He and his sister joined my roommate Susan and me in September 1996. Rescued from a feral mother somewhere in London, Floyd and Madison were none too certain about humans; they spent much of their first few weeks in our flat under the couch. Before we adopted them, we agreed that the girl would be mine, and the boy would be Susan’s.
Even at 12 weeks, the boy kitten looked puzzled and a little spacy, and Susan named him Floyd, like Pink, in recognition of his dreamy countenance.
Always the more timid of the two, Floyd wanted nothing more from life than a comfy place to sleep and someone to rub his belly, and the occasional catnip toy, things his many admirers were all too willing to provide.
In the summer of 1997, when Susan decided to return to the United States, she left Floyd with us. “I knew,” she said to me this week, “that you and Madison were who he belonged with when I had to choose to take him back to the States or leave him behind.” He was, she said, the cat who changed her mind about being a dog person.
A year later, we came back, too, to Brooklyn, where Susan got to visit him every summer during our annual trips to the U.S. Open—this after his annual Saratoga sojourn, his six weeks in Saratoga with my parents, who adored him as much as I did, my mother in particular. “He’s the most beautiful cat ever,” she would often gush. “And the best cat ever.” From the woman who’s had a feline in her house for most of the last four decades, this was high praise indeed.
Floyd got the first major handicatting score for Brooklyn Backstretch when he hit with Lava Cat at 30-1 on November 14, 2007, and though in the feline pecking order he kept a low profile, he stepped up when necessary, most notably when Madison’s curiosity got her into a pickle. I can’t count the number of times that Floyd would come sit next to me, meowing insistently, until I figured out that Madison needed rescuing. When I would stand up, Floyd would lead me to whatever closet she’d gotten herself shut into so that I could release her. She bullied him incessantly, but he took excellent care of her.
We lost Madison in January 2010, and in November 2012, he was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. Though accommodating in almost all things, Floyd categorically refused any attempts at medication; his veterinary charts read “Do not attempt to pill,” and that was advice not for us, but for the vets themselves. We spent hundreds of dollars getting his medications compounded into allegedly feline-friendly liquids to mix with his food, and he would have none of it, taking one sniff and walking pointedly away.
We were told then that we’d have a few months more with him. We got luckier than that, and he’s spent much of the last two years in Saratoga, as I didn’t want to leave him alone when I was traveling, and my parents were more than happy to have him. He took over the house and they gladly surrendered it, along with their hearts, to him.
He came home to Brooklyn for a few months this fall, and recently, the chronic ailment became acute. Initial treatments had little effect, and this week, we reluctantly made the decision to ensure that he wouldn’t suffer. He came home to Saratoga, and I can’t thank enough the incredible people at the Saratoga Veterinary Hospital, all of them, but especially Bob Sofarelli, who’s been taking care of our pets since 1979, and Chris Brockett, who made an agonizing office visit as comforting as possible.
Floyd and I were together for more than a third of my life; my oldest nephew likes to remind us all that Floyd was part of the family before he was. We already miss him dreadfully and ache with his absence, but we couldn’t have asked any more of him, our English tabby who gave us so much.