In Memory of Finkle the Cat

Guest blogger Katie Kimball pens a loving memorial for her dear cat

By Katie Kimball

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A few years ago I got buzzed at brunch, went online looking for love, and spontaneously adopted a bonded pair of senior cats, which I christened Finkle and Einhorn (yes, from the movie). I can’t remember if there was a recent breakup involved or not, but I don’t recommend browsing petfinder.com after bottomless mimosas unless you’re totally immune to very sad eyes.

And then things started to happen. In retrospect, maybe if I had stayed put in San Francisco, life might have been simpler. But when I was offered a job in New York, I could not turn it down, and soon I was trading a 4 bedroom home in San Francisco for a 200 SF fifth floor Brooklyn walk up.

Not long for city life, Einhorn passed away soon after the move from lymphatic cancer. That left me with tiny Finkle in a tiny apartment, and a mound of mounting vet bills. Let’s just say, stray tabby cats come with their own special health problems. All his teeth had to be removed. He had kidney failure and needed IV fluids in his neck twice a week. Neurotic as any New Yorker, without daily Prozac he’d lick all his hair off. If I wasn’t home by 7pm to feed him, he left a “present” at the front door. Four years in I learned he was totally blind (but had a damn good mental map of the room we lived in provided I didn’t move any furniture).

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Not surprisingly, dating presented somewhat of a challenge. If a gentlemen was lucky enough to receive an invitation over, I’d answer the inevitable question: “Is that a….cat?” (though I made a sincere effort to hide the needles and Prozac).

But Finkle was worth it – he was a spitfire. He rushed the front door every time I came home. He once knocked a giant salad off a ledge just to eat all the blue cheese. He was a fast favorite with friends, who made fan art and social media accounts in his honor.

If a man liked Finkle (thus proving himself of sound judgment and a worthy suitor) and the relationship progressed to the “your place or mine?” phase, I’d catch myself thinking treasonous thoughts – “If Finkle does pass on soon, maybe it won’t be so bad.” I’d be able to have sleepovers without a $30 cab ride to feed him.

But after each relationship fizzled, I  would rush to the comfort of his furry paws and beg for forgiveness. I’d stare into his glassy blank eyes and tell him how much I loved him, how I’d never leave him for a man. It would be me and him and New York forever.

But of course that’s not how this works. Last summer, the tumor that caused his blindness erupted. Six hours later he was gone. When the final moment came, I held him, sobbing into his fur and thanking him for all the love he had brought to my life. I had never known New York without Finkle.

It was a rough few weeks. Hugs, friends with ice cream and the outpouring of love on social media helped. I hadn’t realized how many people had cared about Finkle. I took great comfort in the fact that others also saw the beauty in him and I felt so lucky to have friends who cared for me through any anguish.

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For all the thousands of dollars in vet bills, tears shed, and terrified men, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Short of my parents, his affection was the purest expression of unconditional love I’ve known to date. I had no idea the matted furball at the shelter would change my life.

I miss Finkle but I’m not rushing to the shelter (buzzed) again. I’m finding new kinds of unconditional love and adventure. I’m building a more spontaneous life; one in which I can travel on a whim and enjoy a tiny apartment that smells like fancy candles instead of cat litter.

I think the little guy would want that for me.

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Get to know Katie at KatieKimball.net