Yeti, a Siamese cat from South Austin who was featured in a series of over one hundred YouTube videos which never managed to catch on with viewers beyond a cultish, highly select audience, crossed over the rainbow bridge on Wednesday, February 25, 2015. He was 18-ish. The cause was in-home humane euthanasia following a diagnosis of advanced kidney disease. “Essentially it means he died of old age,” said Dr. Michael Stone, Yeti’s longtime veterinarian.
Yeti, who was also variously known as Yedward Crookfinder, Yetwurd Spaghett-wurd, Fur Guy, Mr. Man, Gorilla-faced Boy, Crybaby Yeti, the Orb, Yedouard Shevardnadze, Monkey Man, Dr. Humpenstein, Sky’s-the-Limit, and the Bird Killer, was adopted at the ridiculously cute age of six weeks by his human mom in 1998. When she married five years later, Yeti was enthusiastically adopted by his human stepdad, too. But not, like, legally.
His humans spoke with awe about how freaking sweet and cute he was. “I mean, if anything, I should hate him,” said stepfather Rich Malley, the off-screen cat interviewer in the video series that never achieved more than “very highly acquired taste” status. “I had dreams of being a celebrity cat interviewer and he held me back for five years,” Malley said.
“All the same,” Malley immediately continued, before his guest was able to gracefully ease out of the conversation, “I know I’ll never have the same connection to any cat I work with again. Communication like we had is rare in this business, my friend.”
Yeti’s mom related an anecdote to explain the cat’s singular specialness to her. “I was filling out an advanced pet care directive at the vet’s office, so they’d have a record on file in case one of our six animals had an emergency while we were traveling,” she said. “As I went down the list, I found myself checking off low dollar amount ceilings for five of our pets, but when I got to Yeti’s name I ticked, ‘The sky’s the limit.’ That’s where his nickname Sky’s-the-Limit came from.”
Yet there were occasional reminders that Yeti’s paws were made of clay, and not just that one time when he tracked some kind of clay-like mud all over our newly cleaned floors.
He was a shameless and inveterate bird killer, with all-but-defenseless baby birds being his preferred quarry. Unlike some hunting housecats, he never presented the corpses of his kills for his owners’ approbation. Typically, the only evidence remaining from an avicide was an orderly pattern of baby bird feathers in the yard, leaving observers to speculate that he scarfed down virtually everything else.
On the negative side of the ledger, too, was his legendary appetite for chewing on electrical and electronic cords. His teeth were renowned for being able to destroy a cable either by puncturing its insulation or slicing it clean through. This destructive urge presented itself in a clearly recognizable pattern, but was nonetheless difficult to prevent given the profusion of cords in every single goddamn room of the house. “The only way to stop it was to pick him up and hold him in your lap and give him lots of attention until he forgot that he wanted to chew on cords,” Mr. Malley said. “He didn’t care whether you had work to do. It was either lavish him with attention for as long as it took him to get over the cord-biting thing, or constantly replace chewed up earbuds and power adapters.”
Perhaps an equally annoying but much shorter-lived behavior of Yeti’s was his climbing up on the roof—either his own or the next-door-neighbor’s—and screaming pitifully until one of his humans came outside and coaxed him to jump onto and climb down the tree that he had climbed up and jumped off of to get on the roof in the first place, often only minutes before. The full-body throb of his purring upon being held and cuddled after he was gently plucked off a low fork in the tree led some to believe that this was the entire point of the exercise. “Totally,” his human mom said. “He used cuteness as a deadly weapon.”
But without question the most idiosyncratic and deeply disturbing of Yeti’s signature behaviors was his late-stage pelvic humping. Long neutered, and, at 12-years-old, seemingly beyond any vestige of sexual drive, at this advanced age Yeti’s innocent pre-snuggle biscuit kneading was suddenly replaced by a mindless—and endless—lascivious hip thrusting kinda thing, which was accompanied by a facial expression that seemed, well, shall we say, just a little too content. Viewed at first as a naughty but amusing behavioral aberration, as it became an everyday thing his grossed out and annoyed humans soon actively discouraged it by physically separating Yeti from the current focus of his ardor, whether it was a bedspread, the fuzzy red wool blanket, or, in one often recalled embarrassing incident, a party guest’s heirloom fur coat.
Still, his endless good nature and limitless capacity to give and receive affection more than outweighed his annoying habits. Recognizing his one-in-a-million specialness early on, his humans learned to cherish each and every day they spent with him, knowing their time with him would someday have to end. They were gratified that they were able to ease him from this life after he received his fatal prognosis, but before he knew a single second of suffering.
He lived. He loved. He had fur on his face. There will never be another one like him.
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