At some point today while I was at work, my lovable, exceedingly
affectionate all-black cat Verbal passed away.
When I moved to California in 1997, I had to leave behind the cat I had
in Denver. Before I got settled in to my own apartment, the other cat (whom I
called Constantine after the conqueror, not the comic book character) was
adopted by a nice gay couple. So I set out to share my apartment with a new
companion, one who was in need of a good home. I visited the local rescue
organization, CARE (Companion Animal Rescue
Effort), in search of a suitable pet.
People told me ahead of time that I shouldn't be so set on kittens, but I
was. I'm more of a cat person than a dog person, mainly because I live alone
and cats seem more capable of entertaining themselves with my long work hours.
So off I went in search of baby cats.
I got to their weekend open-adoption one nice Sunday afternoon. No kittens.
They explained that it was early in the year, since kittens usually resulted
from people letting their un-fixed cats out when the weather improved around
March and April. Just as I was ready to say "See you in May", I saw him.
In a cage was a big adult cat, all-black. I was still dallying in
the goth scene at the time, so an all-black cat was worth serious goth points.
I asked to hold him. After all, I was dead-set on kittens. But it wouldn't
hurt to pet the cat, right? From the moment I picked him up, I was done for.
This cat immediately put
his front paws on my shoulder and simple laid his head against my chest, with
his cheek in the hollow of my collarbone. I was his, hook line and sinker.
I was totally 0wnx0r3d. I told them I'd be back next week with the adoption
fee and everything else I needed.
The cat was named "Blackie" by his previous keeper, but I couldn't keep
that name. I chose Bosch, after my favorite artist. But it wasn't long before
his true nature came out: he was a talker. Everything he did was punctuated
with vocalizations. He even talked in his sleep. So, taking a cue from an
excellent film, I
named him Verbal. It suited him so much better, after all.
His affectionate nature wasn't just a ruse to get adopted. From the day I
brought him home, he would purr at the drop of a hat. If I sat down anywhere,
he was there for his pettin's. Even when I went to sleep at night, he would
climb up beside me and snuggle up. If I made a cup of my hand, he would use
it as a pillow. He would be there the next morning when I woke up.
He was lonely when I went to work. He came from a household of a lot of
cats, as his owner was one of CARE's foster-care staff. So after it was clear
how lonely he was getting during the days, I went back to CARE and adopted a
companion for him. They were inseperable. You would think Marie, the newer
cat, was Verbal's own kitten. They groomed each other, they slept in a
lop-sided yin-yang pattern. Rarely would they be more than 4 feet apart. When
I slept at night, both would be on the bed with me.
For nearly 7 years, I've loved this animal. But lately, he was starting to
show signs of age. He couldn't jump onto the bed anymore (it's a 3-foot jump).
But he never lost his affectionate nature. Any time I sat at the computer, he
wanted up in my lap. When I sat on the cushions in front of my coffee table,
he would curl up at my feet and purr. Anytime I let him up in lap, he would
lay his paws on my shoulder and snuggle against my neck, just like he did that
I noticed recently that he'd lost a tremendous amount of weight. He wasn't
eating, and barely drinking. I was worried, very worried. But I was also
dead broke. So when it was clear that he needed to go to the vet, I decided
that the very next paycheck, he was going.
That would have been tomorrow.
Instead, I came home tonight, way later than I should have, and found him
I'm so, so sorry, my dear Verbal. I hope you are at peace.