Tate by Jay Marguerite / Jay

I once had a cat called Tate. I got him on the twelfth of March, three months after my former cat, Rattus, died. I bought Tate for ten dollars from a pet store, fully vaccinated. He could barely fit in the palm of my hand. He was black and white- a white diamond on his face, a black goatee, with a white tip on his otherwise black tail. He was playful- he kept playing with my shoelaces. When I picked him up and walked out of the cage, he gave a loud sigh. I knew from right then he was mine.

He had a small case of narcolepsy, and he’d be trying to fight something, or play, and he would soon fall asleep. It took my mum and I three hours to find a name from him. We were going to name him ‘Beau’, but as soon as we said ‘Tate’, he looked up. Tate- he who brings happiness. It was absolutely perfect- what better name for a new pet? We nicknamed him ‘Little Man Tate’ or ‘Tatey’ or ‘Tatius Maximus’.

He loved to eat. We would eat anything- cat food, steak, and noodles (raw or cooked), corn- even potatoes. We add ‘Potatey’ onto his ever-growing list of nicknames. My sister’s ex-boyfriend called him ‘Manwell’, so that so added to his list of nicknames. Manwell, Manana, My Nana. Tate was our little boy.

We moved house, to live with my mum’s boyfriend. Tate and Glenn bonded immediately. It was funny, Glenn hated cats, but he loved our Tate. In a way, he became Glenn’s cat, but Tate would forever be mine. He would wander around the house when I was gone, but would come back at night and sit on my lap when I ate dinner. He’d do the same to Glenn, but he would come back to me. When I left for America, my mother said he cried, and would sit outside my room, refusing to budge.

He was always getting beaten by other cats- even fully-grown he was still small, barely up to my ankle. My sister once sent us another cat, whom we named ‘Chance’. Tate and Chance didn’t get on, and one day Chance ran away. Five months later he returned, Tate nearly being killed from being beaten up. Not knowing whom the cat was my step-dad and I caught the cat. Glenn either killed it or drove it to another town, I don’t know which. I still think he did the former.

I never knew Tate was sick. He was always a lazy boy, even after his narcolepsy went away. I never suspected anything, nor did my mother or Glenn. Tate would wander during the day and return late at night. One day he didn’t return. He didn’t come back for three days. There was a stick, or a grass seed, in his cheek that I found. He was bleeding out of the mouth, and Glenn pulled it out. Regardless, we knew he was sick. Glenn took him to the vet, where he was given some antibiotics. They didn’t help, he was still sick.

The next day, Glenn told me Tate had liver disease and leukemia. There were ulcers in his mouth, and they weren’t healing. I knew then that Tate was going to die. He wasn’t eating- he always loved his food- and he was frightfully skinny.

He cried during the night, waking me up several times as he mewed helplessly outside my bedroom door. The next morning, he couldn’t walk. He staggered several times, but he never got further than five steps before collapsing. I tried to make him eat or drink, but he did neither. He kept shaking in his basket, and when I would walk away he meowed for me to come back. I would enter the corridor where his basket was, and my heart would stop as I thought he wasn’t breathing.

I was petting him, trying to stop myself from crying, when he looked at me. He watched me five minutes, his breath shaky, his eyes so dim. He knew he was going to die, as much as I knew. Despite his disheveled appearance, despite his filth, he was still my Tate. He kept watching me until I got up and left. I had to leave the house, and I was at the door. His voice echoed around the house, desperate, hurting. Walking away was the most painful thing I have ever done.

Tate died today.

He brought happiness into my life four, fleeting years. He came into my life with a loud sigh, and he left with an even louder one. And that’s all there is to it.


You were my best friend,
7, June 2005
Jay Marguerite