Sneer Campaign took a hiatus last week due to bereavement. Our friend and pillar of strength in the Sneer Headquarters, the Captain, died one week shy of his official birthday (which is today, March 30th) and we needed time to process our grief.
We don’t know about the Captain’s kittenhood, back in the spring of 2006. I was living in small town rural Ohio at the time, and our neighbor worked somewhere thirty miles away. In the parking lot of her work, there were abandoned kittens and she brought one home. The kitten was headstrong, rambunctious, and prone to misbehaving, so he was put outside. After a couple of months, he worked his way into our home where he was named, taken to the vet, and endured as best we could. As you’d expect with a teenage cat with a rough start and a strong personality, he was difficult to live with for at least the first two years, biting us deeply sometimes, filleting our legs others — but we didn’t give up!
To guests, he always came across as gregarious, the life of any party. He would stand in the center of a human circle; he would get on any lap. If we were snacking, he would go over to his little table where his kibble bowl was, eat a few, and look back at everyone, doing his little standing kitty biscuit motions and purring. He liked being included in any gathering or happening and he made many lifelong friends who are just as shaken by his passing as we are. He had a strong circle of bros.
The Captain was an imposing cat. At his peak he was 22 lbs, and if he had worn a collar, I would have had to have gotten a dog collar. Tall, with large paws, he was a mini-tiger in a lot of ways. He gave the impression of being the equivalent of a retired football player. Sure, he had a belly, but he was still muscular. He was large enough that he could be used as a pillow. He didn’t usually mind. He would just purr and make kitty biscuits in the air.
We can never know when his actual date of birth was, but I counted backwards from the time we met and landed in late March. It seemed fitting for him to share a birthdate with Secretariat, Famous Chestnut Racehorse, because it is pretty likely that his heart was three times the size of a normal cat’s heart. He was larger than life, like Secretariat, and deserves to have statues, books, and movies of him.
I know every pet is special, and anyone you spend so many years with makes an impact, but the Captain was my pal for fourteen years. We antagonized each other all the time, but also we cared. He was a doglike cat who wouldn’t mind if I cried on his fur, and he would always look everyone in the face, apparently scanning them to check if they were happy or not. This open expression of concern that he seemed to have made more than one person that did not like cats at least like him.
We will miss his squawking meow, continual purring just for being near us, love of all foods, love of running water, his too-intense kitty biscuits which brought us physical pain, crushing of our ribcages, and constant presence underfoot. He had a pretty good run and died fairly abruptly with minimal struggle while in the kitchen, his favorite room.
But what can you really say when a legend dies? The Captain was more than a friend and companion. He was an icon. And he is missed.