Please don't cry tears of sadness because I walked away in winter to die alone. If you need to cry for me, let the tears be those of joy for the years we shared, the love that was given and received. They say cats have nine lives and I want you to know nine is more than enough and this one has been the best ever.

From what I remember, I was alone and unwanted, a lone black kitten amongst other kittens far cuter and of more desirable colors, not to mention no one else wanted me because I had extra toes. The shelter tried to discourage you, saying I would need extra care or that you would need to be wary around Halloween due to Satanists and Black-Cat-Killers, but you were not deterred.

In fact, I recall you loved my big feet and all of the fun things I was able to accomplish from opening bedroom doors to catching better than any current player on the Yankees. I was always the alpha cat and hated the newcomers, although secretly I was pleased they copied some of my talents such as scooping up food and water with their inferior paws.

I pass the torch of Top Cat black polydactylism to that rascal and clueless Jack. Give him this message: Grow up, kid. Make sure the family is protected by the remaining cats. I'm counting on you, man. I'd say grow a pair but the lady will take you somewhere and you will feel different forever. Do your best anyway with your more-toes-than-me paws.

Don't grieve for me; I felt so loved. This past summer was the best, hanging out with the hammock guy. I even forgave the sneezing lady who wouldn't let me sleep with her husband anymore. She did her best towards the end, telling me that as a blonde, she was tired of hearing dizzy blonde jokes because vertigo is no fun. I knew exactly what she meant, having lost my balance too.

She said it was time for Cat Heaven, a place I'd never even heard of, whispered while holding me, sneezing and coughing that Heaven is what happens after your body is old or worn out. Standing by the door for the last time, she knew I would check the perimeter one last time, despite the snow and cold, my black coat and paw prints disappearing quietly in the midst of howling wind white.

This was written in a purple spiral notebook two years ago for my husband who was devastated when I had to tell him where his cat was. I did not read the last sentence when I read it aloud for my family. For him and for Noki, for the love that is undying.