Creature Comforts: Wyatt

'He was easy to love'

Monday, July 22, 2019, was a sad day for the Daverios. We had to say goodbye to our dear cat, Wyatt, just three days before his 15th birthday. After a long battle with digestive unrest, weight loss and finally, kidney failure, we elected to end his suffering humanely.

While these decisions are never easy, watching him struggle to stand and refuse to eat or drink, despite intensive nursing care was enough to convince us it was his time. While I am saddened by the loss, I’m grateful for the kind, compassionate care I was able to offer him, particularly in the last year, thanks to the wonderful, supportive team of caregivers at our office. I truly believe our efforts helped to make these last few months pleasant for him.

My head is filled with vignettes of a long, loving friendship with our funny, quirky Wyatt, one of the biggest and nicest cats I’ve ever known.

Wyatt and his brother, Virgil, came to us as scrawny, malnourished, sickly, flea-bitten kittens. They were discarded by some heartless individual and left in a cardboard box on a sweltering summer day in the cart return at Sam’s Club. Like most things at Sam’s Club, they came as a two-pack.

Two active, curious kittens plus two active, curious young children made for some fun times. Lamps were broken (blame the housefly), windows were de-curtained (climbing practice) and the cats actually stole food from the mouths of babes regularly — right off high chair trays.

Time-outs were a regular thing. The kids thought time-outs for cats was funny, but it did help them understand the reasons for their OWN time-outs. We did not put the kids in a cat-carrier to carry out their time-out sentences, though they probably would have enjoyed it.

Wyatt and Virgil grew to Sam’s Club econo-sized proportions, becoming strapping 18-pound adult cats, almost twice the size of average domestic cats. Wyatt kept growing. We will not mince words: Wyatt was fat. We struggled to contain his vastness for most of his adult life. Wyatt could not have cared less about his weight, and if permitted to continue on the path to obesity he gladly would have marched (or waddled) along, getting larger and lazier by the day. Fortunately for him, we loved him enough to say “Enough.” Rationing his special prescription diet for fatty boombalatty cats was for his health and wellbeing.

He did not buy into the injustice of limited food supply, and when the bottom of the bowl could be seen through the remaining kibble, his urgent demands for refills would start. He was a relentless terrorist when on a mission to obtain more food. Rotisserie chickens from Sam’s Club were his preferred quarry.

Wyatt was unflappable. I can’t think of a single thing that upset him or made him even a little nervous. Placid and easygoing to a fault, he was known to let children snuggle him and use him as a furry, squishy pillow, dogs (some half his size) to molest him rudely and perfect strangers to pet him. He didn’t startle easily, even with loud or unfamiliar noises. He loved going to new places, meeting people. He was always calm and gregarious, and curious to a fault.

He had one of those charming faces and a set of warm, yellow-brown eyes that had a way of luring folks closer. And then, he’d give them a “love bite” on end of their noses. Weirdly, his charisma made people ignore our warnings, and even come back for more.

Wyatt preferred to drink from my water glass when he thought I wasn’t looking.

Wyatt loved to lap up the last dregs of milk in my cereal bowl at breakfast time. He would leave in a huff on Cinnamon Oat Square days — he despised cinnamon.

Wyatt’s white hair clung to everything, and he found a person dressed up and ready for a special event irresistible. A sure way to have Wyatt want to be your best friend? Wear a dark wool coat. Or a fleece jacket, or (Lord help me) a velvet dress. Good luck with that lint roller.

Whenever my lap was available, Wyatt was in it, and he did not mind sharing with several dogs. He, the dachshunds and I spent many a winter night snuggled together, cold rain pelting the windows, drifting in and out of sleep to the tune of his hypnotic purring.

While some wear their hearts on their sleeves, our Wyatt proudly wore his on his back. It symbolized his joie de vivre and loving nature. We will miss his matter-of-fact, companionable presence very much. He was easy to love.