April 13, 2012 by
Today I said goodbye to the greatest cat on earth. Newman was two parts obnoxious and one part dog. He was the kind of cat that dog-owning cat haters liked. He could take on the meanest of blue jays and give a dog a face bath in the same day. His purr should of been patented by those artificial wave machines. He will be missed.
When my ex-husband and I separated, I kept Kramer the schnauzer, and he took his two worthless cats with him. Kramer didn’t notice the asshole was gone, but he did miss his little furry buddies. Several weeks of freedom later, I received a call from my husband who said he’d found an alley cat that was “different” and he thought he might fill Kramer’s void. I took him in and named him Newman because he was an obnoxius attention whore who liked to headbutt. More importantly, he loved Kramer. They play chased, they slept together, and Newman even walked with us. Newman was also a typical southerner who like to go calling on the neighbors. He alternated between the lap of the retiree next door and napping with the super of the boarding house on the other side.
He repeated these patterns in south Boston and again when I moved to Brooklyn. One thing was very predictable about Newman, on the first real warm spring day, he would disappear for three or four days. The first time it happened, it was distressing, but then I reasoned that he was a) a fucking cat; and b) a stray that wandered into my life. He always came back, but if he didn’t he was surely entertaining someone else. After this happened a few times, my mother recommended that Newman move back to Virginia where she would train him to be an indoor cat. Right. Newman the visitor was going to settle for living in the Phillip Morris lab with a retiree. That lasted until she couldn’t handle the hair and dander. Instead of moving him back to Brooklyn, my girlfriend in Richmond agreed to adopt him.
Newman returned to his southern birthplace where he pulled the same crap. In 2002, when his spring break lasted longer than seven days, I told Anne thank you for fostering, but he’d obviously moved on or lost a battle with a racoon. Three months later, Anne received a call from a farm 40 miles north. Newman was flea-bitten but still had his collar on. That stunt we still refer to as his “Million Paw March.” After a flea dip and blood transfusion, Newman stuck close to home and opted to befriend a white poodle puppy across the street. He visited every morning and watched the dog through the sliding glass door. Eventually they became play buddies and the neighbor asked Anne if she wanted the dog.
Newman now had his own dog again. Anne quickly realized the neighbor’s “gift” was not just a dog, but a blind dog with a seeing-eye cat. And Newman milked that handicap with dive-bomb attacks on the poodle and unexpected swats. I was happy he was finally settling down and growing old.
In recent weeks, Newman was diagnosed with cancer. He was still fiesty and fun. Anne had wanted to see a specialist for the cancer, but when we did the math we realized he was 18 years old. Seriously, 18. That cat had nine lives several times over, but a specialist was not what he needed. We decided that he was just going to live until he stopped eating or was in pain. Today he got the shot – six days shy of my arrival in Virginia. But that’s Newman – his way all the way to the end.
Newman’s memorial services will be held at Legend Brewing, Sunday, April 22, 3-6 p.m., 321 West 7th Street, Richmond, VA 23224. I will toast Anne who got to enjoy and take care of the last half of Newman’s very long life and we’ll show you the map of all the places Newman’s ashes were spread. (That cat went a lot of places and so must his ashes.)
Goodbye Newman. You will be fondly remembered like a Seinfeld rerun.