Stretch, like many of my cats back home, got his name when he was a nursing kitten. He would stretch out over his brother and sister to get to the nipple. His brother was Bob, because he had a bobbed tail, and his sister was Joe because compared to the two of them she was a regular Joe.
Stretch was a simple, sweet cat. He was obsessed with laps and sunshine. It was rare that you would find him anywhere else. He was actually too much of a lap cat sometimes, because not every outfit welcomes a cat who picks at fabric with his claws before he jumps up, drools profusely, and measures a good several inches more than the average housecat. He really lived up to his name.
Stretch loved his sister Joe. It turned out he loved her a little too much, because they were indoor cats and she became pregnant, about which you may draw your own conclusions. But they would often curl up on the couch or in a chair together, and once she had her strange little inbred kittens Stretch would curl up with them. Joe seemed to forget she was their mother. Stretch may not have had the sense to know he was their father, but he loved them anyway.
Stretch quickly came to eschew cat food. I believe this started with table scraps, and once he got enough of a taste of human food it was all he wanted. For your own sanity I highly discourage this, but mom would buy him chicken from the grocery store, she would cut up hot dogs, all manner of meat meant for people found its way to the countertop for Stretch. What this meant was that every time you walked into the kitchen to do anything for yourself, there was Stretch on the island, yelling at you to please god give him some chicken, processed pig parts, anything at all please can’t you spare something. He had in fact eaten twenty minutes prior, but you’d never know.
One by one the other cats passed away, and Stretch was king of the castle. His vision faded over time, something I noticed once when I was home. His pupils were particularly large, his eyes particularly glassy. I got my fingers very close to his face and waved them silently, eliciting no reaction. His family always had distinct eyes, and one of his daughters was born blind. He managed fine throughout the house, since nothing had really changed in the 15 years he’d lived there. He knew where the furniture was, and he knew where to find the laps. When it was down to just Stretch in the house, mom backed off her no-cats-in-the-living-room rule, though she did still try to keep him off the couch. That was mostly fine with Stretch, because he simply wanted to be in her chair with her, all the time.
Stretch was thinner and thinner every time I went home, but he kept eating his people food and he kept coming into my room whenever he caught the door left open. He’d be purring before he even came in, and he’d climb up on the bed and settle down and the room would vibrate with his contentment.
Eventually he stopped eating and spent time in strange new corners of the house, so mom knew what to expect. It happened a few nights ago, and mom enlisted the help of a handyman she knows to, as she told him, “dig a cat-sized hole.” He showed up with a little casket he’d made just for the occasion, and Stretch lies next to Scuzzy and Tituba, two other favorites. For the first time in my conscious memory, there are no cats at my mom’s house.
Except for Domino the basement cat, but that’s another story.
Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.