She had a kitten...and another one...and another one...

One of the many things about which David and I agree is the importance of cats. We have a herd of four, following the loss of my beloved Oliver and our adoption of Sophia Ptolemy Septilius (a cat with lots of toes and lots of syllables).

Eric: the Sensible One

Eric is the oldest of the catherd. She is about a thousand times smarter than the next smartest cat I've ever met, and spends most of her time pondering multi-variate calculus and cures for auto-immune diseases.

Chopin: or as I insist on calling him, Charlie

(cos he's just too brainless to be called Chopin). Adorable but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. David's contribution to the herd, and quite an affectionate goofball. Consistently voted "Most Likely to Kidney Dance at 4am."

Margaux: Piglet in a Feline Life

Wants to be a basketball when she grows up. My trauma kitty success story - very timid and probably abused before she came to live with me, but healed by Oliver and now assertive in the quest for food and attention from humans. She especially likes to help David with his 3D modelling, and has very strong opinions about the number of polygons required to model a spherical cat.

Sophia Ptolemy Septilius: Taking Polydactyl to New Heights

When we finally learned that Oliver really wasn't coming home, we decided to adopt another cat, and gave Sophie a good home. She's got 26 toes altogether, 7 on each of her front paws and 6 on each of her back. She has the utterly adorable habit of sucking her paw at least once a day, which completely melts my heart every time she does it, even though it leads to an unusual number of biscuit-making puncture wounds.

The Cat Tree: Yes, They Grow on Trees!

We purchased the 78" kitty gym from 7th Heaven Cat Furniture. Boy oh boy do we have happy kitties...

[Sophie here. I finally got the human off the keyboard. She's gotten us rattie room-mates. We're not sure if they're television or meals on wheels, but we really like them. Check them out!

Once upon a time, in a Midwestern state far far away, Eric the Cat had a roommate:
The ineffable Zoot the Cat.

My beloved Oliver

...the Slink...
...the Rat Bastard...

Don't get me wrong. I love all my cats to the point of distraction. But it seems like there are one or two animals in every animal lover's life who are just different some how. My Oliver was one of those cats. I can't really explain it, so I'll post a few pictures and anecdotes here and try to get the point across.

Various disjointed descriptions of Oliver:

Oliver the Zen Master

Many of us love our pets because they're such good teachers, and Oliver was no exception.

For some reason, many housecats have the "grocery bag stuck on head" adventure at least once in their lives. This particular adventure usually leads to feline hysteria, yowling and whirling razor blades of death.

Not for Oliver. He managed to get the handle of the bag around his neck as if it was a wonderful collar, but instead of panicking, he just sat there and waited for me to do something.

Unfortunately for him, it was the day I got my first digital camera.

Unfortunately for me, I hadn't figured out about turning on the flash, so this isn't a very good photograph. After this shot, I turned the flash on, but every time I tried to reframe the picture, Oliver very calmly stepped over next to my foot because he just knew that if he waited for a moment, the human would fix the odd problem with which the Universe presented him.

A lesson in trusting your Higher Power.


One of the things that made Oliver different from most cats is that he was involved in all parts of my life, not just my home life. Here he is helping me edit some documentation, and demonstating the importance of a balanced point of view.

Oliver spent many days at work with me, both at Counterpane and Stanford. My colleagues and former co-workers found him easier to deal with than they did me, on many occasions.


Of course, in order to be a good writer one has to be well-read. Oliver usually preferred to do his reading stretched out by the hot tub in our apartment complex.

Cat bonding

Although he preferred spending his time with humans - because we're very very interesting - Oliver had fast friends amongst the other herd members. Only Eric really resisted his charm.

I acquired Margaux from Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary . She'd been quite timid until Oliver moved in. She fell head over heels in love with him, and decided that if Oliver thought humans were okay, she thought they were okay too.


Oliver & Margaux napping on the balcony.


Chopin moved in when David joined me in February 2003. We were a little worried at how the boy cats would do together, but it turned out to be no big deal.

The amazing poses of Oliver the Boneless

Or, how my cat taught me to be more flexible...

Oliver went missing during October 2003. We were sure that he'd been taken, either by someone moving out of the apartment complex or someone in the neighborhood, because he was just so darn charming and personable. It was some small comfort to think that although I was devastated to lose him -- as were his other beloved humans, David and Virginia (the manager of our apartment complex) -- he was no doubt being treated very well by whoever was lucky enough to live with him.

I was sure he was going to come waltzing back in some day.

Unfortunately, in November of this year we discovered what happened to him. He had been ill with an infected wound, probably a scratch from another cat or from some bit of his adventures, and I'd taken him to the vet for treatment. But apparently we didn't catch it in time. We found him curled up, as if asleep, in a rarely-opened electrical utility closet on the property. He must have entered during last year's annual visit by PGE, knowing that he needed somewhere to be quiet and to die. There was no indication in the room that he struggled to get out, so we don't think he lasted very long in there.

Mere English isn't enough to say how awful this was for all of us. He is The Cat of my life, my feline familiar and soulmate, and I will miss him until I meet him on the Rainbow Bridge.

Day of a Cat's Death
(after the Egyptian "Rites of Bast")

The occultation
of the sun
by the heart
is observed

The sky
looks away

and occludes
with clouds

The trees
are hung

with lamps
of ash

Do not talk
to the wind

which is paying
its respect

Do not talk
to the night

with its dark
head bowed

Bast is joyous
The goddess

holds another
in her arms

She is licking
the death

from its eyes
and whiskers

as though
it is

more precious
than a newborn

Her breath
of milk bathes

and anoints
the appointed one

There is nothing

than death
she purrs

The eye and lash
of the goddess

make a nine
lying down

The stars hush
and make room

A paw print

into the wall
of time

The moon
comes late

than ever

to say one word


by Dennis Saleh
Turnstile Magazine, Vol. II, No. 1, pg. 54























6 November 2003

Oliver missing...
autumn sky heavy with tears beloved Slink.

Yeah, I know this is a dog. This is Rufus, my dog when I was a teenager. I still dream about him a lot, and there wasn't really a better spot than this to put him on the Web.


Last Updated: 9 Dec 2005

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