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Secret Origins: Ziggy

It was a late August day back in 2010, Dad left a voicemail on my cell. A bit cryptic–simply telling me to call him. As my aunt was in the hospital for something, I immediately feared the worst, and called in a panic…only to find out it wasn’t anything urgent.

Dad had been online and came across a Craigslist listing for a cat at a nearby shelter, and Mom had insisted that he needed my blessing before there’d be any consideration of getting this cat, as I was in visiting often, and it’d only been a few months since we’d lost Kayla after having her over 18 years.

I found the listing Dad had seen, and immediately approved.

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The shelter had him tagged as "Sigmund." I’d planned to add "Dewey" to that, both for the library-cat and figuring it would sound quite distinguished. Sigmund Dewey.

The shelter had posted the listing too early, so Dad had to wait a few days–they had to allow time for notification any potential owners to come in and reclaim him. During that time, I recall posting in a blog at cxPulp that whether he knew it or not, this was a lucky little cat–because though he was in a shelter for the then-moment, he either had a family that would reclaim him…or he already had a family that wanted him.

And as things went, on September 7th, 2010, Dad went in. As he’s told me, he walked into the place, and even with the other cats meowing and reaching out and clamoring for attention–Dad only had eyes for Sigmund.

…Sigmund, who huddled in the back of the cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone, let alone being pulled out of the cage. But Dad got him out, and that day, he brought this cat into my life.

My conscious plan was to "tolerate" this cat, to "put up with" its presence…I wouldn’t be mean or anything, but I’d be indifferent–he was gonna be Dad’s cat.

That evening after work, I drove the hour in to meet this cat. Such a significant thing, adopting anyone new into your life–and I had to see this cat for myself.

One look at him and I got down on the floor to get his attention. He wasn’t sure of me at first, but then came over to check me out, and allowed me to touch him. (And for the rest of his life, "our thing" was that I was the one that would get down on the floor with him, so he almost never would hop up onto me).

While we were talking, the matter of his name came up, and Mom had a slip of the tongue, clearly saying Ziggy where Dad was calling him Siggy (for Sigmund).

The cat looked RIGHT at her, and we realized in that moment that THAT was his name.

He was Ziggy.

And he got several "pet names" or nicknames. In my own recollection, I most think of "Little Buddy" from Dad, as he’d call Ziggy or get his attention. (And that he was, he was Dad’s little buddy!). To me, he was "Handsome Cat" (cuz I thought Handsome more fitting than Pretty or Beautiful, though those absolutely fit as well). And to everyone, he was also just Zig, or Zig-Zig, or such. But Ziggy was what his "full name" has always been, at least to me. Just like I’m Walter, but go by Walt. He was Ziggy, though he’d go by others as well.

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The first photo above is the photo from the original listing, the very first photo I ever saw of him, the very first, period, that I ever saw OF him.

And just above, him resting on Mom, is the final photo I have of him.

The very earliest photo I have of him. And the very last.

Dad brought him into my life on September 7, 2010. And I had to say goodbye to this sweetest, gentlest cat I have ever known, on December 7, 2017.

And in between these photos?

I have THOUSANDS more. It takes all I have right now to hold it together just handling these two photos right now. I’ve shared hundreds, maybe thousands of photos of him before–on Facebook, in messages to friends, occasionally in this very blog.

And I know I will share even more yet, as I somehow learn to live in a world without this precious little cat. I can’t begin to find the proper words, in the proper order and quantity, to feel I’m doing the little guy justice. And as I break down now typing this, I can only say that this is far from the last I’ll have to share of him. But though he’s at peace now…

It is us, those left behind–Me, Dad, Mom, our other cat Chloe, friends and family who knew him–that suffer. Hurt. Have to pick up the pieces of broken hearts.

And me?

Absolutely nothing in my life before this has ever hurt so much, or affected me as this has.

Ziggy Kneeland.

Sigmund Dewey.

Little Buddy.

