This is an obituary for my cat, Ivan. He was ten.

Ten years ago my fiancee called me and told me I had to come to our cat groomer's business and see these kittens. I was skeptical because we already had three cats, but Katy persuaded me I would like them because they were long-hairs. (Though I have never had one, I have always thought the Persian-Siamese cross known as "Himalyan" is the most beautiful breed of domestic cat.) Sure enough, there were four (4) very cute boys, who I dubbed the Brothers Karamazov. Two of them had identical markings except different colors: "Alexey" was black and white and "Ivan" was gray and white.

I insisted upon getting both Ivan and Alexey. They were our "wedding kittens" (we were married July 16, 1993) and the two of them were truly delightful. I loved holding Ivan on my lap. He would butt his forehead against my arm until he had hidden his face in my armpit, then fall asleep, with me stroking his long, gray and white fur. He comforted me this way many times in the past ten years.

When we moved out of our tiny apartment on the University campus, out to a big house in semi-rural outskirts of Albuquerque, we thought we could safely let our cats roam free. We were wrong. Alexey simply disappeared. Perhaps dogs or coyotes got him: I don't really know.

A few years later, Ivan almost got killed by dogs. About five years ago my wife lost her favorite cat to a dog attack, right in front of her. Shortly after this occurred I heard some yapping outside and ran out to investigate. I was not going to lose any more cats to dogs. In my haste, I didn't bother to put on clothes or shoes, but I did grab a stick we used to secure our patio doors. We live on a desert mesa, and out in the clumps of dry grasses and weeds, Ivan was being attacked by a couple of pit bulls. One of them had my fluffy gray and white cat by the tail. They took off like a shot when they saw me coming. I guess they sensed my murderous intent. After I made sure Ivan was alive (he lost the white tip of his tail, but otherwise came out unscathed) I realized I was naked, out in the middle of the field of prickly weeds with no shoes. Ooo. Ow. Ooo. Ow.

For years, Ivan has been my companion. Up to now, the writeups on E2 posted by me were almost all written with Ivan lying on my desk next to the computer. When he wanted to irritate me he would lie there with his butt facing me and flick his tail over my mouse: the one thing I will not miss about Ivan.

In the past few months he has seemed particularly affectionate, crawling in my lap almost every night, like he used to when he was a kitten. In retrospect, it was probably because he was feeling sick and needed comfort. Cats, however, are rather stoic when it comes to illness. By the time they let you know they are sick, they are often passed the point where you can do anything about it. Then , however, it suddenly became apparent that Ivan was greviously ill. He would not sit in my lap, and gave up his precious spot on my desk. (This was a serious sign: there are five other cats in the house and they are extremely territorial). He suddenly lost weight, and finally stopped eating altogether. The vet couldn't come up with a firm diagnosis, but all the possibilities were likely to be fatal. When we finally decided it was time, and took him in to be euthanized, he was very close to death and only need the slightest encouragement: his heart stopped only seconds after receving the shot. Even in death, however, he was able to comfort me in the way he always had, by stroking his beautiful, long, gray and white fur as I carried him home to be buried.

I thought maybe now that I have children, a pet's death would not affect me as much, but it still hurts. While our cats are no longer a pathetic substitute for a childless couple to dote on, they are still our close friends. Ivan in particular was my friend, and I will miss him.