JackJack the black cat was named after the character from the movie, The Incredibles. He and his orange brother Dash were found on the side of the road, scrawny and scared, by some loving human. My roommate found their five-week-old faces up for adoption on Craig’s List and voila, we had two new little souls in our lives. Twelve years later, my roommate had long since moved back to the Midwest, and the Jack-Dash-Tracy family combined households with my now-husband Jason and his adorable, spunky, grey-and-white cat, Pablo. We were worried how young Pablo would manage with these two comfortable, mature siblings. Would they gang up on him? Put him in his place? We took great care to introduce them slowly, following all the recommendations: sniffs under a door, sniffs through a gate, and finally sniffer-to-sniffer. What we quickly learned was, Pablo was the boss. He ran circles around my two middled aged kitties: picture the cat version of a boxer dancing backwards in a ring while jabbing at the air. He was the hallway-police, the puffy tail instigator, and the corral cowboy to his new furry stepbrothers. Before Pablo, I’d only heard Jack hiss a handful of times. With Pablo, Jack hissed 37 times a day. “I told you, get away from me, you little punk-ass sucka,” is what I imagined him saying. We fell into an entertaining three-cat household rhythm and the orange, black, and grey cat-brothers worked it out. And by worked it out, I mean, Pablo remained the boss and Jack and Dash fell in line.
Late in 2018, we lost our little Dash-man. When he didn’t come running for treats, I found him in a favorite nap corner. It was a shock, but swift and gentle. We adjusted to two-kitty life. Jack handled Pablo better than Dash ever did. Jack’s boxing nickname would have been, “The Avoider.” His signature move, “The DissRun,” (duck, hiss, and run.) They were mostly very functional together. They ate together every morning and loved to sit in their spots on the couch with us every night. They never really played, although there’s a good chance that’s what Pablo really wanted when he heckled Jack. It was a happy cat home for three and a half years.
Sadly, last week we had to say goodbye to sweet Jack. He had lymphoma and the palliative care stopped working. His tiny body couldn’t take it anymore. The depth of heartbreak has surprised me. Maybe it was because he was always my favorite, maybe it is the guilt of making the call to put him down, or maybe it’s just where I am in life. Jack was my sincere, soulful shadow for 17 years. He would have spent all day going between his drinking sink, and his treat bench if I’d have just followed him. He had a white patch, snored when he slept, and loved lying on his back with his relaxed paws up in the air. I know he was just a cat, but we shared an immense level of trust. He knew I was his consistent provider and protector, and I knew he wouldn’t rip my nose off in the middle of the night.
The last blog post I wrote was seven years ago and was also about a black cat. I recognize that writing an ode to my sweet kitty being the impetus for dusting off the ol’ blog, may also be the ultimate manifestation of crazy-cat-ladydom. Global pandemic? I’m good. 2020 civil unrest which had me couch-paralyzed for weeks? Nah. Turning 50? I’m cool. Getting married for the first time at age 50? Nope. Losing my dad? Not even then did I pick up my metaphorical pen. But kitty hospice and euthanasia for 17-year-old Jack? That was the one. RIP my distinguished JackJack. I hope you’re in kitty heaven romping around with Dash. Down here, Jason, Tracy, and Pablo are missing you.