It’s taken me a few weeks to be able to write this. I haven’t been able to look at pictures until now, and even now looking at them really, really hurts. Those who have had that special companion, that animal who was more than a dependent and amiable tenant, but who was your legitimate friend–you’ll get it. Those who can put the words “just a” and “cat” together in a sentence won’t.
I saw him on Petfinder in early 2008 and immediately knew we were each other’s. He’d been left in the night drop at the shelter; he was probably six months old at the time. He was with me for nearly a decade, through some very shitty times and some incredibly good ones. He grew from a fairly timid and skittish kitten into an incredibly affectionate, confident, reliable friend with so much personality.
He and Suki got along great from the start. Before the other cats came along, if I asked Suki, “Where’s the cat?” she’d eagerly bound over to him and boop him with her nose. (On the other hand, when we added Jack, our Aussie mix, to the family he made a very big show of attempting to climb the fence and run away from home. He couldn’t get over the fence, and quickly learned to ignore Jack.)
When John came into our lives Chewie immediately adopted him as his own, and eventually even warmed up to all of these interloping kittens we kept bringing home. Yoda was his go-to cuddle buddy, but everyone wanted Chewie’s attention.
But human people were his favorite. He had a way of sitting on you while somehow channeling gravity to make himself heavier while he settled into a good long purr. Purring was really his default; he could purr contentedly, indignantly, furiously, or anything in between. Preferably while sitting on you and being petted.
He also liked clothes. Our guess is that it made him feel special and more like one of us, being the only cat who got to wear clothes. He would practically strut in his walking harness.
None of these pictures really do justice to the sheer volume of cat that was Chewbacca. For scale, here he is with my daughter, who then was roughly 5’1:
On September 14 I found him on the bed, with Yoda sitting next to him looking at me like it was MY FAULT his friend wasn’t cuddling with him. He was just gone; there was no more Chewie animating all of that floof. It was totally unexpected. We’d had two other cats in and out of the vet over the previous weeks, but Chewie was fine. He was down to a good weight and perfectly healthy. Except for the part where his heart stopped and he died. I cried for fifteen hours straight (I didn’t even know that was possible) and continue to, off and on, almost a month later. I’d had the good fortune over the past few years to have forgotten what a broken heart feels like.
Chewie was one of a kind, absolutely irreplaceable, and nothing feels the same without him.
I miss you, buddy.