It is with great sadness that I type these words, at the passing this morning of a great friend of mine, my big black cat Fred. His passing was sudden, with no apparent sickness, no dimming of faculties, no warning. He was here, then he was not.
He was a British Shorthair, a breed known for their ability to get along with most any creature, even dogs. He was true to the breed, calm, quiet, unruffled. With certain exceptions. When friends of his (other cats) were being threatened by other cats or animals, then he was fierce, oh my yes. Even as a kitten, he sent a large mean tabby cat from next door flying when that feline threatened his buddy Squirt, a very old calico that had been declawed and was thus defenseless. To that same old calico he was unendingly patient and kind, never threatened her, never snarled or hissed to assert dominance, just sat calmly as she beat him about the head with her cotton ball paws, then sat just as calmly as she sauntered away as if she had won the day.
He was a bruiser, weighing in at about 16lbs (7.25kilos) and used his weight wisely. As a kitten, when his siblings became too rambunctious he would simply sit on top of them until they cried ‘uncle’. As an adult cat he was so heavy that more than once I thought someone was in the house when he thumped down the stairs.
Patient he was, oh yes. When wanting food or to be let out, he would simply come to you, give you a head butt, then turn around to walk away, looking back to see if you were following. If you didn’t, he’d head butt you again until you did.
He was my constant companion when I moved to England. I have never made friends easily, did not there. The neighbors were distant and shop owners are never really friends with someone who is their customer. But I could always depend on Fred to be there, thumping down the stairs and head butting me for treats when I got home.
He was not a lap cat, no. Did not particularly like being picked up. He would tolerate it for about three seconds, then want down, yet he would stay with me, following me like a puppy when I did yard work or worked in my shop or hammered away at my typewriter, curled up nearby from where he could keep me in sight. That was a pity, for he had the thickest, softest fur that fairly begged to be stroked. I still look for him coming around corners, his great bushy tail standing straight up like a waving flag, looking at me to make sure I was still there.
I am still here. My great buddy boy is not. For fifteen years he was a major part of my life, now not. A great heart gone that leaves a great hole in mine.