My very own pussy riot …

HERE’S THE COMPLETE ARTICLE I MISTAKENLY PUBLISHED  LAST WEEKEND.

It’s been close to 40 years since I’ve lived without a cat in my life and I’m shocked at how “still” and lifeless my apartment is.

Eerily, uncomfortably so, to be honest. I’m amazed at the energy these little critters bring. For a while now I’ve said — to myself mostly — that Bartlett (my last to go, just last Wednesday, pictured here) would be it for me.

But now I’m not so sure.

In my early years I wanted a dog and while it took my dad and me quite a while to convince my mother, I did finally get my wish, although truth be told, Tosca’s heart belonged to her. He liked us well enough, but it was to my mom’s side that he stuck like glue.

It was in the mid ’70s, after falling in love with a friend’s cats, that I decided I wanted one of my own.

Buddha lived to almost 19 and made the move with me, from Montreal to Toronto. Unlike most cats, who hate having to go into a carrier and, in fact, hate having to go anywhere, especially in a car, Buddha was perfectly fine with it. So whenever I went back home for a visit, instead of flying or taking the train I’d drive, with Buddha, fast asleep in his carrier, on the passenger seat beside me.

Next came Zazu, not very long after I had to say good-bye to Buddha. I really missed having a feline around and a friend called to tell me about some cats her vet had rescued. There were three, she had adopted one and there were two left, so I hightailed it over there. By the time I arrived only Zazu was left.

She was sleeping on top of a dog, in the reception area. One of her favourite pastimes was to play fetch — I guess she picked that up at the vet’s, what with all the dogs there. She ran away from home once, albeit for only an hour or so, which sent me into an absolute panic.

My mother, who had just recently moved to Toronto, came flying to my house for moral support and to “help” — screeching tires heralding her arrival. She’d left her apartment in such a hurry she was still in her slippers and a bathrobe — thankfully hidden under a coat.

In case you haven’t already figured it out, my cats are all indoor cats — what can I say, I’m an unapologetic, over-protective mother. Call me neurotic, but I just don’t like the idea of any of my beloveds getting run over by a car or having an ear or tail chewed off by some vicious, uncivilized bully.

Within six months I had a phone call from a cat rescue I’d registered with, before Zazu came into my life.

They had a litter of gingers and one of the males had been set aside for me. The colour of his fur reminded me of Robert Redford’s hair in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, so I named him Sundance.

He must have been part Siamese, because I’d often find him either on top of the fridge or on top of a tall armoire I had in my bedroom. How he got himself up there I’ll never know, but he loved surprising me — I’d walk into the room and he’d call out to me; and I can swear I’d look up and see him grinning with satisfaction.

About six or eight months after Sundance arrived, came the email. The email with the heart-melting photo.

There, in all his glory, was a kitten barely bigger than a mouse — but with what looked like an adult cat’s ears. Dark grey with half a  white mustache and some other interesting markings. My heart started to pound, but by the time I finished reading the email I thought the top of my head was going to blow off.

This sweet baby had been yanked from his mother, mere days after he was born and tossed, along with his two siblings, into a dumpster, where a kind, loving passerby found them. Thank God. Can you imagine? Dumped like a used tissue. You have no idea how many hours I have spent over these last 16 years wishing I could meet the POS who did it — and what I’d like to do to him or her.

Obviously he (Bartlett’s kind guardian angel) must have  heard them mewling in fear and hunger and God knows what else. His young son had asthma so taking them home was out of the question. Instead, he took them to the furniture factory where he worked; and lovingly cared for them for as long as he could, until they were out of danger and could safely be adopted.

How my friend got involved in his mission I can’t remember. All I remember is her email, which arrived late in the afternoon on a Friday, in my inbox at work. She already had four cats of her own so keeping even one was out of the question for her. She was enlisting my help in finding homes for them.

Mere minutes later another email arrived. She had found homes for two of them while I, through another friend, had a lead on someone who was “thinking about it.” A third, desperate email showed up in my inbox shortly thereafter, begging me to come and get the as-yet-unadopted cat in the meantime. Even for the weekend, the prospect of having seven cats in her house was too daunting. Understandably so.

Off I went. The instant I laid eyes on the three fur babies I started to squeal. The instant I picked “him” up in my arms I was a goner. My friend was trying hard not to laugh at me, but she was powerless to stop the snort that slipped out. Knowingly, she asked: “He’s not going anywhere, is he?”

First I called my other friend to tell her that her colleague was out of luck. This baby was mine. Then I ran out to pick up a few supplies. He was so tiny, I had to be creative about a litter box. His first ended up being a tinfoil tray from a toaster oven. I also picked up a food dish, a water bowl, some kitten food and some toys — which I dropped off at home. Grabbing my cat carrier, off I went to pick up the newest member of the family.

