One thing about our pets is that they have the ability to bring out the best in us. Such was the case for me with my oldest son’s first cat, and it is with great sorrow that I find myself having to say good-bye to Mr. Bigglesworth.
My parents were not cat people, so when I was growing up, we only had dogs. Cats were, as far as I was concerned, completely mysterious creatures from another world whom I seldom encountered.
My closest friend growing up came from a one Siamese cat household, but despite having spent many hours playing with my friend at her house, Beige, her Siamese cat, was an elusive creature who seemed to know that I had no useful skills or experience that she could put to use, and while she did not avoid me in any obvious fashion, she also did not seek me out.
The other cat I knew in childhood was my Aunt Rheta’s cat, the aptly named Kitty.
My Aunt Rheta was a rather particular person who did everything in a particular way, and the care and feeding of her cat was just as particular as everything else she did.
One of my more vivid childhood memories of visiting my aunt and uncle’s house was that at some point my aunt would take a raw beef kidney out of the refrigerator and dice it very finely. Then she would put the meticulously prepared pieces into Kitty’s dish, and Kitty would eat it just as meticulously and fastidiously as my aunt had prepared it.
For me, when cats were not busy ignoring you, they were busy eating finely diced raw meat. So years later, on that fateful day when my oldest son called and asked me what to do with a kitten he had found in a storm drain, I had no idea what to tell him, but I did know who to call: my friend who knows everything about cats.
And even though I called her in the middle of her work day, she took the time to give me specific directions both about what to do and what not to do, and before I could forget it all, I quickly relayed those directions to my son.
And it seems that whatever my son did, it worked.
After an inauspicious start to life in a storm drain, Mr. Bigglesworth thrived.
One of the things I loved about Mr. Bigglesworth was that he was a discriminating consumer of crochet and always willing to lend a paw whether the occasion required it or not.
When I was working on what would become my first North Carolina State Fair project in the summer of 2004:
Mr. Bigglesworth was staying with me, and each afternoon and evening when I worked on the piece, he would take up a position underneath the sofa. Then, when the opportunity presented itself, he would reach a paw out from under the sofa, grab a row of squares, and run though the house at top speed with a trail of crochet in his wake.
It was, at the time, somewhat frustrating, but it was quintessential Mr. Bigglesworth, and if I learned nothing else from him, I learned this: sometimes you must grab what you want, then run like crazy.
In the intervening years, Mr. Bigglesworth moved to California, and I missed him from afar, seeing him very occasionally in person, and more often in photos, but now that Mr. Bigglesworth has transitioned from this world to the next, I will miss him in a different way, but he will always be the best cat I ever knew: