Jack was a good buddy and one of my favorite cats in my long cat-career. He died on Feb. 17, 2012, most likely from heart failure.
Yes, this blog is about the house, the repairing, building and cursing, but since Jack lived here and loved being here, it’s important to acknowledge that this was his home, Jack’s place.
I got Jack from the Denver Dumb Friends League in February 2003. He was a big kitten of about 8 months old, with Siamese markings, a white tummy and the bluest eyes ever. He had been surrendered to the shelter about 4 hours before I saw him and despite being uprooted from his home, he was friendly and calm. I liked him right off the bat and thought he would make a good companion for Nina, a kitten I had purchased just a couple weeks before. The technician said he was surrendered because the family had too many animals but my theory, after years of observation Jack’s hatred of dogs was a key factor.
Jack was taken to the vet the day after I adopted him, a routine exam to get him started off right. The vet was astounded that an animal with that bad of a heart could still be alive, let alone thrive. Jack had a severe heart murmur and the vet warned me – one day I’ll come downstairs and find him dead on the floor. It could happen tomorrow or 19 years from now. As it turned out, it was a short 9 years later.
Jack’s first home was the beautiful house in Highlands Ranch and it was early in his life when we found out how much he hated dogs. He loathed the sight of them and had a special hatred for the neighbor’s greyhound. The pooch wandered into the yard one day and had spotted Nina under the bushes but failed to see the big, Siamese-striped cat next to the steps. Jack launched at the 80-pound dog and jumped onto the dog’s back in one, swift move. Like a championship jockey spurring his mount onto the winner’s circle, Jack rode the dog out of the yard and across the street.
Later on, other neighbors would tell stories of Jack riding their dogs, from big to small, Jack was an equal-opportunity dog-hater.
For a male cat, he had a big motherly instinct and helped raise 17 kittens that “we” fostered for the Intermountain Humane Society in Pine. Different litters would come and go and Jack was in charge of their cat-training. When he laid on the floor, kittens would crawl all over him just like he was their mother. Kittens need socializing and he did his part. Personally, I think he tolerated the kittens because if they had free run of the house, he had access to their high-calorie and tasty kitten food. Always my cleaner-upper, Jack was willing to clean up anything that had food on it.
Jack and Nina had never been apart, not even for a day in their 9 years together. Jack always overshadowed Nina since he was a bully, tyrant and incredibly jealous of her. Still, they were buddies, always eating together, sleeping at the same time and ogling the birds that frequent the bird feeders.
We’ve had a few homes and Jack adjusted to new digs pretty well. In Lakewood he would growl through the window at the neighbor’s beagles and in Pine Junction, he would try to sniff the deer that that frequently traipsed across the front porch and licked at the windows. Here in Conifer he adjusted quickly to the 9,000-foot elevation and once acclimated he loved the deck and the fenced in yard. During the summer months he would refuse to come in the house and would hang out under the deck, watching the parade of squirrels and birds in the yard.
If people come to visit, they can’t get far into the house without having to pay attention to him. Most of my friends described Nina as pretty but with hair that got into everything but Jack was a cool cat. He’d be part of any conversation, part of any gathering. If people came to work on the house, he was their supervisor.
The windowsill was his domain since he was mostly an indoor cat. I’ve had a couple cats die because they were allowed outside and after Boyfriend disappeared in 2002, I pledged my cats would be indoor cats and only allowed outside with a chaperone. Both Nina and Jack seemed fine with the arrangement although Nina has dreams of exploring the wild world beyond the 6-foot fence.
In the week before he died, Jack was unusually frisky. He chased Nina around the house more than usual, hungered for the birds at the feeder and galloped in his peculiar stilted gate that made him look like a rocking horse. Jack had lost some weight in the last year, not so much that he looked deprived but enough that it was obvious. Even with his more svelt figure, he still had a belly swing when he came running. He’d played a lot in that last week and was demanding a lot of my time with his usual pester-filled antics, all in the name of getting petted. I wished I would have known he wouldn’t be around anymore; I would have petted and held him until his last breath. Jack died almost exactly on the anniversary of the day I brought him home and he’s also the third animal I’ve had die/disappear on the 17th day of the month. Don’t ask me why I remember these things.
Even though Jack is gone I’m grateful he passed away laying on his favorite spot on the carpet. I didn’t have to wonder where he’d gone, what happened to him and where he finally rested. I had Jack cremated and his little tin sits in the big window he loved and now he can truly supervise all the work that still needs to be done here at his home at the Bar B Ranch.
We’re gonna miss Jack around here.