Good-bye, Gus

Our first cat we had 16 years. This is his photograph when a kitten. I’m sure you are laughing at my attempt at animal photography. We named him Custard, which shows I didn’t know anything about custard pudding. My neighbor said, “He’s an eggy custard, isn’t he?” I was pregnant with our firstborn at the time.





This second photo shows how the baby and Custard got along just fine. But Custard was always in the background, and not demanding or very important to our lives. We had human children keeping us busy and happy, five of them by the time he died.





Then this cat moved in. We found out about a year later that she actually lived just down the street and only wanted to sojourn with us while giving birth.

Aren’t her kitties darling? The father was a Turkish Van. We decided to keep the fellow in the middle of this group, and named him Mackenzie. This was before all Mackenzies were girls. He reminded me of a polar bear and therefore the name of a river in snowy country seemed right for him.


The whole family adored Mac, but he was always skitterish, not often cuddly. The older he got, the less he liked to be petted. He stayed outside most of the time and often sat on the rabbit hutch, facing the corner of the back yard fence, where he seemed to us to be in deep contemplation. If you look carefully at left, you can see his mostly white in the center of the picture.

By the time Mackenzie died of old age, all our children were moved out of this barn of a house, and we thought a new cat or two might add a little warmth. At the feline rescue center we visited both the adult cat room and the kitten room. We sat down and waited to see if any cats would be friendly and affectionate.


There was one in each room that came right up to us to be petted, and they were both very pretty, so we took two cats home!

With Gus and Zoë we had five golden months. We laughed at their romping, and one of them was always happy to snuggle if we wanted.

Then when we were out of town, Zoë was hit by a car and killed. She had been our favorite, serene and attentive, so we were terribly sad to lose her, after having her so short a time. But we still had Gus, who at the loss of his friend became a little less the wayfaring adolescent and liked nothing more than to sit on a lap for hours at a time.

He was unusual in many ways, but one odd thing was that he loved to hang upside-down on/from my lap and be brushed with the wire brush. You could scratch and scrunch his fur and flesh till your arms ached, but he would want still more lovin’.

Last week Gus met the same fate as Zoë, only a block from our house. I’m ashamed to tell this; I can see in hindsight that neither of these adopted pets was ultimately suited to the minimal arrangements we’d made for them when we were traveling. It must be that they didn’t have enough sense of home, when we weren’t here.

So we lost Gus, who everyone agrees was the best cat there ever was; and we lost our confidence about owning another cat. Our grief is sharpened by a conviction of irresponsibility. There are various reasons we’ll postpone the decision about whether to get another pet. In the meantime, our drafty house is a bit colder again.

12 thoughts on “Good-bye, Gus

  1. Mark is absolutely right and we can never protect them as much as we want. The same thing could have happened to a person. I've come across families at work who have had two members or more killed in RTAs. It's life, as horrid as that is to say so don't feel guilty. Some of those photos are great. I love the kitttens, of course, and Custard with the baby and the last one of Gus on the back of your chair. He's lovely.


  2. I'm so sorry.
    Custard was a big kitty, wasn't he? He looked so happy in those old photos.
    I think you DO need another kitty to sit on your lap and keep you warm.
    RIP, Gus.


  3. Oh, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet Gus. I hope you don't write off having any more cats to love and share life with.

    I am a cat person who is deathly allergic, so I like to live vicariously through cat owners who get all the benefits and none of the hives.


  4. Oh dear, I'm so sorry. Our little pets are certainly important family members, aren't they. Our little dog has been sick for a few days, and you should see the way we fuss and fret over him.
    Thank you so very much for the Scribbler award! I'll be back to follow the next step on that asap.
    Bless you GJ!


  5. I hope you will get another cat soon.

    I don't think you were irresponsible. You could not have predicted either outcome. So many cats live indoor/outdoor, and do fine–as yours did while you were home, and our previous cats always did ALL the time… But you could always board a new cat or keep it inside when you were gone, if you wanted to be safer. Don't deprive yourselves and the cat(s) who would love to live with you because your last two were unlucky!


  6. So sorry to hear about your cat! It sounds like you have a lot of warm memories of him, and you'll probably live longer, if all the studies are correct, because of your love for him!

    And accidents happen even when you're watching. We once had a puppy who ran out the front door right into traffic at the hour the sun was setting, so it was hard for drivers to see.

    Congrats on your award! You have a beautiful blog! Thanks for links to other good ones.


  7. I agree with Harmony 100% I liked your way of letting the cats come to you. Kelly did that once and had the most loving little kitty. But she didn't fair well at Dad's house with the wild cats, but we still have her brother. Keep them in the garage when you are gone.



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