Rest in Peace, Fred

By Karen

I’m saddened and personally devastated to report that Fred the cat died at Swift Creek Animal Hospital today at about 10:35 a.m.

Fred’s kidneys had been deteriorating so gradually over the past 3 years that no one detected it, including Fred. He gave the first indication that something was wrong about 3 weeks ago when he lost his appetite. Blood and urine tests revealed chronic renal failure (CRF), an irreversible, terminal condition.

CRF in cats has been described as feeling a bad hangover that never completely goes away and only gets worse.

I treated Fred at home with subcutaneous fluid injections and pills to stimulate his appetite, but he hated all the fuss and our struggles bought him only a few more good days that soon dwindled to a few good hours.

The day of the Preakness was one of his last good ones and he enjoyed the race, even though his horse lost. He really wanted to stick around for the Belmont to see if Mine That Bird could triumph again, but this morning he woke me up before dawn and told me in no uncertain terms, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

At the end, Fred drew his last breath peacefully with his head and paws in my hands.

Fred would hate me saying this, but he had single-minded, almost-canine devotion to me for the nearly 16 years we spent together. He was Yul’s tireless sparring partner and Adele’s cuddle buddy. His passing leaves a huge hole in all our hearts.

Here’s one of my favorite candid photos of Fred, snapped during the 2006 photo shoot for my book jacket. It was Fred’s unfailing daily presence in my office that inspired me to write How to Work Like a CAT.

Fred enjoying his 15 minutes of fame

Fred enjoying his 15 minutes of fame

My dearest Freddie, please rest in peace. Your bold, courageous, loving little spirit will always be with me. I’ll never forget you.

20 Responses to Rest in Peace, Fred

  1. Bob says:

    I also know that kind of Devotion in Feline Friend.

    I think I speak for all of us here in wishing Fred happy hunting in the great beyond, May the mice be plentiful, the sunbeams warm, and the catnip lush.

    Rest in Peace

  2. Adele says:

    We’ll all miss Fred’s cantankerous wisdom, and watching the Belmont won’t be quite the same — although I’m sure wherever Fred is, he’ll be watching, maybe with Barbaro and Eight Belles. It sounds like he put up a valiant fight to stay around for you, and he was ready for it to end

    Those of us who’ve had multiple cats, know that even though we love them all, some have a special connection to us. Who can explain it? The picture of the two of you is just sweet (and I don’t say sweet, very often).

    Fred was very lucky when he wandered off the baseball field and into your life. Not only was he loved and indulged, but he achieved a modicum of fame. Not many housecats can say that. RIP.

  3. catsworking says:

    Bob and Adele, thanks for your kind words about Fred. They really mean a lot to me.

    I keep thinking that Fred escaped becoming young roadkill when our paths crossed. My only clue to his his past life as a stray was a big gash across his nose. It healed, but over the years Yul would give him others. Fred never walked away from a good fight.

    And for all I know, Fred may have descendants somewhere nearby right now. He wasn’t neutered when we met.

    I know I did the right thing and Fred is in a better place, feeling like a kitten again, but life for me right now is hell and I feel about 85. Everything I do reminds me of his absence because my routine was his routine. I’m still crying a lot and glad I don’t have a regular 9-to-5 job because I’d be utterly worthless right now.

  4. Nancy (not THAT Nancy) says:

    Oh, Karen, I am so sad for you. This is just heartbreaking.

    Rest in peace, little furry angel boy. You had a wonderful life with a loving stepmom.

  5. Mauigirl says:

    So very sad to hear about Fred. My deepest sympathies to you and to the rest of the cats. Fred will be greatly missed.

  6. catsworking says:

    Thank you Mauigirl and Nancy. I’m still having moments of crying my eyes out. I didn’t realize how much Fred filled the house with his big spirit. Things are very quiet now.

  7. CSinclaire says:

    Karen, I just wanted to add my public sentiments to all the private ones I’ve already shared with you. Even this far away, I am sad to know that Fred is no longer in this world. But I can only imagine the fun he’s having in his new kitty-heaven home. My kindred-spirit thoughts are with you. Gracie, Belle, Holly and Ivy send their love, too. 🙂 – Charlotte

  8. catsworking says:

    Thanks, Charlotte. Every day it’s getting a little easier to bear, but Fred was such a creature of habit, there are many times throughout the day when his presence is sorely missed. He was my alarm clock, the inspector to make sure I brushed my teeth every morning, the paperweight for my newspaper, my co-worker, and my TV buddy who never tried to hog the remote.

