Tribute To A Gorgeous Foulmouth: RIP Shipley (2001-2017) - Tom Cox

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Monday, 20 February 2017

Tribute To A Gorgeous Foulmouth: RIP Shipley (2001-2017)


I have had a tough year and a quarter as far as cats are concerned. Cats get old, cats get ill, cats are vulnerable to the dangers of their natural UK outdoor environment and the actions of irresponsible humans. As someone who has been living with four cats in recent times, I am far from unique in being exposed to the heartache that goes with this. But over the last fifteen months I have at times wondered if my cats have been passing an invisible sickness baton to one another, as if competing in an ill health relay. In early December, 2015, my cat Roscoe was attacked by a dog. After a long and agonising wait and two costly lifesaving operations, she was signed off by the vet, at which point my cat Shipley got cat flu and was put on dialysis, having been additionally diagnosed with kidney failure. With the help of the fluids and a course of medication, Shipley was looking amazingly strong and fit again by the summer, not long after which my very elderly cat The Bear began the decline that ended in his death, in mid-December. Almost as soon as The Bear died, Shipley began to look very thin and poorly again and went off his food, contracting another cold at the beginning of this month. 

On Saturday afternoon, I returned home from a walk in Dorset to find Shipley looking unsettled and agitated, at times seemingly unable to support his back end. Always a potty mouth, he managed to greet me in spite of his obvious discomfort  with a customary meow-shout, which sounded to my mind very much like “All right, fanny legs?” I fed him, gave him two of the five pills the vet had advised that he should take every day, treated him to a cuddle in his favourite position, on his back, on my lap. He purred, and air padded in a vague way but seemed a little limp. Half an hour later he vomited and started to act more unusually, walking in constant circles, unable to settle. While I was on the phone to the vet’s emergency line, he collapsed on his right hand side on the carpet in front of me, his eyes glazing over. I placed him gently in a cat carrier on a blanket and rushed him to the surgery, fearing he might no longer be alive by the time he arrived there. The nurse attached a catheter to him and got him settled in a kennel and we waited for the vet to arrive, which took just over twenty minutes, although at this point I had lost almost all sense of time as a concept. The vet told me that Shipley was still alive, but his heart rate was very fast, his temperature was very low and he was unable to get up. 

There were two options, the vet said: treat Shipley’s condition very aggressively with fluids and medication and hope it might help, or put him to sleep. The vet asked me about Shipley’s behaviour before his collapse and, with the extra evidence of my answers, said it was likely he had suffered an embolism. I asked the vet several questions about the likelihood of Shipley having a good and comfortable life, if they were able to lift him out of his current pain. Upon hearing the answers, I made the choice to have him put to sleep. He was brought into the examining room so I could say my last goodbye to him. I kissed him on the head several times and told him how much I loved him. He looked directly at me with apparent recognition and seemed far more aware of his surroundings than he had half an hour earlier, which made what was happening worse and better: worse because I suddenly questioned, again, whether I was doing the right thing, and better because I wanted him to be conscious enough to be aware of just how much he meant to me. I wanted what he saw at the very end to be someone who’d adored him every day since he first saw him leaping boisterously over a garden pond in Essex in autumn 2001. He died at pretty much the exact moment that dusk turned to dark. As I left the surgery, I burst into proper tears - full, uncontrollable tears - for the first time in years. 

A vet in the situation that my vet was in with Shipley knows that to end the pet’s life is the right course of action, but cannot emphatically advise that, when he or she is with a person who desperately does not want to lose their pet. The delicately balanced sensitivity required in these situations is a great vet skill, along with all the other great vet skills, such as perceptive diagnosis, kindness, calmness, emotional stamina. This shows that a vet’s job is immeasurably harder than mine, but I’m not feeling especially wonderful right now about the part of my job description which necessitates writing about the death of my cat. I’ve written four books centred around my cats - though not always just about them - and that means I have given myself the additional job of letting people who’ve read the books know when one of those cats have died. It is only fair. And that is why this piece of writing is here: it is for the people who knew Shipley through the books, or in real life, and most of all it is for Shipley himself. I owe it to him. I owe it to him additionally because Shipley got a raw deal, a lot of the time - not in real life, where he was spoiled rotten, and not in my books, where he got plenty of air time, but certainly on the Internet, where this piece of writing is appearing, and where it will be read by some people who knew him solely through the Internet.


Online, Shipley had the ignominious status of being My Other Black Cat. “The Bear looks odd in this photo,” people would often comment when I posted a photo of him, or “Ooh, hello Bear” and even though he looked nothing like The Bear and what I witnessing was tantamount to cat racism I would resist the urge to put them right because… well, let’s face it, there are not enough hours in the day, and how would it help humanity as a whole if I had gone ahead and done so? Because he was not as well-known as The Bear, he often fell into the shadows  - which is something he never did in real life. More recently, he was also known on Twitter as @MYSWEARYCAT, which, while perhaps painting him in an unrealistically bad-natured light, was at least verbally accurate: he had a monumentally foul mouth on him, which, as foul mouths so often do, doubled as a form of affection. People who’ve read my books knew Shipley just as well as they knew The Bear, and will know that I loved him not a fraction less. I have been made aware that he’s the favourite of many readers. But online I am aware that there is a perception that he is somehow “lesser”. Of course, that’s just something the Internet excels at which is not the fault of any individual: placing a higher value on the lives of famous figures than on less famous figures, purely by dint of their fame. But I would at least like to take the opportunity here to put that perception right.

