Early Morning Open Thread: Farewell, Zeno

From commentor R-Jud:

We’d only been married about five months when we decided to get a cat — or, rather, when I begged to get a cat, and Trev agreed. When we went to the rescue place, I had my heart set on finding a nice, placid tabby. The lady who ran the cattery, who was blowsy and faintly whiffy of sherry, had other ideas for us.
She took us to a cage in a back room where the difficult cases were kept. The cats with missing ears, or exotic medical conditions, or laden with kittens were here. She lifted a scrawny, black tom cat out of one of the cages. He had both forelegs shaved from IVs following recent surgeries. He had a wonky eye, from being whacked about the head by nasty teenage boys. I was dubious, but she thrust this cat into Trev’s arms.
The cat immediately began to purr, surprisingly loud and deep. It butted its head against the underside of Trev’s chin. My husband’s eyes grew wide. His bottom lip may have wobbled.
“I like this one,” he said.
And so we brought home Zeno. On account of the abuse early in his life, he was weak at first, and although generally friendly, he was given to clawing people who tried to touch his belly. But he soon waxed fat, strong, and glossy, fed by our too-liberal hand and a steady diet of birds, mice, and treats from neighbors.
He was an accomplished sleeper, turning up in unexpected places and in daring positions, as is the way of all cats. He enjoyed going out in the rain and would return, soaked and purring, looking for a lap to dry off in. He groomed himself obsessively, accompanied by loud smacks and grunts and snorts that led us to call him “the Pig”.
He was never once impatient with Eve, even when her eager, sticky little baby hands snatched at his ears or tail, and he always greeted visitors to the house by paying them the highest feline compliment possible: he would try to climb onto them and go to sleep. Midwives, mothers-in-law, and guys from the gas company alike got the chance to bask in his purr.
And he loved the garden, napping in the sunniest beds when it was pleasant, and behind the sage bush, or among the raspberry canes under the plum tree when it was too hot.
Zeno had been sick for about a month, and by this morning it was clear he was never going to get better. So we made the hard decision, and poor Trevor brought him home to the plum tree for the last time today. We will miss him very much.

56 replies
  1. 1
    stuckinred says:

    Sorry to hear about your kitty. I’ve been posting this when there is a pet loss story here:

    We who choose to surround ourselves
    with lives even more temporary than our
    own, live within a fragile circle;
    easily and often breached.
    Unable to accept its awful gaps,
    we would still live no other way.
    We cherish memory as the only
    certain immortality, never fully
    understanding the necessary plan.
    — Irving Townsend

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    What a beautiful story.

  3. 3

    Great photo to accompany that touching farewell. Truly a lion in winter.

  4. 4
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Agreed, that is a very touching photo of him gazing out over his domain. I’m very sorry to hear of your loss and wish you and your hubby the best. As a fellow servant to cats I fully understand your pain and hope the worst passes quickly for you two.

    You have some great memories to treasure and you know that he’s not suffering any more. You gave him a home when he needed one and he repaid you as only a loving pet can.

    Best wishes and my condolences.

  5. 5
    harlana says:

    Condolences on the loss of your Zeno. Again, a touching story and appropriate photo. You may be comforted in the knowledge that you gave an abused animal a good loving home while he was on this earth, that he might not have otherwise had. That animals are able to trust and love, after being abused is one of those little miracles and mysteries of life that is a blessing for those of us who love and want to protect them.

  6. 6
    Poopyman says:

    So many good words above that I have little to add other than my condolences, knowing all too well how the pain feels.

    Best wishes, R-Jud.

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    To see how cats forgive is to be hopeful for all of us.

    My condolences on the loss of a Great One.

  8. 8
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    I’m so sorry. He sounds like a most excellent cat.

  9. 9
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    So sorry for your loss. I lost my black, male rescue (Nigel) to cancer just after Christmas. I’ve lived in a home with pets my entire 42 years but he was the only one that was ever mine. I understand your husband’s connection and loss only too well. Best wishes.

  10. 10
    Montysano says:

    What a lovely story.

  11. 11
    TreeBeard says:


    Well, when he meets my cat in kitty heaven, they can laze around on comfortable sofas together.

    (And if my dog is around, hope Zeno doesn’t mind him – he was quite friendly with ’em felines)

  12. 12
    gnomedad says:

    He enjoyed going out in the rain and would return, soaked and purring, looking for a lap to dry off in.

    Um, wow.

    So sorry for your loss.

  13. 13

    Aw damn, I didn’t want to start the day crying.