He was so little I was terrified Zazu and Sundance would think he was an hors d’oeuvre, so I moved into the guest room with him, where we both stayed for a month. I also took a week off work, so he wouldn’t suddenly find himself scared and alone in a strange place. He’d been traumatized enough.

Took a week to find the perfect name for him. Because he hadn’t yet grown into his ears, he sort of looked like a cartoon cat or some kind of creature from outer space.

His markings made him look like he was wearing a white shirt and grey flannel pants, and I decided he needed an “important” name, something that felt CEOish. A friend, and a work colleague came over to my place for an impromptu brainstorm. They were both concerned that he still didn’t have a name and decided enough was enough, it was time.

Nothing we came up with resonated with any of us. The names were just too ordinary and typical and really didn’t seem to suit him. Just as we were running out of steam, a name “called out” to me:

Bartlett.

Definitely a name with some gravitas. And better yet, the street I lived on then is named Pears — there’s a variety of pears called bartletts. What could be more perfect?

That was that! Bartlett he has been all these years …

… Now all physical evidence that Bartlett lived here is gone. His medication has been returned to the vet for safe disposal. His litter boxes, unused litter, food, dishes and bowls, toys and blankets have been taken to the Humane Society, where I know they will be put to good use. I know Bartlett would approve.

Yes, the physical evidence is gone, gone immediately actually. To some that might seem callous and cold, but I just couldn’t bear to see it, knowing he wasn’t around to use any of it anymore. It was just too cruel a reminder.

His presence, however is still felt. And he is missed. Boy is he missed. I miss his soft paw gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) whacking me on the face when he wanted some cuddles — often at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I miss the sound of his sweet voice announcing his arrival whenever he decided to join me, in whichever room I happened to be. I miss his complaining — loudly — when I was too long for his liking on my computer or the phone.

I miss him huffing out of the room whenever I watched CNN. I am not making this up, I swear. Unlike his mama Bartlett was not a news or political junkie. His taste ran more to American Idol and Dancing With The Stars, which he loved to watch with my mother when, during the last year of her life, she came to live with us. I miss his crazy antics and the merry chases he’s led me on — far too many to get into right now.

Last night I was thinking I might write a very small, illustrated book about my adventures with Bartlett. I don’t know, maybe 5o – 100 pages at the most. You’ll be among the first to know if I do.

And while it’s way to soon to know for sure, I am also mulling over whether or not I will rescue another fur baby. It’s not a decision I have to make right now and I’ll know when I know. But if I do, this time I think it will be an older cat, because they don’t get adopted as easily as kittens.

An old broad adopting an old cat. Fitting, don’t you think? Again, you’ll be among the first to know.

Regardless, there will only ever be one Bartlett. Thank you for the love and the joy and the memories. And Bartles, be nice to Zazu.

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44 thoughts on “My very own pussy riot …

  1. I am so sorry. Losing a pet is a grief only a pet owner could begin to appreciate. I hope you do get another puss soon, but as you say, you’ll know when ‘you know’. I lasted six days after losing Barney 13 years ago, and Maggie is still with us, albeit slower, arthritic, more pernickety, but just as loving.

  2. So sorry to hear of your loss, Fransi. Every time I say I’m to get another pet, I find myself browsing the local humane society’s adoption pages on their website. I had a dog for 14 years and still miss him terribly, but I’ve had cats the last 15 years or so. I’ve sworn after these last very neurotic, very vocal two that I’m done, but you know how that goes…

    • I sure do know how it goes Michelle. Life just isn’t the same without a pussy cat. They just bring some laughter and love to your life. They are never boring, that is for sure.

  3. So sorry to hear you’ve lost your precious Bartlett. Reading about your cats over the years revived my longing for another kitty. It’s been a few years since our last died, and the loss almost killed my husband. He said he couldn’t take that again, so we remain catless. I keep hoping, though, that a cat will adopt us, overpowering his wishes with its cuteness and affection. Perhaps the same will happen to you, Fransi.

    • Thanks Donna. It’s certainly happened to me before so it wouldn’t surprise me. Once a cat lover, always a cat lover and it’s hard to live without them.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. I loved your story about your cats. I have 4 cats. I always seem to have 4. When my old cat Jake died over two years ago, I thought I was downsizing. That lasted until a year later when I saw a one-eyed gray cat rescued from a hoarder. She looked somewhat like the one-eyed gray cat I had so we couldn’t let this one go homeless. It’s back to 4 but I still consider downsizing. I don’t have to worry for a while yet as my oldest is only 13. There are a few more good years left for her. Good luck with your decision. Not having any was never an option for me. I swear I won’t go to a nursing home unless they have cats! Or heaven either!

