Brit (short for Britain) was the happiest cat on the planet. She constantly purred and was unfailingly cheerful. We used to joke that you could cut off her tail with scissors and all you'd hear was "purrrrrrr. . . . YELP! . . . .purrrrrrrrrrr".
Brit died back in 1998 (I think that is the correct year), during Hurricane Floyd. Not that the hurricane had anything to do with her death; she was after all an indoor cat. I guess I haven't really had the heart to update this page and let everyone know. She was quite aged when she died, somewhere around 16 years old, and active right up to the day she went. I was with her when she passed away, and she went well, quite peacefully. I think she waited for me to get home from work so she could say goodbye (or, knowing her, so I could say goodbye). She had a very, very good life, full of purring and playing.
I have said before that I think Brit must have been a holy man or woman in a past life, and that the reward for living a life of such beauty and holiness was to be reborn as a cat. This does accord with Buddhist teaching, which says that great holy persons have the choice to come back as a cat for one lifetime as a reward before they enter Nirvana. Now, I also firmly believe that Brit is a Bodhisattva (a being who chooses to forsake Nirvana so they can be reborn in order to help others achieve enlightenment), whose mission on earth through her lifetimes is to bring joy and teach cheerfulness.
It is said that if you meditate calmly and deeply enough, you will get to a place of pure light and great joy. If you listen carefully, you can hear a deep thrumming. This is the sound the universe makes as it constantly unfolds in love, and is the sound of Brit purring.
She really did just purr all the time. Loudly and constantly. And she said her name a lot too: she didn't really meow much (unless food was involved), but she would say, "Brrrt!" or often, "Brrrt brrrt!" as a greeting, like the sound mother cats use for their kittens. Which I guess means we were all her beloved children.
It is a well-known fact that cats have nine lives. I believe this means that cat reincarnation is a slightly different process for them than it is for us humans. My theory is that when a cat dies, he or she has the choice to split up some of his or her nine lives, being reborn into perhaps several new cats--maybe three into this cat, four in another, et cetera. Which would explain why the new cats who find me always seem a little familiar, though never quite exactly the same. I think that a good chunk of Brit came back in my friend Tracey's cat Boo, who is also a long and lanky tuxedo cat who follows you around purring. My brother saw Boo once and was amazed by how his looks, personality and body language were so much like Brit.
There is of course the competing theory about the cat afterlife, where the very very good cats go (and Brit certainly would be there), a magical realm far in the north called Lapland.
Oh now I'm all sad! I miss Brit!
Here are some haiku I wrote about Brit:
Brit! You have been fed!
Shut up! Your belly is full!
Sleepy morn with Brit
Sat on my chest, meowed in face
Be quiet Fish Breath
Alternate names: Britain the Kitten, Brat the Cat, Fatso (she was the first born of the litter and the largest), also one of the Vischlings, from her mother's nickname, Vicious (so-called because she had very vicious claws, though personality-wise she was very sunny--I think Brit got a good deal of her demeanor from her mother)
Check out some other cat friends of mine:
Drawing of Brit I did once when she sat still for a decent length of time (a rare opportunity, as anyone who's ever tried to draw a cat from life knows). Purple ball-point pen.
Brit! The Happiest Cat Ever!
Brit in a Christmas present I made her one year. They don't call them tuxedo cats fer nothin'!
Brit blithely doing her thing (as you can tell by the mullet haircuts, this was back in the 80's), walking around on shoulders completely confidently and unfazedly. That's my little brother on the left, and his friend Rich on the right.
Beautiful Brit. Look at those whiskers!