Syd Egan (1998-2013)
Syd was born in August of 1998 on a little farm just outside of Vermillion, South Dakota. He was a gift from my then girlfriend Kim. She and her brother chose two cats from the litter — hers a thin, short-haired black and white cat she named Rajah, and Brett’s a large siamese that he called Ben. Syd and Rajah shared the same white spots on their bodies, socks on each paw and a white patch on their chins and just below. This made the short-haired Rajah look like he was wearing a tuxedo. Syd though, a tabby, wore his white as tiny flakes of order on the otherwise chaotic tapestry that was his long fur.
That Syd was chosen for me was irrelevant the moment I saw him. I would have picked him out of a thousand kittens. The first time we met he wandered over to me like he had known me all his life. (Well, okay, at that point he pretty much had, but whatever.) He had huge owl-like eyes, the proportions of which seemed to remain throughout his life. When he was young I was afraid of how easily he could hurt them, they were so big. He was beautiful and loving. Even as a kitten he longed to cuddle, and would often ride on my shoulder while I wandered around the house, until finally he grew too big to sit there. Once he hit adulthood, he started sleeping in bags. There was a particular paper sack from Davis Pharmacy where my mom worked that he preferred to nap in. I set it on the small bookshelf above my bed, and would frequently find him hiding in it.
He was the smelliest kitten I have ever met. I’ve been told that all boy kittens stink, but man, he reeked. We would have to bathe him almost every other day for the first six or so months I had him. He hated it. But in the end he’d always crawl right back onto me, smelling now of Herbal Essences and insisting that I carry him around.
He was named for Syd Barrett, the founding member of Pink Floyd who later went nuts and had to be edged out of the band. During his formative years I would sing Barrett’s solo tunes to him constantly. His favorite was “Here I Go”. To this day when I put that album on his ears perk up a bit at that track.
Well. Not to this day.
He was always vocal, but never without reason. My calling his name never failed to be met with a quizative “Mow?” and him trotting his way toward me. His purr could be heard rooms away and felt through the thickest blankets. It’s his purr and his voice that I’ll miss the most. The vocal flutter he would emit when hopping up and down onto a chair, the call and response, the rhythmic motor-like reassurance that yes, I was definitely his favorite human.
Aside from a year in Minneapolis, I’ve had Syd everywhere I’ve lived. For fifteen years — nearly half my life — he’s been my companion and sounding board (the reason I’m not technically talking to myself, thank you) and even friend. In the past week or so, while he’s been ill and growing less and less himself, I’ve gotten some pretty weird looks from people when they’ve asked why I look so upset and I tell them that my cat was sick. I challenge any one of those motherfuckers to have a relationship as lasting and half as rewarding as the one I’ve had with Syd.
I worry that I haven’t done all I could. On his last night Syd could barely move, hardly registered that I was there. I pet him and told him I loved him, and managed to get a purr for at least a moment. In my heart I know he’s hurting and that he’s on his way out. I know that keeping him around will only result in his suffering and my having to watch him deteriorate further. When I call his name now there is no response but a small flick of the tail, and it is that flick that gives me pause, that makes me worry that I am premature. I don’t think I am, but in the end I can only hope that. My only comfort is that I haven’t taken this decision lightly. And my only wish is that the little guy understands.
I hope he’s had a good kitten life. I hope he knows that I loved him as best I knew how.
Syd had many friends who loved him. He was especially fond of Al, Cory and Katie, all of whom would take care of him in my absence. He could grow to tolerate about anyone, but you were special if Syd plopped right down on you at first meeting. When I first met Al, Syd went for her immediately, and she took my surprise as a trick to meet girls. She learned quickly that it wasn’t. He meets his friend Romeo at rest, and is survived by his farm-tromping long-distance girlfriend Bamf.
It was never a secret that I was going to outlive this creature. And I will get another cat — I’m a cat person, I need something to talk to around here. But nothing will ever be Syd. I will remember him and miss him the rest of my weird days on this Earth. Maybe he is my kitten soulmate, and his kitten soul will transfer into another kitten and he will be my next. Or maybe I’m a dangerous lunatic. I don’t know. But I do know that I hurt now, that I am missing something in his absence, and that no matter how weird or sad it sounds, I really do deeply, tragically love that fucking cat.
September 27, 2013