    • I’m sure I will end up with one, I just have to get over this. I hate not having kitties around. And I’m not going anywhere that doesn’t let them in either 😊❤️

  5. So enjoyed the article and fluent in cat language, could chuckle at all the little things so familiar, that people who don’t live with cats, must think we invent. I know also how deep a void they leave.My mami cat lived to 21 and my rescue Buster is probably close to 10, I have only had indoor cats myself. I think we honor their gifts to our lives by grieving as long as it takes, and I also think they have an uncanny knack for finding their next mother when we least expect to be found.Thank you for sharing Bartlett with us and I look forward to the book Fransi.

    • Thanks Daisy. I am sure that those who have never lived with cats think we are nuts. I don’t care. Oh yes, I agree, our babies definitely find us.

  6. lovely… thank you.  I felt the same about my guy Charlie, who let me know when it was time to go. Now I’m “fostering” a 12 year old boy with four teeth!  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel with another cat after Charlie (the last of a long line of prima donna pusscats) but figured like you…. an old broad needs an older cat…. so I’m fostering which is of course, turning into long term  lodger…. sharing bed, desk, all chairs and sofas, and when there’s a meeting or training here… a visit on the dining room table.

    Hmmmm….. fostering she says …….    G

    p.s. he loves The Voice and Animal Planet   – not so keen on CNN or the news…. for which I don’t blame him.

    • Thanks Georgina. Interesting, one of the gals at my vet’s clinic suggested fostering to me. It is such a noble, selfless, wonderful thing to do it appeals to me. But I’m afraid I couldn’t give the kitty up. I’d be wrecked. But it sounds like you won’t be 😊 so maybe I’ll give it another thought. In the meantime I think we are way overdue for an in-person catch-up, don’t you?

  7. so sorry for your loss. I too lost my Phoebe on Monday- she was 20 years old and suffering from renal failure. It seems as though she had always been in my life. But she’s no longer suffering and I can remember her as she used to be – my Princess. I’m sure you will home another feline friend when the time is right.
    My thoughts are with you. x

  8. What a lovely post. I had to say goodbye to my beloved companion of 12 years, in January. Chocolat was a brown Burmese – I’ve hosted many cats over the years, but she was my first Burmese. I am now smitten. Her absence in our home was tangible. I will always miss her, for her love, companionship, fun, and chattiness. I’m not ready for another cat as yet, but maybe one day …

    • Thanks so much. I know exactly how you feel and vice versa. We are so lucky to share our lives with these wonderful companions, but saying goodbye is unbearably painful. I’m not ready yet either, it’s only been a week. Time will tell …

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss. Bartlett and you clearly have such a special connection, and it’s so hard to lose one of our family…it seems a time for so many of our beloveds to leave these past couple of weeks! I’ve heard of so many – hope they’re having a wonderful time on the other side, all meeting one another…
    love, Lucia

    • Thanks Lucia. Yes, I have also heard of many beloved fur babies who have left recently, including your Tillie. I love the thought of them all meeting each other and having a wonderful time, free of pain and illness. Love back, Fransi

  10. Pingback: My very own pussy riot … Fransi Weinstein | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  11. So sorry to read this and my heart goes out to you. I lost my old gentleman, Elijah Moon, last fall, and it was soooo empty in the house. My husband didn’t want another cat but it wasn’t up for discussion. So we got a shelter cat – a big, fluffy, long-haired orange Maine coon. He’s now ten months and has more toys than our kids did. He keeps us laughing.
    There will never be another Elijah Moon – he was my companion and a gentle soul. But I have to make more room in my heart now.

    • Thanks so much. Maine coons are GORGEOUS. My cousin had one. Yes, I don’t think I’ll last long without a kitty cat. They’re just too joyful to have around.

  12. Very sorry Bartlett crossed over the rainbow bridge, but I’m sure he is having a ball romping with Zazu. I am a cat person from way back, and I dread the day when my last two fur babies leave me. As you say, you will know when and if it’s time for you to adopt another furry companion.

    • Thanks so much. Yes, I am sure Bartlett is having a great tine and I’m sure I will have another kitty cat some day. Life is too quiet and boring without them.

  13. So sad losing a fur-buddy. I’m amazed you can write about it, I would be sobbing uncontrollably and flood the keyboard. Your post is a fine tribute.
    I lost my very special girl last June and I still can’t think of any cat coming close to what I had with her, my one-in-a-million girl. I walk by her photo and ache still. I would love to get another, but like you, I have to wait till the time is right.

    • Thanks Caron. No I wouldn’t illustrate it, I’m not that good. But I have a cousin who is mega talented. Maybe she’d do it.

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