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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Losing my best feline friend

Whitney Veazey

In November of 2023, I lost one of the best friends I have ever had. He knew me since Christmas of my eighth grade year, but I had the privilege of knowing him for his entire life. 

I’ve always loved cats, and I remember constantly begging my parents for one when I was younger. I was allowed to get two, on separate occasions, and I named both after Disney princesses. The first cat got very sick and sadly died as a kitten, which I was very upset about, and the second one never liked me, despite my childlike attempts to woo her affection – and by this I mean, I chased after her until she got severely annoyed with me. By the age of 13, I managed to convince my parents to let me get another cat.

A girl in my grade had a cat who had recently had kittens, so shortly before Christmas that year, my mom drove me to the girl’s house to pick up my new best friend. Many of the kittens tried their best to come home with me, but for some reason I was drawn to the small little boy at the back, the one that was doing his best not to look at me or draw any attention to himself. As I scooped him up, I remember my mom joking that he was as antisocial as the rest of our family, so he’d fit right in.

I named him Fray, after Clary Fray from “The Mortal Instruments” book series (what a nerd move), but he was rarely called that, instead answering to a whole host of nicknames that got progressively stranger and more complex over time. Fray, Fray Tay, Fraysier Taysier. My buddy boy, the Muffin Man, Mr. Mayor, Rat Cat. When he climbed on the counters or knocked something over, mom especially liked to call him Turd, Turkey or Twerp, sometimes all at the same time. 

Fray was the most vocal cat I have ever met, and I swear he would talk to you like he was a person. When he was a kitten, my parents claimed an unfinished bathroom as his bedroom,  complete with his food, bed and litter box. They began putting him into his room when it was time to go to sleep so that he would be unable to roam the house at night, which would certainly have ended in him tearing the sofa to shreds without our watchful eyes upon him. At the time, my mom had to be at work insanely early, and before she left every morning, she would sit outside of the door to his room and talk to him. She still has videos of him repeating back “hello” and “mama,” and I count these as his first of many words. 

He was a very routine-based little man, and he was sure to let us know if we didn’t stick to his plan for the day. He required at least five minutes of sleepy cuddles every morning when he was retrieved from his room, and he then proceeded to scout out everyone’s rooms to wake up the remainder of the household. He could tell the time better than any clock, and if anyone was late getting home, he made sure to announce it. At bedtime, he would stare at my parents, knowing that it was only a matter of time until the TV was turned off, he was scooped up and we said our goodnights before he was taken back to his room. 

More than anything, though, Fray was the snuggliest little bug ever, especially with his boys (my dad and brother). He could be standoffish all he wanted, but the second he wanted affection, he was in your lap or standing beside you, demanding he be paid attention to. He loved spending quality time with his people, and he could often be seen laying in dad’s lap as he watched a football game or sitting on my bed with me as I read a good book. Those times with him meant the world to me. All he wanted was for us to simply be with him.

I don’t think I’ll ever meet another cat with as much personality as my buddy boy had. He could go from calm to a pro bird hunter in seconds, perching in the windowsill and chirping at the unsuspecting cardinals. He had the finest loaf form I’ve ever seen in a feline, and was an expert biscuit maker to boot. He made the funniest faces and had such an attitude most of the time, but he was always quick to let us know that he not-so-secretly loved us more than anything. And boy, was he loved back. 

Fray saw me through so many phases of my life. He was by my side as I cried over my first relationship and subsequent breakup, arguments with my parents and, eventually, over his sickness. He somehow knew when I needed him most and was always there to offer support in the form of cuddles. He was one of the greatest constants in my life during a period of such intense change, and I’ll never be able to thank him enough for that.

In December of 2022, everything started. On our nightly call, my dad mentioned something about Fray having a lump on his shoulder, and of course I freaked out, because this was my baby, who I worried over enough as it was, even with frequent visits and no health problems. When I came home that weekend, I got to see what they were talking about, and sure enough, Fray had a small lump on his left shoulder. I begged my parents to take him to the vet the next week and to keep me updated, and they did.

The vet concluded that Fray needed surgery, so we scheduled one for the new year. The surgeon was lovely and was confident that he could get all of the mass out, and he did. Fray made a speedy recovery and had earned himself a new battle scar – and a cone, which he was not a fan of. I honestly got my hopes up until the results of the biopsy came back. 

Of course, it was cancerous, and my worst fears were confirmed. Not only that, but it was a rare form of cancer that was once common but has been nearly eradicated. The doctor said that the mass would likely grow back, but he couldn’t confirm a timeline on when. If Fray didn’t have another one grow for several years, we decided we would take him to get it removed again, but if the growth was immediate, we wouldn’t risk his quality of life by having him in constant surgery and recovery. 

A few months went by, and it was probably March when I let myself accept that his mass was growing back, bigger and angrier than before, and that there wasn’t anything I could do about it. It was hard to watch, and I still blame myself, thinking that I could have done more for him. 

We had some really good months with him. With the mass, it was easy to assume he was in pain, but that little boy would run like crazy and play like nobody’s business, just like normal. That didn’t stop me from crying over him a lot of nights, hugging him and getting my tears all over his soft fur. I just couldn’t stand a world where I would lose my best friend. It wasn’t fair. He was just a baby, and he didn’t understand or deserve this.

Around August was the time he began to decline, slowly, and then rapidly. I won’t get into all of the gorey details, but he got to a state in which, by the beginning of November, he had lost a substantial bit of weight and was sporting what looked like football pads all the way across his little shoulders.

I came home almost every weekend of last semester, terrified I wouldn’t be there when he needed me most. As the end got closer and closer, I said every goodbye like it would be the last time I would ever see him. Even just to leave the house for thirty minutes, I made sure to tell him how much I loved him and that I would miss him but would be back super soon. 

I had just gotten out of my last class of the semester on November 28 when I got the call from my mom. She told me that they were pretty sure Fray was dying, and I immediately packed my bags and hurried home. I cried multiple times on the drive over because I knew, deep down, that I wouldn’t make it to see him before it happened. My parents met me at the door, and I knew I was too late by the looks on their faces. We all cried a lot that night.

We got to hold a funeral for him the next morning, and frankly it’s all a blur. I do remember a lot of tears and an emptiness in my chest that I hadn’t felt in a long time. The house still feels cold and devoid of life without his presence. 

It’s gotten easier since that day, but the holidays were rough, and I still find myself jumping at any glimpse of movement or small sound, thinking it’s him coming to see me. It kills me that I’m slowly getting used to him not being there anymore. 

It might seem silly to mourn a cat so much, but Fray truly changed my life for the better. He made me smile on the worst days, and he was a constant reminder that unconditional love does indeed exist. I miss you, buddy boy, and I love you to the moon and back. Thank you for everything.

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About the Contributors
Kelley Peters, Managing Editor
Kelley is a junior from Tupelo, Miss. who is majoring in English literature with a minor in applied linguistics. She is currently Managing Editor for The Flor-Ala. She has loved reading for as long as she can remember, which developed her love of storytelling and the English language. Her career goal is to become an English professor at a university. She was previously a volunteer writer in the Fall of 2021, became a Staff Writer in January of 2022 and moved to being News Editor in January of 2023.
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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