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Remembering Kayla on the 30th Anniversary of Her Birth

When we got Kayla in January 1992, she was 15 months old. She was a purebred–and she had "papers"…so her birth date was documented: October 4, 1990.

While she was never a showcat, or anything of the sort to me, to the family…it was always cool (to me) that we had an exact date of birth for her. An actual bonafide birtrhday, and so we knew her exact age all her life.

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We lost her in May 2010…on mothers’ day. She was just over 19 1/2…we’d had her over 18 of those years.

Today–October 4, 2020–is 30 years since this kitty joined the world. And having that exact birthdate makes it that much easier to celebrate that, than to "observe" the anniversary of her loss. And certainly NOT to at all trivialize what she means to me–what she was, how she was, the part of my life she played for nearly half my life–making it to 19 1/2, it wasn’t such a shock to me losing her. But I don’t really wanna get into that here, now, on a post celebrating her life.

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She was always such a curious cat. You couldn’t put a paper bag or a box anywhere without her checking it out. Even if she’d been asleep…it was like she had a homing beacon for boxes…she’d wake up and go right TO a new-to-her box to check it out. And even if it wasn’t new, she’d often be found on or in a box.

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I always remember going through my comic boxes the one time and I heard a certain noise and looked over to find her hunkered down, madly pawing at a bunch of comics…a box whose lid I’d left off. It was adorable, and I rushed to get my camera to get a photo of her going at ’em…never occurred to me her damaging them.

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This is one of my favorite photos of her…it was in the kitchen at the old house, a case of water bottles on top of another box. It was her pedestal/throne. I wish the camera had been higher quality…but such is the changes in technology over the years!

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Here she is curled up on an ottoman we used to have. I remember taking this photo because of the added cuteness of her being curled up as she is, on the round ottoman!

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Here’s an even rarer photo…where I’m actually IN the photo with Kayla, holding her. Unlike all the other cats we’ve had…she was always so mellow AND enjoyed being held. I could simply pick her up–even cradling her onto her back like a baby like this–and she’d just chill in my arms. Christy never tolerated that, and Ziggy never cared for it, and Sarah doesn’t. Chloe sorta puts up with it briefly, but never the way Kayla did!

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Another photo I remember the moment of taking (if not the date now)…It was hilarious to me at the time cuz I was trying to get a pic of her sitting there but she walked up and swiped at the camera–my face!

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Queen Kayla on her throne! I forgot that we’d had that chair this long…still have it, though it’s nearing the end of its time.

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Typical "weird-kitty" pose…

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Comfortable kitty sprawled on a sheet…

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This was a pic of Kayla with a frame of photos I’d put together after we lost Christy. This would be from sometime in 2009…we lost Christy in September 2008.

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Kayla chilling by her feeding station–in front of the pantry to the right of the fridge, against a chair-slash-stepladder thing we used to have.

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One of the few photos I have of Kayla "sitting pretty" and catching a lot of the blue to her eyes!

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Here’s Kayla with the ceramic bowl that her original owners gave us when we got her. I think there’d been two, but we’d wound up being down to the one, and eventually something happened to it or it got put away or such.

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Kayla on a toweled corner of the large rectangular ottoman we’d wound up with; that was more "coffee table" than ottoman.

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Another rare photo with me actually in it with Kayla. This is a cropped photo from Christmas Day 2007; that’s Dad with me; Mom and my sister are also in the original photo.

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After we lost Christy, I found this poem–Weep Not For Me–by Constance Jenkins, and it REALLY hit me…and along with Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, helped me process my grief after losing Christy. And it has been something I’ve tried to have with Kayla, and with Ziggy.


This past spring marked 10 years she’s been gone. She’s far from forgotten, though. Even my parents still sometimes slip and say "Kayla" when referring to Chloe or Daisey. And I still think of her, miss her, and so on.

And I’m ever so glad for the 18 years I got to spend with her a part of my life–from middle school into high school, through college, through grad school, and deep into my longest-held job. She was part of my life through some of my most formative years.

So…30 years now since she was born…

Happy birthday, little cat…

Thank you for all your years of love. And someday I’ll see you over the bridge.

