Update 2008.03.15: Added follow-up post: Coda, Spot.
Update 2008.02.25: Added a rare photo of me and Spot together.

My partner, John, with our cat, Spot, taken two nights ago in an examination room at the vet's. She died in my arms earlier this evening around 6:30pm.
John & Spot (Black and White)

Spot found me in the garden, in the backyard of my apartment on 5th Street in Park Slope:
A beautiful young black cat found me at the end of my day in the garden. He started going for the container I'd just planted. He was friendly, but when I realized he was licking up some organic fertilizer I'd spilled I realized he/she was starving. (It does smell good, like the original MilkBones [dog biscuits]). So I gave him a bowl of milk. He/She was purring so hard his tail was shaking. Only a white spot on his chest, otherwise black. I named him "Spot". I'll look for him tomorrow. If he's around again, maybe I have a cat.
- Diary entry, November 11, 1993, Veteran's Day, F Train en route to dinner
I didn't realize it at the time, but she represented, or embodied, a peak of synchronicity in my life. I was three and a half years into my recovery, and less than eight months sober. In therapy the previous night, I had mentioned that I was thinking about getting a cat, or two. After this first encounter with Spot, I was off to see a dance performance that evening which explored the connections between veterans of war and survivors of sexual violence. The following Monday, I was starting my first session of a gay men's therapy group.
Spot moved in with me on Saturday. I spoke to Jonathan [my landlord] Friday at work to ask him if it would be okay if I got a cat. Saw Julia [landlady] working in the garden Saturday morning. While we were inspecting and talking, I saw a black form moving behind the fence.

I called out: psss-psss-psss ... Spot leapt to the top of the fence (or climbed) and walked along the top directly to me. I took her into my arms and she (female, confirmed) started purring. I left her with Julia while I went inside and prepared the can of food Renah [a work colleague at the time] gave me Friday at work.

Bought everything for her on Saturday. Saturday night discovered she had fleas, so wouldn't let her sleep with me. Gave her a flea bath, changed bed-sheets and clothes, dusted the rug. She was not happy about the bath, but remarkably cooperative. I came away with no scratches or bites.

Remaining health concern: diarrhea, foul-smelling, and may be caused by her fondness for milk.

Long day today: first session of the group (first for me) is tonight. I won't get home until after 9pm probably. Spot will freak?!

Need to make up "FOUND" posters for the area, just in case someone's looking for her.
- Diary entry, November 15, 1993, Monday, Subway, en route to work
Later that evening, around 8:30pm, riding home on the F train:
Home to Spot. Incredible what an emotional anchor she is for me right now. Anchor is not the right word. Alternatives: focus, tether, center ... ballast ...

I'm not going to put up "Found Cat" signs tonight. I don't want anyone to answer. I don't want to give Spot up. She's just a cat I've known for only four or five days. I just want to go home to her ...
When John and I began exploring relationship together, Spot adopted him as well. She was a great comfort to him as he dealt with his mother's terminal illness, and especially after her death. John called her a medicine cat, an apt description.

She found me in the garden, and Spot always wanted to go outside. She often accompanied me when I was out in the garden. Here she is in the backyard of my apartment on 5th Street in Park Slope. This was in May 2002, the last set of photos I took of the garden I was leaving to move with John to our new apartment.
Spot in the garden on 5th Street in Park Slope

Here she is on the deck of our apartment on 6th Street in Park Slope, where John and I first lived together.
Spot the Cat

Here she is in the backyard of our new home two years ago, acting like she owned the place, which, of course, she did. She was skeptical at first, but eventually allowed that she was pleased that we bought her a big, old cat house.
The Backyard

Outside yet again, on the front steps here. I have several shots in this series, trying to get her to look at me. This is the closest I got. Note the tail curl. She wasn't having it.
Spot on the front steps

This is the earliest photo I have of Spot. This is from 2001, in the 5th Street apartment.
John and Spot

This is a typical posture for her. She spent a lot of time lying on John's chest, close to his heart, while he was himself prone on the couch or bed.
Spot and JohnSpot and John

Here's a rare photo of me and Spot together. (Only at John's insistence.) Rare not only because I'm usually the one behind the camera, but because she wouldn't often settle down on me. In this photo, she's wedged into the the nook between me and the sofa cushion. We're also playing one of our games here. If one of us stopped petting her before she was done, she would reach out with her paw, cup it around the edge of our hand, and pull it back toward her face. I would often respond by "squooshing" her paw, as I'm doing here, and telling her how evil she was. You can see from her face how that upset her.
Spot & Xris

I'll close with this photo of her. She's sitting on the floor of my tree house, the second floor back porch on the back of our house. Her tail was the most expressive part of her, and I recognize the little curl at the end of it visible in this photo.
Spot the Cat

You can see more photos of her in my Flickr set of Spot.

She followed me across 15 years of recovery, healing, and growth. She was so much a part of my life, and John's, and of our life together. We will have other familiars, but none like her. The house is empty without her. I miss her terribly.

I'm open to comments. I especially invite anyone reading this who met or knew her to leave a comment with a memory or reminiscence about her. John and I both will welcome that as a way of memorializing her.


Wren said...

I did not know her, but I can see from your post what a special cat she was, and how much you loved her. I am so sorry for your loss, and wish peace and healing for both you and John.

Lashonda said...


This is a beautiful memorial to Spot. Thank you for sharing with us.


luluinnyc said...

Very sorry to hear of your loss.

chuck b. said...

1993 was...15 years ago. Spot knew love for most of her life! I don't know if you've owned pets before, but when they go, the pain echoes for months. Remembering that she was loved, and that she loved you back, will help.

