An old friend was going through her photos and found two that she took of my late cat, the beloved Teddy, whom I’ve written about before.  I got them in the mail just an hour ago.

I will post them here, but since I don’t have a scanner these are lower-quality photos of photos.

Teddy was a street cat, probably about three, who wandered in one winter through my cat door, covered in motor oil from hiding under cars.  He was an un-neutered tomcat (quickly fixed), and must have been tough to survive several Chicago winters. After he came in through the cat door and adopted us, he never again went outside—not once. He had had enough.

He was a very sweet and docile cat, and was loved by everyone who met him. But he was also FIV-positive, so I had to keep him away from other animals and work hard to keep infections away (i.e., brushing his teeth, which he hated).  After about 7 years he got lymphoma and died—the same month as my father.  For weeks after Teddy died, I’d come home and still think I saw his white form out of the corner of my eye.

Here he is:




  1. Maas, Blue [LPD C]
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    re “For weeks after Tedduy died, I’d come home and still think I saw his white body out of the corner of my eye.”

    This must be a feline fenom. I lost to death Moxie Grace OwlFace, a black – brown Maine Coon, on 17 June 2013. Not only do I still ‘see’ her flit around a corner, but I also ‘expect’ to be greeted nearly every time I come in the front or back doors and first thing in the mornings.

    It is hard.

    Blue Maas, Secretary
    Iowa State University
    Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
    Ames, Iowa 50011 – 1050
    515.294.9696 f

    • Posted August 25, 2013 at 2:53 am | Permalink

      I had so much of that same sort of sighting after I lost a cat to leukemia/lymphoma, it seemed better not to every tell anyone. It was 40 years ago, though, when I was a teen. I’ve since “seen” other beloved cats after they passed away, too. It’s as though…

      JAC, I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Good looking cat. I’d never know he had a terminal illness.

    Sadly, I know exactly what it feels like to come “home” to a place without a cat. One of the hardest things to do.

    I still think another cat will find its way into your life, hopefully sooner rather than later….


  3. Avis James
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I loved taking care of Teddy when Jerry was out of town. Wonderful cat!! (and not a black hair on him)

  4. Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I’ve lost two to lymphoma and both went very quickly; it’s the most common cancer in cats but is sometimes impossible to detect until the cat is very ill.

    Beautiful photos of Teddy – such a cute round face and round ears, and obviously a sweet personality.

    I agree with Ben – someday you’ll have another one.

  5. Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I almost cried (again- you’re often doing this to me Jerry!) reading that.

    Teddy looks wonderful.

    I lost my darling Moebius about two years ago, I was devastated, the vet’s kept telling me she was quite old but I told her she had to live till she was at least 23 but she didn’t listen(!)- she was only 17. She was a Siamese with fabulous blue eyes and a sweet and gentle temperament, I didn’t think to send a photo of her in because I sent in pics of my two devon rexes we have now- I adore them of course. But Moebius (Bo for short) was my best friend all the years I was living on my own and I’d had her since I was about 17.

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely cat!

    Losing pets is terrible. My last dog had cancer and she got sick quickly so I had to take her to be euthanized. I thought I’d be all tear free about it but I burst into years when I made the decision and even the vet was in tears. I’m usually such a hard ass! 🙂

  7. Lori Way
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    What a treat to have new pictures of your old friend! Looks like a fine and loving beastie. So glad you gave him a wonderful home. I sympathize with the loss and with seeing him out of the corner of your eye. So hard. I’ve been through it twice and now have 3 cats, so there you go. It’s worth it.

  8. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink


    That cat ghost thing ~ for me it’s people who’ve died not pets. Waking up in the small hours & having strange conversations with someone I miss. At the time I don’t think “hang on, this person’s dead” ~ it’s only later after the “visitation” is over does it click that I’ve experienced an auditory hallucination [I never see them ~ just falsely sense they are in the corner of the room out of sight].