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33 Months vs. 10 Years: Ziggy

The other day–Monday, I believe–September 7th–marked 33 months since losing Ziggy.

At the same time…it marked 10 years since he was brought into my life.

I’ve posted before–"Happy Birthday" posts, observing his birthday as the day Dad adopted him.

As well as others since losing him almost 3 years ago.

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I’ve marked the passage of time. For the first year after losing him, each week I posted photos of Ziggy to my personal facebook profile.

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From the first year, I backed off to monthly…and many of the photos have become "repeats" and favorites for me, reposting different ones different weeks…overall, and assemblage of memories of this special cat.

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It’s not that I want to celebrate the loss…I don’t "celebrate" his death. But on the anniversaries of the loss, to visibly, beyond myself, remember Ziggy. Celebrate Ziggy. That he lived. That he was such a part of my life.

And I wonder, perhaps, at future guilt…I know a day will come when I’ll lose Chloe. Sarah. Even a parent. And I don’t know that I’ll process the same way. It won’t be something to TRULY be able to "compare" or such.

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Over the last few months, I’ve had what I’m considering "anxiety episodes" or "anxiety flare-ups" just considering mortality, recognizing mortality.

Of my cats.

My parents.

Friends.

Myself.

Though I didn’t know him well, Reggie’s death earlier this year hurt more than I may have expected. Seeing others hurting in the loss also hit me hard.

Losing a family friend a few weeks ago–and the zero "closure" I’ve had on that, while seeing others hurt as well–has hurt.

Being grateful and thankful to still have both my parents is certainly a blessing, but as I see friends and people I know losing parents, it drives home all the more what I will inevitably one day face.

And maybe that’s part of what’s hit so hard in losing Ziggy, in the way I’ve had to process.

I’d had 9 years (of 13 1/2) without Christy in my everyday life when we lost her. Nearly 11 (of 18 1/2).

But Ziggy was a DAILY part of my life from mid-July 2016 until early December 2017; and part of my coping with the loss of a job, a move, health stuff with Dad, and so on.

While no longer with me in-person, Ziggy has impacted a quarter of my life so far.

And in facing other depressions and distractions, it was a punch in the gut this afternoon when I "realized" I’d missed his birthday this year.

So here I am.

Whatever this post is.

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It’s Been 25 Months

It’s been 25 months. December 7, 2017 was one of THE worst days of my life. It was the day I had to make "that" decision, and was the last day I had this wonderful, loving, gentle, beautiful cat here on Earth.

Ziggy came into my life on a September day in 2010, and over the next 7 years + 3 months became one of the best parts of my life.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 months without this little guy.

I couldn’t cite the day and date the photo below was taken, BUT I remember the moment itself–I was sitting at this very desk where I am now (albeit different chair and different computer) and he’d come over to me, got up against my leg, and meowed at me. He wanted a treat, and knew I kept some in the drawer, and would often "cave" to his begging. (Chloe often seemed to put him up to it, too–lounging off to the side UNTIL treats were out, then racing over to "cut" in line!).

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Just that earnest look on his face, and those big eyes. And that little bit of white fur at his nose. I always remember my aunt Karen loving that about him, and it was her calling attention to it that made me notice it, and it remained a distinctive feature about him (one of too many to properly list).

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Here’s Ziggy stretched out on a cat bed–just one of those cheap ones from Walmart–but I love this pic; he just looks so content there in it. Though it’s one of the FEW times I remember him using it specifically. Sarah-cat uses it most nights now…I hadn’t even remembered Ziggy using it,, so let Sarah have it when I found it buried in a corner with some boxes last year. Some of her similarities to Ziggy let me know it’s a good match.

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Here’s Ziggy just sprawled on a blanket on a bed.

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And here’s Ziggy, Prince of the House…ruling from on high, seated on his mighty throne.

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And here he is waiting for me to go downstairs with him whenever that was (sometime between Fall 2015 and Spring 2017–I know by the blank wall!)

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And here’s Ziggy on the stairs themselves. He never got to experience the "wall of art". Sometimes I think part of my embracing covering-the-walls was to differentiate them; to give a different "feel" to descending into the basement…

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And here’s a collage of Ziggy in a stack of short-box-shells. I’m pretty sure these were after I’d bought a couple of wire racks to replace the cardboard-ONLY setup; but then these became a semi-permanent part of my setup to this day for storage (not that one can tell anymore).