I had long anticipated that Shipley’s death would hit me harder than The Bear’s, and I was correct. I have loved all the cats I’ve lived with in varying powerful ways, and this isn’t a competition, or something that can be measured mathematically. But the line separating Shipley in the period immediately before his death from Shipley not being here any more is much thicker than the line that separated The Bear in the period immediately before his death from The Bear not being here any more. The Bear was never very catlike, a little furry island of Almost Cat who did his own thing, and in his final months that island had drifted further out to sea. Shipley, though clearly in pain, was still shouty, demanding, boisterous, right up to the very end. He was a cat who seemed to need me much more than The Bear did. Much like his brother Ralph, Shipley would be always seeking you out in the house, wanting to know what you were doing and whether he could join in. The space he occupied was huge and I'm going to notice that space for a long time. We were also quite similar in several ways: we both liked jumping around a lot and shared a penchant for creative profanity that was not solely, or even mostly, associated with anger. I also relate to Shipley’s problems with the distortion the Internet can create. When I look at the Internet right now, I see two different versions of myself fed back to me: me as I am, from people who know me personally or read my writing, and this other version of me that I don’t recognise, which consists of fragments of a pigeonholed version of me combined with some blanks that have been hastily filled in. As I write more, and feel like I’m getting more down to the marrow of what I’ve always wanted to do as an writer, it leads to a feeling of being simultaneously more ferociously “got” and more ferociously “ungot” than ever before. That’s probably very normal for anyone making art and striving for truth over watered down people pleasing, but the Internet exacerbates it. A chasm opens up between the person I am and the person someone who’s seen a few of my tweets and that I’ve written four books about cats (not four other books, and one more almost complete one, on other subjects, because none of those exist in this alternative online dimension) wants to tell me I am. I’m sure I’m not even close to being the most irritated or extreme victim of this and I totally understand where it comes from; it’s a collective technological phenomenon, happening to all sorts of people, on all sorts of levels, and it is not something you can rage against or change. But it does make me feel quite tired, and I have decided to find ways to do less to perpetuate it.


The way I have perpetuated it in the past is by tweeting - not loads, compared to some, but a fair bit. I think of a combination of words which sometimes people relate to or/and laugh at and retweet, and the combinations of words end up in the timelines of other people, who either also relate to and laugh at them, or are indifferent to them or get annoyed by them, sometimes in ways they choose to express, either passively or otherwise. If I am honest I have also tweeted a few more thoughts about cats because I would like cat lovers to read my books, what with the fact that the books centre around cats. The problem is that while this draws a few people to the books and an ultimate understanding of what they actually are, it draws more people, watching from a distance, into a swiftly formed perception that they are a very different kind of cat books, and that I’m a different kind of cat lover to the one I am. 

I’m old enough to know who I am and to realise that trying to be liked and understood by everyone is a loser’s game but, at the same time I’m not especially up for seeing this character that has no resemblance to me being fed back to me on a constant basis. For a start, I’m not as young as I once was and sighing can be time consuming, as can mustering the restraint not to illuminate to someone exactly why they're being a snap-judgemental dickhead. Since Shipley died I’ve only logged in once and that’s been enough to see two tweets and three messages in my inbox, all of which have been composed on the basis of a sweeping assumption on what my books - and by extension I - might be about. In addition I spotted another tweet complaining I’d been “a bit gloomy” recently: a reference to a photo of a broken footpath sign in Dorset containing several intriguingly ominous place names, which I'd posted in the belief that it was pretty much the opposite of gloomy. But, on reflection, I reconsidered: tweeting a photo of a broken footpath sign in Dorset containing several intriguingly ominous place names was pretty thoughtless of me. Could I have not considered the people who follow me purely for a stream of upbeat fragments of life, and who might not enjoy broken footpath signs containing ominous place names? Quite a lot of other people on Twitter weren’t being gloomy. Maybe they also had in solitude gone through the death of two beloved pets in the space of two months. And maybe they were putting it aside to provide the finely honed stream of content that their followership deserved. Had I not thought of that?


I saw these messages while freshly grieving a dead pet - a pet who, in his chattiness, was about as close to a human pal as any I’ve ever known - so I have to take that into account. And the messages were nothing, really: tip of the iceberg compared to some of the vicious and cranky shit I’ve been sent in the past. I’m not taking it personally and - in a classic example of the time-consuming pre-empting that social media prompts you to do, and that I want to do less of - I have already mentally pre-written the responses to this obituary from people who haven’t understood it which say “Don’t take it personally, Tom.” It’s not about me personally; it’s about another me that people have invented in a rushed way. He hasn’t even got a face. Neither am I going to be too reactionary: I’m not going to delete my Twitter account, I’m not going to go for a total social media shutdown, and I’m not going to stop posting photos of cats, because I love cats, and that is a part of who I am, along with the many other things I love. I realise this is a bit of rough that goes with some smooth. But I have had this thought a few times: “What if something more awful had happened to me, and what if the messages had been more offensive?” 

Yesterday I walked on Dartmoor with a good friend - this being in my real life, where I have plenty of friends to walk with, rather than the life of the person strangers sometimes tell me I am, whose only friends are cats and sheep. The friend had just experienced a much bigger, more shocking and traumatic loss than me. We talked about kindness: the way that it’s the only choice. Life throws too much at people for it not to be. What happens - and you can guarantee this is happening, regularly - when there’s a confluence of someone experiencing a huge and tragic life event and seeing a stranger saying something hideous to them on social media? How do people deal with that? What if I have to deal with it in the future? You don’t necessarily open yourself up to this kind of awfulness just by being on Twitter, and even in these troubled times the site contains as much love as it does hate, but the more frequently you broadcast on it, the more chance you do have of opening yourself up to the awfulness. For a long time now I have been losing faith in it as a form of communication, feeling more and more faith in books, where sentences are cushioned and contextualised by lots of other sentences. And in a weird unexpected sort of way Shipley’s death has confirmed this to me and prompted me to act a bit more on my faith, be a bit more disciplined about keeping my words where they will be less frequently jumped upon and misinterpreted. I’m grateful to him for that, but not half as grateful as I am for the years of affection and hilarity he gave me, with his innovative cussing tongue, his desperate need to be turned upside down on every possible occasion, the song he used to sing when he smelt raw chicken, his ease with being put to use regularly as a scarf, the way he used to race down the slope of my old garden clapping the back of legs with his paws in pure excitement that I’d come away from my work and joined him in the place where life truly happened - the outdoors, the place he only became reluctant to visit when he was critically, irreversibly ill.


