Fred. A big fuzzy friend who would head butt us with such vigor to show his affection for us. He would bring us a toy to throw for him and fetch it back so we could throw it again. He would open the medicine cabinet and steal a single Q-tipp, running down the hallway with it dangling from his mouth like a cigarette, and eat the cotton off the tips. Every night he would follow the same routine, first sitting on my nightstand to attack my hand as I attempted to turn out the light, then running off down the hallway to curl up with my daughter for a bit, before finally retiring to his bucket on the cat tree where he would sleep away the night.
He and his sister came home with us a little over four and a half years ago. He was just a little thing.
But he grew up to be a big cat, weighing in at 15 pounds and long enough that he was able put his front paws up on the bathroom counter to see what was up there while his hind paws were still planted on the floor. He was so full of life and interested in everything and everyone.
And then I found him on the floor in our room, on his side, completely still, having choked on something. He was gone. We miss him so much.
The holiday spirit has left us. We feel sad and empty today.