I continue to feel rather morbid, observing ‘anniversaries’ of the day I had to say goodbye.

It’s absolutely NOT any sort of "celebration" but I think it’s a way for me to mark the passage of time. I made it another month, I made it another year, I’ve SOMEHOW made it 25 months without my Ziggy.

Over 30 years into comics, and much of the ’90s especially saw comics make a huge deal out of the round numbers. Celebrate 12 issues, the series lasted a year! Celebrate 13, it’s the second year of the title! And then the 25s–25, 50, 75, 100…

I’d posted (personal Facebook account) weekly batches of photos as I made it week by week. After 52 weeks, I forced myself to pull back to monthly. And here, in this (comics) blog, I’ve posted some, but nothing with regularity.

But just as I’m more and more disgusted with modern comics practices…it feels like…I don’t know. I can’t even find the word I’m looking for (and this is all stream of conscious typing, so your mileage may vary on spelling/formatting/etc).

Ziggy was one of the best parts of my life. And while comics have long celebrated these round number milestones…it’s "observing" that that I allowed myself this post. Because where those are celebrating stuff…this uses that as a frame of reference. All those comics series celebrated making it that far.

While here, I regret the fact that I’ve HAD TO exist this far, without my beloved kitty.

25 months.

1 day, 1 week, 1 month at a time.

One breath at a time.

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It’s been 23 months

It’s been 23 months since I had to say goodbye to my Ziggy.

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It Was 29 Years Ago Today…

Thanks to some tech issues and timing, this post is hitting almost at the end of the day…but I couldn’t bring myself to consciously, knowingly let the day pass without posting as I’ve done at least most years since she’s been gone.

Today, Kayla would have been 29. It’s been 29 years since she was born.

Though it was 15 months later that she came into MY life.

She’s been gone nearly 9 1/2 years now.

And while these photos are almost certainly duplicates that I’ve posted in previous years…unfortunately, I just don’t have that many of her, or of good quality.

But these are some "key" photos I (as such) often think of with her, and cherish all of them…and the little over 18 1/4 years I had with her!

Miss Kayla Krystal…Kayla Kneeland.

My first kitty.

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I took this photo of her in October 2008 or 2009. I was digging through all my comic boxes at my parents’ house at the time for my various Deadpool and related comics. Kayla joined me, and had quite the adventure with me moving all these BOXES around!

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This photo is Kayla looking up from her bowl. The photo makes her eyes look brown (if not outright kitty-laser-eyes), but in the right light, her eyes were brilliantly blue!

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Kayla napping, curled up as cats do…

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While a bit blurry, I love this photo. Every time I see it, I remember that moment…I was TRYING to get a particular pic of her, and Kayla walked up and started swatting at the camera!

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Another pic of her sleeping. She loved that couch, and laying ON stuff–such as that sheet. More than any other cat I’ve had, she would seek out paper, plastic, cardboard, books, comics, magazines, sheets, anything loose on top of some other firm surface.

And her adventures getting into bags and boxes…all these years later and I still "expect" to be able to put a box down for my other kitties and find at least one in it. But Ziggy never did, and Chloe and Sarah have never matched Kayla’s love of boxes.

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Kayla looked so regal to me in this one. Just her in the middle of the recliner, surveying her kingdom…

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One of her nap-time stretches. A bit awkward in pose, but comfy in the chair!

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And finally, a photo from Christmas Day 2007, me holding this precious kitty even as she squirmed to get down.

Usually such a "ragdoll" in being picked up and held, but trying to pose with her rarely worked, for me.


Happy birthday, Kayla! Little poof, nightkitten, Pretty Kitty…

Until we’re reunited at the bridge…

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Today Would Have Been 9 Years

Today–September 7, 2019–would have been 9 years having Ziggy. As we never knew his actual birthday, I observed his "birthday" or "gotcha day" as the day Dad brought this kitty into my life.

September 7, 2010.

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And today has been 21 months since losing him, that horrible day back in December 2017.

