2002 — Sun, Feb 28, 2021

Link's tale is an interesting one. He was born to a litter of four and was “just an average looking cat” like the other two. At the time, I was looking for a calico and there was but one. Her name would become Zelda and she would be my first cat. However, she would not remain my only cat. Fate has a way of interfering with our plans, for better or worse (though I like to consider most cases to be for the better; this would turn out to be one of those cases).

They say cats have nine lives and right from the start, Link had already used one. The litter he was born to saw two causalities, leaving him and his sister alone. With his sister Zelda already homed to me, the young lad was without a home and no interested parties. It was shortly afterwards that my brother would receive a surprise gift of a blender. Normally, you would think an 11 year-old boy wouldn't be excited about receiving a blender, but my brother was. However, to his disappointment, inside the box was not a blender but a kitten, the last surviving “average looking cat”.

Now, my brother didn't NOT like the cat. He was just more of a dog person and wasn't as obsessed with owning a cat as I had been at that time. Not to mention, he had wanted that blender. His indifference lead to my naming the cat to match his sister Zelda in theme, and hence forth he was to be known as Link. It didn't take long for me to notice the stark differences between the two cats. Zelda was solitary and enjoyed her alone time and Link was very sociable and affectionate. This was quite amusing as I had been wanting to spend all my time with my new kitten, but she wasn't really interested. While on the other hand, Link wanted to hang out with my brother all the time but my brother wasn't really all that interested either. You may think the obvious result here is that we swapped cats, but we did not. Instead, Link decided to adopt me as his primary caregiver putting me in the position of owning and caring for two cats instead of just one.

And so Link became my cat through a series of unlikely circumstances that I like to believe were fated to happen. For it's impossible to imagine how my life would have been without my best friend by my side. I don't mean to pick favourites between Zelda and Link, for I love them both deeply. It's just that, with Link, he was always by my side. He would sleep on my bed every single night and when he wasn't sleeping on my bed, he was hanging out with me on the same bed while I played on my laptop. He would follow me everywhere, no matter where I went in the house. If I stayed in a separate room for a few minutes, I could always count on him to find me and my lap (or feet, which he had a knack for getting under). He was also the most chill cat you could ever meet. He was always purring and you could do pretty much anything to that lovable guy without any protest from him. He never swatted, scratched, or bit anyone. He was full of nothing but love. He got along (eventually) with every other animal we brought into our home and, in the case of our dog, became his best friend. And when it came time for Link to interact with my toddler son, he was always a trooper. Despite my son's rather rough way of showing his affection, Link always took it like a champ and never made even the slightest of aggressive moves. It's also interesting to note that Link is one of the only cats I have met that actually responded consistently to his name being called. Maybe he thought he was a dog. That would explain his companionship with both dogs he lived with during his life and his “uncatlike” behaviour.

Link, and his sister Zelda, have been with me through the darkest parts of my life and for the greatest parts of my life. And though I will miss them both, I am extremely grateful for all the time we had together. Both cats lived into their old age and both went peacefully with me right by their side. In Link's case, he could have very easily ended up a causality with his other siblings but he avoided that fate and continued to avoid an untimely end. He's been very sick and recovered in the past, he's ate things he shouldn't have that might have killed a lesser mortal, and he's been accidentally locked outside for long periods of time on several occasions (he was always an indoor cat who longed to be an outdoor cat).

Despite all these close shaves, he always bounced back. Unfortunately, Link's adventurous life cost him a few too many of his nine lives. At the ripe old age of 18+ years, he had run out of lives to spend and, despite our best efforts, we were unable to substitute for them. Link met a peaceful end, surrounded by those whom he loved and loved him in return. I whispered in his ear and stroked him gently as I saw him off to the other side. I looked him in the eyes and we said our farewell, with the hope that we might one day meet again.

Link, you were an average looking cat to the eyes of a 12 year-old boy, but to this 30 year-old man, you were anything but.

You were my best friend and I am so thankful for all the time we had together. I'm so glad you were able to meet my son and even have a chance to play with him. You could see that I was no longer struggling and that I had finally figured my life out. So I hope it was easier for you to leave me behind knowing that I would be okay. I will always cherish our memories and I will never forget you. Thank you for everything, my friend.

I love you, my adventurous little companion.

Until we meet again.

**Special thanks to my amazing wife who helped support, both emotionally and financially, the end-of-life care for Link. And another special thank you to Sharon for all the amazing work she does with our furry family members. Thank you so much for your compassion and care during such a difficult time.