My good friend Yoshi the cat passed away yesterday. This may seem silly but I want to take a few minutes to thank him for a few things:
Thank you for being my first pet. I didn’t have a pet as a child so when my girlfriend (later my wife) suggested that I get a cat I was resistant. I had no idea how to take care of a cat and earlier attempts to take care of less complex lifeforms like goldfish or houseplants hadn’t worked out well at all. Whether I wanted a cat or not, she was determined to get one so when she saw a little black kitten at a pet shop in the local mall, she bought him for herself. She called me on a Friday after work and told me that she had bought a cat and to meet her at the pet store. Her plan was that the kitten could stay at my place for a few days until she got her other cat Monte used to the idea of having a roommate. The kitten was in a big cage in the center of the pet store when I first saw him. A mewing, squeaking tiny little ball of black fur. My girl paid for him and he was put into a shoebox and given to us. The drive from the pet store back to my apartment was memorable in that Yoshi’s body did not take well to car travel. Stuff came out of his body in every possible way that stuff can come out of a kitten’s body, if you know what I mean. He never got any better with his carsickness and in fact, that first car trip was probably the best car ride we were to ever experience with Yoshi. He was certainly no worse for the wear when we got to my place and he ran around the apartment with an insane manic kitten energy that I had never seen before. At one point his tail got wrapped around the cord of my wall mounted, neon Captain Morgan clock. The clock crashed to the floor, smashing into a million pieces. Even though he had shown himself to be a kitten of good taste when it comes to interior design, I was annoyed with him but that faded fairly quickly.
Thank you for the laughs. Yoshi had a wicked sense of humor especially where Monte was concerned. Monte was a big, burly Maine Coon who was the first cat that Yoshi lived with. Yoshi just loved to mess with him until Monte’s nose would turn red in anger. At that point he would attack and Yoshi would need a human to intervene on his behalf. One time Monte thought that it was a good idea to take a walk on the edge of a full bathtub while my wife was taking a bath. From out of nowhere, Yoshi streaked into the bathroom like a bolt of black lightning and knocked Monte into the water. Monte fell into the water and instantly sprung out and chased Yoshi around the house. I’m sure that Monte didn’t see the humor in the situation but Yoshi and I had a good laugh.
He had a great love of salty foods especially Nachos and French fries. If you were eating nachos around Yoshi, you had better be on your guard or a black paw would lash out and knock the chip out of your hand. Before you knew it Yoshi’s mouth would snatch the chip out of the air and he’d stroll off with a salty treat.
Thank you for the conversations. I realize that this sounds nuts but Yoshi could speak in his own way. If you asked him a question, he would answer you. It might be with meow or a squeak or some other odd noise but he would respond. Back in 2002, I asked him who was going to win the Super Bowl and he responded with something that my wife and I agree sounded a lot like “rams”. The game that year was between the New England Patriots and the St Louis Rams. New England won, so he picked the game wrong but I’m still impressed that he made a pick at all.
He also had a pretty good handle on how to make a meow that sounded a lot like “no” and he would use it in the proper context. If you were to ask him if you should pet the dog, you’d probably get the “no” meow.
Thank you for all of your help with the kids. We had a baby monitor for our first kid but we didn’t need it. If the baby cried at all in the nighttime, Yoshi would come into the master bedroom and wake us up. He would poke and howl until a parent got up and then he would follow us to the nursery and he wouldn’t leave until the baby was quiet. This backfired on him once when I had picked the baby up and was pacing with her in the loft outside of her room. Yoshi had accompanied me upstairs and was sitting on top of the half wall that overlooked the dining room downstairs. The baby had been quiet but she let out with an unexpected yell. This startled Yoshi so much that he began to slip from his perch on the half wall. I could see pure panic flash on his little cat face as he tried to get a grip but couldn’t. Down he went. Fortunately there a couch below him. He bounced of the back of the couch and hit the carpet and then scrambled downstairs to his safe spot beneath the coffee table. He was ok and he never let this incident keep from his duties as cat parent to both of my children. As they got older, he would make sure to go upstairs and walk into their bedrooms after bedtime to make sure that they were ok. He helped us raise them to the ages of ten and seven and I wish that he could’ve hung around until they’d gotten through the teenage years.
Thank you for the inspiration. I’ve been a reader all of my life and had always wanted to write something but every time I tried to write a story the results were pretty bad. Until Yoshi came along (and later Gatsby). It wasn’t until then I thought of writing about Yoshi and Gatsby (with radically different personalities) and the adventures that they could have as detectives. Petectives was the first thing that I had ever written that wasn’t horrible and I attribute much of that to the inspiration that Yoshi provided.
If you’ve actually read these ramblings for this long, thanks. I’ll wrap up by saying that I am very glad to have known Yoshi. I’m sure that he wasn’t all that different from most other cats but he was a little black cat who had a huge influence on my family and he will be missed. A lot.
Robert J. Smith