My friend John has this friend Nancy who offsets gambling losses by cat-sitting in and around New York City. A few years ago Nancy landed a sweet gig taking care of the beast you see above this block of text. That Persian’s name was Shadow, and he belonged to Carly Simon’s sister Joanna. Everything was hunky dory until Joanna Simon decided she wanted to move in with her boyfriend—Walter Cronkite (yes, that Walter Cronkite). Apparently ol’ swingin’ Walt already had a bunch of cats up at his groovy bachelor pad, and there was just no room for Shadow. So Joanna bequeathed him to Nancy, who in turn bequeathed Shadow to John.
The story of Shadow’s acquisition was one John loved to bring up whenever there was a conversation lull amongst a group of people. Most of the time, though, that quirky tale was far more endearing than Shadow himself. Shadow was not a people cat. He would not rub against your leg and let out a comforting purr, nor would he playfully bat at pieces of string you danced in his field of vision. This pussy seemed to actively avoid human contact. If you happen to end up in the same room as him, he’d just stare you down, perhaps emitting a noise once or twice that sounded like the death rattle of an AIDS-infected mouse. Every once in a while he might jump up on the piece of furniture you were using, but certainly not to nestle in your lap. Shadow would just walk around and stand over your lap. As soon as you started petting him, he’d run off as if to say, “Ew, you have cooties.”
Yet as antisocial as Shadow was, he was a beloved presence in John’s household. He was kind of like the bitchy Southern Belle all the men tolerated because she was so hot. Indeed, Shadow was quite stylish in later years thanks to the lion’s mane haircut John insisted on giving him. Although fecal matter would occasionally stick to his butt hairs and he pooped on the bed more than once, I don’t think you could call Shadow a “gross” cat in general. He did not have the mange, he was not outwardly aggressive, and I never once saw him bleed out his eyes. So I considered him a friend from the animal kingdom (albeit a standoffish friend).
Shadow died yesterday on a routine trip to the vet. He was pretty old. I don’t have exact numbers here, but it had to be double digits. It was just her time. He leaves behind a caring master, his equally caring roommates, and a legion of befuddled fans who wish just one more time that asshole cat would look up at them and make some kind of ungodly devil noise to express his displeasure.
Rest in peace, Shadow the Cat.