Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I moved to California from New Jersey July 4th, 1999. I had graduated college in May and hopped on a Greyhound Bus (with my best friend & next door neighbor). While I don’t recommend that mode of transportation for a cross country move, it was the cheapest and most scenic for a poor post graduation college student. We left Port Authority New York on a Thursday evening and arrived in downtown Sacramento early Sunday morning.

Pam’s Aunt (my dad’s baby sister) picked us up at the bus station and the rest is history. I have remained in California ever since … it was 13 years this past July.

Fast forward to late January 2000 and I had just moved into my own apartment in mid-town Sacramento. I was ecstatic to finally be living on my own and having a place to call my own. Even though I was over-joyed to finally feel like an adult living by myself, it was also lonely. I had five roommates throughout college and lived with my aunt when I first move out to California so I had truly never been 100% on my own before.

My aunt knew how much I wanted a cat. My landlord allowed pets but required a pet deposit that was pretty steep for a girl who now had to come up with both rent and a car payment … in addition to student loans. One weekend, out of the blue my aunt loaned me the pet deposit and took me to the SPCA to find myself a cat. I will never forget that day.

My childhood kitties always found us by showing up on our door step. I had never been to an SPCA before and was honestly quite shocked and saddened by all the kitties in cages. If I could have, I would have taken them all home with me.

The people at the SPCA let you “pick” a cat and then take that cat into the “get to know you room.”  You were able to spend a little time and then had to put the cat back and had the option of playing with another one … while all the other kitties watched. This made me sad.

I had my eye on a few but quite a few kitties came in “pairs” and I wasn’t about to have two cats in my shoe box apartment. Then I passed a cage containing a 5 month old kitten that didn’t really look like a kitty … he looked more like jack-rabbit with his big pointy ears and his orange fur with tiger stripes. He mewed at me and I asked the girl if I could see him. She laughed because apparently he had been seen by lots of people that day and was tired of being taken in and out of his cage. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy to be taken out again.

She put us in the “get to know you room” and he quickly darted under a chair. Hmm, not much personality I thought but still quite cute. Eventually he came out from under the chair and stood in front of both my aunt and myself. He looked at me and I looked at him and I kid you not, what follows next actually happened …. (background – growing up my childhood cat and love of my life was full of tricks; he could roll over on command and was quite a showman during the holidays with this trick) .. Back to the SPCA - I looked at this orange tiger cat with pointy ears who was staring at me with big eyes and said “Well buddy, if you could roll over or something I’d take you home with me right now” …. Bam!! He dropped and rolled over right on cue! No joke. My aunt and I looked at each and laughed and I said “I’ll take him.”  I named him Jack because #1 He looked more like a jack-rabbit than a cat and #2 The SPCA lady had said he’d been in and out of that cage like a Jack in the Box and #3 The name just fit. Jack the Cat.

By the way … no, he never rolled over again. He got me.
Jack about 5 months old
So with great sadness I write this to say that on Monday, November 5, 2012, Jack the Cat, at age 13 has passed. I can barely write this without sobbing so please excuse any typos from here on out.  Jack had been through a lot in his life.

He was my boyfriend watcher when I lived in my apartment … giving any boy that came over grief. Vans was probably given the most grief. I think Jack knew Vans and I were meant to be and so he gave Vans a really hard time for a long time.

Jack would ride around in my car with me all the time. He was a polydactyl cat or commonly referred to as a Hemmingway Cat because he had an extra toe on every single paw … which made trimming his nails regularly quite the challenge but the vet was fascinated by him. Everyone was.

Jack moved with me back into my aunt’s house when I lost my job with PBS. He moved with me into our first home after I married Vans. He was by my side every day when I was pregnant with the Peanut. Although he was not thrilled when she was born, the two quickly became friends and he looked out for her.
Peanut's first Christmas with Jack

Helping her unwrap her gifts.

Our move to El Dorado Hills was a bit rougher on Jack I think. Additionally, I was pregnant with Squeaker and he knew. Once again, he stayed by my side when I was pregnant but after she was born; he kept his distance I think realizing it was a bit harder to compete with two kids.

Jack was an indoor cat and sadly our new home, although filled with lots of windows, didn’t allow him an opportunity to sit on our patio like our enclosed condo.

It seemed like his sickness came on all of a sudden but I often wonder if we perhaps we just didn’t notice because we got sucked into the busy lives of work, kids and house duties. He still had spunk and he still slept by my side. No matter what, every single night, when I crawled into bed, Jack would crawl and snuggle himself right under my right armpit and sleep there. Then, without fail, in the middle of the night, he’d get up and move to the left arm pit. I used to grumble and moan and complain about terrible sleep but last night … without him… was probably the worst night of sleep I have ever had. Instinctively, my arm created a nook but sadly, Jack was not there.

The house is lonely and cold. No one was there to greet us when we came home last night. Jack used to sit on the stairs and watch the girls eat dinner. Last night Squeaker pointed to the stairs with a questioning look like “Where is Jack?”
Squeaker and Jack on the stairs a few days ago
If you are still reading, thank you. I just felt the need to devote something to Jack. The vet gave him his passport to kitty heaven on Monday and I held him in my arms the entire time. The Jack I knew was long gone but a glimpse of him did return when he got an adrenaline rush upon arriving at the vet’s office. I think he feared being poked and prodded again because for the last few weeks we fought to figure out what was wrong with him.

He was and always will be my only baby boy. He was my best furry friend and he forever remains in my heart which right now hurts and feels empty. Vans is feeling the same way which is touching because despite the rough start to their relationship, Vans and Jack had a bond as the only two males in the house.  It will never cease to amaze me, how much losing a pet can hurt. Jack wasn’t just a pet or a cat, he was family and I loved him as if he was my own biological child. Losing him hurts. A lot.
We miss you Jack. I miss you.
Into my world you came with a flare
Tiny and small with striped orange hair.

Big pointy ears and a wet little nose
And four furry paws with a few extra toes.
All night you would play. All day you would sleep.
Not a moment of peace would you let me keep.

Chasing laser pointers and eating hair ties.
You were always protecting me, especially from flies.

 You traveled with me through life’s crazy waves.
You basked in the sun most of your days.

 At night you would sleep in the crook of my arm.
And you stayed there all morning even after the alarm.

 You’d greet us each evening right at the door.
Even after two kids, you’d come back for more.

I love you more than you could ever know.
It pained me so much to watch you go.

In my head and my heart you will always be …
That furry little baby sleeping right next to me.

 I love you Jacky boy.
Jack in his prime. King of the patio.


  1. Oh man Pam, you got me. Tears.streaming.What a special boy.
    Many hugs to you...

  2. ahhh....I am so sorry...I too lost a cat that I had for a long time a few months ago...it's so sad that Animals are in our lives for such a short time :(

  3. Moving testimony, and I Ioved the Christmas gift photos. Knew you'd be putting something together. I will never forget how he like to hang out (literally) of your jeans pocket when he was just a new kitty.
    P.S. Figured out how to put in a name