Not Just a Cat -Remembering Jackson

It’s that time of year when the holidays are fast approaching and people are busy! It is a festive season with families and friends gathering to celebrate. December brings hope and the chance for homeless animals to get adopted. It is National Cat Lovers’ Month. This month is a great time to shower your feline friends with love and show them love and appreciation! For those people considering adding a new furry feline family member, it’s a great month to adopt a cat.

 Anyone that I have met that is a self-proclaimed “cat lover” can share that having a cat is a unique and special experience. Every cat is different; an individual with a distinct personality and preferences. Cats can be just as affectionate as other pets such as dogs. For me this month is a reflective one. It’s the first time in over a decade that my beautiful beloved family cat, Jackson, will not celebrate the holidays with us. Jackson was not just a cat. He was much more. He was family and an integral part of our daily lives. Christmas without him will not be the same. Jackson loved the Christmas season and the tree (he would be found climbing it in his younger days) and was amused by the glittering lights; spending time cuddling with us cozy by the tree.

I fondly look back to 11 years ago on a fall day he was dropped off at our home. He was a feral kitten found by a family friend. He was tiny, just 3 weeks old, a fur ball, curious bright yellow eyes (like fall trees); a little helpless creature. He was a baby that needed to be cared for and found a loving home. My younger son who was home from preschool that day (it was meant to be), is a HUGE cat lover. He had been asking us for a cat; he played with the neighborhood cats! The moment he laid eyes on this kitten they became best friends. Jackson has been in tune with my son’s needs and they were very bonded and loved each other for many years!

When we met this kitten, we fell in love. Jackson’s mother was a feral cat, and he was the only survivor in the litter. Jackson was a friendly, laid back cat, and behaved more like a dog. He would greet visitors at the door and he liked to be around us. He was up every morning to greet me. He had a beautiful silver black and white coat that people admired. He loved attention from time to time, but happily retreated from the rest of us, when he needs his time away from us or sensed we were distracted. I had never had a family cat before; he was my first family cat. Jackson taught me that cats can be cozy and affectionate animals. He was all of that and much more! Jackson had a big personality. He was an observer of what was happening around him and knew when we needed his comfort. He would come over to me whenever I was meditating and I could hear his soft purrs and feel his warm soft silky fur coat. Whenever we were packing for a vacation, he was found lying on our suitcases as if to protest our departure.   Sadly, he was diagnosed with cancer this year. It felt like it came out of nowhere. I thought he would live until he was 20 years old. He was easy to care for and healthy (a little overweight from being indoors and getting treats). I never imagined that he would get sick. It felt like a huge tidal wave came over our family and we could not imagine he would not be with us for many more years. I remember the saying ‘cats have 9 lives’ and he seemed to. When we found out about his diagnosis, we immediately took the necessary steps to “save him” from this illness. If any cat could beat cancer it would be “our cat”, the survivor, Jackson. After all, he was the only survivor of a kitten litter and when he escaped the backyard a few years ago in the middle of a harsh Canadian winter and found his way home days later, we were convinced he would beat this illness. My sons and I drove him to chemotherapy every three weeks and we administered his daily medicine. We cheered him on as he fought bravely. He was a survivor and took his treatments well. We remained hopeful knowing he was a fighter that he would conquer cancer. After a few rounds of chemo (which he handled like a true gentlemen), he had a CT scan and we found out the cancer had spread to his lungs and metastasized. That was devastating news. Jackson was not just a cat; he was family, years of fond memories. He was bonded with our German Shepherd dog, Lily, and they were the best friends. We knew that losing Jackson would be difficult and terribly sad especially during the holidays. We miss him but choose to be grateful to have shared our lives with such an incredibly kind, affectionate, and brave warrior cat. I will always keep his memory close to my heart. There will never be another cat just like Jackson. I honor his memory this month for National Cat Lovers Month. Please consider adopting a cat. You will not regret this decision and it may be a blessing and bring you joy as it brought for us.