Friday, December 05, 2014

Rufus 2001(?) - 2014

Above: Our cat Rufus was in a number of cartoons that I drew. He died yesterday. Here is my wife, Stacy, with a remembrance:

Remembering Rufus by Stacy Lynch

Our beloved ginger cat, Rufus (Roo, Big Red), died yesterday after a bout with cancer. Though we knew it was coming, our hearts are utterly broken. He was 13-14 years old.

Rufus came to us as an adult rescue cat in 2003. Up until that point he had had a pretty hard life. He was found tied to the stair railing in a basement in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We believe he was just tossed down in the basement in order to be a mouser and never knew any human kindness – until he was rescued by Annalise Milman and delivered to the Hope Vet office in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, in 2003, where he lived for a short time until we adopted him. He was pretty nearly feral and smelled terrible. He was solid muscle and had “the biggest head I’ve ever seen.”

So what was it that made me (Stacy) fall in love with the big red beast at first sight? I’m still not sure about that but I knew that I wanted him even when he emitted a low growl as I tried to hold him on my lap. I didn’t tell Mike about the growl because I knew he would object to adopting such an unsocialized cat. During that same first visit, he took a poop on my lap – standing rock still the whole time, afraid to move. The vet tech apologized and came to take him, knowing we would not adopt him now – but this guy was not getting away from me that easy! I think it was the utter fear I saw in those huge round eyes that made me realize the toughness was just an act - and I wanted to give him a good life.

Adopted and neutered, he came home to our small Brooklyn apartment a few days later. Bertie and Max (RIP both) were NOT impressed! Though he had been neutered, that stinky male cat smell lingered for about a month and we would smell him before seeing him when he entered a room. He spent the first few days hiding in the closet, only venturing out at night to turn over the trash can. Then he moved to under the bed, just out of arm’s reach and squeeze his eyes at me as I lay on the floor and sang him songs from Wonderful Town, which was then playing on Broadway. His special favorites were “A Little Bit in Love” and “A Quiet Girl” – both with adapted lyrics to personalize the songs for him.

It took a few months but he eventually realized that not only were we not going to hurt him, but that we actually loved him – and then he loved us back with a vengeance! He made his first kitty friend in sweet Max and was grudgingly accepted by Bertie. The stink went away and his stiff, straw-like fur became soft and super-thick. Petted and spoiled, he enjoyed the good life, especially after we moved to NH and both worked from home. According to Big Red, there was never any reason for us to ever leave the house.

Rufus was immortalized in cartoon form several times. His huge expressive eyes and pudgy roundness made him an ideal subject for several of Mike’s cartoons. And he (with Sam) is the star of our Christmas collaboration “The Great Ham Caper." He became an internet sensation when the violinist Hilary Hahn tweeted his picture to her many thousands of followers.

(Above: Rufus in Stacy's fiddle case, an image that violinist Hilary Hahn helped go viral.)

Though he lived a good long life, we are terribly sad that he had to leave us. But we are happy we were able to break through his wall of defenses and turn him into the big, mushy, love-sponge he turned out to be and we are grateful for our 11+ years together.
RIP sweet dear boy. We will love you and miss you forever.


John R. Platt said...

My condolences to you both.

jamie said...

Hey Mike, peace to you and Stacy… and for Bertie and Max as well… hard series of losses we’ve also shared in our household. Rufus had it really good with you guys, what a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes. I have such a soft spot for both strays and orange tabbies too - what a handsome fellow. Catnip for everyone…

Trade Loeffler said...

More sad news, Mike. I'm sorry to hear it. Rufus was a great cat. Hang in there, baby.

Unknown said...

This is so sad. So sorry.
See below. 346. Maybe I AM a robot. What then?

Unknown said...

Now I am a different robot. 218. This is mysterious.