Stuart, 2002 – 2021

I’m…just going to skip over the usual introduction. You’ve seen the title, you know why I’m writing this.

Stuart…was a hell of a cat, and a real force of nature. I’ve written before about how we met him, screaming for freedom with his face pressed up against the bars of his cage, but it didn’t stop there. He couldn’t just chase feather toys. He had to have them, and if I didn’t give in he would pull so hard all the feathers would pop out, leaving us with just a string and plastic nub. If any cat went to the vet, that was grounds for hissing and slapping, even if the cat was him. On more than one occasion we watched the vet say, “Yeah, his teeth are fine. We’ll just skip that part.” If you tried to sedate him, he would fight it tooth & nail. Chandra still has nightmares of him howling all the way up the eastern seaboard.

Even nap time for Stuart could be a thing. If I was lying in a foof chair with Opie on my lap, Stuart had to be on my stomach. If Opie was on my stomach, Stuart had to be on my chest. If Opie was under a blanket, Stuart would find his head and trample him on the way to finding whatever snuggle spot he wanted. I have more than one picture of the two of them together, with Opie glaring at Stuart for invading his space.

A tiny cherished memory. I’m sitting in the living room, watching TV or playing video games. Nikki, our then most senior cat at maybe eight years old or so is cat loafing by the left front speaker. Stuart waltzes up to her, POW smacks her in the head, then scampers off. I say, “Dude, what the hell was that for,” even while I’m laughing. Nikki gives him a look laden with expletives, but doesn’t do anything else and just hunkers back down. Thus began the reign of the tabby cat.

Not that he was always a terror. Stuart was also incredibly sweet. I’ve spent the better part of the last several summers with him curled up by my legs in the three-season room, and have often had to apologize for grabbing his head when I fumble for the TV remote control. As a kitten, he seemed to take scoldings especially hard, and could have the most apologetic eyes I’ve ever seen in a cat. We could always scoop him up whenever we felt the urge, and if we yelled, “Stu-u-art!” he would reliably come running, often full of news.

A second cherished memory. I’m working in my basement office, and Stuart comes downstairs, hollering. I have no idea what he wants, so I get up and ask him to show me. He immediately shifts from long, loud meows to something closer to chattering— “mrr, mrow, mrr, mrr” as he leads me upstairs, explaining what he’s got to show me, which it turns out is a pile of tampons he’s pulled out of the cabinet and been chewing on. Chandra was not pleased.

And of course, if it weren’t for Stuart, we would have never had Opie. They weren’t litter mates, and were different as night and day, but were instant life-long friends. They were inseparable as kittens, even in later years you could find them sleeping next to each other, or with Opie under a blanket and Stuart next to him. They also played hard, and it wasn’t unusual for us to hear the two of them screaming at each other as they tore through the house, or to find piles of cat hair where they had gotten into it. Somewhere out there, we imagine that Opie was super happy to see his big brother yesterday.

A final…not so much a memory, just something Stuart & I used to do, especially over the last year or two. He would always hang around the dining room table at mealtime and ask to sit on my lap. He had to wait until I was done eating, mostly to be sure he kept his nose out of my food, but when I was done I would pat my legs to invite him up, and then throw them in the air to be sure he had room. As soon as he jumped up, I would give him a big hug, talk to him & give him scratchies while I farted around on my iPad for a while. He would listen, purr, and occasionally look up at me until one of us had to move on with our day.

…and I didn’t mean for this to end up here, but yeah… now he’s moved on, and I miss him a lot.