Oscar 1994 - 28 November 2009

Oscar on the sidewalk

(the photos below and more are in a gallery of Oscar photos)

I first met Oscar at a party given by Mary Crinnin. I was playing guitar, and he came up and sat next to me all while I was playing. That was my first introduction to him, and that’s how he was throughout his life: he loved people and he loved music.

Oscar at Porchfest 2008 Oscar had been passed on through four or five classes of massage school students, each of which found him a new home when they finished their studies and moved out. When Mary moved, Oscar went to stay with Melissa Foree, Mary’s ex-partner. Then Melissa went away for the summer of 1998, and asked Katherine and me if we’d take him while she was gone. We remembered him well from Mary and Melissa’s parties, and said sure.

Melissa had other cats who didn’t get along with Oscar so well, so when she returned and heard that he’d had a good time with us, she asked if we’d want to keep him. By that time we had both independently decided that if it were to come up, we’d love to - he was so affectionate, gregarious, and gentle, we felt honored. So he stayed.

Oscar was born with several extra toes: his back paws had six toes each, and his front paws had extra growths on the sides with three additional toes. They looked like thumbs to me, and worked like them too; he could grab a toy with one paw. When he walked, his extra paw-lets looked like high heels to Katherine, and their claws click-clacked on hard floors like high heels too. When he sat, he looked like he was wearing mittens.

Oscar in the sink Oscar had a reflex that I’ve heard is useful for mother cats to teach their kittens to nurse: if you scratched along his spine, he’d lick whatever you put in front of him. This was a fun parlor trick. He also had a taste for moving water - he’d lurk in the sink until someone came along to start the water for him so he could drink from it. But then he’d get offended when he got wet. So eventually we made him a fountain all his own.

Oscar drinking from his fountain Oscar liked to explore the neighborhood and especially to meet people. At both our house on Cayuga Street, and later when we moved to Linn Street, he loved to lie on the sidewalk where people would come by and pet him. We hung a red reflector on his collar for night safety, and we’d often hear from neighbors about the friendly cat with the red necklace and the loud purr.

And his purr was legendary. If you were talking on the phone while Oscar was in your lap (and he would always come find your lap when it was available), the person on the other end of the line often wondered what the rhythmic rumbling sound was. Even in his later years, when he was ill and tired and his purr was quieter, people would still comment

Oscar and Henry Oscar outlived his buddy Henry, and made it through our move in 2008, but soon thereafter was diagnosed with a thyroid problem. It slowed him down a lot, but a daily pill kept him going for several more months.

Oscar’s main pleasures at the end of his life were his morning treats (with the “crunchy candy center” as I told him - the thyroid pill), getting up on my lap during meals (by this time he needed help), climbing under the covers next to me at bedtime, and sitting outside for the “morning parade” of kids and parents on their way to Fall Creek Elementary School, during which he got lots of petting (and scared many a dog somehow with his calm stare). He seemed to sleep the rest of the time.

Oscar on his pillow This morning, while we were away visiting family for Thanksgiving, our young neighbor, Zoë, who was very sweetly looking after Oscar, found him lying on our kitchen floor. I wish we could have spared Zoë that shock, and I wish we could have been with Oscar when his disease finally caught up with him.

I will always remember Oscar’s grace and amiable gravitas, his sociability and tolerance of even babies and (eventually) kittens, and most of all his contented squinting and rumbling purr while I held him and stroked his face. He was one of those animals who seem to have something deep and direct to say to us, and who do not need words to say it. I have often joked that he was my role model, but I feel, particularly now, that that statement is lighthearted but true.

Thank you, Oscar. We were honored.


