This has been a rough year. In May, we lost our bobtail cat Yaz after a lengthy illness. I was covering the Rangers in Toronto when my distraught wife Laura called with the sad news.
Late Friday night, we lost his brother, Fenway. Both were 15. Fenway was diagnosed with heart failure in September 2016 but a steady diet of four pills every 12 hours had him enjoying life up until this week.
Fenway and Yaz were not at all alike. Yaz was sleek, athletic and inquisitive. Fenway, an all black shorthair, was overweight, slow-moving and keen on sleeping 23 hours a day.
Unless food was involved.
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If Fenway had one great love, it was eating. This made us great buddies. I brought Fancy Feast into his life soon after meeting Laura when the cats were 4-years-old. Yaz loved it, too, but when he was full, he’d be good for the next 12 hours. Fenway, on the other hand, liked his meals sandwiched around a steady stream of snacks. And I was happy to oblige.
He often got a taste of people food, too, much to Laura’s chagrin. He enjoyed almost everything: pizza, cheeseburgers, fries and pasta. The excitement in his eyes after tasting something new was a joy to witness every time.
I’ve always viewed pets as stuffed animals for adults. Fenway was the perfect stuffed animal cat. He was plump (he weighed over 20 pounds), he was docile and he was a world-class snuggler. His fur always smelled good, too, which was odd because he wasn’t the most fastidious groomer, especially compared to his compulsively cleaning brother.
Just as Yaz was similar to a dog because he loved to fetch and seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing at all times, Fenway also had many traits of a loyal dog. Unlike many cats, he loved to have his belly rubbed. He always met me at the door when I got home, usually meowing loud enough that I could hear him before getting out of the car. Of course, it was usually about food and his demand that Fancy Feast be served immediately. I was OK with that, it’s nice to be needed. But Fenway also slept by my side on the couch, and curled up next to me in bed nearly every night. He’d reluctantly climb the stairs whenever he realized I’d been up in my office for a while. He had different kinds of meows for different moods that would always make clear what exactly he thought of any given situation. We never stopped laughing at his different squawks, whimpers and full-on, “give me my food” yowls.
We still miss Yaz dearly and every devoted pet owner knows the sadness only slowly dissipates over time and never completely disappears. That’s because we love them so much. They bring so much joy and companionship. They’re part of our lives and if they’re good pets, they seep deep into our psyches and hearts.
I know, it’s nothing like losing a human loved one. I’ve been there too often, too. My sister in 2001, my cousin in 2006 and my brother in 2008. All gone way, way too early. Their deaths still sting, but we move on with their memories in our hearts.
That’s where Fenway will be, forever a great memory of a devoted, snuggling companion.