His name was Fritz. He was named after an early 1970s cartoon cat, Fritz, the X-rated Cat. We adopted him when he was about eight weeks old--one of the last
of a long line of cats that had been born and raised by my husband, John, and his family. Actually, he adopted us. John and I had been married for only
a couple of years when he came home with us--a 250 mile trip from his birthplace. Fritz was one of a litter of four. While I chased his littermate (a gorgeous buff colored
tabby) all over the yard, Fritz (as he was to become) waltzed up to John and began that leg-rubbing dance that cats do. That was it. John pronounced that this was the kitten that was to come
home with us. As I was tired of chasing "Buffy" (as I had so hopefully named him), I agreed. It turned out to be one of the most fortunate choices of my life, for Fritz
was to become a cherished family member.
Fritz was an indoor cat, of course. He went through all of the usual stages of catness--litter box training, furniture scratching, plant eating, and an insatiable curiosity. He progressed on to
adulthood, and tolerated his neutering with aplomb and notified us of his bladder stones with the skill that only animals possess. He sat on us and walked all over us. He slept with us, he played with us, he traveled with us, and he
loved us unconditionally (he also loved tuna fish and catnip mice unconditionally). He also owned us completely. We were family. My first short-lived attempt to introduce another kitten into the house, when he was about seven, was the last.
Fritz was not amused. He was not about to share us with another cat.
Time went by as it always does, and Fritz began to slow down. We didn't notice his weight loss--we saw him everyday and viewed him through the myopia of familiarity. Others, however, saw the change in him. We took him to his veterinarian
who told us the culprit was renal disease. He began loosing teeth, too, which contributed to his weight loss. Year after year, he lost more weight and became more feeble, until two months before his nineteenth birthday, he could go no more.
He couldn't, or wouldn't, eat. He only wanted to be held by us--constantly. He valiantly and faithfully dragged himself to his litter box, even when he could not stand up on all four legs. He was fading before our very eyes. Finally, we
realized we could let him suffer no more. John built a handsome wooden casket for him, and finished it by hand, mourning the coming loss all the while. I was strong for all of us. My time was to come.
His last day with us was heartbreaking. All day long at work I was miserable, because we had made plans to have him euthanized that evening. But prolonging the inevitable would only cause Fritz more misery. I went home and we spent
what he considered "quality time"--being held by one of us, in the sun. He loved to lie in the sun. At the veterinarian's, while they were preparing for the procedure, John and I took turns holding him, and he looked up at us as if to
say, "I'm tired. I'm ready to go now." We brought him home and buried him in the woods behind our house. We can see his marker from the house, and we speak to him often. One day, while walking around our house, we looked at his
grave and out of the blue John said, "He was a wonderful kitty...a wonderful cat." We now have four cats that have very sucessfully filled the void that
Fritz's death created. But they will never replace him in our hearts. He was a wonderful kitty...a wonderful cat.