Thursday, March 22, 2018

and Edwin, the cat.

We named him after a pig's pet in a children's story, but we usually called him, simply, "Ed."

As a young kitten, he tore around our house with more energy than our two young daughters, combined. When he started sinking his claws into our fabric-covered furniture, I swore that we needed to get rid of him.

I threatened, half-heartedly, that if one single nail touched my favourite leather sofa, I would kill him myself. Over time, though, he settled down and became the gentlest, most loving cat I have ever known.

After Edwin passed away, on Tuesday, after a short-lived but aggressive illness, DW and I talked about the memories we shared, and about how we would never forget him. As soon as she, the kids, and I returned from the veterinary hospital (I hate that hospital: I've now taken two cats there but have left without either), DW sat down at our computer and wrote the following tribute on her Facebook page. With her permission, I'm sharing it—mostly, because she put her thoughts on that page so well; but also, because there was very little that I could add, myself...

Today, it is with deep sadness that we say farewell to our family cat, Edwin. We are grateful that his illness was not prolonged, and that he enjoyed a great quality of life.

We picked Edwin out at the Ottawa Humane Society almost 13 years ago—a four-month-old kitten that had just been separated from his brother and was completely hoarse from his cries of protest. I fell in love with his velvety black fur, his sorrowful voice, and the light and energy in his green eyes.

It took a while to come up with a name. The kids were 2 and 4 years old at the time, and we were reading picture books every night. It wasn’t too long before we decided on the name Edwin, directly out of one of our picture books, Ian Falconer’s book, Olivia.

Edwin was a rambunctious kitten, but we planned to keep him indoors, like our previous cat, Leo. Edwin had other plans. He’d clearly been outside before, and every time we opened a door, he was out like a shot. He garnered the nickname “Fast Eddy” from our neighbours, Marc and Vicki, who would cat-sit from time to time.

Edwin was a neighbourhood cat. Most of our neighbours knew him well, as he made his way along the top of the back fences, visiting his cat friends, catching mice, and sadly, despite the bell on his collar, the occasional bird. The starlings near our house would heckle him and I’ve witnessed a full-on dive-bomb. He didn’t seem very territorial so he got along with most of the local cats (more of a lover than a fighter). Our neighbours have told us tales of his adventures, intervening on behalf of a fellow cat in need. He once fended off a large cat who was closing in on our neighbours’ leashed cat. Another neighbour told us that he defended his small female cat from another large cat that would come and pick fights with her.

Can a cat be a “gentleman”?

Edwin loved to be near people—the neighbourhood kids, visitors, and our family. He was never a lap cat but stayed close, and liked to cuddle beside me in bed in the morning, purring (better than any alarm). He knew when you weren’t feeling well and would stick by your side until he knew things were looking up.

His purr was unbelievable—you’d think there was a large truck outside. He was a cat of few words, meowing only when he had something specific to say, “I need out now. NOW!”, “Hey, I could use some more food,” “Let me in...pleeeease.” And if the cat equivalent of a firm handshake is a knockout head-butt, Edwin had that down, too.

He was beyond special to us. He was one classy fella, and we will miss him dearly.

Edwin was surrounded by his loving family, to the very end. DD14 held a paw, would not let go. He licked one of her fingers, seemingly trying to calm her, to try and alleviate her tears. He purred until his very last breath. 

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