Handsome Cat.

Zig.

Zig-Zig.

This quiet, gentlest of spirits…

So very, VERY loved, and missed more terribly than words alone can ever begin to describe.

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Remembering Kayla on the 27th Anniversary of Her Birth

kayla_cornerSometimes it seems like Kayla’s still just around some corner somewhere.

But as in years past, I’m taking a moment to publically remember my little cat.

Today–October 4th–is the anniversary of her birth, back in 1990.

It’s hard to believe that now, in 2017, it’s been nearly 7 1/2 years since losing her, back in May of 2010.

She’s the only cat I’ve had or ever known where there was a definite date of birth…Kayla was a "purebred," that Dad found in a classified ad when we started looking to get a cat, back in 1992. He’d been a fan of the Himalayan breed, and though I wanted a kitten, he followed up on an ad, and we wound up bringing Miss Kayla Krystal home one January Thursday. As a purebred, she came with "papers" detailing the date of birth, and so on.

Said "papers" got stowed in a compartment on the plastic "pet taxi" vet-carrier and somewhere along the years disappeared. Because we didn’t care about ’em.

Kayla was instantly a part of the family, and other than as a clinical "fact," her being a "purebred" never mattered.

Even now, all these years later…I’ve yet to be able to string together a lengthy post about her. So many memories, across nearly 18 1/2 years…and for all the writing I do, have done, will do…there’s no doing justice to what this little cat meant to me.

To date, she remains one of THE primary "constants" in my life, a presence far longer than anyone other than immediate family.

She’ll always be here, until no one remembers. Always here, always part of my heart such a precious part of my life.

Below: several times Kayla was the focus of a "cover" in my The Life of Walt series of photo pieces.

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Remembering a Kitty

Kayla had a documented birthday, and the novelty of that and the impact it made on me (barely 11 at the time) stuck with me, cementing the date in my memory. October 4th, 1990. She was basically 15 months old when we got her in January of 1992.

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We had to say goodbye to her in early May 2010. While I’d known we didn’t have much time left with her, the exact timing still came as a shock, and crushed me. She’s still with me, often in thought, often in memories. One of extremely few constants in my years of life.


But it’s not the loss I’m noting here…it’s her life. Though I have far too few photos of her, those I do have are too many for a post like this. I’ve selected a quick few to share. I’ve probably shared at least some of these previously, but I do so in the moment today without regard for prior sharing.

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In one of my "go through a bunch of longboxes" projects in October 2009, Kayla joined me, curious about all the activity (if not just seeking attention/company…we were the only two living soul in that house at the time). I had the boxes piled around, and she seemed to have a great time climbing around, checking them out. Kayla rarely would allow any box (or bag or other container that she could get into) last long without her getting into it or on it (or both).

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At one point, I’d left a longbox open without a lid, and she found it, and loved the texture of the comics–she hunkered down and pawed madly at ’em. Some folks might’ve been horrified at the cat doing that to their comics…but me? I grabbed the camera and caught her in the act, comics be darned. My kitty was engaging with the comics.

kayla_pooped_on_wolverine_01Now, back in the early 1990s, there were a bunch of "local one-day events" for comics, including a "First Thursday of the Month" recurring event, held at a local hotel. I’d convinced Dad to take me several times, and one of those times, I found what was at the time a true treasure for me–a $6 copy of Wolverine #1.

Turned out it was a bit water damaged, hence the price at the time. Still, I had Wolverine #1!

HAD.

Kayla did not approve, and one day, I found the issue laying out on my bedroom floor.

Kayla had pooped on it.

Even though it was in a bag/board…I threw it out. I’d not been happy with the waterlogged nature of the thing anyway, so she did me the favor of providing an excellent excuse to trash the thing. (I later obtained a much better-condition copy for a whopping 25 cents!).

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Here she is kinda looking up at me taking the photo.