  14. 14
    Wormtown says:

    Thank you. That is a beautiful tribute to your cat.

  15. 15
    daize says:

    Thank you for sharing Zeno’s story. I’m so sorry for your loss. He was an exceptional kitty.

  16. 16
    bystander says:

    They remake us and, thus, when they leave we are not the same as before. You honor his time with you well. But, he was very lucky to have found you.

    My sympathies on this loss to you both.

  17. 17
    gttim says:

    I am glad he had your family and that your family had him. My condolences on your loss.

  18. 18
    Barry says:

    Thanks for that.

  19. 19
    shortstop says:

    What an extraordinary piece of writing — I really feel like I know him, and so my always-easy sympathy for the loss of a pet feels particularly personal today. Thinking about you and your family, R-Jud.

  20. 20
    Jane2 says:

    Zeno must have been one hell of a cat…beautiful pic of him, too.

  21. 21
    artem1s says:

    The cat immediately began to purr, surprisingly loud and deep. It butted its head against the underside of Trev’s chin. My husband’s eyes grew wide. His bottom lip may have wobbled.

    “I like this one,” he said.

    How do they do that? So sorry for your loss. He reminds me of my long gone Hadrian who, despite having been through a pretty rough life, always had a purr and a nudge for anyone who came to the door.

  22. 22
    Ash Can says:

    What a splendid kitty he was. My condolences on your loss.

  23. 23
    IlsaLund says:

    What a wonderful cat, capable of giving so much love despite being abused. That’s not only a tribute to how special he was, but how special you and Trev are and how much he flourished under your loving care. I grieve for your loss.

  24. 24
    Trinity says:

    My condolences. He was obviously an amazing little spirit.

  25. 25
    rickstersherpa says:

    My condolences on your loss. He reminds me a lot of both tom cats that we have had. Ol’ Junior lies in his favorite spot in a garden back in Germany, his spirit still mousing arount the old house. Gizmo is alive and apparently as healthy as they come is also the lord of the garden.

  26. 26
    Carnacki says:

    Such a good kitty. Thank you for that story.

  27. 27
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Fair travels Zeno. Say hello to my brood at The Bridge.

  28. 28
    shortstop says:

    How do they do that?

    I don’t know how they do it, but it’s exactly how every one of our dogs has selected us (with more wagging than purring, but in some cases the patented canine groan of approval).

  29. 29
    celticdragonchick says:

    What a wonderful companion. I so sorry you have lost him.

  30. 30
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    Aw, what a good kitty. I’m so sorry he’s gone – it sounds like you’ll miss him terribly. He must have been kin to my Spot, who loved to take a shower with me and to sit under the sprinklers on the lawn. Cats are funny people, and that’s part of why we love them.

  31. 31
    Dee Loralei says:

    A lovely tribute R-Jud, and such a great picture. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

  32. 32
    tesslibrarian says:

    Oh, how wonderful you got to have such a sweet and lovely cat in your life! And how lucky Zeno was to have found you!

    My condolences to you and your husband…it is just so hard to lose our beloved companions. But memory is immortality, and perhaps some tales of Zeno’s adventures in the garden can be told to Eve, who can pass them to children in her life, and he will truly live forever.

  33. 33
    Elie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how it feels and I so miss my Bill, still. They are our special friends forever…

  34. 34

    How old did Zeno live to be?

  35. 35
    Yutsano says:

    Hugs from across the pond hon. I hope that plum tree produces extra special fruits for you now in the spirit of the soul that lies beneath it.

  36. 36
    d. john says:

    Since this is an open thread:

    I went grocery shopping the other day, and again I see the Life cereal vs. Cinnamon Life cereal and I think to myself


    how is this NOT fucking racist?
    Especially when they’ve continued the theme through box redesigns?

    Did David Duke get a second job as head of product marketing over at general mills or something?

    What the fuck?

  37. 37
    Bulworth says:

    Very sorry to hear of your loss. I lost two last year. It was very hard.

    How old was he?

  38. 38
    satby says:

    Condolences on your loss of Zeno, and thank you for a touching and inspiring story of rescue. We only think we’re saving them, sometimes they save us too.

  39. 39
    trollhattan says:

    Aw jeez, hard to say hello and goodbye to such a fine kitteh in just a single post. I”m very sorry you’ve lost your little furry friend.

  40. 40
    ruemara says:

    Goodbye Zeno. You’ll be missed. Thank you for being his family and nursing a cat that had been through so much back to loving strength. If he sees Butter and Smudge in kitty heaven, Smudge was always more of a solo kitten but Butter will play until the sun goes down.