I have accepted that it was Shipley’s time, even though a few factors made it seem that it was not: the great vintage of The Bear which made Shipley - an old cat, by any normal standards - seem younger than he was, the way that mouth of his never reduced its voluminous fuckstream of friendly abuse, even when he was ailing. I live in a rented house and have been pretty good at keeping it intact, with my deposit in mind, but one region of the interior that has taken an indelible hammering is the corner of the carpet outside my bedroom door. This was courtesy of Shipley. The hole in the carpet survives him as a reminder of the sheer, claw-happy gobshite force of his will. Each time I see it I will remember that there was no choice with Shipley: you could do what he said or wish you had done. If he wanted to come and march on top of your head and purr in your face when you were asleep, you could put all kinds of barricades in his path, but he’d get his way in the end. “Eat my furry fucktrousers!” he would shout at the door in cat language. Then, when I placed heavy books and laundry baskets against it: “Lick my bellstick!” If I hadn’t let him in, I honestly think he would have ended up tunneling right beneath the threshold, given enough time. 

Shipley's attitude to death was not dissimilar. Last February, the vet said he thought it very unlikely Shipley would make it through to spring. I knew Shipley was tougher than that. “Shit on my tits, death!” said Shipley, powering through spring and and gaining strength throughout the summer. Even a week ago, as his kidneys became more and more chronically weak, you could hear him in the night, saying “Bastard kidneys shitpot twat willy!” or “Total eclipse of my arse" at a chair or plant. When I buried him, yesterday morning - in a spot many yards from the one The Bear occupies, for fear Shipley’s spirit would pick on The Bear’s, as it had done in life - I half expected him to claw his way up through the soil and back out into the bright day, with a defiant shout of “Piss whiskers!” 

Many cats love boxes but Shipley's love for them was more ardent and impatient than most, bordering on the fetishistic on occasion. Any time I brought one home and emptied it - and often before I'd had chance to empty it - he'd be inside it, swearing his head off, within seconds. Even if he'd been in a deep sleep somewhere in the bowels of the house when I opened the front door, his boxdar would kick in and he'd quickly locate the cardboard. "Flange attack! he'd shout joyfully, as he dived into the box, or "Urine party with cake!" Before I'd gone back to the vet's to collect his body, the vet nurse on duty, Catherine, had asked me over the phone if I wanted to bring his carrier to put him in. That might have seemed more dignified to some but I don't think Shipley would have viewed it that way. I asked her if, instead, she had a cardboard box she could put him inside. We probably tell ourselves all sorts of nonsense about our pets' thoughts in order to feel better in times of grief but I have a strong belief that, with his particular predilections, Shipley would have preferred this method of transport. After I refilled the hole with earth I noticed the slogan on this box: “Understanding your needs. Innovating the solutions.” Black humour doesn’t come much blacker, but I could not suppress an internal chuckle. If Shipley was a person, he’d no doubt have been the kind who wouldn’t be able to resist remarking on the twattiness of a slogan like that. “Corporate cock sponge!” I could almost hear him meow, in typically punk disdain. I walked back to the house to give Roscoe and Ralph giant overbearing hugs and tidy up in readiness for the arrival of my friends Emily and Hayley. As I did I became acutely conscious of how much I was letting down all those people who skated across the Internet and decided stuff about who I was and the way I lived. Here I was, just some bloke with a couple of cats, waiting for a couple of friends to come over for a cup of tea.


I would be honoured if you read my books featuring Shipley and found out who he truly was, as a cat. This is the latest one and this is the one before it. 

Tribute To A Gorgeous Foulmouth: RIP Shipley (2001-2017) Reviewed by Tom Cox on 11:43:00 Rating: 5

263 comments:

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Jenny said...

I am crying with you yet again. x

Fern Thompson said...

It sounds inadequate, but I know how you feel on all counts. Shipley was a star in his own right, and you deserve so much better than the stupidity of those who are thankfully in the minority. Much love xxx

Richard Cave LBPPA said...

Not shipley too, I love sweary cat, he is up there with St Peter introducing him to new words. Feel for you mate, only yesterday I was playing with my 16 year old "kitten" then realised how old and tired she looks. Heartbreaking news, but at least Shipley had a good run with a loving family.

WeirdCat said...

So sad to hear about Shipley, have enjoyed the antics of all of your cats and your Mum and Dad's in your books. I lost my elderly cat towards the end of last year and it sucked to make that final decision. There is still an Elmo shaped hole in our lives, although a lot less snot and drool on the furnishings, but the other cats take my mind off him. RIP Shipley

Susan Lindon-Hall said...

My favourite picture of Shipley is the one where he's on his back, legs akimbo, with a look of bliss on his face. My favourite Shipley word is "fucklecopter". That's how I'll remember him. A gorgeous, furry gobshite. I'm thinking of you Tom.

Joanna Truman said...

Fuck, man. This made me sob for several minutes. I am so, so, so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for introducing Shipley to us. I always looked forward to seeing what sort of vulgar things he was saying. He is not lesser in any way; from what I learned of him from you, he is a perfect, bright and wonderful soul with a penchant for creative cursing. Sending you much internet love and goodwill.

Jo said...

Oh my, that piece has had me sobbing for so many reasons. I came to your books through twitter and have loved every book, every tweet and every essay since. I'd be devastated to think that others could not find their way to your work the way that I did, I would hope you maintain your presence on social media for a very long time to come. Also the death of loud mouthed, sweaty, lovable Shipley - I don't know you, or your cats but I have so much enjoyed my sweaty car's tweets and will miss them terribly. I feel quite a fool getting so upset about a person and cat I don't know, and have never met, but for me your writing has, and will continue to make me feel a connection and an affection for you and your cats. Thanks for it all.

