Today’s guest post comes from our friend Ben Herman and will require you to have a box of tissues at hand.
On Sunday June 16th at 3:35 PM, our cat Squeaky Squeakums passed away.
Squeaky was a very sweet, affectionate, loving cat. I have written about Squeaky before on this blog. But, in short:
Ten years ago, in early June 2009, a friend (now ex-friend) of Michele who had too many pets asked us to take in one of his cats. This cat, a black & white domestic shorthair named Kitten, was getting beat up by the other cats. This person told us that if we were not able to take in Kitten, he would have to drop her off at a shelter. We had only just adopted another cat, Nettie Netzach, a few months before, and we weren’t sure how she would react. However, Michele really did not want Kitten, who she remembered from visits to this person’s apartment, being abandoned at a shelter, so we took her in.
Kitten was incredibly shy. She often hid in the closet. Michele had to sit with her and talk with her gently while she ate. When she was finally able to get close enough, Michele discovered that Kitten’s mouth was in really bad shape. We immediately took her to the vet, who found that half of her teeth were rotten & infected.
We had Kitten’s bad teeth pulled. When we took her home from the vet, Nettie watched over her, helping to nurse her back to health. She quickly made a full recovery. Before our eyes, Kitten became a brand new cat, full of energy and love.
By the way, “Kitten” is a terrible name for an adult cat. We had been told that she was between six and eight years old, but for all we know she might have been older. Calling her “Kitten” was lazy and unimaginative. Michele decided she needed a proper name. When this cat meowed it often sounded like a squeak, so we decided to call her Squeaky.
Oh yes… now it can be told. The OTHER inspiration for Michele naming the cat Squeaky was infamous Manson Family member Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme. Yeah, sometimes Michele has a bizarre sense of humor. Honestly, I was appalled, but the cat really appeared to take to the name, so Squeaky it was. All these years I’ve always told people the “squeaky” meows was the inspiration for her name, but, yes, I’ll just go ahead and admit to it now, “Squeaky” Fromme was the second one.
In any case, for the past decade Squeaky has lived with us. She was an awesome cat. As I said before, she was incredibly affectionate. She loved being petted and having her tummy rubbed. Most nights she would sleep on the bed between me and Michele, purring contentedly. We would call this a Squeaky Sandwich.
Squeaky also loved to eat. She had been incredibly thin when we took her in, basically starving, so she was always obsessed with food. Michele thought Squeaky suffered from food panic. She would gulp down all of her cat food, would then try to steal Nettie’s food, and would often try to take food from our plates. Squeaky had big, round, greenish eyes, and she would stare at us longingly with them, pleading for food. She eventually because a very round & heavy cat, but she was happy, so usually we just let her eat as much as she wanted.
Squeaky was something of a quirky, misfit cat, but that just meant that she fit right in with us. She was a constant presence in our lives. She would often follow us around the apartment, meowing loudly. Often she would grab Michele’s pens & pencils & paintbrushes in her mouth and hide them all over the apartment, under the bed or chairs or rug.
Like most cats, Squeaky loved cardboard boxes. There was one cardboard box in particular, that a pair of Michele’s shoes had been shipped in, that Squeaky often contentedly occupied.
Squeaky also liked sitting with us when we watched television. Michele referred to Squeaky as my TV buddy. Other times Michele would play music, and Squeaky would sit next to the speakers, listening and purring. Squeaky seemed to especially enjoy music by the group Joy Division.
Squeaky and Nettie usually got along. They became like sisters. Occasionally they would get on each other’s nerves or fight, but most of the time they had a good relationship. Sometimes they would cuddle together, or would groom each other. If they realized we were looking at them they would then get embarrassed and quickly dart away from each other.
A little over two years ago we had to move to a new apartment. Nettie had grown up and spent almost all her life in the old apartment, and she was very upset & scared in the new place. I guess by now Squeaky had gotten more used to change. She adjusted to the new surroundings very quickly, and for the first couple of weeks was often by Nettie’s side, trying to comfort her. Eventually Nettie began to feel at home, and the two of them fell back into their old routine.
Last winter Squeaky had a cold, and over the past few months we noticed that she was beginning to lose weight. Then last month she appeared to age overnight. As I said before, we didn’t know exactly how old she was. At a minimum she was 16 years old, and was very likely closer to 19 or 20.
Over the past few weeks Squeaky was having more difficulty eating. We had to get her cat food that was in pate form; anything else she was unable to chew & swallow. Most of the time Squeaky sat on the windowsill, looking out at the backyard. We realized that she probably only had a short amount of time left.
We always celebrated Squeaky’s birthday on June 12th, the day we took her in. Every year we would throw a “birthday / adoption day” party for her, giving her gourmet cat food and singing happy birthday to her. This June 12th was Squeaky’s 10th “birthday” with us, and we brought her food to her at the window, and sang to her. She ate some of if, and seemed happy.
Four days later, on Sunday afternoon, Squeaky stopped eating. She wobbled into the living room, collapsed, and began to have uncontrollable spasms. Michele and I both realized this was it. We had really hoped that Squeaky was going to pass away peacefully in her sleep at home, but now that was not going to be. Reluctantly we picked her up, placed her in her pet carrier, and took her to the veterinary office, the same place that a decade earlier had operated on Squeaky to remove her bad teeth.
The vet examined Squeaky, and told us her condition was critical. They could try treating her, but at most she would only last a few more weeks, and would probably be in pain the whole time. Reluctantly we made the decision to give her a quick, peaceful death. We were there with Squeaky when she passed away.
A few months ago Michele began working on a comic book about Squeaky. She finally finished it in early June and published it. “The Temptation of Squeaky” by Michele Witchipoo features Squeaky meeting the demon Maximus, who offers her all the turkey she can eat. It’s a very cute, adorable, funny story. I’m happy that our quirky cat has been immortalized in print.
Copies of “The Temptation of Squeaky” can be purchased online. Michele will be writing & drawing further stories about Squeaky in her memory. Michele has also written her own tribute to Squeaky on her blog.
Sometimes I like animals better than I do most people. That was definitely the case with Squeaky. She was more loving and loyal than a lot of human beings.
Michele and I both miss Squeaky. She was a good friend and a part of our lives for ten years. Pets really do become members of the family.
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