We said goodbye to our little cat Jack last week. She was an incredible, beloved member of our family, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about her today.
As I’ve mentioned before, John is known as the Cat Whisperer in our circles. Cats make a beeline for him like heat-seeking missiles (which, let’s be clear, is exactly what cats are). It was a foregone conclusion that we would add a cat to our family after moving to North Carolina, but in the name of fiscal responsibility thought we would wait until John started a job.
A few months into our new life together we started frequenting adoption events “just to look.”
For awhile, though, that’s exactly what we did…until a sunny November day when John crouched down to peer into a carrier in the aisle of Petsmart, and Jack popped up beside him and put her paws on his knee. Out of all the cats brought to the adoption event that day, this little seven-month-old was the only one on a leash, and she amused us for the next half hour by attempting to steal food out of other cats’ cages, nearly toppling off several surfaces, and boldly investigating everything within her orbit. We were smitten, and a few weeks later, she (and her brother Oliver) were ours.
(Jack’s official name from the adoption agency was Jackal (what the heck?!?), but we decided Jack was short for Jacquelyn. She was always a tomboy, and she carried her name off with panache.)
We were looking for cats with personality, and boy did we get them. From the minute we set her carrier down in our apartment (and she promptly bounded out to explore), Jack was an energetic, fearless, engaging presence in our family. She was the first to greet someone at the door, the first to jump up on a lap, and the first to explore a new noise or object. Often described as “overly friendly,” we had to warn guests to leave their doors closed at night if they didn’t want a visitor licking their nose and pawing at their faces around midnight. She loved to curl up in the crook of my knees, under the covers, year round.
These friendly cats were the cure for our homesickness, and for that I will always be grateful. They made us look forward to returning from trips when nothing else did, and they made us feel like a family before we even were one. They’ve been a part of almost our whole adult lives, and it aches to move on without her.
Jack was a deadly bug hunter, a ferocious athlete with incredible balance (she liked to parade back and forth on our balcony railing!), and a devoted sister. One of the many reasons I’m sad she left us so soon is that she would have been an incredible role model for June. I know that might sound silly to some, but we talked about Jack often as a brave, bold, confident, independent female – the ultimate embodiment of girl power. She was also a diligent ambassador for the cat species. I can’t tell you how many times we heard “I don’t like cats, but I like this cat” after spending time with Jack.
Another quirk of Jack’s is that she L-O-V-E-D going to the vet. She was famous amongst the techs, who nicknamed her Miss P, for Perfect, early on. When she was diagnosed with nasal lymphoma earlier this summer, her love for Dr. Wendy made our every-other-week appointments much more pleasant than they would have been with another cat.
She is no longer in pain, for which we are grateful. But we are so sad. Jack’s incredible personality made her a once-in-a-lifetime cat, and eight years with her feels like a cruelly short amount of time. Because she was such a constant presence in our lives — following us from this room to that, sitting on the desk next to my laptop every day I worked from home, waiting patiently for us to go to bed in the evening — her absence is felt at every moment. There is a heavy lack in our lives right now.
The inconvenience, the expense, and most importantly, the searing heartache of her illness this summer… nothing changes the fact that given a million more chances at this life, I’d choose our sweet Jack a million times over. I count the fact that we walked into Petsmart that day as one of the luckiest strokes of my life, and I will always be so grateful that she was ours.
Of all the marvelous things I’ve shared over the years, Jack is near the top, and though it feels like my words fall flat, this place wouldn’t be true without sharing a bit about her with you. Thanks for listening, friends. xo