"Tee" said...

Oh damn. I'm sorry, again, for the loss of one your close friends. They may be "only cats" but they are our constant companions, each with their own furry personalities. It's tough to have them leave for the other side. I'm sorry that your chosen work makes you have to share these moments with so many. Grieving is a very intimate and personal thing to have to share with strangers. Blessings to you, Tom. Blessings to Shipley on his journey. *sigh*

Karen Ashbrook said...

So sorry to hear the news about Shipley, he had a good life with you though Tom. Karen x

Boodie said...

Heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken. I know my.grief.in no way compares to your own, but as much as I loved The Bear and always will, I GOT Shipley,.He was me. Goodbye.furry foul-mouthed love, good-bye.

Fiona Hughes said...

Tom, I only know your cats from Twitter, and they have all brought me a lot of joy and happiness, for what it's worth. I dislike so much of what there is on Twitter, all the shouting and the craziness, but your posts always ALWAYS fill me with happiness, even when (especially when) they are about mysterious road signs on the moors. I can't speak for anyone else, or how others might perceive you, but I have to say that your pictures and words, and your gentle quirky wit have brought a great deal of light into my life and I would like to thank you so much for that. None of us can control how others see us, but for me personally you are a ray of sunshine into a stressful and often frightening world. I haven't read your books yet, but I will certainly read all of them. I adored The Bear because he reminded me of my late cat who had several names, and who died last year aged 20. The Bear's eyes were like his. Take care Tom. xo

Tatum Flynn said...

oh i'm so so sorry. what an awful year. but i'm glad i got to know shipley through your books. and i have a feeling he's too lippy not to come back and haunt you with the odd 'oi, pissflaps!' through the bedroom door :)

Anonymous said...

I am so touched by your beautiful eulogy to Shipley, I followed The Bear and read every post avidly. Shipley was so blessed to have such a caring and thoughtful owner. I cannot imagine the grief that you are feeling, I look at my cat Falstaff and my heart is so full of love for him, I will be broken hearted when anything happens to him. Thank you for sharing such a personal and heartfelt moment xxx

Bruce said...

Aw mate, so sorry to hear this!
Thinking about you Tom.

Nicola Fox Hamilton said...

I am so sorry that the wonderful shouty Shipley is gone. I adored reading about him in your books, and since first coming across him we now have our very own shouty black sweetheart Typo, who clearly models herself on him somehow.
I can't begin to imagine how hard it is to lose two beautiful cats in such quick succession, as well as deal with poor Roscoe's attack. I am a stranger who only knows you and your cats through your wonderful books - but I'm sending you every virtual kindness at the moment. I'm off to give my own three cats huge hugs now. Take care and I hope the stupid internet trolls fuck right off!

Kimberlee said...

Farewell, feisty Shipley. Love you, Ton. Be well.

Bethany Ingles said...

That was a breathtaking beautiful eulogy, such as he deserved. Your ability to both feel and express such depth and compassion gives me such hope. You will be in my thoughts, Mr . Cox. You and your amazing cats and your amazing heart. I hope you will be allowed all the space, peace, and time you need to mourn and to heal.

Helen said...

Your words are a beautiful tribute from the best friend of the cuss-some black cat. I'm sad about him dying. Rest in peace Shipley.

Jo said...

You are just such an amazing writer, Tom. So sorry to hear of the sad news about Shipley. Us readers will miss him!

Tamera Selhaver said...

Well crapola! This sucks beyond words. Piss whiskers to you, Shipley, as you run to catch up to Bear.

four seasons catering said...

Oh my god Tom, this is so raw, so heartfelt. If it was painfuul to read what must it have been like to write. Thankyou for allowing us to share a glimpse of life with you & the cats, I really hope you are able to continue & the good stuff outweighs the bad.

nelliejean said...

Oh Tom, I am so sorry.

Unknown said...

I love reading your work, you have become one of my most favorite modern authors. I know that this was hard for you to write, and it was hard to read too. Beautiful and hauntingly sad.

Alison Sagna said...

What a lovely, moving, sad, funny tribute to your boy! Thank you for sharing in a time of grief x RIP Shipley. I bought my 26 year old son Under The Paw and The Good The Bad And The Furry for Christmas. He's as fanatical about cats as I am. We have 4 rescue cats one is very poorly with diabetes(now under control hopefully) and possibly Cushings disease which is apparently rare in cats but he has many of the symptoms. He's become an even grumpier git than normal so maybe he is in pain. Wish they could tell us when they'd had enough! Thanks again Ali

Katie Hall said...

So sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how devastating it must be to lose two beloved cats in such a short time. When the last of my childhood cats, Bubble, was put to sleep when I was about 25, I was with him and it was so similar to how you've described with Shipley - we stared into each other's eyes and he was purring and seemed so... well. My dad and I left the vets and walked home crying our eyes out. Bubble would also tear apart a carpet corner that dared to stand between him and the other side of a door. All the best to you and all who knew Shipley.

EFS Tracey said...

In tears with you. Thank you for your writing, and sharing your life (& theirs) with us. I'm so sorry for your losses.

"Total eclipse of my arse" indeed.

catharine said...

I've only recently started reading your books (on the third now) but I love the way you write and how you weave cat stories into your story. I've always had cats, sometimes more than one so do appreciate the pain and sorrow when a much loved pet dies. i'm really looking forward to reading your new book sometime soon.So sorry about Shipley, so soon after The Bear.

Unknown said...

Oh, Tom.... I am so sorry for your loss.

Isobel Evans said...

So sorry to read this news Tom. I have read your books and feel as if I know your cats personally and I love them all - I've felt your pain and laughed with you. I can't imagine how it must feel losing The Bear and Shipley in such a short space of time.
I also dip in and out of your website, enjoying your thoughts and insights. Sometimes your topics take me by surprise and I find myself intrigued by something I'd never have normally thought about. I'm looking forward to your new book and wish you all the best in your writing ventures.
Give Ralph and Roscoe big hugs from me.
Isobel

Donna Ticknerj said...

