November 30, 2022

Waffles

a brown tabby cat looking at the camera upside-down on a blue bed
photo caption: portrait of the artist’s cat Waffles. she is resting on a blue blanket and looking at the camera upside-down. tiny fangs peek out of her mouth. outing myself this week as a cat person and a weeper.

I often tell the story about the first time we met. We brought you into the viewing room at the shelter and your brother immediately flopped on the floor for cuddles. You, new to the room, looked around with wide eyes and ignored us until you got your bearings. I was smitten. I wasn’t planning on adopting two kids that week. I just had to get to know you, the affectionate kids who didn’t look like littermates except for the faint stripes on both your tails. The rest is history.

One word that described you best: curious. It wasn’t long after you got home that you ditched your room to explore the rest of the house. That curiosity carried you throughout our lives together. If you were in a room, you wanted out. If the door to a room was closed, you wanted in. In Houston, you used your claws to pull open the heavy back door that never latched properly. I found you, more than once, frolicking with the feral cats on our block. In Seattle, you learned you could throw your body against a door with a swing handle and force it open. We had to buy locks for the bedroom so you wouldn’t break in while we were asleep. From baby gates to cabinets, there wasn’t a place you hadn’t broken into or out of at least once.


a cat on a table with her mouth open
photo caption: Waffles on a table looking outside. she’s not really as ferocious as this picture may suggest. i caught her mid-yawn.

Another word that described you: heights! You felt most at home in the highest point of the house. You found your way on top of our 6-foot-tall refrigerator in our loft apartment. Then, you discovered the cabinets above could get you even higher. The downstairs neighbor complained more than once that when you jumped down from eight feet up it sounded like a 10 pound bag of flour hitting the ground (his ceiling).

You had some health problems in your life. Your digestive issues were a saga for sure. I’ll spare you the public humiliation of those days. Over several years we extracted most of your teeth, but you kept four fangs and a couple tiny front teeth to the very end. I would scratch your chin the way you liked so I could see the little fangs that peeked out like you were a furry vampire. Finally, less than two months ago we learned you had lymphoma. Treatments didn’t work though we tried them all.


a tabby cat on the windowsill
photo caption: Waffles as a young kitten parked in one of her favorite places: a bright, sunny windowsill that looks out into the world.

I love you, your brother, and your sister so much, but I could never really hide that you were my favorite. And you in turn made it clear from the start that I was your human. You crawled under my blanket when I watched TV. You joined me in the bathroom for every shower I took, your loud meows overflowing with excitement. You sat on my lap whenever you could, sometimes interrupting whatever I was working on at my desk. Even this letter is hard to write without longing for your fur under my wrists or your whiskers grazing my fingers as I type.

You loved food as much as I do. You liked to watch me as I cooked, sniffing the air for any aromas that might taste good to you. Every apartment I ever toured I checked for a kitchen bar counter so you could perch and watch the action. You knew when I was going to make a tuna sandwich a split second after I did. In the early days it took me a while to notice you were licking bacon grease out of my breakfast pan every morning after I left for work. A lot of our cleanup habits started because we knew you’d try to sneak a taste when we weren’t looking.

I was in my late twenties when I adopted you. I remember searching for information on cats’ lifespans the day I brought you both home. I imagined (I hoped) I would get to see your face until I was pushing fifty. It seemed like such a long time back then. It feels like no time at all now.

We had 13 years together. We traveled from Houston to Atlanta to Seattle. No matter where I went with you kids, I knew I was never alone. You comforted me during my summer of strep throat, during  the times when I was sad, all the days I was grumpy, and the years I felt depressed. I loved making up songs about you. You cried at my door for two weeks when I was sick with covid and isolating. I tried so hard to do right by you whenever I could. You taught me patience, warmth, and kindness. You loved to chew on my pen while I was writing. You posed for pictures—but only for a couple shots before you moved towards my hand for rubs. My silly photos were nice, but a couple good fingers scratching your cheeks were even better.

This is how I will remember you: going wherever you wanted to go but always choosing to come back. I miss you so much. I’m beyond grateful for the time we had. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family.

I love you. I love you. I love you.


close-up of a tabby cat winking
photo caption: sleepy Waffles giving the reader a wink.

my name is josh martinez. i have always loved trying to understand systems, and the systems that built those systems. i spend a lot of time thinking about how to get there from here.

i own and operate a consulting practice, Future Emergent.

say hello: josh[at]bethefuture.space