Java J. Jasper, 1996(?)–2014. He was the tallest, longest, hardest-working, kindest, most elegant, absolute bestest cat.
In his youth he was an escape artist--I believe he's gotten out of every home we've ever lived in, most notably by unlatching a window screen, going down the fire escape, and jumping onto an air conditioner four stories off the ground--and an athlete who once broke his jaw by misjudging a leap from the top of a bookcase. He aged gracefully into a dignified gentleman, tolerating years of medication for pancreatitis while acting as though he'd never been sick a day in his life. He took his responsibilities extremely seriously: kneading his favorite fuzzy red blankets like he had a biscuit quota, watching vigilantly to make sure we didn't drown in the shower, and cuddling anyone who was sad or unwell. He was strongwilled and could be demanding and insistent, especially if a person was eating chicken or steak and he felt he deserved a taste; there was never any question that he was Top Cat, and he was quite comfortable bossing around people as well as other kitties. But he was a gentle giant, never a fighter, and when we picked him up or dragged him into our laps he patiently put up with our shenanigans (though afterwards he would wash vigorously to recover his dignity). He had a purr like a motorboat and shared it more generously than any cat I've ever known. He was happiest curled up in a cardboard box, sprawled on a windowsill or in a sunbeam, stretched out on Josh's chest, hanging out on a bed with a person nearby, or licking Sam's head. (When we knew his life was nearing its end, both Josh and X independently brought Sam over to him so he could groom her one last time.)
Java was a tolerant step-cat to me and X. He was a bemused but affectionate foster parent to Sam, and he carefully and patiently taught her how to cat. When we disturbed his old age by bringing home Sophie and Alex, he graciously made room for them, brooking no disruption of his routine while magnificently ignoring their social errors. He was friendly and respectful to our human guests. Most of all he was Josh's cat, and Josh was his person, for 17 good long happy years.
He will be greatly greatly missed.
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Comments are off because I can't handle it right now, but your well-wishes are much appreciated.