Tom I've heard you talk and read all your books......even the one about golf...and I've never doubted your love for your cats. I lost my 18 year old black cat, Noisy Boy Joe , at the end of January and can understand how you are feeling. It's the emptiest feeling in the world. People will try to console you that he had a great life but you KNOW that.I guess time is the only healer and it really takes time not a few days or weeks or even months. It takes a long time. Hug Ralph and Roscoe. RIP beautiful Shipley.

PikamamaA said...

As one of those internet people, I just want to send you heartfelt thanks. Thank you for sharing Shipley with us. Thank you for sharing all of your cats. Their personalities, their lives , adventures and ultimately, with Shipley and the Bear, their deaths. When you should be free to grieve without explanation, you choose to tell us your story and share the news, that , while very sad, we want to know. I know the empty spot on the lap, the ghost brush against your legs as you brush your teeth and the cold place next to your pillow that always had a warm, curled up friend. I'm truly sorry for your loss.

Julie dunne said...

After reading your post here, none of it surprised me in he least - not the fact that you were devoted to and deeply connected to Shipley and that his death is going to be extraordinarily difficult, nor the fact that you sense a separation between your online perceptions and who you personally feel you are, it's as unfair as it is inevitable. Having experienced unspeakable loss myself not long ago, and lately watching my black cat with kidney disease struggle, I can relate to that sense that people are watching and making assumptions about your behavior from their vantage point. Most mean well, but that doesn't make it easier to deal with. I'd love to be able to go to the grocery store without people looking and wondering, or offering a comment while I'm buying bananas. I also know not many people understand that without my little black cat, who aggressively naps daily with his paws on my face ever since I lost my father and sister, I might not have made it. Cats KNOW things, and are quite astute at psychological assistance, I think, enjoy your walks, your tea with friends, and your two remarkable felines. I'm sure all those things will each do their part to help you through.

Noz said...

Sorry about your cats Tom....you are a really,good writer and I wish you much success.
Love from an old woman. X
PS you always look damn cool like the boys I went out with in the 70s.

Mary said...

Beautiful thoughtful writing as always. Leaves me thinking long after I've closed the page. Thank you for sharing Shipley with us x

Lindsey said...

Oh, dear Shipley. As I'm not in a position to own my own cats, thank for sharing yours with us, through thick and thin. Hugs to the three of you x

Helen Phillips said...

9 years ago I lost 3 cats within 2 months and then had to take a very sick stray to the vet to be euthanized a month later. It felt like the end of the world. I feel your pain and sadness. My thoughts and good vibes go out to you.

vicki johnson said...

I cried for you and me and us more this time, too. Not least because Shipley looks so much like my long deceased best pal, Spike and I know how it felt for me which is just as bad as when I lost dear humans and while I have adopted new crazy fur balls whom I love dearly I think about him all the time.
I also want to say:
I love what you share with us. And Shipley's amazing creative swearyness. And I'm really, really sad there will be no new news from Shipley.
Oh...and I love these photos of him.

Anonymous said...

So sad, and still you manage to write such a beautiful piece. It just shows how much you care for your cats and what a great writer you are.
Bye Shipley, love to all x

Black and Tabby said...

Oh Tom - so sorry to hear of Shipley's passing. We have loved reading about all of your cats - all so different and with their own place in the world. Shipley's place was a loud sweary place, and the world is less without him. I shall wear my furry fucktrousers in his honour and his memory. Sending you, Ralph and Roscoe love and kindness x

esheair said...

So sorry for your loss, I'm cuddling my little furry bastard a bit tighter tonight. Love and healing being sent to you x

Fhyrlynn said...

I have to admit, I laughed out loud at some of the wonderful Shipley obscenities towards the end of this. But a little tear squeezed out at the same time. I am very sorry for your loss, but I hope you can take some comfort in the fact that you captured his spirit so well that strangers on the internet are laughing and crying because you shared the sweary joy of him with us.

KJ said...

So so sorry to hear beautiful Shipley has passed. My own black terrorist swore at the vet this afternoon (it sounded like p&££flaps) when we were told the treatment for calicivirus has worked well. So as a sweary cat with a terrible lisp (only two teeth left...) I will give her the biggest hug this evening. In memory of Shipley and of Bear, whom I loved through your books.

Rest in peace and profanity x

Catspjamas said...

I just spent the better part of an hour, losing it because I couldn't find my old cat Foster. A 3-legged, hard of hearing, brown tabby with renal failure. On pleasant days like today, his favorite thing to do is to nap outside in the sun. Only he was there. I checked all his favorite spots, couldn't find him. Checked the neighbors' yards, searched the house, getting more frantic by the moment. I was preparing to climb the ridge behind my house, a very steep ridge, fearing he may have gone up there because his time was at hand. I had gotten the treat can, 'cause maybe he'd hear that, and I gave it a shake. He came out from under a bush, where he had been sleeping in a pile of leave. Hugs, and kisses, and tears of joy, replaced the anxious tears that had been shed. After treats and a few moments of spending time with the old guy, I decided to post about the event on facebook. And saw your post about Shipley. All the feelings I had just experienced came back. My heart broke for you. Not Shipley. I'm so sorry. I understand the pain, I also understand the questioning about the decisions that had to be made, as a cat parent and as a vet tech. It's not easy. Even though, medically, I know it is the right decision, I fight it. I don't want to make that decision. It's coming, I know it is, today was a foreshadowing of what is to come. I hope you understand. I just want you to know, that a lover of cats from across the Atlantic is grieving for you, Roscoe and Ralph.

Jackie Hobbs said...

I am so sorry that Shipley had to leave you Tom, take comfort that he had a good time with you and his feline friends. The Bear will have a companion up there in cat heaven.
I have loved reading his escapades in the books you have written and shared with us.
Jackie

Bertha said...

