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Tache, faithful cat of mine for 22 years, passed away on Monday, 8 October 2007, sometime around 5 PM. Having been with me for over half of my adult life, Tache and I began our association in Westchester County, New York. I adopted Tache from what was then the Briarcliff Animal Shelter, now a branch of the SPCA. I had actually tried one cat before Tache, but that cat was not very social and would not come out of my basement. I was set on returning that cat and giving up, but my friend Tina Knoedler convinced me she could help me find the perfect cat. She went with me to the shelter, spotted Tache (a pun as you will soon see), and I did indeed have the perfect cat. Tache was at least a year old in 1986, and I probably adopted her in the Spring.
I had planned on naming whatever cat I adopted "Tess" in honor of Madeleine L'Engel's A Wrinkle in Time. The tesseract as defined in that novel was the ability to wrinkle space and time so as to travel faster between large distances. Cats seem to do that, so I thought it a fitting name.
How wrong I was. The shelter knew next to nothing about Tache. They didn't know where she was born, nor exactly when. They only knew she was beyond kittenhood, and therefore, at least a year old. I'm not sure how they knew her name, but I thought that before I changed it, I should investigate what it meant. The name sounded French, and when I looked it up in a French dictionary, I found that it meant "spot".
A cat named Spot? Well, Tache is mostly white, but has a spot on her nose as if somebody marked her with the tip of a pen. A cat named Spot, but in French -- this was too good to pass up. I kept the name.
I was far from a cat expert, though I did take care of a cat for two years when I first moved to Westchester. A researcher there, Alan Cobham, was on leave from IBM without his cat Picasso. So Picasso and I became as friendly as she would allow and I took care of her for 2 years.
I read up a bit on how to maintain a cat. One very bad piece of advice one book offered was that cats really enjoy having their fur vacuumed, using, for example, the hose of a vacuum cleaner. Tache was a counterexample to that claim, and it is the only time she bit me and the only time I have ever tried to vacuum a cat. It's not something I would generally recommend, though there is evidence that some cats enjoy it.
Tache tolerated my marriage and the 3 kids that followed. My mother-in-law, worried about Tache sucking the breath from our newborn, was appeased when I agreed to put a screen door on the bedroom where the baby slept as a cat-defensive measure. My friend Geoff McNiven helped me do that, but soon thereafter, Tache figured out how to pull the door open. Cats.
Tache moved to St. Louis when we did, which was not easy because she really despised car trips. She began a gradual physical decline some 4 years ago. Walking became difficult although she still had a great appetite. She received the best of care and affection at the Olivette Veterinary Clinic, and she stayed there many times when we were away. Her wonderful life came to a quiet end at the beginning of this week, and I am grateful to have spared her suffering.
Tache was a tribute to all that is good in cats, and I will miss her very much.
I'm so sorry.
Posted by: Nathan at October 12, 2007 10:06 AM
Dr. Cytron, I don't know what else has been going on in your life, but I am so sorry about Tache, who sounds like a real character of a cat. I don't know you well, but I bet you were the best owner (ownee?) she could have had.
I'm also not admittedly a person of faith, but I bet things will start looking very bright soon for you. Best wishes.
Posted by: Rachel at October 16, 2007 6:57 PM
Posted by: Daughter at December 1, 2007 11:55 AM
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