    I even miss his poop in the litterbox. How pathetic is that?

  9. Linda says:

    Ciao Karen,
    I’m truly sorry for your funny Fred. Every cat is special, an I think it was very cuddly.
    Forgive probable errors
    Saluti dall’Italia

  10. catsworking says:

    Thank you, Linda. It is amazing to me that Fred’s death has touched someone in Italy. He would feel so honored that he was able to reach you. He was a little cat with a big heart.

  11. MorganLF says:


    What can I say that hasn’t been said. We will all miss his macho sometimes cranky voice. He had a good life and somewhere a battle scarred young tomcat is channeling Fred’s essence…who knows you may cross paths again karma works in mysterious ways.

  12. catsworking says:

    Thanks, Morgan. You have read my mind. Fred and I were closer than I’ve ever been with another cat in 40 years of living with them. Somehow I feel that he will find his way back to me. Who knows? I think June is Adopt a Cat Month!

  13. Cousin Noel was only recently told about the passing of Fred and she, of course, was devastated as was his auntie Keri…

    I can’t even think of life without Noel although I know one day (and sooner than later) I’m going to have to. It’s great to see that Fred and Karen have so many friends here though… maybe that helps a little.

    If you adopt a cat in June, Fred’s “grandparents” will have a fit. You know that right? : )

  14. shouldn't says:

    i never post but my heart goes out to you. in my world, cats are better than humans. know you were blessed with a very special relationship, know that we all have or will take fred’s path eventually, know that you gave him a good time while on this earth, know that he did not die alone & unloved & unappreciated, know endings are as necessary as beginnings and middles are. and trust that now-painful memories will become slightly less (& less) painful –and very precious. the things that hurt now will eventually cause you to smile when you remember them. until then, crying is entirely appropriate.

  15. shouldn't says:

    and remember there are many many cats out there, waiting for you to find the one. not to replace Fred, but to honor his memory.

  16. catsworking says:

    Shouldn’t, thank you so much for writing. What you said about Fred is so true. I know that as time goes on, I will remember how much he meant to me without so much pain. Adele and Yul are trying to take his place in certain ways (like sleeping on the bed with me more often), but there will never be another Fred.

    I feel that I should give another cat a good home as a way to honor Fred’s memory. He would have wanted that. Right now I am undecided if it should be a kitten or a grown cat. I’m leaning toward grown. And I definitely want it to be male because Adele has always been the only female surrounded by boys, even her littermates. I think she’d prefer a new brother.

  17. Adele says:

    Boy, what a quandry about adopting another cat; Adele would probably prefer another guy, but what about Yul? He might do better with a female — although Alice wants me to add, not some hussy, who will steal his heart. I do think the idea of a somewhat older cat is a good one. Neither Yul nor Adele are youngsters, and a kitten might just drive them crazy.

  18. catsworking says:

    When I got Yul, I had Fred and Rex and an elderly all-black lady cat named Cleo who didn’t mingle much. Rex was her favorite because she practically raised him from kittenhood.

    When Cleo passed, it was just the 3 guys for a while, so I got Adele to break up the boys’ club. She was used to it, being the only female in her litter.

    I think Yul will be happy to have another guy around. And I’m sure Adele will be happy to remain the reigning queen.

    Yesterday I decided that moping about Fred wasn’t doing either of us any good, and every day I did, it meant some cat wasn’t in a good home. So paperwork was done at the Richmond Animal League, I’m waiting to have my references checked, and I hope to have an announcement this week about a new addition to Cats Working.

    I’ve got a cat carrier in the trunk of my car. Stay tuned…

  19. Lil says:

    I know this is a late comment (I’ve been away from your blog and am catching up on old posts) but I wanted to offer my heartfelt sympathies on the passing of Fred. I applaud you for trying the subcutaneous fluids– many people won’t bother (according to the tech at my vet). And I know from experience it can be difficult even with a cat who well tolerates getting the fluids. It sounds like your Fred won the cat lotto when he found you; you gave him many wonderful years he would not otherwise have had.

  20. catsworking says:

    Lil, thank you so much. It’s been over 6 weeks and I still can’t think of Fred without crying and having the song “There Will Never Be Another You” loop in my head. I miss him so much.

    I had done the subcutaneous fluid thing twice before. It only lasted one weekend with Fred’s original nemesis, Ginger, before I gave up because it was my first time and she fought like crazy. But then I had a very good experience with my cat Rex, who lived quite happily another 18 months on fluid.

    I fervently hoped Fred would do as well, but he wasn’t big into compromise, especially with his quality of life. Letting him go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

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