This is a beautiful essay. I'm so sorry for your loss, Tom. Coming so soon after The Bear, it's almost too much to endure.

Alice said...

Shipley had hutzpah. He'd earned the right to say as he pleased about life and it's foul twists. I'm so sorry for your loss. May your memories sustain you till your torn heart heals💖

Diana Arseneau-Powell said...

Our cat Cyd died last July. She was 14 years old and was the quiet spirit of the house. I still look for her in her favourite places when I enter a room, or wonder where she's got to and then remember she isn't there. Shipley leaves a sweary hole in your life, your day. I'll miss reading the spew from his gloriously foul mouth.

NatsDugoutLibrarian said...

I am just forever grateful that you have shared some of your journey with us. And one part of my heart is very happy that a fine, professional swearing cat like Shipley found you, because I doubt anyone else would have helped him reach his full potential. The other part of my heart aches for you and for all of us, because there is, indeed, a huge cavern left by his passing. One of the things I have appreciated most about your sharing Shipley, The Bear, and all the others is that it has helped me realize just how unique every creature is. And it's flat out amazing. And I find myself spending more and more time, being patient, watching and learning. So, in the interest of "The Science of How The Internet Defines Us," I'll enter my response to your commentary above: Tom Cox has helped me and others look at the world around us in some very wonderful, humorous, newly kiltered ways. And I love that. Thank you. And I will be thinking of you as you have to deal with all of this.

Vickie Parks said...

This eulogy in print did justice to Shipley. Sorry for your great loss.

Theresa said...

Kindness is the only way forward, especially now. Having lost two older cats in a short period of 2009, I recognize the strain of what you are experiencing, especially when the one that has been more your friend than your pet finally lets go. I also recall the fight she had at the end, how she wasn't ready for her 17-year-old body to give out. It does make it harder to let them go, to avoid second-guessing. And it's a gap in the heart that will only change shape to become more tolerable over time, but not quite go away. That sounds terrible, but I find it comforting now, years on.

I hope you never regret sharing your life online. Your writing has made me laugh at times when I didn't think it was possible, and your nature writing has often provided a sense of reassurance about the timeless beauty and goodness of the world that sometimes has seemed lost to me. You also reassure me that the personalities my cats have are not in my head. My little black cat looks like Shipley, has what we call merely "an unfortunate voice;" we don't think he's well-read enough to be creatively sweary, but does like to sound the alarm at 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 in the morning about the raccoons in the yard. Again. Just like yesterday. And the day before.

May walks, tea, friendship, Ralph and Roscoe be kind to you in the coming days and weeks (no wet gusts, no chipped cups, no thoughtless words, no misplaced poops or regurgitated voles on the carpet). And thank you for letting us know about Shipley. He was never "the other black cat" to many of us.

Jeff Falconer said...

The last journey to the vet with a friend and companion is a privilege and a duty that breaks your heart and which you never forget. At 72 years of age I have made that journey several times and cried those tears you describe so beautifully every time. I only wish that someone I love could do it for me when the time comes, rather than descending into dementia or degenerative illness. Thank you for your writing Tom, it has given me much pleasure and much to think about, all in your easy and familiar style. I look forward to your new book soon and hope that you will find room for another cat or two in your life. Shippers will be missed and remembered by his fan club.

YY said...

So so sorry to read this news about Shipley. I felt as though I knew him a little from your books and this is such a warm and loving tribute that it's moved me to tears. Thank you for sharing him with us.

Denise said...

So very sad to hear of Shipley's passing and so soon after The Bear. They both had a wonderful life with you Tom , that comes across in all your books and your tweets so well. Thank you for such beautiful writing and for sharing your cats lives. Take care

Lucille Horsnell said...

DearTom. Once again my heart is breaking. I loved Shipley in your books, having a sweary cat of my own. My three furries and I send you big hugs and purrdles, not that this is any help to you at all. Lucille

Ali said...

Lovely, lovely words Tom.. so sorry for your loss... rest in peace, Shipley... like other readers have said, he was a sweary legend in his own right.. Ali...x

Unknown said...

So very sorry Tom, losing one fabulous furry friend is hard enough but to lose two so close together must be so heartbreaking and painful. Loved meeting all your cats through your books. RIP Shipley, no doubt he's shouting loudly over the Rainbow Bridge!Love and hugs xxx

Anna said...

Such beautiful words for a much loved friend. I just cried reading this. So sad and my heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for another loss to your little family. Your writing is wonderful and I felt like I knew Shipley and The Bear just a little bit because of it. I hope you, Ralph and Roscoe cope ok with it all, thoughts are with you xx

Lisal62 said...

Sooo sorry to hear your sad news. I have enjoyed dipping in and out of your blog from time to time. Shipley seemed a lot like my Boots. Sadly I also had to make the decision to have my Beloved pet put 5 yrs of her company. A vocal cat , like your Shipley, who used to follow me everywhere too! That last trusting look at me in the vets , and the half hearted purr she still managed to give to me will stay forever etched in my heart. I am left with Boots sister who is quieter and not as needy. She is a comfort , but I do miss my human/ puss pal. May she find Boots find Shipley and they can shout at each other ! RIP Shipley and Boots! May you both forever bound noisily in field full of catnip, and sunshine!

Lisa.

Unknown said...

Never let those people get you down, Tom. The rest of us are here, reading along with you, laughing along with you and crying along with you. Shipley will no doubt be inventing interesting new swears in the afterlife, shocking The Bear and my beloved Freya with his shouted profanities. And always remember the wise words of my ex..."It is totally OK to punch anyone who says, 'It's just a cat'."

Anna Carr said...

So very sorry Tom. Shipley was fucking marvellous xxx

Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth said...

Once again, I'm weeping in sympathy with you at the loss of another beloved cat. Mine are still young, but they won't be for ever. I'm so sorry, but also glad that you loved them while you could.

Silvia Veale said...

