Patrice, our 4th and Final Cat, Dies

At 5:12pm, April 16, 2024, life ended for our fourth and final feline animal companion, Patrice. She was in her 90s in human years, and died peacefully of old age after a good life.

Our first cat Minuit (And Now For Something Completely Different: Around The House) was followed by Champagne and Jaegermesiter.

Do animals have souls?

Here is my valedictory poem:

Goodbye Patrice

(Robinson Jeffers said it better in 1941: The House Dog’s Grave)

Farewell, so long;
You’ve said your prayers,
You sang your song.

You gave us eleven long years
Of unconditional love
When you were game.
We did the same
For you.

You were not our pet
As they say today,
But our feline animal companion
In every way.

No karma expert am I,
So I have no idea what’s next when you die.
I know what you deserve:
I hope it’s what you get,
Your best life yet.

As we’d like to remember her as a kitten:

Patrice and pes2-EDIT


True of Cats As Well


Jon Carroll on Purring

Jon Carroll of the SF Chronicle (now retired) was the finest daily column writer ever to grace an American newspaper, although Adair Lara of the Chronicle and Doug Baker of the Oregon Journal were almost as good.  He regularly wrote columns about his cats, which I have mentioned frequently in this column.

My cat Patrice was purring on my lap this morning, which reminded me of a Carroll column that said purring was not always a sign of contentment. Searching for it led me to another purring column, about purrs containing baby cry frequencies, that also came up this week on the Netflix cat documentary.

And, in this Internet age of heedless use of the memory hole, thanks to the Chronicle for maintaining an excellent on-line archive. It’s one of the reasons I pay for paper and print subscriptions.

What I Can Learn From My Cats

Cartoonist Ruben Bolling named one of his books, All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned From My Golf-Playing Cat. It was intended, of course, as a joke.

If I were Jon Carroll, or Adair Lara, or even Dave Barry, I could probably write a clever and touching essay on the lessons my two tabby cats, Champagne and Jagermeister (the boys), have to teach. And I realize one is on a slippery slope when one begins to attribute anthropomorphic characteristics to one's companion animals.

Nevertheless, sleeping 20 or so hours a day and being nonchalant--at the very least, exhibiting a general air of unconcern--the rest of the time is starting to look like a good lifestyle choice. I've never had to take either of the boys to the chiropractor. They seem to have a nearly limitless capacity to absorb pleasure and affection--but of course only on their own terms and in their own time. They are pushed into paroxysms of joy by one-sixth of a can of tuna every morning for breakfast.

And they're both good looking and go well with the furniture and rugs. Plus, they worship Vicki, my wife. All in all, I'm trying to learn to be more like my cats.

The Top 16 Signs Your Cat is Getting Old

March 9,2000

I made No. 4 on the list:

16> Goes from 22 hours of happy-go-lucky, kittenish sleep per day to 21 hours of restless, fitful sleep per day.
15> All he wants to do is watch "Catlock."
14> Tries to cash in her 8th life insurance policy for a kilo of catnip.
13> Last year: Went a-courtin' carrying a "pencil full o' lead." This year: Goes a-courtin' carrying a 9 Lives tuna casserole.
12> Bitches non-stop about the "bankrupt moral values of kittens these days."
11> Trades in his Whiskas for prune-flavored Whippasnappas.
10> "You call this catnip? Hell, I remember back in the '80s, I once scored some Meowie Wowie that would knock your friggin' claws off..."
9> Instead of shredding your drapes, she sub-contracts the job.
8> Writes "Put me to sleep" in its litter box with pee.
7> When you strap a piece of buttered toast to her back and drop her, she lands on her hip.
6> Stops leaving dead mice on doormats; starts leaving bingo cards.
5> Spends all day on the front porch, yelling at the squirrels to get the hell out of his yard.
4> Occasionally forgets to ignore you.
3> Instead of swaggering up to you and dropping dead mice at your feet, he drives up in his Rascal and pulls them out of the saddlebag.
2> Has to drink a whole bottle of Rogaine just to cough up one hairball.

and's Number 1 Sign Your Cat is Getting Old...

1> While his younger friends are out chasing mice, he claims a moral victory in catching the elusive dust bunny.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2000 by Chris White ]
Selected from 166 submissions from 59 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Scott Sistek, Seattle, WA -- 1 (6th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 4

The Boys

An update on our two cats, Champagne and Jagermeister.

Jager still hisses at me almost every time I come into a room. If either of them are downstairs when I walk into the Great Room, they run upstairs.

Most nights, they sleep with Marlow or Rae, but if they are shut out of both rooms by mistake, they will deign to spend a little time on our bed. Vicki and I encourage them to stay, but they almost always skitter our when we turn out the light.

Still, they will, no doubt, be lap cats some day. In the meantime, I love them for what they are, and let them know whenever I see them, however briefly.

Rae is worried because Champagne is constantly biting Jager's neck in a way that appears quite serious, although he never draws blood. We've decided that's the line between horseplay and serious cat abuse (even between cats).


I hate the way italic type looks on the screen. It is ugly and hard to read. So I try to use bold for book, movie and magazine titles--whenever I remember.

General News

And Now For Something Completely Different: Around The House

There comes a time in every columnist's life when you have to jot down a few words about the rest of your life. The non-public policy part. The personal part. It makes you seem human. George Will writes about baseball. William Safire writes about words. Ellen Goodman writes about her vacations.

I'm going to write about my cats. We had a black domestic shorthair in Casa Schindler for eight years. Her name was Minuit. She was the second-smallest cat in the litter. We had a number of adventures with her and loved her as a member of the family. When she was about four, the vet told us only one of her kidneys worked and that she had a year to live. We fed her a special diet, took good care of her, and gave her four good years. She never weighed over seven pounds. Last summer, she began to fade. She was hospitalized twice and died on Labor Day, just three days before we were going to have her put to sleep.

After a suitable period of mourning, we went to the Oakland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals late in January, determined to adopt two kittens (We'd decided Minuit had probably hated being alone). The SPCA doesn't get many kittens. It does get adult cats, though. Remarkably, there was a pair of brothers named Oscar and Nerber, orange domestic shorthairs whose previous owners said they were two years old--and who asked that they be adopted together. They'd come in last Fall, been adopted and returned and had been in a cage since Christmas.

I don't know if you've been to the SPCA lately, but it can break your heart. Here are a bunch of people who really care, in the nicest facility they can afford, facing the absolute certainty of having to kill a majority of their residents for lack of space. They do a wonderful job under terrible circumstances.

Despite their being rather older and heavier (14 pounds--twice the heaviest cat we'd ever had) than what we were looking for, we quickly bonded with these two cats. The SPCA had already neutered them and given them their shots and tests. We know for sure we got a couple of healthy guys this time.

Collectively, we call them the boys. Individually, they have been renamed Champagne and Jagermeister (a vile green German liqueur; don't ask). I have trouble telling them apart if I can't see their collars (Cham is red, Jager is blue). Both have spent much of their first two weeks here hiding under Rae's bed. Champagne comes out much more often that Jagermeister.

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say Champagne is going to be a fine companion and Jagermeister is going to be that other cat we never see, but who keeps Champagne company. They are really cute together.

As they go through life, doing interesting, amusing and brilliant (or stupid) things, I will chronicle their adventures here. In the meantime, if you have the time, money, love and lack of allergies, adopt a companion animal. It beats the hell out of their alternative.

Coming up: applying to college and girls' high school basketball.