Caturday felid: One cat, three lives

March 23, 2013 • 3:50 am

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but the press of other tasks has prevented me. “One cat, three lives” was a photo-documentary in the March 8 New York Times (20 pictures total) that recounted the life of a photographer with his cat—from its kittenhood to its grave. In the meantime, the photographer gets a girlfriend, breaks up, and moves around the world and New York. The cat sustains him, and then gets ill.

It’s ineffably moving and will make you tear up; it’s one of the best cat essays of any type I’ve ever seen. Here’s the NYT blurb:

Hiroyuki Ito went off to Brazil with dreams of being the next great documentary photographer. He came home tired and sick. The call to join Magnum never came.

Yet the same day he was ill in Rio de Janeiro, a cat was born in New York City. Before long, in one of those twists, Hiroyuki — a carefree art student — had better luck with the cat than with his camera.

A tale of the kitten being father to the man.

If you’re an ailurophile, go to the site and click through all the photos. You won’t regret it.

Here are three screenshots:

Screen shot 2013-03-23 at 6.38.58 AM

Screen shot 2013-03-23 at 6.40.29 AM

Screen shot 2013-03-23 at 6.45.50 AM

13 thoughts on “Caturday felid: One cat, three lives

  1. Yes, it was good. But one question haunts: Who was taking care of him for the 5 months when he “lost half his body weight”?(I mean, half?) Maybe if they were paying attention, they would have brought him to the vet sooner and Meeno wouldn’t have met with such a painful death. (if kidney failure is caught soon enough, it can be treated, or at least such pain can be avoided.)

  2. We thought our last brother and sister kitties might outlive us, but she died recently and he gradually loses weight. Thankfully, he is in no pain and has forgotten his sister. His voice is scratchy and weak, his purr is louder, his appetite almost gone. (The vet gave us an appetite stimulant to help him gain weight.) His only pleasure in life is being in our lap and having his face and ears caressed which we do nonstop. Why is it that humans often grieve more at a pet’s death than a human death?

    Killer in Disguise

    My kitty sits and watches me
    in the dark when I cannot see.
    And when I sleep, he stays awake
    and prowls all night, for goodness sake!

    If I could probe his feline mind,
    what thoughts therein might I find?
    When he sleeps and dreams like me,
    I wonder what those dreams might be.

    Does his little brain remember
    the last mouse he dismembered?
    Does he recall his dear old mother,
    or his sister, or his brother?
    Does he recall when first we met
    or the time we visited the vet?

    Does he think like you and me
    and if he does, would we agree
    that wild instincts must be controlled,
    that valuable things are made of gold?

    Would we agree that there’s more to life
    than catching birds and little mice?
    Would we agree it’s OK to kill
    just for sport or for a thrill?

    I live my life by different rules.
    I don’t like violence or fight duels.
    I don’t hunt and like to kill,
    although I know he always will.

    I understand that deep inside
    his furry body there does reside
    wild instincts that control his actions
    and make birds and mice top attractions.

    His little brain is programmed to
    stalk and hunt, as cats must do,
    without regard to what I say
    or what I wish or what I pray.

    Although right now he’s in my lap
    having a peaceful little nap,
    it should come as no surprise
    that my kitty’s a killer in disguise.

  3. As I thought about the photo essay, One cat, three Lives, something bothered me about it. My wife and I have brought all our lovable kitties to the vet when their time had come. We were so distrought that we were unabe to watch the vet end their lives, and left in tears. So, I ask why did the photoessayist allow his cat to die slowly and agonizingly in his arms? Was it beause he could not afford the vet’s bill? Or, was it his morbid fascination to end the photo essay with a tear jerking finale? I understand some readers of this may think this comment inappropriate and cruel, but the thoughts just had to be expressed. I am staunchly against any kind of cruelty to animals, unintentionary or intentionaly.

    1. Please, forgive me if this answer to your question sounds cruel. It is merely honest: I do not leave my cats to die alone. If they must be euthanized, then, all the moreso do I stay with them, so they are not alarmed at the end, to be at death’s door and left in the hands of strangers, to feel discarded by the very human to whom they dedicated their lives. Even at age 16, when my first cat was “put to sleep”, I held him. He lay on the vet’s table, received the injection, and went limp, while I held him with my hands, spoke soothingly to him, told him I loved him and would always love him. I couldn’t, just couldn’t let him die alone. Between a painful end in the hands of strangers and a painful end somewhat prolonged but in the comfort of home, with the love and affection of one’s humans, I suspect there are some cats who would choose the latter, just as there are some humans who might well choose the former. The best compromise would be a vet willing to come to the home to perform the service, I imagine.

  4. Old Black Cat
    (Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull)

    My old black cat passed away this morning
    He never knew what a hard day was.
    Woke up late and danced on tin roofs.
    If questioned “Why?” answered, “Just because.”

    He never spoke much, preferring silence:
    eight lost lives was all he had.
    Occasionally sneaked some Sunday dinner.
    He wasn’t good and he wasn’t bad.

    My old black cat wasn’t much of a looker.
    You could pass him by – just a quiet shadow.
    Got pushed around by all the other little guys.
    Didn’t seem to mind much – just the way life goes.

    Padded about in furry slippers.
    Didn’t make any special friends.
    He played it cool with wide-eyed innocence,
    Receiving gladly what his master sends.

    Forgot to give his Christmas present.
    Black cat collar, nice and new.
    Thought he’d make it through to New Year.
    I guess this song will have to do.

  5. Damn you JC, I had no plans to cry today. As touching as that is, it reminded me of my second cat Bernoulli. They looked very similar, but his demise was precipitated by cancer. Persons with the capacity to understand how deep the affection of animals can be, would never argue that humans are exceptional in this regard, or that animals feel no pain.

  6. Like the photographer, I, too, have chronic fatigue syndrome. There are no other humans in my home; that leaves more room for more cats, and they are the best service animals there are, for a person with this disease. One of mind, in particular, gets very demanding, chastising me harshly, when I push myself too hard, then cuddles with me when I follow her orders to rest. (I should have listened to her three weeks ago, before getting pneumonia on top of CFS.) Whenever I am in bed, resting or sleeping, I am surrounded by all but the two outdoor guard cats, though sometimes, when I’m terribly sick, even they come cuddle around me. What an amazing thing, to be cared for by so many loving rescue — err, I mean service — kittehs.

  7. i feel exactly the same as him in his last post. ” i’m an atheist and i dont beleive in life after death, but if there ever is one, i want to have Maeno one more tim, please”

    Broke into tears immeadiately after read it.

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