This has taken me a long time to write because it’s very difficult for me. Boris and I had a special bond. I was exceedingly proud of him. Dawn will tell you he hero worshipped me.

Boris was a cat. But he was more than just a cat. He was a sensitive soul with subtle sensibilities. That’s something you wouldn’t necessarily know unless and until you got to know him.

Boris lived from March 2009 until February 1, 2024. He was deeply loved by his best friend/brother/littermate Marley and his devoted parents Dawn and Jason.

Some things that Boris loved:

  • Watching shadows move as the sunlight changed
  • Cuddling with Marley
  • Grooming Marley while Marley groomed him
  • Stretching as tall as he could while sinking his claws into his scratching post
  • Standing right on the corner of a table or anything else rectangular: books, rugs, boxes
  • Curling up on a nice warm laptop keyboard or standing directly in front of a heating vent
  • Or, in his risk-taking years, sitting on the spot directly above the pilot light on the stove, or getting as close as he could to a radiator. Once he miscalculated (or fell asleep?) and was left with a small scar on his nose (really just a lighter patch of skin) because of it. He was more careful after that day.
  • “Taking the spot” – anytime anyone would get up from a seat or the bed, he would immediately relocate to the warm spot. He was committed to energy efficiency.
  • Laying on your legs for HOURS and never being the one to initiate getting up. He slept hard when he was on a lap.
  • Sitting in the absolute highest spot he could find (e.g. on top of a plastic stool on top of the refrigerator)
  • Laying in the sun on his blanket in the window seat of our new house
  • Watching potential prey through the window — pigeons, squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies — and tracking them as if he could go get them (and I am sure he’d have been successful had we let him)
  • Winding himself up in sheets and blankets in our bed—he had a way of turning around and around so that he was completely covered, but he always left himself an easy out. It was critical to put your hand on any likely looking lump in the bed before laying down on it. And we always had to make sure Marley didn’t step on him. When he was recovering from surgery, Boris would get under the covers and lay tight alongside Dawn in the bed.
  • He loved jumping into a particular black plastic tote when it was empty. It was the perfect size and shape for him to comfortably sit and look up and out at the world.

He also loved boxes. In fact, Boris was the mayor of Boxtown, a community of 1 located inside our apartment in San Francisco. He was proud of his stewardship and service.

Bo was the first and only Botary Public I am aware of. He would frequently “botarize” things—book covers, important and unimportant papers, shower curtains—by taking a careful bite so that you could see holes made by each of his teeth. Generally, that was Bo’s stamp of disapproval of something in his environment, or maybe just his way of making a mark on the world. (He found a couple other ways to let us know when he was dissatisfied, one of which was “flapping”—he’d grab the edge of a book cover or other piece of cardboard and let it go over and over, making a distinctive and rhythmic flapping sound.)

Boris was usually pretty quiet, but still waters ran deep in his case. He was a very loving, loyal, and devoted friend.

As long as he didn’t forget you. He had this rare but well documented affliction called “non-recognition aggression.” When Marley picked up a scent from outside, such as the many scents you could pick up at a vet’s office, or in a hotel room on a cross-country move, Boris would attack him. Like, for real. We got very good at the routine of keeping them completely separate for days, which was what we had to do to reset Bo’s brain. We’d gotten the interval down to about 3 days the last few years, after which they always came back together. To (all of) our deep relief.

Little did I know when I came into their lives how much I would end up affecting their dynamic. Before I showed up in 2011, Bo would defer to Marley. It didn’t take him long to start asserting his rights to what he wanted after which they started, sometimes, taking turns (or just took advantage of having one parent per cat, which was an ideal ratio). That said, it was a special blessing and occasionally a curse to be “double-catted,” which happened a lot. I’m pretty sure I’ve inflicted musculoskeletal harm on myself by letting Bo lay on my legs overnight and/or as long as he wanted at basically anytime (aside from when I was at my computer). Mostly gentle jealousy was a part of their dynamic and you could bet that when Boris was on one of us, Marley would all of a sudden also want to be there.

Now, two months after Boris’s last night among us as a living cat, things are just not the same. Dawn and Marley and I miss him terribly. He was a rock, he was a foundation, he was a mensch. He was, figuratively and seemingly literally at times, ten feet long, especially when he stretched his whole length along the floor. He loved us, and needed us, with a quiet intensity that made us all feel safe, appreciated, and cared for. He was a good boy and we will love him, and remember him, and celebrate him, forever.