I got Brisco and his late brother, Bowler, in September 2006, when I was fresh out of college and excited to finally be an “adult” with responsibilities, like having my own pets. I’d lived with cats my whole life, but having my own gave that connection a whole new meaning. Brisco and Bowler had been rescued from a hoarding situation in the East Village. Brisco stood out from the crowd because his head was, and still is, permanently tilted to the left side, like he’s inquisitive, due to what the vet thinks was early-life inner ear nerve damage from bad ear mites the whole litter had. Ever since he was a kitten, he’s had a lot of personality.Since Brisco got over his kitten years, at around age two, he has behaved like an old man. He has this grumpy, gravelly meow that sounds like what most cats sound like when they’re distressed, but that’s just him being chatty. Now that he’s almost 12, he has really come into himself. He now has the age and myriad health issues to justify his grumpy-old-man persona. He’s one of those pets who I wouldn’t say is necessarily objectively cute or sweet, but his other charms have earned him lots of fans among my friends and family.Brisco has been my constant companion since he was young. We’re one of those human-pet duos that kind of look alike, with our similar coloring and outspokenness. But we’ve gotten even closer since his brother passed away in 2016. Shortly after that, Brisco was diagnosed with diabetes, which means I now spend more time with him, making sure he gets the care he needs. He was also recently diagnosed with kidney disease, which means he’s getting even more attention than before, which he pretends not to like but actually does, I’m sure.
One of the ways Brisco really establishes himself as an integral part of my daily life is by greeting me whenever I get home. As soon as I come down the building hallway after a long day of work, I hear his old-man meow on the other side of the door to my apartment, already howling for his dinner. But once I open the door, he flops down on the rug and demands belly rubs before I can get through the doorway to feed him. Then he gets his dinner. Recently, however, he has been in the habit of coming out of the kitchen partway through his meal and meowing to find me in the rest of the apartment, just to make sure I’m still home for the night. He’s such a big part of what it means to me to come home.About a month after this photo shoot Brisco passed away. His diabetes took a turn for the worse and he was no longer responsive to insulin. It has been really hard to adjust to life without him since he was a constant companion for so long, making my apartment never feel lonely no matter what I was going through (new jobs, new cities, a divorce). He went through a lot of life transitions with me and now I’m transitioning to life without him. I’m taking some time to honor his memory, but I eventually plan to get another cat or two so my apartment won’t feel so lonely forever.
Kate Bahn is an Economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and executive vice president and secretary for the International Association for Feminist Economics