During my adult years we have had to say our final goodbyes to a total of four feline friends in our family: Ed. Rosie. Charlie. & most recently Mac. Each of these cats was special and unique in their own way bringing such joy into our lives. One thing we do, to honour the life of this family member and all he has given us is to write a letter inspired by the book The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst. Over the last two days in preparing to say our final goodbyes to my sweet old boy, Mac, the ten things came easily…
1.First of all, how Mac came to join our family was a gift in itself. After Rosie passed away the day before we left for Disneyworld when the kids were 6 and 8 years old we knew another cat would come to join our home. When Martina, our neighbour and by chance a staff member at our veterinary clinic , emailed to say she thought of us when a cat was surrendered to their location that week, we were intrigued. It had become a bit of a tradition to rescue a surrendered cat from our vet as that had been Rosie’s story too. Martina’s email described a cat that was looking for a home, an all black five year old. However, that was not at all what we were seeking. We wanted the kids to have the “kitten experience” and were a little unsure about a black cat. However, a few weeks later, once we were back and settled, Martina reached out again and the cat was still there. I stopped by to meet him.
Let’s just say it was love at first sight. Mac was my heart cat from the moment I met him. Gentle, sweet, affectionate, assertive and LOUD! This guy was a talker like no other. He literally had me at “hello”!
2. Yes, Mac actually did say “hello”, as well as learning Papa, Mama and a few other recognizable words. I swear. It was bizarre and so adorable. Hearing him in the hallway in the middle of the night with the doors closed upstairs, squawking loudly “hello” to come in was something you had to hear to believe! Hilariously true. He earned the nickname “the duck” just for this reason (always quacking about something). We also called him Macs, Macky, Blacks, and Blackie.
3. Mac had a huge appetite. He was always hungry but always lean. He would eat just about anything if given a chance, but his favourite item we had to hide away from him was bread, buns and other baked goods. He would literally eat through the plastic in order to help himself to a late night snack. He also loved chips. This video of him taking a chip from Lawrence captures his boldness when it came to food! Because he has had little appetite as of late over the last few days we have been giving him tuna which he just loves and today we bought him a special and delicious croissant from The Crusty Bun. He had a few little nibbles and we shared in the rest, toasting our dear old guy as he enjoyed his last special meal.
4. Mac LOVED to be outside. For many years he would go out on a leash and just flop down in the grass to enjoy the fresh air and watch the birds. Later he learned to explore the yard and have free reign until he learned how to disappear under the fence.
This summer he spent countless hours in the awesome “catzebo” Lawrence built for the cats. He was in his glory out there and was hard to convince to come back inside!
5. Mac was such an affectionate boy. He loved his pats and cuddling. He often would get so excited his little pink tongue would stick out. He was also a kneader. Give him a blanket and some love and his paws would be just going. He also loved to sleep on my pillow… right near the top of my head.
6. Mac was the perfect example of the expression “he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body”. The gentlest of boys he never got mad at his brother Toby no matter how much that cat annoyed him. He tolerated the dog more than the others. He was just so sweet and kind.
7. Our boy’s claim to fame was that he was featured in a 2014 CNN News article “To Be a Black Cat on Halloween”. Always a star in our eyes….what a black beauty!
8. Mac had beautiful, kind green eyes and a beautiful shiny black coat. He was perfect. He loved to find the perfect sun beam and when the light hit his fur as he sprawled out in his spot by the window, you could catch a glimpse of a subtle rust coloured tint in his coat. Our long time vet Dr Bob Newfield always told us that in his many years of experience black cats with that unique rust trait were the nicest, friendliest, most easy going cats he has ever known or worked with. I tend to agree. He also had a skinny bum, so he fit in well in our family. His most adorable and unique trait were his two little fangle teeth. We missed them after his major dental surgery at age nine.
9. Some of Mac’s favourite places to hang out in addition to the catzebo, a warm counter and his mom’s pillow were; in the closet camouflaged amoungst Lawrence’s pile of hundreds of ties, at the top of the cat tree, or in any sort of box if there was one to be had, but mostly just curled up in any old free spot that seemed pretty much reserved just for him.
10. Mac or “The Duck” was an integral part of what we often refer to as “the Zoo” or “Roo & the Crew”. He will be missed by his brother Fat Tony (Toby) who adored him and could not get enough of him, relentless with his cuddles. His little sister Kitten (Cali) will be a bit lost without his companionship and their shenanigans together, particularly the ritual of lying on the warm counter when the dishwasher is on . And of course….Roo who loved to chase him, while Mac seemed to like to play along and she’d antagonize him just enough and much more often than the other two. It was always our hope that they could all just get along. Near the end, I think Roo and Mac did come to an understanding.
Mac was brave and strong right until the end. Many people who met him over the years referred to him as a “gentleman” . Mac…always the gentleman.
Mac will be greatly missed by his humans; Sarah, Nate, Lawrence and I as well as My and Poppy. Such a special cat. So loved. Such a special part of this family for nearly a decade.
Goodbye Sweet Boy.
Poem For Cats
And the Creator asked the feline spirit
Are you ready to come home?
Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul
And, as a cat, you know I am most able
To decide anything for myself.
Are you coming then? asked the Creator.
Soon, replied the whiskered angel
But I must come slowly
For my human friends are troubled
For you see, they need me, quite certainly.
But don’t they understand? asked the Creator
That you’ll never leave them?
That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity?
That nothing is created or destroyed?
It just is….forever and ever and ever.
Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am….forever and ever and ever.