In Loving Memory of My Fatty

I used to hate having cat hair on my clothes. I felt like it was an unmistakable sign to coworkers and people on the street that I was a tragic spinster who lived for her cat and who therefore subsisted on Lean Cuisine, the half-empty bottle of merlot that perpetually existed on her kitchen counter and her prized Sex in the City DVD collection

Now I find cat hair on my clothes and I gently remove each hair, knowing that someday soon there won’t be any more reminders like this of the dear sweet boy I loved for so long.

On January 24, I had to do one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and put my cat to sleep. He was very sick…and he was ready. He wouldn’t even let me hold him on the last day — he kept kicking me, so I put him down and he just went under a table in the corner with his back turned to me. And I guess that was a good thing because they told me I could hold him for as long as I wanted…and if he had just been with me and purring, I don’t know how I could have ever let him go.

He was the best cat I could have ever asked for and I loved him so much. I don’t know if it’s possible to have a pet soul mate…but if it is, he was mine. And he just has such a huge part of my heart. We were sort of like lost souls who found each other…

I had moved back in with my parents in Alaska after college and was working at a bank and wondering what had gone wrong in my life…when I saw an ad in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about a cat that was up for adoption. Fat Boy was his name. The ad said, “He has as much personality as he does bulk.” I was sold.

He had a brother named Bacon…and the adoption sheet his former owner left behind said they were expecting a baby and just couldn’t afford to keep the cats. I could only take one…and so I took Fat Boy.

He was so sick when I first brought him home…he had picked up something at the pound. It was so hard to get him to come out from under my bed…and we had to give him eye drops and nose drops and ear drops. We also had to shove pills down his throat. And I wasn’t sure what his personality was going to be like…and I was worried that maybe he and I wouldn’t be a good fit. But it was when I shoved pills down his throat and he purred the whole time that I realized I had a really good cat. (When I took him to the vet and the vet told me he was substantially older than they had told me at the pound, I said, “No! He can’t be old! I have already fallen in love with him!”)

He was just such a happy cat. In fact, there’s a phrase in England — “happy as Larry” — and so I briefly contemplated changing his name to Larry in a subtle nod to my recent English roots. But then I was worried that I’d do irreparable psychological harm if I changed his name and so I left it as-is. (Several years later, I had a roommate who had dated a woman who worked at an animal shelter and who told me they just slap any ol‘ name on animals at the pound and so I probably *could* have changed it. But…I sort of did anyway. A roommate before that roommate used to sing the Morrissey song, “You’re the one for me, Fatty,” to him and so eventually we shortened “Fat Boy” to “Fatty.”)

He flew out with me to New York when I first moved here…and it wasn’t until I sent him off in his gigantic blue carrier (he was too big to carry on the plane) that I started to cry at the airport in Fairbanks — it hit me that I was really moving across the country and I didn’t know what was going to happen, etc., etc. And I was worried about my boy. But Alaska Airlines is nice and gives you a little tag once you are seated that says, “I’m on board, too!” so I knew he was on his way as well…and it even inspired conversation with some of my seatmates. (As in, “What’s that for?” My response? “Oh, I have a cat!” [A sad little side note: I was on the Subway last night when a woman with a knit cap that looked like a mouse got on board and an old man said to her, “Is that a mouse?” and she said, “Yes, it is,” and he said, “Watch out for cats!” and she said, “Yes, I know…I have cats at home,” and I thought, “I don’t have a cat at home anymore…”])

He used to curl up his paws under this chest when he was sleeping…and it was so sad at the vet last week — he had an IV in one arm and he kept trying to curl his paw under, but he couldn’t.

He used to also drink water out of his paw. My mom loved that.