    The realisation that it’s an illusion is a grim comedown for quite some time afterwards & as the months pass the “visits” tail off. The hallucination is perfect ~ the sound seems to come into my ears rather than someone talking in my head. If it’s a dream then it’s distinguished from normal dreams by the fact that the backdrop is exactly the room that I’m in. I can think of two friends who’ve experienced the same phenom after someone close died. In both cases the experience matched mine ~ waking up & auditory only. I wonder how common this experience is?

  9. Dave
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I know we cat-people are terrible for anthropomorphising human emotions onto kittehs but that 2nd photo I can just feel the love streaming out from Teddy to you and vice-versa.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      That second picture is so damn sweet.

  10. D. Taylor
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how common, but I’ve had that experience, too, with my border collie Mitzi. She enriched our lives for nearly fifteen years. In the week after she died, I would hear her barking; it was so real that I would stop whatever I was doing and go to find her. The barking usually led me to the middle of the kitchen. Frustrated by her invitation-to-play, I would explain to her, “Mitzi, you have to understand, I can’t see you!” This was in the middle of the afternoon. After a week or so, it stopped.

  11. D. Taylor
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, this post has clearly touched a lot of us. The bond of trust and affection between you and Teddy is almost palpable. Thank you for sharing so special a friend and moment.

  12. docbill1351
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Following swimming practice, waiting to be picked up on a blustery winter afternoon, my 9-year old daughter fed part of a cookie to an old, scraggly starving-looking grey cat sitting under a bench. The cat ate the cookie, my daughter couldn’t leave her and Smokey came home that day.

    Covered in who-knows-what, certainly a lot of street grime and oil, and declawed, one fang, I gave it a bath using Johnson’s No Tears baby shampoo and had to rinse the tub twice. Never bathed a cat before or since. (I would wash a running buzz saw before taking on Kink!)

    The vet suggested Smokey had been abandoned and without claws would not have lasted more than a few weeks in the elements.

    Smokey was very fearful and it took us months to gain her trust. Playing with a wad of paper tied to a piece of string I remember the day we were lying on the carpet in the living room and Smokey made a tentative whack at the toy. The whole family cheered and smothered poor surprised Smokey with pets and tears.

    Smokey lived with us for nearly three years before succumbing to a tumor. Smokey never missed a meal, loved whacking at wads of paper tied to string, eventually gained some weight, learned that I can sit with a cat on my lap for hours and would occasionally go “cat crazy” and run around the house just for the fun of it.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      That’s beautiful.

  13. Marella
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    My cat Ginger died of lymphoma, it was awful. It didn’t take long after the diagnosis but he’d been ill for a while by then and many months before he had gone overnight from being a cat in his prime to being old. Ginger was a fabulous cat. He went to bed with all my kids, keeping them company while they fell asleep, and he loved everyone.

    • Marella
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Teddy looks beautiful. I love that he never went outside again. “Been there, didn’t like it.”

    • Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      My cat Moebius had lymphoma too xxxx

  14. Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to say every one of these stories (including the main article) has me wanting to give a metaphorical hug to all concerned xxxx hugs to all xxxx

  15. matt
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    beautiful. thanks for sharing!

  16. BilBy
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    My experience of cats born and raised on the streets, as it were, is that they rarely become super friendly, even if they move in with someone. That second photo, with your face close to Teddy, which many ex street cats will simply not abide implies that Teddy may have been a pet once, even if only for short while. Whatever, he got lucky and found the right person, and you found the right cat, which is always good news.

    • Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Baihu was born on the streets to a feral mother, and was several months old when I invited him in — a process that itself took at least a couple weeks, and I’m sure I’m the first human who ever actually laid eyes on him. But right now as I type he’s draped across my shoulders, and last night he spent most of the night with my chest as his mattress and my cheek as his pillow.

      Then again, he’s terrified of all other humans.

      My guess?

