We lost our beloved cat Squeaky this week. He was still young and hearty, adventurous and wily. He had a thick, luxurious coat softer than angora and white whiskers that were long and elegant. He was most notable, though, for his loving nature. I’ve never known a cat to be so loyal and tender, so eager to be cuddled and so welcoming of sweet love whispers in his velvety ears.

Squeaky was happiest when I carried him in my arms like a baby. He’d nuzzle his furry face against mine as an outpouring of his affection. At night, he’d flop into bed next to me and stretch out, purring his contentment, eager to have his soft belly rubbed. He followed us faithfully when we walked our dog Scout and escorted us to the bathhouse on dark nights to keep us safe. People always commented on that, how they’d never seen a cat walk his family.

Squeaky spent his early years as a house cat, but I never had the heart to declaw him or his brother. I wanted them always to be able to protect themselves should they find themselves in the great outdoors. During his final two years aboard the Shanti as a boat cat, he spent his time free and roaming the wilds of the Industrial Canal. He was agile and confident leaping from dock to bank, and he enjoyed lying on the Shanti’s cabin top and basking in the sun.

I used to joke that Squeaky was a Buddhist. While his brother Dante brings back prize lizards and mice and birds regularly, Squeaky was content to spend his hours observing the ibis and herons on the shore. He was too gentle and loving to hunt them. He didn’t even care for the handouts of ham or chicken that Dante begs for. He was content with a humble diet of dry cat food and water.

We’ve begun to accumulate a calendar of holidays particular to the Shanti, and this year we add St. Squeakus Day in honor of our dear little sea tiger, protector of sailors and inland waterways. It’s buoyed my spirits to talk about how we can honor him and his gentle spirit of adventure. He serves as a reminder of the importance of living each day to the fullest, of generous love, and of finding joy in the simple pleasures of the world. We were blessed to know him.