The tail is very expressive, but I can see that her face was also adorable! What a sweetheart.

John said...

It's my turn to leave a comment here. Xris has it exactly right, how Spot wrapped herself around first his heart, and then my heart, and then both of ours together. As the medicine cat that she was (and it was our couples counselor, Nicholas, not me who coined the phrase), she helped to heal us both and minister to us as we grew deeper into the relationship. She was a priest (note the clergy collar on her neck) and as such, she officiated over the birth our our relationship and has been a vehicle for us to learn more about unconditional love than we could ever learn on our own or from other humans.

Over the past few months, she had taken to sleeping next to my chest with my hands wrapped around her. It was difficult for us to find the perfect position where I wouldn't crush her and where my arms wouldn't be numbed or have the circulation cut off. Once we reached mutual accommodation, she would stay for a while purring, and fall asleep and treat me to her delightful feline snoring, leaving eventually to seek out Xris and be with him as he woke up in the morning, usually nesting between some of his limbs. One night last week, we reached nirvana. Both of us were comfortable, and she used my palm as a pillow to rest her perfect cat head. She stayed there most of the night, and we found great comfort in each other.

I had cats when I was younger, but could not keep them ultimately and never fell in as deep love with them as I did with Spot. When she sought me out, and rested on my heart, her deeply satisfied purring worked its magic on me and washed away stress and healed some very old wounds. She was persistent and generous with her love, and wouldn't take no for an answer.

The photos are so healing at the moment, helping to balance out the trauma of her last few hours. Xris, thank you for posting this so quickly.

Much love

Rob K said...


So sorry to hear of your loss.


bonnie said...

So sad. So sorry. She sounds like a good friend.

Jeanne said...

Spot was very friendly. I only met her once (at Xris and John's housewarming.) She was happy to sniff me and be petted. I was surprised. With all the people there I expected her to be overwhelmed and hide from anyone new!

Your comments show how much Spot was loved and how much she was part of your family.

And I think a blog entry is a great way to remember her.

Christopher C. NC said...

So sad to lose a good friend and companion, but how lucky you are to have had her and to be with her for the end.

Reading this makes me grieve for my own two cats that I had to leave behind because they were too old to make such a long move. I guess that is a good thing since I am so adept at emotional denial.

Thank you Spot the Medicine Cat.

Anonymous said...

I have had cats all my life and to lose them is DEVASTATING. Especially such a special one.

But an idea for you both...be prepared and be open to her coming to you in your sleep. I am quite certain that I've been visited by dear past cat-loves in my dreams and it has been a comfort.

My heart goes out to you. When you're ready...accept a new kitty into your home a begin a new chapter.

Jenn said...

Medicine cats. Yes.

I was at a friend's house last Sunday, for a gather of folks (15 of us) who had been laid off from the same office a month before.

I am currently catless, with two loving dogs doing their best. But a dog is just not a cat.

My friend's cat is 17+ years, but doesn't look it. She's also aloof, he says.

At one point during the afternoon he looked over at me agog. "I can't believe she's on your LAP."

Medicine cat knew I needed a soft touch. It was lovely.

May our memories of cats comfort us.

da-kid1951 said...

What a lovely memorial to a close friend! I never had a cat when I lived with my parents in Flatbush. Dogs were easy to befriend and simple to understand. Not until I adopted 4 strays did I really learn about the nature of cats.
My first two were from the same litter which had been found by my friend's dog. I took the two left over after the other 3 were adopted. Worf is 23 lbs and looks like a big "Spot". His sister Dax is 7.5 lbs and is a black & grey tabby. I only found out later that cats could have multiple mates for a single litter. These two are about 10 years old and have the highest cat ranking in my brood. Gremlin, a long haired male, was raised for two weeks by a neighbor who had dogs. Since my neighbor knew my place was already set up for feline occupation, I didn't think twice about taking him in. He had been found wandering on a California freeway. This guy liked to play fetch and easily walked on a leash probably due to being around dogs in his early life. He is also the smartest and most outgoing in my crew. The final resident started hanging around with my cats on the patio. When I looked at him, Henry just looked awful. I knew he would die if I didn't rescue him, so he got to move in as well. He has gained his health and vitality as well as the nickname "The Nudge" since he makes it his business to bother the other cats when they just want to sleep. I guess at about 5 years old, he just wants to play all the time. Worf still gets annoyed with Henry, but after a year, at least Worf isn't so petrified of him. When I go on travel, it's my cats that I miss the most.
Thank you for sharing your stories about Spot. Please consider getting 2 kitties when you decide to adopt again. They really appreciate each other's company especially when they get to cuddle and keep each other warm in the winter.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Hey, I missed this post--better late than never to thank you for this beautiful tribute to a great animal friend. She had character, that's evident from the photos! We, too, had a 'medicine cat' (also black), we called him the 'healing cat,' so sensitive to when we or one of the other cats was in pain or need, would just be there for us! So glad you both had the richness of this furry blessing in your lives for that long--when a good one comes along, they sort of 'define an era.'

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Thank you, all. I take some comfort that I was able to "channel" Spot well enough in my words and pictures that others could get some sense of her.

I've added a follow-up post: Coda, Spot: Our Lady of Abundance.

outwalkingthedog said...

Four years later, and I am taking some comfort from your loving post as I mourn the deaths, both in the past two weeks, of our two much-cherished cats. The apartment seems suddenly huge. Small bodies with large spirits.

Flatbush Gardener said...

Sorry for your loss.

Spirit seems to be dimensionless.