Oscar's obituary

Dear Timothy—Thank you for posting Oscar’s obituary. We have 7 cats, in this generation of cats, and we know how it is to lose a dear friend. I was very moved by Oscar’s story and your love for him. Thanks for sharing his story. Tom


timothy, everyone in our house is really sorry to hear about Oscar. Our thoughts are with you and K and C. I remember him by his extra toes, his cool, steady, and ultra-friendly attitude, his loud purr, and his licking your head when we were visiting. I wish you peace. -m


Hi Timothy, So sorry for the loss of your sweet cat. Animals seem to have that sense that lets them know when their owners are away for awhile and when it would be least convenient for them to move on to the next world. I buried Elizabeth’s cat and Rob buried my guinea pig. It seems they like to spare their owners the grief but don’t realize the toll it takes on the caretakers. Anyway, Oscar sounds like he was a lovely, loving and very loved cat. Hope the good memories dull the sadness a little. -Susan


Inimitable Oscar—he was a great cat, as these photos testify. My favourite is the one of Clara as a baby touching him. He has incredible presence in all the photos. It’s weird the way somehow he looks like all three of you—something about the expression. Or is it that all three of you look a bit like Oscar? I really enjoyed looking after him, that weekend in the summer—I was aware of his frailty and was so touched by how he sought me out—what a human loving, connecting kind of cat he was. Having just lost Shelby I have some idea of what you are going through. My thoughts will be with you today at the funeral. With love from us all.


I am so sorry to hear of Oscar’s passing, he was a good boy and friend. I was honored to wear Oscar’s picture on my T-shirt “Fall Creek Cats” that rode the “Ride for Life” in 2008. Oscars been around. If you would like my t-shirt for posterity its yours. Susan


Dear Tim,

Thanks for sharing this obit with your Fall Creek neighbors. Sounds like Oscar had a wonderful life and we’re very sorry to hear of his passing. Pets so touch our hearts and enrich our lives.

Catherine, Kathaleen and our pets, Jimi, Callie, Remy and Harley

The Oscar I Remember

Oscar was the tallest, finest, furriest, orangest of all orange kitties. Or maybe he was the tannest of all tan kitties. Depends on who you ask. Oscar could leap tall tissue boxes with a single bound, and he could bat at a bug with more toes than most kitties. Oscar was a balm to visiting humans who had left their kitties behind on their travels, but he wasn’t a slut. He could have enough of you at any moment and find something at least as interesting behind the bookcase. It was only because he was a champion at Extreme Petting that he was so woefully underpetted. Oscar was an avid outside-goer, even in his old age, and would lurk on Linn Street, waiting for an appropriate passerby on whom to practice his sport. After a few hours of being an outside-goer, he could turn the tables on you and go inside, ready be petted even more.

Oscar drank from a free-running stream of water - maybe this helped lubricate his flexible personality. He took pills pretty gracefully (for a cat.) He treated all his humans kindly and generously, and as befit his noble nature, did not require that they be mummified alive with him. He sometimes commented in a put-upon voice, but you could tell that he wouldn’t change a thing about his domestic circumstance. Oscar knew how to make the best of a good situation. Oscar, and I know what I’m talking about here, was UNBELIEVABLY tolerant of small children.

hey Oscar, may your little wise kitty soul rest in peace…


My family sends our condolences. My son Sam says “I loved Oscar. Oscar was the sweetest cat in the world.” They were both sad to hear about this and will miss saying hello to him when they are visiting their grandmother a few houses down on Linn Street


Oscar touched my life for the first time quite recently. I met him on the sidewalk this November in front of the corner house on King and Linn. An avid cat lover, I stopped to pet him for quite a while. He was extremely friendly and had a very loud purr. We both enjoyed the visit immensely. I had no sense that he was frail and wouldn’t have pegged him as being especially old for a cat either. I saw Oscar again a couple days later and had another long petting session with him and got the same enthusiastic purring. I could barely tear myself away from him after 15 minutes of head and face rubbing and back and neck scratching, with him affectionately rubbing against me and telling me he was not nearly through being petted. Eventually I left him rolling happily on the sidewalk, scratching his back, and looking for leaves to attack. I’m one of Zoe’s counselors in Fall Creek’s after school program. Known by all the kids as a fanatical cat lover, I lead kids on trips around the neighborhood to pet cats we know. Our next trip is tomorrow. I will think fondly of Oscar and am grateful I met him. Timothy, I love your photos. Oscar didn’t have a collar the two times I was with him but he was clearly a people cat, and though I didn’t notice his illness, his age or his extra toes, I knew he was not a stray and had people who took good care of him and loved him very much.