I still haven’t brought myself to put back the comic box I pulled for him, to let him smell and paw at that day. He often climbed in amidst my longboxes in their rack. It was an ideal space for him…BOXES, outta the way, his own quasi-hidey-space.

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He also hung out with me in the basement. Here he’s in the chair I use now for work, though the basement space has changed quite a bit since the photo was taken. The comic racks in the background have remained, though.

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And here’s my Ziggy waiting for treats. Another factor to his hanging out with me a lot in the basement was that I kept a packet of treats, and would spoil him (and Chloe!) with a couple treats here and there.

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Here’s another pic of him, "caught" in the act of pawing at the longboxes’ lids.


I posted Ziggy’s "origin story" in my life back in 2017.

It’s been 21 months he’s been gone and I still miss him. I feel guilty as heck that the sharpest all-consuming mental anguish and pain of his passing has faded. But he’s frequently in my thoughts.

I remember him always.

I still think of him and remember the times spent. Sometimes I can still almost see him sniffing around my comic boxes, or hear the pat-pat-pat-pat-pat of him racing down the stairs. Sometimes, when Sarah stands up against my leg in the work-chair, I can see Ziggy, as he used to do that.

So many more memories than I could ever reasonably put into one post.

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On Losing Ziggy–One Year Later

December 17, 2017 was one of the worst days of my life. That day, the decision that had to be made, that was made, it rocked my world completely. It still hurts and haunts me. (35 words and I’m already in tears while I write!)

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That afternoon, shortly after 4pm, I had to say my final goodbye to this incredibly special, precious kitty.

I shared about his "secret origins" within my life last year.

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Ziggy and Chloe started out with a confrontational relationship. She would hiss fiercely at him any time she saw him…to the point that I would see him peeking around corners cautiously, and once chuckled as it occurred to me that he must be thinking "Where is she? She’s not with you? I’m so freaking tired of being HISSED at when I walk into a room!"

Eventually–across the half a decade or so they were together–they got to where they would eat out of the same bowl simultaneously…and there was no fighting, hissing, etc. Put the food down and both faces went in, chowing down!

And the way they’d PLAY…

Several times, I noticed Ziggy walk calmly past Chloe (who’d be laying somewhere minding her own business) and stop…then slowly step backwards over/onto her, and then meow pitifully as if she’d grabbed HIM on his way by!

And there’d be the jingle of Chloe’s collar/bell, and I’d look over, and they’d be wrestling silently–neither growling or hissing or such, just wrestling as cats do (both were "fixed" before ever coming into my life).

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I kept an extra water bowl in the basement for Ziggy..he always loved spending time down there, and often got treats from me. Plus, for much of his final 16 months, I slept down there, and though he wasn’t much for snuggling, I’d often find him on the bed or next to it (in a nest of blankets).

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And along with Chloe (and now Sarah), he was always curious about my comics and such when I’d lay them out to get photos for my Weekly Haul posts.

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Or whatever was handy.

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Many, many times, I’ve found myself considering my grief. What I’ve felt, the way I’ve felt it, the loss I’ve experienced, the ongoing hurt, the "need" to post photos on my Facebook every week (far too many of which are photos that never got posted before losing him).

And I’ve come across several articles in the past year that tackle this very topic–why do we grieve so hard for our pets? Why is it sometimes HARDER than losing friends, family–loved ones?

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I’ve a lotta thoughts, and as I try to type, realize they’re not gonna make it into this post. I’m already all over the place and outta focus.

Maybe it’s where I’m at, me, myself, in life. What my life is, who I am; the way my life in certain things is far different from virtually everyone else around me.

Maybe it’s that at least with parents, family, friends, we can talk and understand each other by our words, by abstracts and ideas.

Maybe it’s that Ziggy was SUCH a huge part of my life, that I so often looked forward to seeing. Parents, I could talk to on the phone. Though he was supposed to be Dad’s cat, he was "my" cat, and from September 7, 2010 until mid-July 2016, I "only" got to be around him weekends that I’d be in visiting.

And then, July 2016 until December 7, 2017…excepting less than half a dozen Saturdays when I was "out of town" for weekends with friends, Ziggy was a DAILY part of my life.

