The Best Cat In The World, II: or, Urlicht

Some time ago I wrote about the Best Cat In The World.

Beezsun2We said goodbye last night. Even when you know it’s going to happen, it’s always a knife edge between too late and too soon, because most often you assume the honor and godawful responsibility of deciding when to do something. So I write to you with the assistance of several grams (and counting) of tetracycline, because I wanted to hold Apricat Houdini Mitzvah Valjean Beezler (his full name — at 16 pounds plus explosively fluffy coat, it took a long name to wrap around him).  While they were setting the IV in his forepaw he bit me. Yowch.

He bit me when I took him in, so this is symmetry. I don’ t hold it against him. We all have done worse out of fear, pain or panic. He gave me something to remember him.

It was about the most ginger he’d shown since Tuesday. He was nowhere to be found yesterday morning. I finally discovered him standing stockstill behind the refrigerator with his head pushed into the corner — a performance he would repeat in various locations over the next couple of days. Something had happened overnight. He was no longer just slow and drowsy; he really didn’t seem to know what he was doing or where he was.

Anyone who has animals knows about the hours and days after seeing a change like that. Certainty came easier when he was just lethargic and didn’t react to handling; when a cat who has acted that way gets up again and starts tottering around the room, you once again don’t know what to expect or do. But finally he didn’t eat when I put down food. He didn’t even recognize there was food in front of him. That settled it. No one loved food more than that cat.

When I wrote about him before, he could still see a little; several weeks ago, he went from grazing and near-missing to walking dead into things. He could still navigate by ear and whisker, but he couldn’t see his cat family, or me, or anyone; he drifted, his encounters with the world increasingly clumsy, accidental, but not yet so devoid of small feline joys that I felt I needed to cut them short. Until he simply put his head down.

It has been almost eighteen years since I found him starving in that storm sewer. He was the pinkest cat in all creation — literally, in some lights, peach pink. He had silky tufts between his toes, and a tail like a gigantic plume (when he hadn’t licked it bald from his annual bout of allergies). He never exactly ran after he was two years old or so — he sort of stumped — and cat toys, we joked, chased him. But he knew how to be imperial.Beez2 He had to have a complete sex change surgery  because his plumbing kept stopping up, and he never (because the surgery hurt his hind end so much) used the box again, preferring bath mats. I own more bath mats than you want to know about. He outlived two younger cats and the husband I had. My late and ex used to fret that his many ailments and frailties would mean a short life; I said “We all know people like that. They live forever.” I was right.

He used to stand on my back with his amazingly big paws when I did Yoga, and I would rely on him, in his porch-sitting dotage, to enjoy the sunny days that I never have time to breathe in. All cats do that, but he did it best.


All his life he was comical, yet grand.


My onetime husband was firmly agnostic as to humans but chose wilfully to believe in a divinity that watched over cats. I would like to think of some sort of light coming back to him.

O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Not!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Pein!
Je lieber möcht ich im Himmel sein!

Da kamm ich auf einer breiten Weg;
Da kam ein Engelein und wollt mich abweisen.
Ach nein! Ich ließ mich nicht abweisen!
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
Wird leuchten mir bis an das ewig selig Leben!

O little red rose!
One languishes in need,
One lingers in great pain.
So dearly would I rather be in Heaven.

So came I there to a broad road,
And an angel stood and made to prevent me:
“Ah, no, you shall not prevent my passing:
I am from God, and will go forth again to God,
the loving God, the beloved God,
will give me a light:
will light me to the everlasting, blessed life.”

19 thoughts on “The Best Cat In The World, II: or, Urlicht

  1. Such a beautiful boy, and I know it hurts having that Apricat-shaped hole in your life now. All those places where he isn’t anymore. But if you can, take solace in remembering him sleeping in his sunbeam on the porch, and about the happy love-filled life you gave him.

    “All his life he was comical, yet grand.”

    I can just picture him. You both were so lucky.



  2. As a recent lurker, I haven’t heard of Apricat til now when he’s gone. But after that post, I miss him, too.

    However, I expect he’s up there in feline Valhalla with my old cat Nikki, in the middle of the biggest, brightest, warmest sunbeam-on-a-wooden-floor one could ever imagine.


  3. This was the first post on your blog that I’ve read – having only found your blog today – and I had tears in my eyes. It’s truly awful to have to say goodbye to a pet.

    ‘Pet’ is such a poor word, actually, it’s almost patronising – one can’t really call cats ‘pets’, can one? Each one has such a unique personality, such peculiar-to-them behaviours, such strange and adorable and frustrating and utterly enchanting ways of being in the world and interacting with you… They’re like a whole universe all tumbled together into one furry, fluffy, temperamental, lovable, huggable being.

    I’m deeply sorry to read about Apricat’s departure. Like ‘Delicate Flower’, I’ll snuggle our adoptee cat a little more firmly and lovingly tonight. Many blessings to you.

  4. So sorry to hear about Apricat. I’m sure that you did the right thing and had him put down at the right time.

    I’m also sure that he and Mike are probably sizing each other up right now to see who will be the biggest and most imperial of cats on the other side.

  5. I had to be short and sweet in my comment yesterday because I was crying too hard to be able to see the screen. And I had a client knocking at my door too.

    Apricat sounds and looks like a completely superior cat, so elegant and yet you can see his sense of humor in the “I’m going to touch this fern” photo.

    Our relationship with our cats is such an indefinable thing, being made of such complex components as love, admiration, mystery, confusion and annoyance. When they are gone, they leave a cat sized hole in our lives that is actually bigger than the animal that is gone.

    Your post made me remember back to having decide my beloved Cio Cio had gone as far as she could go in her time on earth without forcing her to experience the deep pain and degradation of the progression of her cancer. It was strangely comforting to be there with her as the merciful injection was administered, at the same time as being torn with not wanting to let her go and so sad that her time with me was shortened by the disease.

    It was odd to see how Smokey grieved when Mike died. They were such good buddies once they figured out their relationship. Of course, I still grieve for Mike — and wonder when I will meet my next familiar.

    I know that the day is rapidly approaching when I will be having to make the same decision about Smokey, who has not been found “stuck” in a corner yet, but who is definitely showing signs of what I can only describe as “kitty dementia”. He will be 18 in the spring.

    My thoughts are with you. Blessed be.

    • There are degrees of superior and elegant — there was always his propensity for peeing on my Albino Ex’s garments. Though in retrospect, even that was an elegant comment, devastating in its simplicity.

      I send a big stroke on the head to Smokey. They are our little souls.

      And thanks again to everyone who spoke here.

  6. Loss is loss. Hard to take and never really ending. I still miss my dog of 17 years although he left in my arms nearly twenty years ago. Sometimes there is hole which will never be replaced. Sympathies and curmudgeonly hugs for the memory of Apricat.

  7. I feel for you. My darling Jack the cat died last year. I miss him so. What a lovely memorial you have made for your friend here.

  8. oh I’m so sorry. And crying a bit.

    My cat Peri was 21 when he stopped walking and moving and I had to put him to sleep. It was only a year ago. He had lived with me my whole adult life.

    It is lovely to read your stories of Apricat. You were lucky – and so was he.

  9. Pingback: Always Call A Professional « Sixteen Tons

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