Cat heaven just got cooler.

McGuinn the cat was a feral fellow that lived outside of the apartment I just moved into recently. I’ve only known him for a few weeks, but the neighbors have known him for twenty years. He was the coolest cat I’ve ever known. Tremolo guitar played in the background when he’d cruise onto the scene.

The story goes that his mother had a litter of kittens two decades ago of whom McGuinn and his sister were the only survivors. After they’d grown to be adolescent and able to fend for themselves the mother was hit by a car. McGuinn and his sister then came under the watchful eye and care of the neighborhood. Many of the neighbors just left water, food and cream out in bowls and in an almost Disney movie fashion, McGuinn and his sister just bopped from house to house on the block being cats, being cool and hanging out.

At some point McGuinn’s sister disappeared. No one is really sure what happened, but evidently some family down the street moved away right around the time McGuinn’s sister disappeared; so while that is sort of a bad move in terms of being neighborly, at least she had a home to live in.

McGuinn seemed unencumbered by this, by all accounts, as he was a feral cat and feral cats are predominantly solitary animals (aside from lions who, as we know, live in prides). He was then the king of the neighborhood. He then became the center of attention.

This is the era in which I met McGuinn. The first time I ever saw him was one day when I was painting the bedroom. I heard a rustling in the back yard and thought that I would look out back and say hello to whomever was there. What I saw, was a young skunk and an opossum (yeah I spelled it that way) sharing some cat food from a bowl. Which I thought was puzzling; because where I’m from people don’t keep skunks as pets. So I looked around to see what was the what. There was a giant water bowl and some other cat toys laying around in the trailing vines of the arbor. Then over in the distance was Mcguinn. He was watching from the shade of one of the cars parked on the asphalt slab as if to be lord of the situation. He wasn’t bothered either. He seemed to be giving these animals permission to share in his food that the two-leggers were providing. I swear those animals were looking up every once in a while as if to make sure that his lordship was still deigning to allow them to continue.

Turns out that the other night the perennial scourge of the animal gang world, the coyote, came down out of the hills and scooped old man McGuinn up after his twentieth year of being the most bad-ass feral cat anywhere. By all accounts it was quick and painless. McGuinn has been totally deaf for the last few years so he probably never even knew what happened.

He had that fantastic tomcat coloring. It was a patched tabby coloring with black, orange, grey, white and a brownish-grey. He had super-cool eyes that seemed to give the appearance of conveying human emotion. He also had really long cat fangs. Not freakishly long, but they looked like serious, don’t-mess-with-me fangs. I know from experience as one day, while taking out the garbage, walked in a manor which his majesty did not approve of; whatever my transgression I quickly amended.

So today, cat heaven is an order or magnitude cooler with the addition of McGuinn. We celebrate your life as a bad-ass, as a guardian of the back yard and as a cat who lived semi-wild whilst deaf. You made it old man. May your eternity be spend 2/3rds in heavenly cat slumber, may you constantly feel the eternal skritches behind your cat spirit ears and may your Cat-Heaven saucer always be filled with cat ambrosia (I imagine it to be a heavenly mix of cream, catnip and some other ingredient we can’t even begin to understand) and may your watchful gaze, from your cloud pillow in Cat Heaven, keep the mice away until your worth successor can be found.

When Bastet weights your cat heart against a feather I know that each of your days, spent in austere vigilance, will not only usher you into the pearly flap, but will tell of a life well-lived.

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