On March 28, 2009 I lost my best friend and my very first cat, Pepper. This blog post is to celebrate his wonderful life of seven years that he and I spent together.
The mood in New York was very grim after 9/11 and I needed a significant distraction. I had always wanted a cat and thought that now was the best time to get one. I adopted Pepper from North Shore Animal League on October 7, 2001. He was about ten weeks old.. and my life changed for ever!
Kitten Years As a kitten Pepper was very mischevious when he was awake, but he also loved to sleep and sleep and sleep. Curiously, he also enjoyed lying in the bathroom sink. Sometimes we would look for him and find him curled up in the sink in the dark bathroom. At night when I would turn off the lights and take off my slippers he would run towards my feet and grab my ankles! Pepper loved going inside grocery bags and sitting inside boxes.
Waiting for my Return When I would come home from work, as I would get out of my car he would be sitting at the living room window sill looking at me and open his mouth to meow. Of course I never heard him but could see his mouth opening wide. As I would climb the steps to my second floor apartment, he would come to the door and stick out his paws from the door’s undercut.
Race to the Bathroom One of the most prominent things that stands out about him is how when he would see someone going upstairs he would dash up the stairs, overtake them, run to the bathroom and jump on the sink, in the hope that we would go the bathroom and turn on the tap for him to drink water. I was
convinced that one of us would definitely trip on the stairs as he whizzed past us.
Drinking Water When one of us would come to turn on the faucet for him, first he would rub both sides of his face on the medicine cabinet. That corner became grey and still is to this day. Then he would proceed to drink running water.
Pepper’s Vocabulary He recognized the words, ‘food’,
‘water’, ‘I love you’ and various versions of his name such as ‘Pepper’, ‘Motu’ and ‘Pepu’. When I would say, ‘I love you’ or send him a kiss through the air, he would always slowly blink his eyes, acknowledging the same. The moment we would say the word ‘food’ Pepper would come running from any corner of the house he was in. He would gobble up his own food and then try to stare Sumie (our other cat) down as she slowly ate hers. We had to keep guard until Sumie finished otherwise he would eat her food.
The Can Opener He would also come running when he heard the sound of the electric can opener knowing that a can of chicken or tuna was being opened and he would be offered juice from the can. He eagerly drank the juice.
Greeting He would recognize people he hadn’t seen for a long time and greet them.When we would enter the house he would greet us and in his excitement, he would scratch an outside corner of a wall nearest to the door. That wall is scratched down to the wood stud still today.
Geek As you can see from the picture below Pepper was a geek just like me! He hung around my computer and was often a barrier between me and the monitor.
Caring When I got sick in February of 2009 and was in bed for four days, he stayed next to me the entire time. Whenever I would cough he would look up and his eyes would widen, as if to check up on me and ask, “Are you okay?
Pepper lost his life to lymphoma of the stomach and died within three months of being diagnosed, despite of surgery followed by chemotherapy. After he was diagnosed and before he passed away, the surgery and chemo helped him to live a relatively healthy but short life. His health declined in the last week and we had to say good bye to him. I love you and miss you, Pepu.
A New Chapter As I sit and write this, Simba, who arrived a couple of months after Pepper passed away, is emerging out of my my waste paper basket under my desk! He has brought a lot of joy to us. Here is a picture of him as a kitten.