This morning I received some unfortunate news from my wife via text, along with photos, from her walk with our three-year-old to playschool:

Mister Cat, or Tiger to most who knew him, has died. Residing in his own mini-apartment outside a brick five-story on the corner of 11th Street and Sixth Avenue, he has been known and loved by everyone in the neighborhood. The tenant who set up Mister Cat's apartment and cared for him died a few months ago, after which the building's other tenants assumed his care. They've even been taking collections for the past month or two to finance treatment for the FIV and lymphoma with which Mister Cat has been recently diagnosed, but his time has expired.

Both of my daughters have never known the block without Mister Cat. We think he is in fact more known and loved by locals than another resident of his block, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

But death cannot be buried. It resurfaces, sprouts anew, springs forth into life, for what is life without death, death without life? They are separate charges, positive and negative, and we know only the neutral of what we can see directly in front of us. We live in the middle of the road, and the end is not for us to see.

Ok, I'm quoting myself there. Anyone who knows me (or has read my essay "The Transfiguration of Señor Gato," where that comes from) knows I have a deep, abiding love of stray cats, especially toms. This love has transcended my extreme cat allergy, and provided me with a running trope for much of my life: there are millions of Mister Cats in the world, both unique and fungible, fiercely independent and grudgingly social, and I am one of them. My family and I will miss this one.

AuthorJohn Proctor