’d concluded that Counter Dude was purposefully trying to shred my cat’s little feline self esteem. Although, he did have a point about the reinforced carrier. My biceps burned from holding my catnormous beast.
I brought Fat Cat home and showed him around and didn’t really impress him until we got to the part of the tour that involved His Food Dish and also The Bag Of Temptations Cat Treats. At this point, he looked at me as if to say, “Yeah, you’ll do. But keep this dish-bitch full at all times got it? Also, I prefer Catnip Temptations treats. Because reasons. Now where’s the nearest sunbeam? I’m overdue for my 21 hour-long nap.”
Except he said it sweeter than that, because Fat Cat was a lump of pure gentleness. And a lump of not-so-intelligent, endearing simpleness. And I learned a lot from him.
Fat Cat, like all cats, enjoyed the simple pleasures in life: food, snacks, more food, more snacks, long naps, sunbeams, unconditional love, and the occasional stinky dude’s shoe.
As someone who fixates on “being productive” and “working hard” and “getting the job done”, to the point of causing physical and mental harm to myself from overwork and neglect, I’m trying to take more breaks and to be more mindful of the simple pleasures life gives us – sans the malodorous tennis shoe thank you very much.
Fat Cat didn’t worry about the future.
I’m trying, Fat Cat. I’m really, really trying.
Fat Cat didn’t care about his size, or his age, or his meow that was ten times too small for his body. He was so self-accepting that next to the word self-acceptance in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Fat Cat.
Self-acceptance? Darn you, Fat Cat, this one is hard! But I’m trying to accept all of me, I really am.
Fat Cat wasn’t a people pleaser. You didn’t like the way he lifted his back leg high and groomed his ass end on your desk while you were trying to work? Well dommage, humain qui est pas un chat et donc a des opinions douteuses de toute façon. Translation from French Kitty Dictionary: Too bad, human who is not a cat and therefore has dubious opinions anyway.
I’m trying to set healthier boundaries, Fat Cat. I’m trying to set WWFCD Do? boundaries (What Would Fat Cat Do?). And I think I’m doing better.
Fat Cat was afraid of the vacuum cleaner.
Hey, Fat Cat, know what? So am I, honestly, so I get it. That bitch will work your ass into the frickin ground – or the pet-haired-covered carpet. And you know what, Fat Cat? Maybe the carpet doesn’t always have to be so super clean. I’m learning to let the stuff that doesn’t matter slide. When my time comes, will I be lying there regretting that I didn’t vacuum that tsunami-of-pet-hair carpet every damn day? No, I won’t? Then eff it, self, let that tsunami slide. Just let it go. Thank you, Fat Cat, I’m going to spend more time and focus and energy on the stuff that matters.
Fat Cat wasn’t afraid to show affection. Lawd but that cat loved to love.
I’m a natural lover (not a fighter). But certain elements of my early life repressed my natural tendency to love openly. Tragically, this happens to many of us. But, Fat Cat, I admired your fearlessness in loving others. I admired that you weren’t afraid to express your affection. So I’m trying. I’m trying to reach out without fear and let others know how much they mean to me.
So, thank you, Fat Cat for all that you taught me.
Thank you also for all the years of your goofy, big-selfed, fuzzable company.
Thank you for the snuggles, the head-butts of love, the long gazes in which I’m sure you were telepathically telling me how much you loved me and not that it was time for me to feed you cat treats again.
Thank you for sitting in my lap during hundreds of thousand of words written. You made each hour warmer and more beautiful with your purr and your loving spirit.
Thank you for cuddling next to me in bed.
Thank you even for the times you kneaded on awkward locations of my anatomy to wake me up between 5:30 and 6:00 every [insert all the cuss words. ALL of them] morning. Because of you, I saw many beautiful sunrises and got a hella lotta stuff done before 9 a.m. every day.
But mostly, thank you for being you. You brought immense joy to my life and I will always and forever love you, my precious boy.
Now I’d like to celebrate Fat Cat’s life in pictures.
Starting with all the times he graced the cover of PEOPLE magazine…
And a few illustrations that show Fat Cat’s caring side…
Fat Cat was always my best critique partner: Fat Cat, what do you think of my prose?
And although few people knew this about him, Fat Cat fancied himself a rockette…
And he loved, loved, LOVED his little brother, Fang the Kitten of Destruction…
So here’s to you, Fat Cat, my oh-so-huggable, ever-so-tolerant, fluffalovable, not-so-smartable, gigantically gentle soul.
I love you,
And to my fellow writers and their cats everywhere, much love to you all,
Me (and Fat Cat from his little kitty afterlife)