Memorial to Aslan

December, 1987 - December 24, 2004

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As I am composing this html file, today is December 24th, 2005 (Christmas Eve Day). One year ago today, my female cat "Aslan" passed away at the age of 17, the equivalent of about 80 human years. She died at home; I do not believe she suffered at the end of her life. Even up to her last day or two she was still jumping up on furniture, meowing at mealtime, and still purring when sleeping on my lap or on my bed at night.

This page is a tribute to Aslan and a memorial of her life.

How Aslan came into my life

In 1987, I moved from Minnesota to New Jersey for a job. About six months after I arrived in New Jersey, I decided to adopt a cat, the first cat I would ever adopt while living by myself. Since I'm generally in favor of adopting cats in need rather than breeding, I called the local animal shelter to see what kitties might need a home. They had a young, recently-spayed calico who was very cute, and I think a perfect fit for me.

At the time we met at the animal shelter around April of 1988, I remember that this cat was somewhere between 3 and 6 months old, old enough to have just been neutered. I named her "Aslan" after the great cat from Lewis's The Narnia Chronicles even though the Aslan character in that book generally assumes male characteristics.

Aslan was my only pet from 1988 until the summer of 1994. During that time, we lived together for about six months in my first New Jersey apartment in Plainsboro, then for the next six years or so in my second New Jersey apartment in West Windsor.

Aslan loved to sit in a window or by a sliding glass door and look to see what was happening outside. Early in her life, I used to tether her collar on a long leash to a stake in the ground and would let her sit outside. But I learned pretty quickly that wasn't a good idea when she got fleas. Once we got rid of the fleas, she became an indoor-only cat, though she always seemed to want to get outdoors and continued to love looking outside to see what was happening. (Aslan's story continues below after some pictures).

Aslan's favorite things

From early in her life, Aslan loved boxes. She would love to hop inside any size box, then scratch her nails on the box edges or play with me and a piece of string. Her favorite kinds of boxes were the ones with really low sides, like the kind you get when you buy a case of water in plastic bottles. At times, especially in the summer, she seemed to prefer sleeping in a low-cut box like that instead of sleeping on a blanket or something soft! Sometimes she would find a sort of "favorite" box which over time would really deteriorate with her claw-sharpening on the edges.

Another of Aslan's favorite things was to always seek out a place of warmth. It was common to see her sitting on top of a warm piece of electronic equipment such as a UPS, and she also really enjoyed relaxing by just sitting or laying under a warm incandescent lamp or in the sun.

Aslan and LittleOne

In May of 1994 I bought a townhouse in Plainsboro, New Jersey. Later that summer, I adopted another kitty (once again through the local animal shelter) to keep Aslan company while I was away at work during the day or on a trip. This time, the kitty was only two weeks old when he came to live with me and Aslan, and I named him "LittleOne".

Aslan and LittleOne got along, but just barely. They'd occasionally do some pretty serious chasing each other around the house, fighting, caterwauling and hissing. But in the end their relationship was more one of tolerance. Aslan clearly played the role of dominant kitty even though she was smaller and female. And even when the two cats slept near to each other, Aslan would keep her suspicious wits about her with an open eye and cocked ear.

One interesting thing I noticed is that each of my two cats over time would learn some behavior from the other. For example, LittleOne has such a laid-back attitude about things that when he's laying down but upright, he'll often kick one of his front paws out in front of the other, in a sort of casual stance like we humans do when we kick out and cross our legs. After noticing this trait in LittleOne, I later saw to my amazement that Aslan had also started showing that same characteristic! She would also occasionally stick one of her front paws out in front of her when she was laying down upright, as these photos demonstrate. This is a move that she did not exhibit prior to LittleOne joining our household!

In November of 2004 I moved our household from New Jersey to Wyoming. In order to effectively move my two cats for a three-day drive, I purchased a small travel trailer. While I was driving, my cats would each be in their own crate with me in my SUV, then at night time we'd all transfer to the trailer to sleep.

Aslan died about 6 weeks after we moved to Wyoming. She had a good, long, comfortable life, and while she was born a "Jersey chick", she got to go on an adventure, moving to a new state near the end of her days. The last picture I ever took of her was on 12/22/2004, two days before her death. I took this last picture with my cell phone. For about a month or so after her death, LittleOne would frequently look around and sniff around to see where Aslan was, but I think he eventually accepted her absence, and gladly stepped into his new role as "top cat".

Aslan, you were a good kitty! You were a fine pet, companion and friend and I loved you and miss you terribly. I hope we might be together again someday, but regardless you will always remain with me in my thoughts and my heart. Thank you for being with me, and may you always find a warm lamp to sit under!

"Aslan" Lemke
December, 1987 - December 24, 2004