So sorry to hear about Shipley. We used to have a female cat with a very similar character who was a huge loss to all of us when she went. RIP Shipley. And you take care Tom.

Shayne Parkinson said...

Oh, heartache piled upon sorrow! I'm so sorry, Tom. I've had the privilege of getting to know you and your wonderful cats, just a little, from your writing. They all have very distinctive personalities, and Shipley's was a particularly large one.

Please give Ralph and Roscoe an extra bit of fussing from a fan on the other side of the world.

Jill@jillywick said...

What is there to say and yet I can't say nothing.....
I am grateful for all the writing and the pleasure and anticipation it brings, for all the joy that your books bring and even the tears that are sometimes there
But also I am sorry for all of it, for the losses, the reactions of some and the complications that being a 'public figure' bring to your life, mostly I am sorry that you had to make the choice which, although right and kind, is, I know, so hard to live with.

Weaverbird said...

I am so sorry dear sweary Shipley is gone! Your lovely tribute made me cry for you both. How painful for you to lose two such beloved friends in so a short time!

(The online trolls - the thoughtless or rude or callous or mean-spirited - must at times be a heavy weight to bear. Stepping back is a sensible move, but we, your fans, must hope you won't leave us altogether. Your tweets are always a bright spot in my timeline.)

RIP Shipley. My condolences to you, Tom

Lemonbella said...

Goodbye dear Shipley and thanks for sharing his life, swearing and your grief with us Tom. Donating to a local shelter so another cat can find a human to turn them upside down.

ktz4eva said...

So sorry to hear about Shipley. The love shared between you both can never be replaced. But then each one of our pets are different. Their paw prints will be forever left upon our hearts. Cherish the love and the memories.

Kirsty Mcdonald said...

I don't know you and your cats personally Tom, only through your books, Twitter and your other writings but I fell in love with them all and cried when I heard about the Bear. I am so terribly sorry to hear about Shipley who looked like a cheeky boy in his pictures and your stories about him always made me laugh out loud. He was completely deserving of your beautiful eulogy. I lost my own special cat friend on 17th April 2013 and his picture still hurts my heart. I won't say anything trite about time making this easier because I'm not sure it does but I hope the memories of the great times you had with Shipley and the Bear will help. KIrsty xxx

D J Hall said...

So sorry for your loss. Shipley was certainly a special cat. Godspeed, dear kitty.

Anna H said...

Fucking shitty bollocking jizzsacks.
Great eulogy to the fucking legend that was #LovelyShipley. To me, he was NEVER your other black cat. He always was, and always will be, #LovelyShipley.
I am crying for him as much as I cried for The Bear.
*hugs to you, Ralphy and Roscoe* xxx

Kranki said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Shipley was a force and I will miss his shitter box mouth. After losing my own cat to cancer three years ago and having to make that same soul-crushing decision to euthanize I started fostering cats while they waited for adoption. At this exact second I have a loud and foul mouthed kitten on my lap who I've nicknamed Yelly. She is all black with a little white dot on her chest. With all the kittens I've fostered these years I've never had one so destructive, intrusive, obnoxious, and fucking annoying. And bossy! What a turd. When she goes to her forever home I will breathe a huge sigh of relief and then cry my eyes out. I will miss her something awful. Then I will throw away all the stuff she destroyed, clean up her messes, and welcome the next kitty or five that need a place to stay after a tough start.

Ana Herrera said...

Oh, Tom, I am so deeply sorry to hear such incredibly sad news about sweet Shipley. Please know that there are many of us here that fully understand how you feel about such overwhelming loss. I am heartbroken. Much love. xx

Black Sheep Blahgger said...

What an absolutely beautiful tribute. I have enjoyed you and your cats over the internet for years, but ever bought your books. This tribute convinced me to buy all of them. Not because I'm sad for you and you're loss, though I am, but more because your sensitivity, your rawness shown through this tribute. You absolutely LOVE your cats, as I feel all cat owners should, but don't. I don't know what was said to you by the trolls, but it probably had something to do with "how dare you exploit your cats for money, blah blah blah". If those humanoids do not understand how much you adore your cats and that you are writing about them through your heart, through a sense of undeniable love, for the public to get a laugh or two, and really see that animals have personalities and emotions by now, they won't see it, ever. Tell them to shrink bigger, like Sea World or circuses.

Shipley sounds like he was the comedic light to the Bear's depth. Like comedians, though, he was incredibly empathic and sensitive, so much so that after Rodcoe got hurt, he tried to take her pain in through his kidneys. And for the Bear, well, he probably felt such a sensitive soul needed a friend in Cat a Heaven, so he volunteered. It also seems like Shipley was very similar to you-sensitive, empathic, wanting to make everyone laugh while teaching about the bigger picture. You guys sound like kindred spirits, and I believe that he and The Bear will be watching over you and Ralph and Roscoe, giving you little signs that they are still with you.

Joan Childs said...

Though I am only comment occasionally, I am sure there are a silent majority like me who appreciate your writing and your devotion to your work and your cats. Be exactly who you are. For what it's worth "A joy shared is twice a joy, a sorrow shared is half a sorrow." Even half a sorrow is overwhelming sometimes. Heartfelt condolences.

Sonya said...

I am so, so sorry Tom. You've lost two family members this year and I can't believe the horror of anyone trying to make you feel badly. I am in tears hearing this news; for you and the loss of Shipley and selfishly for my Tortie Brontë who has been diagnosed with kidney disease recently, is my constant chatty/shouty companion and who is probably my best friend. Thank you for your writing.

Q Arnold said...

Tom, thank you for sharing Shipley's life with us through your books, website and tweets. He appeared to me to be a damn fine cat who led life as it should be, doing/saying what he wanted and sod whatever anyone thought. I am sorry that along with the loss of Shipley you have been on the receiving end of unpleasantness. When I read Shipley was with us no more the word that entered my head was Buggeration, I hope Shipley would approve.

Charlotte said...

