04/28/2015 01:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On Losing a Friend

Our Meeting

I recently lost a friend of mine. We met under slightly unusual circumstances.

We had just finished moving. A street lamp cast a lazy, hazy glow over us as we smiled at a job well done.

Out of nowhere came a raucous, "Meow!" There was this ginger tabby, skinny and tall with a hungry desperation in his eyes.

His attitude was, "Somebody feed me now!"

I moved towards it and it came straight up to me. I picked this stately creature up and discovered it had no claws on its front paws.

"You have to take it in. There is no way that cat can defend itself," Michelle advised.

The next morning I created a sign which I went around the neighborhood with. It read:

"Ginger cat with half a tail found." The cat had this stunted little tail. I figured it was a defining characteristic.


C.Z curled up and cosy. Note the trademark tiny tail.

I received many calls for cats with missing portions of tail, but none of them turned out a match. So, I adopted him.

His Character

He had a regal appearance, a handsome face and long lean body. I named him Caesar (after Julius) which quickly became C.Z.


C.Z relaxing with his pal George Michael.

It was great to have some company, although he was a snob and had a temper. His soul was untameable.

This dark side was evident when our dog Lucy, as a puppy, fell off the bed injuring her leg. She let out a desperate yelp. C.Z's pupils dilated and he moved in for the kill. Lucy never trusted him again. Attempted murder is a hard one to forgive.

If a dog enters the place, C.Z goes on the warpath even though he has no claws. He is a no fear fighting machine that doesn't know when to quit. Reminds me of someone I know, intimately.

C.Z is the greediest cat in history. One night I had bought myself a doughnut (I had danced up a storm and was good for the calories). C.Z jumped over to me and began wildly trying to knock it out of my hand. In fact anything that was barely edible he consumed. I've seen him devour concentrated Zankou garlic sauce.

We ran a variety of tests but there was nothing wrong with him. He was just plain greedy.


Busted! George on the lookout while C.Z gets stuck into the food bag he stole from the cupboard.

He will watch you eat and start purring. The mere fact that someone is eating something turns him on.

Speaking of which, C.Z is also a chronic masturbator and loves to make an exhibition of himself. He will tear down a blanket and go to town on it right in front of you. He loves the attention, an attention whore if you will.

Despite his serious psychological issues he displayed high intelligence.

He learned to use our toilet.

Being food oriented he was a quick learner. When he realized he would get a treat anytime he used the toilet he started to drink copious amounts of water so he could pee more and get more treats. He also would hold his pee in if we were out, so when we returned he could do a "performance pee" to get a treat. Then he began fake peeing.

He also bites you if you sing badly.

He also bites you if you annoy him. He is a really bitchy, irrational critic. I'm never that way.

One day we took him for a check-up. Dr. Tony got back to us with the news that C.Z had kidney disease.

His Illness

Suddenly he stopped eating. That had never happened. He shriveled up in front of our eyes and began to crawl under dark spaces looking for somewhere to suffer in silence.

I watched as he stumbled towards the toilet and attempted to hop up onto the bowl like a good kitty, but he was too weak and fell. It was a heartbreaking moment of heroism from the anti-hero.

He couldn't walk and dragged his back legs, swerving over the floor like he was mad drunk, his eyes tightened into slits.

When he went into hospital, it was touch and go.

He was horizontal for the first few days. On day five when I visited, he was able to get up. He was happy to see me and rubbed up against me and I rubbed his ears. He liked that. It was wonderful to see him alive though not fully kicking.

He was put on a new diet and seemed less sleazy and more affectionate and, thankfully, as greedy as ever.

I appreciated him more than ever as the miraculous creature he was.

A month later he crashed again, however, and went back into hospital. This time he did not respond to treatment. His body failed.

We held his paw and stroked him gently as life left his body -- when the spark died in his fierce wild eyes.

Lessons From The Loss

C.Z wasn't the most charming of fellows but his loss left a big wide hole in my heart. I never knew how much he meant to me until he was gone.

Grief seems vast and unbounded when it comes over you in its tidal surges. Death is so final and there is a strange emptiness that remains like a ghost.

I can't offer much wisdom for dealing with grief and death, but I do offer this: fill that hole with all the precious things that are meaningful.

It is easy to pass judgement. It is hard to appreciate those close to us in the fog of everyday life. We must remind ourselves to step back and view our fellow flawed miracles from a sympathetic perspective and an awareness of our collective mortality.

You realize how fragile life is when someone is taken. Be grateful for the positive qualities in your family and friends.

We are here but for a moment. Honor the lives that touch you.


R.I.P C.Z. Thanks for being a wierd and wonderful friend.