As it is universally acknowledged, 2020 was a real rough year for everyone. Before we as a site (except Tonyana) stumbled and fell into an extended hiatus, we revealed that the Captain, feline icon and legend, had died. That was at the start of the pandemic times. Well, months into the pandemic, our youngest, newest, most photogenic, and sweetest cat, Jackson, also died.
Jackson died on September 1, 2020, and it has taken us a full six months to even figure out how to talk about it publicly. But I guess today is a good day to finish all the articles I tried to start about it. I would write a sentence and then stop. Or look up one photo and then stop. It is a very saddening thing. But first a little background on him.
He arrove in the summer of 2019 and became a big favorite among the Sneer Family. He lived outside at first, as all stray cats must when people are in denial about having yet another meow to feed. But he charmed us and one day looked so sad out there in the rain that Dollissa brought him into the attic zone where he lived for a while until certain vet visits and operations could be had.
Jackson was young, like ten months old, and extraordinarily well-behaved. When we took him to the vet he was very relaxed. He earned the nickname “Chillaxon Jackson” because he napped in his carrier while we waited an astounding three hours in the crowded waiting room. No fuss or fear or complaint. He just watched or snoozed. He was nice to the veterinary professionals who poked at him and drew blood from him. He was the perfect, always-happy cat — who turned out to have a raging case of feline leukemia.
For those not in the know, FeLV is a highly contagious virus of cats that eventually kills them, usually by way of lymphoma. I have read that it can sometime go into spontaneous remission on its own, but that’s nothing to count on. Sometimes cats live with it with few ill effects for seven to fourteen years. But for an overwhelming amount of cats it takes about two years to run its fatal course, leaving everyone’s lives shattered for a good long while after.
Because he couldn’t associate with the other cats, I more or less gave up my room so that he would have a place of his own. He had a cat tower, and free run of all the surfaces. I slept in there, but also on the couch in the front room on nights when he was just too nocturnal. He never tried to leave his room, and seemed to be totally content to watch out of the windows and play ultra-rambunctiously until he had to lie down and catch his breath. I spent a lot of time with that fluffy little cat. I had plans for him.
Like Dollissa’s sister, I was going to have this popular pet presence. Stories! I’d understand how to use them! I’d be informative, run contests, be engaging — but I wouldn’t write as if I was Jackson typing. That’s going too far for me. Well, those were my plans if I could ever understand how to use Instagram to its best. I did at least make a little account for him, chillaxonjackson, which has since become sneercats. During this endeavor, I learned that social media circles of animal enthusiasts are the kindest and most supportive kinds of people. Maybe everyone is in it for the flood of cat pix but it still feels nice.
The fluffiest of fur, the handsomest of cat face, the fact that he wouldn’t blink any time you tried to take a picture, and the fact that he learned the command “look cute” and would roll around and actually look cute — we gave a lot of thought to how this could be his kitty career. Unlike all of our other cats who scowl and slink away when they notice our phones pointing at them, Jackson would pose. It sounds improbable, but he really would gather himself up, turn to his best side, and stay still while we took dozens of pictures. He would move to new angles, and a photoshoot would happen. We considered giving him the professional name of Corey Jackson. There would be book deals and advertising campaigns.
Illustrated Guide to Jackson
Somehow I only got to draw one kitty comic about him, but he had so many quirks to offer. Playing until he panted like a dog, how he wouldn’t sit on a lap but he loved being held, I couldn’t have anything hanging on the walls unless they were higher than he could jump or else he would knock them down — his main hobby. He talked to birds, and to me. He would just flop his tail around like it was a dangling rope. He had a great fondness for kitty grass and tummy rubs. He would meow and reach up in order to be picked up and carried. He was obsessed with the sink and bathtub drains. He even looked just like one of Louis Wain’s cats, only real! That alone was worth so much content in all the forms imaginable.
We wanted to educate about how feline leukemia is so easily preventable. Everyone should get their vaccines! And we wanted to promote the idea that you should not be afraid of caring for FeLV kitties. #felvisnotadeathsentence even though of course it often is.
Jackson developed lymphoma at the beginning of August and died within four weeks, days before he would have turned two years old. He lived two weeks longer than they predicted, took all of his medicine without a fuss, and exhibited no symptoms at all until the last three days. It was a terrible ordeal and we are sorry his life turned out that way. But we are so glad we got to know him at all. We wish everyone else could have gotten to know him, too.
Instead, we will all have to accept these little galleries of images.
Catch you on the flipside, Janxo.