Jack the Cat died yesterday — Saint Patrick’s Day now provides a whole new depth — and today I am missing the best writing partner I ever had.  Even though Jack had been extremely ill the last three months of his life — his Veterinarian said he was a “Miracle Cat” because his blood numbers were so bad he should have been dead long ago — yet Jack still fought on with us to live because he seemed to know what we could never admit:  We could not live without each other.  Even in the throes of his last days with failing kidneys, anemia and heart failure — Jack always remained the elegant, bi-color, Persian show cat he was born to be 15 years ago.  He never lost his class:


When I say Jack was my “writing partner” he was.  We wrote seven books together and thousands of blog posts and hundreds of articles and papers. 

He kept me on task when I wanted to play:  “If you’re not working, then get up and feed me!” was the meowing-out I’d get any time I started lagging in my daily word duty, and the scolding was always accompanied by this familiar expression of contempt for a lazy writer — still provided, at will, even in his waning days:

Writing is a lonely business.  You’re stuck at home alone in a cold room and having the warmth of a cat — Right There! — is just the sort of company, companionship and co-writing you need to press you forward into the dark night.

Jack was ready for writing any time.  If I was up, he was up.  If I took a nap, he’d join me.  If we had to pull an all-nighter, or if we had to get up really early, Jack was there and ready to help by offering a warm body, a constant purring, and the ongoing threat of the emptying food dish that perpetually needed re-filling.  Jack was always a monster eater.

Janna and I met Jack 15 years ago when he was 10 months old.  We were looking for a cat and I posted an inquiry on the old CompuServe Pets forum — long before there was any sort of mature “Internet” we enjoy today — and a kind woman named Pauline Joy from New Hampshire immediately responded she knew she had the perfect pet for us.

At that time, Pauline was running a cattery called “Joyville” and Jack’s officially registered name was “Jack of Joyville” and he was named after Jack Nicholson because of their similar silly and threatening eye expressions.

Pauline told us Jack was a “thousand dollar show cat” who had been abandoned by his buyer.  Jack had a $500 non-refundable deposit, but his buyer disappeared.  Pauline wasn’t able to keep him beyond a year and she offered us the chance to rescue him for free.

We leapt at the chance and drove to a cat show halfway between New York City and New Hampshire to meet Pauline and pick up Jack.  Pauline told us Jack was strong, had great genetics and he would “live forever.”  He lived up to his reputation.

The moment Jack saw Janna it was love at first sight.  He instantly became her cat — he tolerated me for 15 years until right at the end when he warmed up to me a bit — Jack and Janna shared a constant stream of affection and love that still amazes, and still slightly sickens me with envy, me today.

Pauline asked us to keep her updated on Jack’s progress and we always tried to even though we never heard back from Pauline.

After Jack died at 12:02pm yesterday, we came home and did another Google search for “Pauline Joy” and found this page again.  I have used Pauline’s email address on that site to get in touch with her in the past with no success — so I am invoking Google from the other side of the coin and posting the email I sent to Pauline last night right here so someone out there can find us to help us find her, and to also publicly express our everlasting thanks to her for giving us such a fantastic cat:

Pauline Joy of Joyville —

15 years ago or so we drove from NYC to a cat show to adopt Jack — a
long and lean and gorgeous bi-color Persian — from you.

Do you remember us?

Jack has given us so much endless joy and unrepentant happiness that
we have no idea how we would ever live without him.

Today, we are horribly finding out: We had to euthanize him due to
chronic kidney failure, anemia and, finally — after an ultrasound
this morning — heart failure. Saint Patrick’s Day will never have
the same meaning again.

We had Jack on fluids and Enaparil for the last three months. We
thought he was doing great until something turned on him over the
weekend and he stopped eating and had trouble breathing.

When Jack was diagnosed in October with kidney failure, Janna had a
“Jack in the Cube” made for me for Christmas. I wrote about it here:

http://urbansemiotic.com/2009/01/28/the-looxis-3d-hologram-optical-cube-review/

We are heartbroken and lost without Jack and he’s only been gone six hours.

We’ve tried to re-connect with you over the years — we sent you Jack
updates in the past but never received a reply in return — so we
wanted to take one last shot at closing the circle to thank you again
for giving us such a brave, funny, wacky, smart, mysterious, beautiful
boy whom we will never forget and eternally love.

I have CC:d some people on the website in which we found you just in
case our emails to you are getting caught in some insidious Spam trap
somewhere and we ask them to please forward this note to you on our
behalf.

Best,

David and Janna

We’ll let you know if we ever hear from Pauline.

Now we try living without Jack.

It will be a long and lonesome road.

Janna has always had her two favorite boys on her desk at work — and we hope the memories will not be too painful to remember of the one lost to us.

We will always remember Jack as he was when we first met him.  He was truly one-of-a-kind.  He was a member of the family.  He is missed. 

Jack was a giant furball of hair and attitude and everyone who met him over the years first gasped at his beauty and then sighed over his stunning countenance.  

To touch Jack’s fur was to never forget him — and for 15 years, we had that daily honor — and today, we have to accept that now all we have left is the memory.

19 Comments

  1. UPDATE:
    We just received this email from one of Pauline’s friends:

    Hi David,
    This is [name withheld], good friend of Pauline’s.
    She has changed her email provider to comcast. So that is why you are not getting her.
    I will forward you email to her and copy you too so you can reconnect.
    Sorry to hear about your cats passing.

    Watch this space and we’ll let you know if and when we get in touch with Pauline Joy again!

  2. David,
    I’m sorry for your loss. Over the years you have written quite a bit about Jack and I feel in some way I got to know a little about him. He was a wonderful friend.

  3. Thanks, Gordon. He was a terrific boy. Fearlessness was his best quality. He wasn’t scared of the vacuum cleaner or sharp sounds or other animals. He was curious about the world around him. He was imperturbable. I wish I had more of his ability to just be calm about every single thing. He was the perfect Big City Cat for living in the urban core.

  4. UPDATE:
    We heard from Pauline!
    The circle is closed.
    Pauline told us she also still has cats — so the future is suddenly getting brighter and more interesting.

  5. There are very few situations in my life those made me cry – ever.
    I still remember my reaction when I first met jack through one of your writing.
    Good to know he had a good company like you and Janna.

  6. Oh, such sad news, David. I loved meeting Jack many years ago in Manhattan. He was so soft like feathers. He was a bird without wings. I hope you both will be okay and our prayers are with you in your time of need.

  7. Thanks, Anne. I’m glad you’re back. Tried to call you but couldn’t get through.
    Jack enjoyed your company a lot in Alphabet City and you took his licking and long hair with great fun and aplomb.
    His fur was very un-fur like. It was soft like down. You could touch it without feeling it was so light. Washing him was a nightmare because his hair did not want to get wet. His coat was always thick and rich.

  8. I am sorry for your loss; I know you miss your kitty. They become such a huge part of our lives, with every leap onto our desks and every plaintive, “meow.”
    New beginnings… with a better understanding of the world as it is are not easy (I apologize for the platitudes).
    All the best,
    Val

  9. I appreciate you thoughtful words, Valerie, and I am thankful for your kindness.
    You’re right that every ending can be a new beginning and that’s just the attitude we must take to get past this.
    That process is tough though — especially when the thing that missing was firmly embedded in your daily routine and helped round out the rough edges.