The Story of Zac

Nine years ago this month, we adopted Zac and his sister Meg.

Bud, Jeff’s cat (as he adopted him well before we were married) had lived 19 years, and after he died Jeff was so heartbroken that he couldn’t bring himself to adopt another cat. I let him grieve for more than a year, and then gently persuaded him to consider once again adopting.

He had his heart set on an orange, female cat, as that was Bud’s color and gender. We began to visit websites and then began visiting adoption agencies.

During a visit to our local PetSmart, we met many cats. My eye was drawn to a tan and white kitty with beautiful blue eyes. Jeff said, “It’s a male and he’s not solid orange.” The volunteer whispered to me, “And no one is going to want to adopt him, as he only as four toes on one of his front feet.” “No one will adopt him?” I stated incredulously, “Then we’ll take him. He’s adorable.” Jeff gave me one of the looks I’ve grown accustomed to, you know, a resigned look. The volunteer suggested that we visit with him and one of his siblings in a separate room, and as I’ve always been drawn to black and white cats, I asked for his female sibling to join us.

They were wild kitties! We were informed that a large group of cats had been rescued from a women who was a cat hoarder.

I immediately feel in love with Zac, but as I knew he would be Jeff’s cat I wanted to ensure that he liked him as well. He did.

I informed the volunteer that we’d wanted to adopt the tan and white kitty. She said, “Great! You’ll have to wait two months, as we don’t allow kittens to be adopted until they are six months old to ensure that they are properly socialized. Unless two or more are adopted at the same time.” “Great!” I exclaimed. “We’ll take his sister as well.”

Jeff said, “We didn’t ever discuss adopting two kittens.” “The boy can be yours and the girl can be mine,” I replied. And Jeff knows that when my mind is made up, well, my mind is made up. We completed the paperwork, submitted our application, met with a volunteer who ensured we were serious about adopting and had the proper setup, and waited for the arrival.

We had to sign a form stating that both cats would be fixed and vaccinated, that we wouldn’t have them declawed, and that they would ha e a room of their own, as our dog Xander would be residing in the house with us.

The adoption agency had named the kittens, and I can’t for the life of me remember their original names.

Jeff named Zac after Zan Efron. I named Meg after Meg (Megatron) Griffin from “Family Guy.”

Meg and Zac quickly adapted to Xander. And then Xander suddenly became very sick and I had to make the difficult decision to euthanize him.

(As an aside, I immediately cry whenever I think of Xander. I loved that dog with every fiber of my being.)

A month later we adopted Luke, and the Luke, Meg, and Zac have gotten along splendidly from day one.

While both kitties were loving and good natured, Zac had numerous digestive issues. We had to change his diet many times until we found the right mix. Zac was also a voracious eater, and would consume as much food as was put down in front of him. Our vet thought this might be because as a kitten he never knew when he’d have his next meal. Many years ago we began feeding them first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And treats.

Zac was most definitely Jeff’s cat, and the two of them were inseparable. Zac would often sit on Jeff’s office chair, forcing Jeff to sit on the edge of the seat. Whenever Jeff would lie on the couch he would place a blanket over his lap so that Zac could crawl under the blanket and snuggle with him.

Meg has been my kitty from day one, and continues to be so.

Zac and Meg (and Luke, of course) moved with us to Asheville, and adjusted well. They both enjoyed spending time on the second floor deck, and only needed to be told once or twice that they couldn’t sit on the railing. Such good kitties!

A few years ago, Jeff started traveling extensively. And Zac began spending much more time with me. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I fell in love with him all over again. We became inseparable, and he would spend hours on my lap while I scratched his head with one hand and rubbed his belly with the other.

Zac would be on my lap and Jeff would call him to him. Zac would look up and towards him, and then put his head back down on my lap. It was sometime last year when Jeff proclaimed “He’s your cat now.”

Two weeks ago, whilst Jeff was at the beach house battening down the hatches, Zac began vomiting. He was still eating, so I wasn’t overly concerned. We took him to the vet, and the diagnosis was a likely hairball. And then he stopped eating. We took him for X-rays, and there was nothing to be concerned about. Yet he continued to show no signs of getting better. We took him to the vet yet again, this time for an ultrasound. And the news was cancer. When the vet said, “Zac isn’t going to be with us much longer” I began sobbing loudly and hysterically. As neither Jeff nor I ever want to see one of our babies suffer, we made the painful decision.

Even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic, the vet had a bereavement room. Jeff said his goodbyes, and I stayed with Zac during his last moments. I knew it would be too painful for Jeff to do so, but I didn’t want Zac to be alone.

I took thousands of pictures of Zac, and for this I’m very grateful. The last video I took is of him purring in my lap. It breaks my heart to watch, yet I can’t stop doing so.

I miss him terribly. I am truly heartbroken, and find it hard to imagine my life without him. Grieving is such a horrible process.

6 thoughts on “The Story of Zac

  1. Paul and Jeff, I’m sorry to hear about Zac. It’s overwhelmingly difficult to lose a precious fur baby. Tonight I’ll be hugging my cats extra tight in Zac’s memory.

  2. Paul- Zac was so lucky to have you and Jeff. And y’all were lucky to have him. I’m heartbroken for you both. Prayers for healing and comfort.

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