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One Final Gift

One fine summer day in 2006 Mr. Man came home from work and showed me a picture of an adorably tiny grey and white kitten.

Neko in 2006, in one of her rare down moments.

“You remember K, who lives on a farm?” 

I did.

“Their neighbor has a cat she hasn’t spayed, and a dog that likes to eat kittens.”

Well, that’s awful. What can we do?

“They’re forcing the neighbor to fix the cat so it won’t be a problem in the future, but she needs to find homes for a litter of kittens.”

I was pretty sure I knew where this was going. Mr. Man batted his eyelashes at me.

“Look at that sweet face.”

He was right, the kitten was adorable, bright, charming and full of energy.

Tintin could use some company, don’t you think?”

Neko and Tintin

We brought her home a few days later. Tintin was not quite as happy about the company as we had hoped, but we were right about her energy and intelligence. 

Neko was a catch-and-release hunter who never met a mourning dove she didn’t want to bring home to play, a fierce protector who growled at unexpected visitors, and while never a cuddler, she always wanted to be close. 

Was she smart? Oh yes. She led us to problems like leaking basement pipes and trained us to open the patio door on command, to build cardboard palaces, and to carry her up and down the stairs when they got to be too much for her to manage. 

The garden queen in her domain, 2013.

Last month we learned she had lung cancer, along with a rare complication called lung-digit syndrome that made it hard to walk as well as breathe. We consulted an oncologist, got new meds, gave her treats, and generally did what we could to keep her comfortable. We watched her energy and appetite wane. She lost weight. Stairs became a draining once-a-day event. Two days ago she stopped taking her meds.

* * *

For fifteen years we made her hunting blinds so comfortable she couldn’t be bothered to actually hunt, decorated rooms with blankets and fleece beds, and made sure we fed the birds year round so that there was always something entertaining out the windows. Whatever we could to make her life better.

Sometimes the only thing left is to make the end as painless as possible.

So today, we did that too.

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Adulting is Hard

Brave Sir Tintin (1999–2017)

Tintin was an excellent cat. Orphaned on the frigid November streets of Ottawa at the tender age of six months, he nevertheless established a loving home complete with devoted human servants. Well-traveled and handsome to a fault, he remained a homebody who adored a good cuddle by the fire. He was sprightly enough to catch mice despite having no front claws, but never missed an opportunity to lounge in a sunbeam.

Tintin passed away following complications from lymphoma which, according to his vet, would have felled a lesser cat long ago.

He was loved, and he will be sorely missed.

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