He used to freak out in the mornings when I was getting ready for work or school. He’d literally stand in my bathroom doorway and just meow and meow and meow. It used to really drive me crazy. And every morning, I’d pick him up and say, “Oh, Fatty, we go through this every day. I have to get ready.” And I’d hug him tight and say, “Be a good boy and sit here…” and put him down on the toilet. And it wasn’t until I turned on the hair dryer that he’d ever calm down. (I used to joke that I needed to get a BabyBjorn to keep my hands free while I was getting ready.)

And every morning when I left, I’d check the coffee pot to make sure it was off and check my hair straightener to make sure it was off and then say to him, “Bye, Fatty…you be a good boy. I’ll see you tonight.” And now I have no one to say anything to when I leave. It’s a strange feeling when I walk out the door. Sometimes I even think I can hear his paws treading across the kitchen floor when I’m in the bathroom as if he’s about to stand in the doorway and meow at me. And the other morning, I rolled over and expected him to be at my head because he usually moved up by my pillow sometime in the course of the night…

I also miss his meows when I open the front door. Now there’s no one to greet me when I get home.

And the next time I use a can opener, I’m going to be really sad. He used to freak out with can openers, too. His former owners must have fed him wet food and it left an indelible impression…

About a year ago, the vet had me put him on wet food to try to help him lose weight. She said it was like putting him on Atkin’s. And that was around the same time that I noticed he was incredibly staticky. So…I had this harebrained theory that it was because of the wet food…and then one of my friends said, “You idiot! It’s the weather!” Oops.

My mom suggested I put away all of his stuff as soon as possible as it would just be too hard to do later…but I got to his tray and I couldn’t anymore. He was such a messy eater, so I went to the Fred Meyer in Fairbanks to get him a tray right after I adopted him. I was looking for something sort of masculine, but the best I could find was one with periwinkle stripes. And that was his tray the whole time I had him. (I also haven’t had the heart to put away his litter box yet.)

He didn’t like catnip. I’d never seen a cat before that didn’t go crazy for catnip…but then a friend suggested that perhaps he was so big, he needed an inordinate amount to get a fix…

Another friend told me I’d have a special place in heaven for adopting an obese child…

I was almost surprised the last time I took him to the vet and he only weighed 22 pounds…

I used to live in Red Hook, Brooklyn…and the thing about Red Hook is that it is kind of remote, but a few years back it seemed on the verge of really taking off (I don’t know if there’s still any hope with the Ikea?)…and so a few stores opened up here and there on one particular street. I had a friend who was a food writer and who heard about a new bakery in Red Hook (“It’s Red Hook! It’s baked goods! It’s like the ultimate Lisa experience!” she said.) and so I went with her to check things out.

On this very same street there was also a pet shop and a wine store. And it was pretty close to Valentine’s Day…and so I guess they were trying to incorporate all three businesses because there were fliers at the bakery about a Valentine’s Day singles mixer in which you were supposed to bring your pet to the bakery to drink wine. I thought it sounded kind of weird…but it wasn’t until I got home and was holding Fatty and caught sight of myself in the mirror that I realized he took up my whole torso and so there was just no way I could possibly carry him around a bakery all night should I ever be compelled to go to some wacky singles mixer…and I sort of had a little laugh to myself.

Shortly thereafter I was on a “date” and the guy told me a story about his dog. So…I thought I’d counter with this tale of my cat…but afterward, he said, “Oh, right. A single girl with a cat. You’d *really* stand out.” And then he added, “Do you knit? Oh, that’s right. You bake.”

And here we are almost several Valentine’s Days later…

The vet said he tried to ruffle Fatty’s fur to make him mad because sometimes agitating them will make them eat. But it didn’t work…and I said, “Yeah, it takes an awful lot to phase him.”

He was just such a sweet boy…



Filed under Red Hook

2 responses to “In Loving Memory of My Fatty

  1. Bozanimal

    You have my sincere condolences on your recent loss.

    Best wishes,


  2. OutdoorGeek

    I am very sorry to hear about the loss of Fatty. From you post it sounds like he was a great companion.

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