I am sorry to tell you all that our beloved cat Zazou has passed to the other side.
It has taken me a long time to get this blog post together, because my grief is still so strong. We lost Zazou in November due to what seems to have been a poisoning- a freak accident, since none of our neighbors use rat poisons. Zazou was the most incredible hunter, bringing home (and eating) up to three things a day in the height of the summer- he could catch anything, and he was so proud of himself!- so we figure he must have caught a rodent that had recently eaten poison and then traveled to his hunting grounds.
The vet said that an analysis would not necessarily give a definitive result, so we decided not to put ourselves through that. Instead, we talked to an amazing pet psychic, who was able to describe his passing to us through his eyes, and, most importantly, reassure us that he arrived on the other side with not one ounce of "baggage". Of course he didn't- he was a cat who lived utterly in the moment, bearing no grudges, just wanting to have fun and make everyone laugh! As the psychic said, "he feels like his life was shorter than he expected it to be, but he looks back and he thinks that he had the most perfect life in every single way." When I hear that, I am so glad that I let Zazou roam free and truly be a cat for his days here on earth. Apparently, when he got to the Other Side, he immediately looked around, got curious, and raced off to explore. He was welcomed with open arms by the spiritual beings waiting there, and he is now busy doing work of a Heavenly Nature. (catching spirit mice?)
Naturally I wanted to create this tribute to Zazou, so beloved by everyone who knew him. Enjoy!
A very young Zazou, and me (on Halloween). When we first brought Zazou and his brother Mouch into our family, I was obsessed with the Russian Cat Circus, and had ambitions to teach my cats tricks. I discovered that Zazou could walk on his hind legs, balancing perfectly, if I dangled a treat over his head. Eventually I felt so bad for his brother Mouch, who couldn't seem to get off the ground for more than one pathetic hop, that I dropped the Cat Training.
Our joke was that Zazou was a media star- it started when his meow inadvertently appeared on the radio in a song that I had recorded at home. He had walked into the room during the one quiet part and said one of his eerily human-sounding "hewoh!"s. I was driving home at night and heard the song played by a local DJ- with the meow cutting through clear as day! Shortly thereafter, I was looking at a promo photo that I'd done for my band, where I was standing in a field by my house playing guitar. It was blown up in the newspaper, and I realized that Zazou was crouched in the grass behind me! He'd done it again.
The above photo is the first time that I remember Zazou getting into an Astral Boutique photo shoot. I realized that he was just going to hang out on that log while I did my thing- and he didn't seem at all bothered if I included him! In fact, he seemed to like it. This was the beginning of a great fashion career for Zazou.
Soon he started to actively get into the shots when I set the camera up.
Trying to sell a Hollie Hobbie wall plaque. Hopeless.
I got a new camera very shortly before Zazou passed, and he took to it immediately. It was like he knew I had just bumped up the quality of my photos, and he was excited to be involved. He is totally hamming it up- even, dare I say it, posing- in this series of photos:
We were seriously talking about his YouTube career in the last few months of his life... Zazou was behind it 100%. I will always be sad that we never got the chance to capture his Moves on video!
Zazou's personality and media-savvy ways made him a star around the world. One of his biggest fans was a customer (and later real-life friend) from England, Joanne, who fell head over heels for him, and actually came to visit him (and me, I think!) when she was on a trip to California.
He loved her back, right away.
I feel so lucky to have so many shots of Zazou in action. I tell you, it pays to be a ham in life- otherwise what kind of slideshow is there going to be at your funeral? But the best time to take a photo of a cat, of course, is when they are sleeping. They are perfectly still, they don't run away, and of course they are so darn presh.
With his brother Mouch, on the side porch in the summer- matching cats!
Brotherly, face-squishing love.
Two black-haired boys, napping on a summer afternoon.
We called this Ladybug pillow Zazou's "girrrrrlfriend", cause he was so in love with her.
The contortionist at work...
Zazou loved his daddy more than anything in the whole world. They bonded the moment I brought him home. Zazou loved sleeping on Chris so much, that he would hop up on his lap even when he sat down for one second to tie his shoe! Chris claims that one of his Superpowers is The Ability To Calm Jittery Forest Creatures, and he had an incredibly soporific effect on Zazou. He also never, ever wanted to move a sleeping cat, so he would sit or lie utterly still for hours at a time while Zazou snored on him. It goes without saying that losing Zazou broke Chris' heart.
Chris' sketches of Zazou:
For some reason, when we first brought Zazou home, we were going to call him "Gypsy Davey". We quickly realized that that name had nothing to do with this wacky, squirrely, spazzy live wire of a cat, and so he became Zazou. We had a nickname for each of Zazou's many moods: Wiggles, Piggles, Pigbatz, The PIgz, Nut Cat, Zou Zou, Zigs, Ziggy, Zaz, Zazzers, Zazbert, Zoofs, Zazzy Pants, Little Brittle, and Caprice for when he was totally nuts and would run sideways and climb up two-story trees.
An example of "Caprice" face:
Zazou's brother misses him a lot. They would stalk each other and fight, like brothers (human and feline) do, but they went on the Prowl together and took care of each other when we were out of town. Luckily, we were able to get some helpful techniques and some flower essences from the pet psychic to help us all deal with our grief.
Grief is a hard thing. I still find myself wishing, like a child, that Zazou would come back. He kept us all laughing, and it is really hard to say goodbye to someone so innocent... someone who was such a little clown.
I remember a moment about a week before he died, when I was trying to "get something done" outside and my path was blocked by Zazou, who had flopped down in the gravel driveway in front of my feet and was rolling in the dirt, totally filthy, looking up at me as if to say "isn't it great?" Maybe it was a premonition, I don't know, but I realized that it was one of those "ordinary" moments in life that actually make up all of your best memories. I stopped my rushing, got down on my knees, petted him (dirt and all), and told him how very much I loved and appreciated him.
The only good thing that I can see from experiencing such a loss is that it makes me more aware of how precious and fleeting everything in life actually is. It's easy to say that, but you don't really feel it until someone dear to you is gone. My hope is that I can live my life from now on as a tribute to Zazou- I don't want to be afraid to make jokes (especially physical comedy), to live in the moment, to refuse to hold grudges or to take things too seriously. I am not an advanced life form like a cat, so I might not get there in this lifetime. But maybe if I'm lucky, I will come back as a very clever, very sweet little black cat next time around.
Rest in Peace, Zaz.