It is very hard to believe that nearly 2 weeks has gone by since I lost my best fur friend, Junior. A cat of 20 years, 17 of which belonged to me.
When I went to the Saskatoon SPCA 17 years ago to adopt a kitten, I walked out instead with a 3 year old cat that everyone there could only describe as 'special'. That particular shelter never kept animals for more than 3 months, and if by then they were not adopted out, euthanasia made room for the constant inflow of animals in need of a home. But for Winnie, (his name at the time) they felt they needed to wait, and made an exception. They even had him in a special display cage at the front desk so he could meet and greet everyone.
It wasn't long before I had him moved into my little apartment and had renamed him Zeke Jr.. I named him after the black cat I was given when I was born and whom I had until I was 17 years old.
My new cats' name was quickly shortened to Junior, and although it seemed very natural to me, whenever I introduced him to someone over the next 17 years, they would get a chuckle out of that name. It didn't occur to me that when talking about 'Junior', people are usually referring to their biological son.
Junior and I lived happily in Saskatoon for a time, and I enjoyed walking him around the city on a leash or carrying him 'koala bear' style on my hip. He made an excellent companion, and either people were super friendly and wanted to be introduced to him, or they thought I was some nutjob, and kept their distance. Either way, it was a win-win for me.
I moved back in with my parents on the farm for a short time before moving to Rainbow Lake, AB where my fiancé lived. We were married shortly after, and Junior became 'our' cat. He was even in the wedding photos, and has been a part of every milestone in our lives thus far.
He had no trouble adjusting to all our moves, which we did several times within Rainbow Lake, and then after 5 years up North, we came back to civilization and lived in Lloydminster for 5 years. This is where we had our two babies, another big change that did not upset this cat in the slightest.
His personality could be summed up in two words, calm and friendly. I have no doubt that is why he lived to be a healthy 20 year old cat. If cats are naturally Zen creatures, Junior was a Master.
We moved again, to Cold Lake, AB this time. This is when Junior became, uncharacteristically adventurous. He would sneak outside, (always with one of the kids) and worse, he would leave the yard. I would have to go searching for him in neighbors yards. I usually found him grazing on some grass, and he always willingly came to me. When I would find him, he'd look at me as if to say, "Oh, hi. You're out for a stroll too?". I even once had to bail him out of jail. Someone had called animal control, and Junior was impounded. It cost me $50 to get him back, but I was so grateful he was safe. After that, I had to have a serious talk with my two young children about keeping an eye on Junior, and not letting him escape the house.
Our last move took us back to our home town in SK. Again, he had no problem making the move, and adjusted quickly. Everyone who met him could not believe he was an 18 year old cat. His health was perfect, his fur was soft and shiny, and he was very active.
He kept all his dignities until his very last day, and when his kidney disease got the better of him, I chose to help him go gently into the next life.
I haven't adjusted to his absence. When the house is quiet, everywhere I look, I can clearly picture him either sleeping in one of his many favourite places, or walking up to me to be picked up or cuddle up next to me. He was a people cat. He was my cat, my companion, my friend, and the world doesn't seem quite as friendly a place without him.