Chloe, too, and I’m more thankful than I can say, that I still have her…though I’ve become more fiercely protective of and anxious over her since losing Ziggy.

And even with Sarah coming into my life–waaayyy too early for ME to have been "ready," after losing Zig…but I could at least give her a home. The heartache and loss I feel over Ziggy in no way means I’m ungrateful for Chloe and Sarah…but while I pray I have numerous YEARS (plural!!!) with both of them…the fact is, the shock and heartbreak of actually losing Ziggy has been with me every day since.

Even WHILE I treasure and cherish every moment I get with Chloe and Sarah.

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I can look at photos of Ziggy without breaking down. I can’t dwell on having lost him, though, or I do still break down. I can and do remember him with all the memories across 7 years I had the privilege of knowing him.

I can usually talk about him, remember him, mention him, without breaking down.

But there’s been a part of me that is just missing since losing him…somehow perhaps the shock, and the relatively short time I got to spend with him. Over 18 years with Kayla; 13 1/2 with Christy. "Only" 7 with Ziggy.

And as I completely lose my focus and repetition abounds…my mind grasps onto language from a favorite poem…one which has stuck with me quite often in the last year.

Of trying to explain a loss to someone: "Though I told him about / Stars and twilight, and how autumn leaves must fall, / I could not make myself understand." And of recognizing what one HAS even as they remember the loss. "For though / My life moves on . . . / my thoughts still find you, old friend. / And though you would scowl to hear me tell of it, / And stomp and scoff, I cannot hide this plain truth: / I still need you . . ."

So much more.

It’s been a year.

One Year Later, and I may have been forced to live this year in a world without Ziggy; been forced to adjust to and accept the fact OF his absence. But it still hurts. I still miss him.

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Remembering Kayla on the 28th Anniversary of Her Birth

28 years ago–October 4, 1990–Miss Kayla Crystal came into this world. At least, that’s what information my family was given when we responded to a classified ad for this 15-month-old female sealpoint Himalayan in early January 1992.

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Kayla was part of my life from an evening in January 1992 until the morning of May 9th, 2010. Just over 18 years.

As we knew her exact birthdate, I’ve always observed it.

And though she’s been gone over 8 years now, she’s not forgotten, even as I’ve continued to grieve as I have over Ziggy these past 10 months, who I had a scant 7 years with where I expected at least as many more. (and it feels odd in a way to mention them together, as they never met, and my time with each of them is separated by months).

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Happy birthday, Kayla.

Night Kitten, Pretty Kitty. Babycat. Kayla-kitty. I miss you. Perhaps you and Christy have met Ziggy at the rainbow bridge, and I’ll see you all waiting happily together when my time, too, comes…

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Secret Origins: Ziggy

It was a late August day back in 2010, Dad left a voicemail on my cell. A bit cryptic–simply telling me to call him. As my aunt was in the hospital for something, I immediately feared the worst, and called in a panic…only to find out it wasn’t anything urgent.

Dad had been online and came across a Craigslist listing for a cat at a nearby shelter, and Mom had insisted that he needed my blessing before there’d be any consideration of getting this cat, as I was in visiting often, and it’d only been a few months since we’d lost Kayla after having her over 18 years.

I found the listing Dad had seen, and immediately approved.

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The shelter had him tagged as "Sigmund." I’d planned to add "Dewey" to that, both for the library-cat and figuring it would sound quite distinguished. Sigmund Dewey.

The shelter had posted the listing too early, so Dad had to wait a few days–they had to allow time for notification any potential owners to come in and reclaim him. During that time, I recall posting in a blog at cxPulp that whether he knew it or not, this was a lucky little cat–because though he was in a shelter for the then-moment, he either had a family that would reclaim him…or he already had a family that wanted him.

And as things went, on September 7th, 2010, Dad went in. As he’s told me, he walked into the place, and even with the other cats meowing and reaching out and clamoring for attention–Dad only had eyes for Sigmund.

…Sigmund, who huddled in the back of the cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone, let alone being pulled out of the cage. But Dad got him out, and that day, he brought this cat into my life.