      Teddy was, indeed, tired of living on the streets, and asked somebody he guessed he could trust to give him a good retirement. And he picked very, very well.


      • BilBy
        Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        True; my brother-in-law’s ex-street cat loves him, tries to kill other humans (or at least, is so terrified of them he doesn’t consider collateral damage when trying to get past them)

      • JBlilie
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:17 am | Permalink

        Well done Ben!

  17. Casey
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    What is it about white cats? I read most of Cleveland Amory’s lovely long book about his white cat, Polar Bear, but couldn’t finish it… My password all over the internet (no longer) was Antonio, for my wonderful, four-legged work of art who left us a year ago November 1. Now and forever, I guess, I’ll lean in when a white cat passes by.

  18. ladyatheist
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Teddy looks like he was a cuddly sweetheart

  19. gravityfly
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Loved the bottom pic! It’s almost iconic…

  20. JBlilie
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Beautiful kitteh, so sorry for his loss. I too saw my most beloved beast running around the house after he had passed (he was black). Just a habit of the brain.

    We ucrrently have a black kitteh and a tan one; and at night, anything of roughly the right size and color “is” a kitteh …

  21. darrelle
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    What a poignant thread. That 2nd pic seems to really capture the relationship you had with Teddy.

    My wife and I lost a cat, Kitani, to cancer. From our perspective it happened very quickly. She had always been a very healthy, very robust cat. Our vet loved to see her because she was always so healthy, and because of that he thought we were just wonderful for taking such good care of our cat.

    Kitani had a habit of crying out in the middle of the night. She would sit out in the living room and utter the most forlorn, gentle cry, that it would just break my heart. And get me to do exactly what she wanted. Which was to get out of bed, go to her, and give her some love. There just wasn’t going to be any getting back to sleep until she got her love fix.

    After she was gone the most visceral “ghosting” phenomenon I had regarding her were those cries in the middle of the night. For years after she had gone, with gradually decreasing frequency, I would be woken in the middle of the night by her heartbreakingly forlorn, gentle cry.

  22. Posted August 20, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Teddy looks like my current lap-cat, Russell — all white, and bit on the fluffy side — who together with his tabby pal Zeno, won a book in the photo contest.

    [This turned into a long and maudlin comment. Feel free to stop reading now]

    We’ve been a multi-cat household for ~35 years, and have said farewell to a total of seven wee beasties. The hardest was Mozart, a Siamese who greeted me loudly every day when I got home, occupied my lap whenever it was available, and slept at my side every night. When he was about 15yo a small hard lump appeared on the top of his head. The vet couldn’t do a biopsy as it was inside the skull. For several weeks it grew slowly larger, while not apparently bothering Mozart.

    Then one day Mozart abruptly grew unsteady on his feet, and stopped eating and drinking. That evening he tried to jump into my lap, missed and fell on the floor. Weeping, I gathered him into my arms, cancelled whatever I had planned, and spent the evening reading with him curled in my lap. He even purred. At bed time I put him in his customary spot by my side, where he spent the night. The next day we got a noon appointment for euthanasia, so I spent the morning as I had spent the previous evening, reading with my small friend on my lap, until it was time to take that last trip to the vet. I held him in my arms as the drugs went in.

    I managed to keep it together until we were back in the car. My wife had to drive home. That was eight years ago. Russell is sweet and cuddly and all, but he’s not Mozart.

    • Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      So sad. Not maudlin in the least. We just lost one recently too.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

      I am now officially in tears.

    • Posted September 26, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Me, too. In tears. Officially.

  23. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    work hard to keep infections away (i.e., brushing his teeth, which he hated)

    Isn’t there a feline equivalent of the “chew sticks” that I see advertised for cleaning the teeth of d*gs ?

  24. Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    White becomes you, Prof. C. Very touching story. Thanks.

  25. Posted August 25, 2013 at 2:55 am | Permalink


%d bloggers like this: