Punk Rock Kitty: A Story In Photos

Our 19-year-old cat Sesame passed in her sleep yesterday. I hope you don’t mind my indulgence in some stories and photos of the punk rock zombie kitty.

“I think I should get a cat,” Dave said to me one day about 17 years ago. “I think it would be good for me.”

He wanted a kitten, but the sneaky little old ladies at the Marin Humane Society told him it wasn’t “kitten season.”

“But we have a really nice calico cat that’s about a year and a half old,” they said. “She’s so sweet. She’ll just curl up in your neck, and you’ll love her.”

They brought out a snowy white and caramel calico and as promised, as soon as Dave held her, she curled up in the crook of his neck and started purring.

That was the last time that willful beast ever displayed that behavior.

Her first night in his apartment, she ran circles from the living room to the hallway to the kitchen, up onto the counter, and JUMP! down onto the head of Dave’s bed (and our heads on the pillows)… over and over and over, all night.

She learned how to open the bathroom door by jiggling the door knob.

She developed a piercing, demanding caterwaul.

She was obnoxious.

And so cool ’cause she never backed down from anything she wanted. Social niceties weren’t her style; when she did relent and show some affection, we knew she meant it.

I really liked Sesame to wear hats and costumes; she did not. But she humored me because, at heart, she was a supermodel.

Sesame was well-known for eating things she wasn’t supposed to. Her favorite food was Cheetos, but she was also known to steal popcorn and porkchops when we weren’t paying close enough attention. Once, when we lived on the houseboat, I left a glass of orange juice on the counter while I went in another room to do something. I heard a clinking noise and rushed back to the kitchen. Sesame was sitting on the opposite side of the room from the glass, looking at me as if to say, “WHAT?!” When I got close to her I could see tiny droplets of orange juice glistening on her whiskers.

She also insisted on sleeping on the stove. After moving her for the thousandth time, we just gave in and the stovetop – warmed by the pilot light – became her permanent perch. I always moved her when I was cooking, but she always jumped back up to curl up next to a simmering pot of chili or poke her nose in a skillet. I once watched her watch her own butt burst into flames from the gas jet. She looked over her shoulder, saw the flame, and put her head back down on the stove, as if she was thinking, “Finally, I’m warm enough.”

Even when she was old and skinny and couldn’t jump very well, she insisted on trying to make the leap to the stove. She’d crash to the tile floor three or four times, then finally get up enough commitment and momentum to make it to the top. It was beautiful and heartbreaking watching her refuse to give up.

She was a very good stretcher.

And although she was never, ever snuggly by choice, she let me kiss and hug all over her whenever I wanted. Note the marked look of disdain on her face.

About 10 years ago, Sesame was a chubster, but as she aged, she grew thinner. I like to think of these two photos as her runway pics.

There have been a handful of times over the last 17 years when Sesame should have been dead. She had fatty liver syndrome… she fell off the second floor of the houseboat into the San Francisco Bay and had to swim 100 yards to get to shore… her liver went kaflooey and she had a bout of head pressing… but she just refused to give in.

Yesterday, fate and time finally caught up with her. She passed in her sleep, I hope dreaming of her favorite spot on the railing of the houseboat, looking at Mt. Tamalpais in the sun.

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  • georgia says:

    I'm so sorry. She sounded like everything a cat is supposed to be.

  • Amber says:

    Oh wow, I'm so sorry. She lived to a damn fine old age though! Wow!

  • Miss B says:

    I'm glad she went peacefully, dreaming of Cheetos on the warm stove.

  • Erin Clare says:

    Sesame, my hero. I am going to miss you and your heroic long tale. Thank you for the time you took to show me that you're never to old to try to go all the way one more time.

    I love you. And now that you're back to kittenhood and no longer a Zombie…remember to terrorize the afterlife as best you can. 🙂

    Today my heart sinks for you. Fairwell, Sesame.

  • el_twirpo says:

    sorry to hear about the passing of your cat. i do love the little hats you put on her though.

  • Melicious says:

    I should also mention that Sesame was an attention sponge. She would LOVE that y'all are commenting on her supermodel photos and paying homage to her feline-ness.

  • CrossFitCentralJules says:

    RIP sweet kitty. Watch down upon your momma as she never gives up either. You must have taught her your tenatious demeanor.

  • Barbara says:

    She sounds like a wonderful cat with a crossfit mindset…

    I'm sure there is a warm stove and cheetos in kitty heaven!

  • MissCheryl says:

    That tribute brought tears and a smile. One time when I was visiting several years ago, darn Miss Sesame punctured the air mattress while I was sleeping. As if to say, "you can stay here, but it is at my mercy." Loved it, loved her, love you guys.

  • linda says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. She was a magnificent cat.

  • Fontaine says:

    Sorry about your cat. She sounds a lot like our Yorkie. All dog, all day. Pets are the best.

  • Aaron says:

    Sorry to hear about Sesame. Sounds like she was a great personality.

  • kelly alice says:

    i am so sorry to hear about your loss, but i know that sesame was lucky and truly happy that you gave her a furrever home, with so much love, affection, and chin scratches. may you be comforted by your memories of her!


  • Catherine Hart Rebholz says:

    She had such a long a glorious run (I think it's cuz she had such awesome parents). She looks so precious in those photos. Thanks for sharing and I'm sorry for your loss..she was a part of you family! I'm happy she went on her own in her sleep. xoxoxo

  • Littles says:

    Sesame was a gorgeous cat, so sorry for your loss.

  • Mer says:

    I'm so sorry, Mel.

    It sounds like Sesame had a long and full life and was the source of lots of love and happiness (and zombie feline jokes). Here's hoping she's romping around some big kitty house in the sky. 🙂

  • Team CS says:

    Sesame was such a character. I'll never forget coming over to your house and hearing her slurp up the wet food from her little bowl/plate, or quietly wondering why she was always on the stove. Her hat modeling pictures featured on your blog posts in the past never failed to make me smile, and the ones you posted today with her bad ass, mean stare are pretty damn cool. Maybe a photoshop of you and Dave's best mean faces, along with hers, would be awesome to see.

    Love to all three of you.


  • Jude says:

    I’m so glad you stopped in and commented about Jazza – and reading about Sesame just had me in floods of tears. Honestly, what a character!

    17 years is a real stretch and it sounds like she squeezed every single pleasure out of it.

    What a fricken awesome cat and a totally fitting tribute.


    • Mel says:

      I’d like to think that Jazza and Sesame are hanging out together in the sun somewhere, doing cat stuff, reflecting on their lucky lives with family like us.