Zephyr, aka #sickcat

A black kitten is standing on a gray office chair, looking toward the left side of the photo.There are a million stories I could tell about Zephyr.

I adopted him in 2001 from the Stanford Cat Network (now the Feline Friends Network). He moved homes with me five times, becoming increasingly displeased with the whole process. He was adorable and good-natured, but never very good at communicating with other cats. He meant well, but they didn’t want to play with him 24/7.

A black cat with wide yellow eyes is sitting on a cardboard scratcher, looking to the right of the photoZephyr earned the appellation #sickcat in his middle age. He first got really sick in 2010, and was eventually diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. I nursed him through the first big attack, and saw him through several flareups as well.

He was extremely well-behaved at the vet, a trait which has endeared him to vets and vet techs in two states (the last year or so of his life, he received acupuncture. That’s how chill he was at the vet. And yes, it worked really well!).

He was mostly well-behaved at home, too, but he had a weakness for spicy food, especially the hotwings we often ordered with our pizza. (Seriously. We have video.) We always had to make sure any leftover pizza or wings were secured where he couldn’t get at them. He once ate the bones from an entire order of chicken wings when we were careless and left the box where he could get to it.

A black cat is lying on the floor so he can look out a screen door on the right side of the photoAfter Mauser died, Zephyr was an only cat for about a year – but when Nate and I moved in together, Nate brought along Luna, a female just a couple years younger than Zephyr. He was pretty flummoxed at first – she didn’t want to be friends or play with him all the time either! But they came to a kind of understanding, and Luna regally tolerated Zephyr’s presence as long as he didn’t try to make friends.

In the summer of 2013, he developed lymphoma, a not-uncommon complication from IBD in cats. Our regular vet recommended an excellent oncologist, and with their help (and the help of Meat for Cats and Dogs, who always had a zillion kinds of food to tempt his appetite), the lymphoma went into remission. The average lifespan after diagnosis is 18 months, but Zephyr stayed in remission for a little over two years.


Zephyr eased into cranky-old-cat mode very smoothly, a transition made easier by the 2013 adoption of Barton and Bishop, our two younger cats. Zephyr tolerated them (and would even play with Barton if he was feeling magnanimous) but mostly he hissed at them if they got too close. Otherwise, he mostly spent his time sitting on laps and purring, and walking around yelling when he wanted food. He remained well-behaved at the vet, and was mostly good-natured about his medications.

Getting him to eat was sometimes a real challenge, because his health issues upset his stomach. The last few months, though, he was all about food, and was putting away an average of two full-sized cans of cat food per day.

He was, however, still very picky. It was not uncommon for me to hear him yowling that he was hungry when he already had two different varieties of cat food available to him. If I opened a third, it would usually suit him – but not always!

His health started failing a couple of weeks ago – he was losing weight in spite of eating well, and his always-a-little-anemic bloodwork slid quickly through actually-anemic to unrecoverable-anemic. We took him to see his regular vet this morning. The house is so quiet without him grumbling at the younger cats or crying for food.

Between his health needs and his affectionately demanding nature, Zephyr was a huge part of Nate’s and my life. We’re going to miss falling asleep with him lying against our legs, hearing him purr while he sits in my lap while I watch TV, prepping his meds morning and evening, and hearing his demanding voice.

29693298223_42a9788b33_oZephyr was an amazing cat. I am very grateful he lived with us, and grateful that we had the resources to get him the medical care he needed so he could have a long and happy life.

We miss you, old man.

I want to recommend Zephyr’s care team here in Portland. They and the folks at Meat helped us keep Zephyr as full and happy as possible.

There are a bunch more photos of him on Flickr, here and here.

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