My orange kitty Spider passed away today at the age of 16, after his lifelong kidney problems became overwhelming. He was my dear companion, and will be deeply missed.
Spider was born on April 29, 1999, in Pasadena, California, during my first year of grad school. He and his sister Hoppy were fostered for the Pasadena Humane Society by our department’s sysadmin, Cheryl. Cheryl’s official duties included keeping the department’s workstations and networks up and running, but her unofficial duty was to match new grad students with cats. I made arrangements to adopt Spider, and my friends Bryan and Megan adopted Hoppy.
We had to wait until they were 2 pounds so that they could be neutered and adopted, but Cheryl brought them in to the office frequently to visit and play.
Once we adopted the kitties, Spider and Hoppy continued to see each other frequently for a few years while we all lived in Pasadena. They were close and loving siblings. Hoppy’s kidneys were always worse than Spider’s. Bryan and Megan gave her the best of care, and she lived until age 11.
Spider and me, June 1999
Spider, September 1999
Spider was an active young cat. When he first moved in with me, he would attack the underside of my mattress, and lick my eyelids, early in the morning until I woke up. I usually went to the office and got a couple more hours of sleep in the Hemisphere of Death. When Spider did something bad, I would squirt him with a garden sprayer. He outsmarted me by dragging the sprayer under the bed, and biting it until it bled to death.
When I dated and married Gina, Spider never quite appreciated living with a veterinarian, or her dogs. But all the poking, prodding, and pills gave him a longer and better life than I ever expected, and I’m grateful for it.
He did enjoy living with our other kitties, including Fat Peppy (who passed away two years ago today, in a heartbreaking coincidence) and Puffy Jack (who has found all the pounds Spider lost during his decline).
Spider’s life was bookended by the two serious illnesses of my life, during his first and final years. Each time I came home from the hospital, he was there to welcome me home and comfort me. I hope that I was able to comfort him as well when he needed it.