Stud Muffin, Muffinly Stud, Mud Stuffin, Muddy.
Sweetie-cat, Kitter-Kay, KayKay.
I met Kay when he was six weeks old. At that time, his name was Jamison, and he was a shelter kitty at the Cozy Cat Cottage in Powell, Ohio. I was recently separated from my (now ex) wife, and I was lonely, so I was there looking for a new friend. I was casually wandering the aisles of the shelter's "play room." I had passed a cage on one of the corners, when something told me I should turn around and take another look. It wasn't a sound -- it was a feeling. I walked my way back to the cage, and found a pair of kittens -- one solid grey, the other with tiger stripes and a white "tuxedo." I put my hand up to the cage, and the little tiger-striped one reached out and grabbed my hand for the first of many such "hugs." As he nibbled on my fingertip, I fell in love with the little guy.
I almost missed my opportunity.
I hadn't really intended to adopt a cat that day -- I wasn't quite prepared. But I talked to the staff, and they told me what I'd need to do. I ran out that night, and picked up some food bowls, a carrier, and some other supplies. By that time, the shelter had closed, so I'd have to come back the next day. When I came back to fill out the paperwork, I was told that a family had been in earlier, and had nearly adopted both of the kittens in that cage, but at last decided on only the solid-colored one. The shelter volunteers brought him in to meet me again. As he entered the room, he looked a bit nervous, but then he saw me and instantly perked up. I had been recognized, and he nibbled my finger some more as I finished up his paperwork. He cried a little on the car ride to his new home, but took to it instantly.
He was a happy boy.
I agonized over his name. I didn't think that Jamison suited him. I figured he'd need a more geek-inspired name: either something from the King Arthur legends (I seriously considered Lancelot and Galahad), or something from my computer science background. His name was nearly Edsgar (Dijkstra) or Turing. None of these names quite did it though.
Finally, after about a week of this nonsense, he quite literally took matters into his own paws. He jumped up onto my laptop as I was typing one day, and when I picked him up, his claw snagged under the K key, ripping it off the keyboard. In a moment of insight, I realized it -- Sir Kay was King Arthur's foster brother, and Alan Curtis Kay is a computer scientist who helped to invent the windowing graphical user interface.
It was perfect.
Kay helped me through a pretty rough patch in my life. My divorce was a walk in the park compared to many, but nevertheless, it took an emotional toll. Whenever I had a hard day, he was there to cuddle.
He loved cuddling.
He was the first cat I've had that could properly be called a "lap cat." From his earliest kittenhood, he loved to rest his chin on whatever part of me was most convenient to him.
He didn't often purr, but when he did, it could rival a school bus. He'd often drape himself heavily across my wrists as I was trying to type on my laptop.
His favorite things were his green mousie-ball (a gift from my parents), his laser pointer, whatever catnip toy Jill had most recently gotten him (first a chili pepper and then a cactus), a giant stuffed hippo, and most of all an old blue blanket knitted by my late godmother.
He was a helper, and always had to be near me, no matter what I was doing (except for vacuuming), and a regular on Fark.com's weekly "Caturday" thread for his entire five years of life. He was icanhascheezburger's cat of the day on May 6, 2010 with the caption "Predator cat Circles his prey." I still don't know who submitted it.
He was fond of causing trouble. He'd knock things of tables (I think in the hope that they might contain treats, since that worked once), try to burrow into piles of paper, and just generally make small noises that were unidentifiable just so I'd have to get up to see what he was doing. Usually, he'd run off before I could find out.
He was taken very suddenly, and we didn't have much time to prepare or to say goodbye. I wished him a final "Good night, KayKay" the night before, with one last cuddle at the emergency vet's office, where he hugged me with his paws, laid his chin on my arm, and weakly purred.
Early the next morning, I held his paw as he drifted away.
There will be other cats, but there will never be another Kay. He was an amazing cat, and I already miss him dearly.
Now ROAR, you luminous panther!