My conscious plan was to "tolerate" this cat, to "put up with" its presence…I wouldn’t be mean or anything, but I’d be indifferent–he was gonna be Dad’s cat.

That evening after work, I drove the hour in to meet this cat. Such a significant thing, adopting anyone new into your life–and I had to see this cat for myself.

One look at him and I got down on the floor to get his attention. He wasn’t sure of me at first, but then came over to check me out, and allowed me to touch him. (And for the rest of his life, "our thing" was that I was the one that would get down on the floor with him, so he almost never would hop up onto me).

While we were talking, the matter of his name came up, and Mom had a slip of the tongue, clearly saying Ziggy where Dad was calling him Siggy (for Sigmund).

The cat looked RIGHT at her, and we realized in that moment that THAT was his name.

He was Ziggy.

And he got several "pet names" or nicknames. In my own recollection, I most think of "Little Buddy" from Dad, as he’d call Ziggy or get his attention. (And that he was, he was Dad’s little buddy!). To me, he was "Handsome Cat" (cuz I thought Handsome more fitting than Pretty or Beautiful, though those absolutely fit as well). And to everyone, he was also just Zig, or Zig-Zig, or such. But Ziggy was what his "full name" has always been, at least to me. Just like I’m Walter, but go by Walt. He was Ziggy, though he’d go by others as well.

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The first photo above is the photo from the original listing, the very first photo I ever saw of him, the very first, period, that I ever saw OF him.

And just above, him resting on Mom, is the final photo I have of him.

The very earliest photo I have of him. And the very last.

Dad brought him into my life on September 7, 2010. And I had to say goodbye to this sweetest, gentlest cat I have ever known, on December 7, 2017.

And in between these photos?

I have THOUSANDS more. It takes all I have right now to hold it together just handling these two photos right now. I’ve shared hundreds, maybe thousands of photos of him before–on Facebook, in messages to friends, occasionally in this very blog.

And I know I will share even more yet, as I somehow learn to live in a world without this precious little cat. I can’t begin to find the proper words, in the proper order and quantity, to feel I’m doing the little guy justice. And as I break down now typing this, I can only say that this is far from the last I’ll have to share of him. But though he’s at peace now…

It is us, those left behind–Me, Dad, Mom, our other cat Chloe, friends and family who knew him–that suffer. Hurt. Have to pick up the pieces of broken hearts.

And me?

Absolutely nothing in my life before this has ever hurt so much, or affected me as this has.

Ziggy Kneeland.

Sigmund Dewey.

Little Buddy.

Handsome Cat.

Zig.

Zig-Zig.

This quiet, gentlest of spirits…

So very, VERY loved, and missed more terribly than words alone can ever begin to describe.

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Remembering Kayla on the 27th Anniversary of Her Birth

kayla_cornerSometimes it seems like Kayla’s still just around some corner somewhere.

But as in years past, I’m taking a moment to publically remember my little cat.

Today–October 4th–is the anniversary of her birth, back in 1990.

It’s hard to believe that now, in 2017, it’s been nearly 7 1/2 years since losing her, back in May of 2010.

She’s the only cat I’ve had or ever known where there was a definite date of birth…Kayla was a "purebred," that Dad found in a classified ad when we started looking to get a cat, back in 1992. He’d been a fan of the Himalayan breed, and though I wanted a kitten, he followed up on an ad, and we wound up bringing Miss Kayla Krystal home one January Thursday. As a purebred, she came with "papers" detailing the date of birth, and so on.

Said "papers" got stowed in a compartment on the plastic "pet taxi" vet-carrier and somewhere along the years disappeared. Because we didn’t care about ’em.

Kayla was instantly a part of the family, and other than as a clinical "fact," her being a "purebred" never mattered.

Even now, all these years later…I’ve yet to be able to string together a lengthy post about her. So many memories, across nearly 18 1/2 years…and for all the writing I do, have done, will do…there’s no doing justice to what this little cat meant to me.

To date, she remains one of THE primary "constants" in my life, a presence far longer than anyone other than immediate family.

She’ll always be here, until no one remembers. Always here, always part of my heart such a precious part of my life.

Below: several times Kayla was the focus of a "cover" in my The Life of Walt series of photo pieces.

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