  41. 41
    spudgun says:

    Damn, hate getting teary-eyed at work! So sorry for your loss, it sounds like Zeno was a wonderful dude and you gave him a good life.


  42. 42
    rdalin says:

    condolences, R-Jud. What a beautiful photo.

  43. 43
    thalarctos says:

    Thank you for sharing Zeno’s story. My condolences on your loss, and I hope the good memories like the ones you wrote about will soon cause the grief to recede.

  44. 44
    Ann Marie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful life you gave him!

  45. 45
    Mike in NC says:

    RIP, Zeno.

  46. 46
    JenJen says:

    Oh, R-Jud!! I’m so sorry.

    RIP, little Zeno. :-(

  47. 47
    karen marie says:

    I have always avoided bringing home a male cat because, in the ’70s, my heart was broken when our year-old male kitten developed a urinary block. The vet told my mother how much it would cost to fix it and that he couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t recur in the near future, so he was put down, and all my cats that followed were female.

    Six years ago a giant of a male who belonged to a neighbor fell in love with Our Gracie and moved in, much to my neighbor’s annoyance. Mr. Mittens was the most loving cat I’ve ever met. And gigantic. The same size as my female cocker spaniel — twenty-seven pounds, with a head the size of a softball. But he needed to be that big to hold his enormous heart.

    He too left this mortal coil too soon. Last August, my brother and I were sitting in the lovely summer evening, chatting about the day, Mr. Mittens next to me, hoping for a scritch, when suddenly Mr. Mittens began having a seizure. My male cocker had seizures a couple times a year, so I was familiar with the drill. I knelt down beside him, talking to him and gently rubbing him, waiting for it to end. When it did, I expected him to stagger to his feet, but he didn’t. He was dead. The vet said it was probably a stroke. He was only seven.

    Our Lucy, who had him as her first best friend for just short of a month, wishes all cats were as tolerant of her as her Mr. Mittens.

  48. 48
    Karen says:

    My heart goes out to you. It’s a hard decision to put your kitty out of his misery, I’ve had to do that and it’s like a death in your soul. I offer my empathy and sympathy.

  49. 49
    JoeG says:

    i love a good story abt a cat and esp one that makes me cry. here I sit — a sniffling 48yo man dabbing my eyes over a cat. isn’t the first and won’t be the last time. How I miss my Madelyn.


  50. 50
    Paul in KY says:

    Many condolences on Zeno’s passing. Hope you get to feelin better soon. I hope Zeno will be an angel kitteh watching over you.

  51. 51
    Joy says:

    My favorite line: “He was an accomplished sleeper…”

    I’m so glad you had Zeno. What an awesome kitty.

  52. 52
    ET says:

    This one was hard for me – that looks like my cat and I just cannot even think about when that time comes for my Milo.

  53. 53

    Oh, R-Jud, my deepest condolences to you and your family on the loss of a loved one, especially one as special as Zeno. What a beautiful story of a one-in-a-million cat.

    @karen marie, my condolences to you, too, on the loss of Mr. Mittens. He truly was special (and so patient with Lucy!). P.S. Gracie is gorgeous.

  54. 54
    Ruckus says:

    Our time here is short, our pets shorter. But they help us be better people if we want to, and that is their great gift. They are our friends and companions and we hate to see them go, but that is the nature of pact they allow us to form with them. We provide for them, we pick up after them, we repair the damage they may do. And we get the better end for it. By far.

    Condolences for your loss.

    I am not looking forward to the day my 13-14 yr old rescue cocker that has been with me for a year and a half says goodbye. He’s old and cranky (somewhat not like me!) and I know that he has far fewer days ahead than behind (hand raised again) but I try to make them as good as I can. I have watched most of the people in my family die since I was about 8 but this seems like it may be one of the harder ones for me.

  55. 55
    xian says:

    our poor pootie cat, Fraidy, has been declining for the past year. We’ve nursed her through diabetes and lymphoma but recently she stopped wanting to eat and her back legs barely work and it’s clearly time to let her go.

    we’re taking her to the vet one last time in about an hour, and I took the day off work to spend it with her in our sunny/shady backyard in Oakland.

    She’s been with us for nearly 20 years and is going to leave a big hole in our home and our family.


  56. 56
    Paul in KY says:

    xian, sorry for your loss. Doing the right thing, I think. Sounds like she was well loved.

Comments are closed.