I’ll readily admit that Zico has never been the most playful or funny of his species. He was never going to be a YouTube star but he had other remarkable qualities. I adopted him a bit more than a decade ago at the urging of my friend Arnie who was working with Last Chance Animal Rescue and who called him a champion of a cat which, indeed, he was.
He was never fussy or finicky and although he’d occasionally gnaw on some wires, a loud command to stop always ended that. He never jumped onto unwanted places or scratched anywhere but his scratch pad. (He preferred horizontal to vertical scratching.) Early on, I proclaimed that if I could teach him not to shed (and maybe lose a few pounds), he’d have been the perfect cat.
But this made him easy. What made him special was being among the gentlest, most social, and friendliest cats imaginable. He actively sought not just my company but the company of anyone he met. When we reunited earlier this week, the vet and every tech who took care of him remarked about his sociability with humans and other animals. And this behavior came from a cat who was quite sick. When I called to schedule the appointment for his “good death,” Dynaia reiterated how everyone in the practice had come to love him over those three weeks - a remark I found unsurprising and predictable because theirs was the universal reaction to Zicomo.
I know that people often engage in anthropomorphizing animals’ behavior – especially companion animals – and I am going to do that with Zico. As I struggled with this decision, I held him on my lap and told him I wished that he could somehow make my choice easier. An hour or so later he effectively did just that when he made no effort to go to his litter box, urinated on my bed, and simply continued to lay in the same place. In a way, it gave me some clarity and peace and, strange though it might sound, I will consider that his last gift to me.
Zico was a fine companion and I’m unashamed to reveal that I shed some tears through the process yesterday and again today as I wrote this little eulogy. I felt his affection (and hope I returned it) for more than ten years but I think he let me know I made the right judgement and I have to believe he’s no longer suffering.
With that, I will choose to remember the beautiful, bright-eyed, happy cat in the photo. And I will miss him.