And then newly-solo Max started caterwauling all night, every night, out of sheer loneliness. He needed a buddy. We weren't ready, but we saddled up and went out, on my birthday, to acquire a cat from the MSPCA.
His original name was Bunz. Yes. Ridiculous. We first called him Ampersand, then Sebastian, which went straight to Bash. And, later, Murder Cat. And Jerkface. Because omg was he a trick cat. Kitten-playful and sweet in the shelter, but, well, a Murder Cat at home.
He was 12 when we adopted him. Everyone was like "Are you sure?" Yes, we were; at the time, we were thinking of him as a companion for then-17-year-old Max, and this was before Max's kidney disease diagnosis, so we thought a few years together as buddies would be good. Average Maine Coon life expectancy is 12-15, and he was going to be an indoor cat; Siamese can live to 20. It was a good bet. But Max took ill that summer, and died right after Thanksgiving.
And Bash? Oh, Bash. Bash was a revenge shitter, a nervous traveller, a biter of hair and arms, trouble all the way down. Bash had a bump on his chin - $600 of tests later we found out it was acne. Bash got eye herpes. EYE HERPES. We shuttled him back and forth to the veterinary opthalmologist for months. We medicated him multiple times a day. He fuckin' hated that. We all have scars. He started shit with the other animals we eventually acquired. He swatted at Nicky and chased Whisper. He pissed on my bed. He ate every piece of plastic that entered the house. He was a giant furry asshole.
But he made this sweet "murr" sound whenever you touched him. And he had the world's floofiest belly and gigantic paws and that stunning ruff. And he would let me - for brief amounts of time - pick him up and snuggle him in my arms like a baby, tummy exposed. And he had a mighty purr, and loved it when we had company - he would walk right up to any guest and regally demand to be worshiped. Which the guest always did, because he was a beauty, and he *would* be sweet before he bit you. He's the first cat my toddler niece ever met, and she fell in love with him.
And she won't remember him.
Bash seemed fine last week. He acted totally normal when Sioban and Emily came over for dinner on Wednesday, I remember that. Emily took selfies with him. He demanded petting from Sioban.
During Arisia this weekend, Elayna noticed that he wasn't eating.
We made an appointment for Wednesday late afternoon, because it's the first time we could - we can't leave Nicky unattended in the cone (which comes off tomorrow), and Wednesday's the vet's only open-late day. We thought maybe arthritis had dimmed his appetite. Maybe cancer. Oh, Bash, getting expensive again.
He stayed under the dining room table all day yesterday. I kept checking on him. At 1:00, I saw he was having difficulty breathing; I texted Adam "Can you get home earlier today? I'm really worried about him." I hit send.
And Bash cried out, and I ran to him and scooped him up in that baby-snuggle position, and he left. Instantly.
We were bracing ourselves for Nicky, with that risky surgery. We've been joking that Bash is too mean to die. At the very least, we figured he'd put us through a protracted illness.
No one expected this. We're still in shock. The girl-cats knew; Nicky is just distressed because he can tell everyone else is.
Bash was an asshole cat. I used to look at him, shake my head, and say "I don't love you."
And then I would lean in and whisper "actually i do love you, don't tell anyone, it's a secret."