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And here she’s simply settled in by her ‘feeding area’…in the later years, she’d sometimes sleep here…it was an out of the way corner where she wouldn’t be bothered; she had the cool floor and often a sunbeam…and she was already by the food and water.

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I really like this photo of her in a recliner. Big ol’ chair, small little cat. Like a throne. And she was definite royalty, at least to me.

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This one’s not the greatest photo of either of us…not my best, and she’s turning to squirm away from being held as the photo was taken. But it’s one of extremely few photos that I have where I am actually in the photo WITH her, as I’m 99.9+ percent of the time the one doing the photography with cats…

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This one’s also less than wonderful of me, but has me holding Kayla. She was a ‘purebred’ Himalayan…but I’d swear she was part ‘Ragdoll’ the way she’d let me pick her up and she’d just go with it, totally chill. (By contrast, present-day, I pick Ziggy up and he squirms almost immediately to be put back down).

I could pick Kayla up randomly, and she’d just settle into my arms–even when I’d pick her up and hold her like this on her back.

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Miss Kayla Krystal. October 4, 1990 – May 10, 2010.

Today is the 26th anniversary of her birth. And as far as I can tell, and as far as I did my best in my part to do so, she had a great life…19 1/2 years, just over 18 of which she was part of my life.

Happy Birthday, Little Cat…

25 years ago today, Miss Kayla Crystal was born…a purebred Himalayan. At 15 months, she joined our family–I was 11 at the time. She was just Kayla to us–our cat, a part of our family. Being a Himalayan was incidental to the fact of her place with us.

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Though she left this world in May 2010–nearly 5 1/2 years ago (preceded in September 2008 by our younger cat Christy), her memory is still there, is still here, is still part of me, she is still in my heart and memory and mind and…there just aren’t words for this feeling.

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One of my favorite memories of her, from 2009…I was searching comic boxes, and curious as ever, she joined me, and seemed to really enjoy climbing on the boxes, pawing at them, and even at one point found one I left a lid off and I caught her pawing madly at the tops of some comics. Where some might’ve been horrified…I just wanted the photo of her doing that.

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I miss you, Kayla…

Another year

My Kayla would have been 23 today…

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More Memories

kayla01Today (October 4th) would have been Kayla’s 22nd birthday. She was 19 1/2 when we had to say goodbye back in 2010.

Just the other day I came across a couple photos of her that I’d taken on an old cameraphone years ago, hence the fuzzy quality.

When she came to my family in January 1992, she had “papers”–she was a purebred Sealpoint Himalayan. Officially Miss Kayla Krystal. Part of the “papers” included that we knew her exact birthdate: October 4, 1990.

With us, she was never a show cat. She was simply Kayla, a cherished part of the family, a wonderful little kitty I was blessed to share over 18 years with.

And though she is gone, I remember her today.

Miss Kayla Krystal Kneeland. October 4, 1990 – May 9, 2010.

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Memories

weepnotformeOn September 25, 2008, after just a couple days of trying to get used to the news that our cat Christy had leukemia and wasn’t long for this world, I got that horrible call that she was gone.

And in certain, subtle (and not so subtle) ways, that loss changed my life, changed me.

But I observe this day, recognizing that it’s been four years: somehow–I’m not entirely sure how–four years have gone by without this kitty.

Life goes on, even though I find myself with tears at the back of my eyes as I write this. Life goes on, and I remember her.

13 years we had with her–watching her grow from rambunctious kitten (my favorite memories of her kitten-months were a time she flopped down to play with Kayla (our other, older cat)’s tail–Kayla never liked her tail played with, especially not this interloping kitten) and another time seeing a little black-and-white blur race by flying at a recliner and watching it spin–seeing the kitten hanging from the back.

We got her as my sister’s kitten–my sister picked her, named her (Christy Michelle), but she grew on the whole family…she WAS family.

She’s missed as any member of the family.

Real life. Not some comic book, not some dumb story that turns out to be a dream at the end or some other cliché.

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