I'm so sorry you have had such a hard time of it. The death of a loved pet is such a hard thing to happen. Your writing has been such a joy to read and I thank you for letttng me get to know your cats.

Joe Fairbairn said...

I have read your books from cover to cover several times and what always struck me was the clarity of all your cats' characters, so well defined and relatable. Shipley is one of my favourites, and, corny as it sounds, he, along with The Bear, Brewer and Janet, will truly live forever in your words, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Thinking of you.

Anna Chaney said...

I just wanted to pass along my condolences. I enjoy your stories about all of your cats and am currently owned by 4 myself. I enjoy wondering how you would describe them if you knew them. Thank you for sharing them and the inside of your head with us.

Denise W said...

Love you. Loved Shipley.

Kitcat. said...

So sorry for your loss Tom, big loves to you Ralph and Roscoe.xxx

Avrilas said...

Oh Tom I can't stop crying. People are shits and don't see you for the man you really are, and that's ok because they're shits. Your readers know better and Shipley, The Bear and Roscoe and Ralph are so lucky to have you; and in turn, you them. I'm kissing and cuddling mine even more again now. RIP Shipley.

Tiddles Matte said...

Heartbroken, loved both the Bear and Shipley.

Catherine Francis said...

Shocked by this news so soon after you lost The Bear, and so very, very sorry. Life can be very unfair.

Ceri said...

Two weeks ago, I had to take my 17 year old grey tabby Louie to the vets for the last time. We knew it was time, he had become very confused then lost his eyesight which made his confusion worse. He was loving to the very end and will always be in our hearts. I still have three other moggie overlords that keep us in line, but it is still very quiet without him. I am so sorry to hear that you have had to say goodbye to two of your furry friends in such a short time. I enjoyed reading about their antics in your books and their memories will live on. Rest in peace Shipley.

M McCormack said...

How can you love a cat you never met? You just fucking can. Bye Shipley. Say hi to The Bear in cat heaven.

Jen said...

Oh no! Such sad news, I can't even imagine how you are feeling, heart breaking knews and such a tough decision. He's frolicking with The Bear now, shouting at him when he's trying to snooze! I am lucky enough to have similar fuzzy blighters in my life, and despite the swearing that often follows being woken by shouting at 5am breakfast summoning and the disgruntled grunts from his older brother who he loves so much. They fill your heart, and always provide scintillating conversation.

Take care of yourself sweetie xx hugs and best wishes xx

Anonymous said...

'Corporate cock sponge' - one of the best ever. He will be sadly missed.
As the owner of an elderly cat, the 'decision' is on my mind as well. It's always hard, even when you know it's the right thing to do.

RIP Shipley.

Thinking of you and may all the trolls fingers drop off!

Alison & Pussy Macevoy

mrs_sock said...

Tom - it feels inadequate to say this but I feel privileged to have read your cat books and to have shared a part of your life. I love how you write and the pics on instagram. No one can know someone through such a small glimpse - the Internet is a vehicle for opinion, of which we all have one. We all have an arse too but I don't want to see everyone's. Lots of love to you xx

Annie said...

So sorry to be reading this. Just mow... mow mow mow and bloody fecking mow. xx

Janiss Garza said...

I am so sorry about Shipley. As one of your book readers, he did have a special place in my heart too... probably because like him, I tend to be a foul-mouthed creature of habit.

Eleanor said...

Thank you, Tom, for this tribute to Shipley. I can understand why you will miss him so much.

Ian said...

So sorry to hear this. The only thing you can really do to quiet the grief for a while is to treat Ralph and Roscoe, more than you treat them normally. My late partner and I had a very similar experience with a 19-year old black cat; she was small and perfectly formed, a cat who demanded entertainment from her humans, and a cat who followed me around and always seemed to be asking "why?" at every action. She also enjoyed the Man Washes Hands and Man Brushes Teeth shows immensely. But the time came when she couldn't lift herself up and so we had to do the last kindness we could possibly do for her, something we knew had to be done but that broke our hearts. For all that, it's never an easy decision.
As for Twitter, its enforced brevity seems to just distil all the bile and spite of its users. It does the same to the less unsavoury stuff too but there seem to be a growing number of people who take delight in being as unpleasant as possible. An old Penny Arcade strip (from 2004!) remains relevant: https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

squirrelmagnet said...

It's not often I read something that makes me ugly cry and laugh out loud. Thank you for sharing Shipley with us. Subscribing :)

Del said...

Tom I'm new to your writing but not new to what you're going through losing The Bear and Shipley. My heart goes out to you. Sending big virtual hugs your way x

Amy Evans said...

So sorry Tom. Crying with you again
Xxx

Lina said...

The thing I get from you every time i read you is that you're a kind soul and you're right, there no other choice but kindness in life and I think people should stop consider it a weakness, kindness is the best thing we have to offer to each other and to animals. I'm very sorry for your loss, Shipley had obviously his own personality and as a lover of black cats, my first love was a black cat after all, I never would have mistaken him for the Bear, they had very different faces and eyes. Shipley was a beautiful black cat and I'm sad tonight.

I wish you a peaceful mourning, filled with nice memories and to find solace in Ralph and Roscoe.

Lina

Monkleton said...

Timing is everything. Miso, my tortie shadow, spent the day being a brave soldier at the vets, getting her cardiomyopathy checked out. The silence in the house was unbearable. Her daughter, Noodle, has always been the vocal one, as Miso wanders silently around, looking for humans. If she finds 2 humans, she plays it cool. She might even try to maim people, to show she isn't soft. If she finds one human, all she wants is to be close. She mutely sits & advises, or falls asleep with one paw attached to you, so you cannot escape her. In a year that was hard to live through, that paw, those ears, those loving eyes were there. Just one without her, was too long. So now we have to count her breaths. As she sleeps, we have to watch her baggy cat suit go up & down. We have to stare at her, put a hand on her belly & appreciate every breath she takes. And consider that a bonus.

So sorry for your loss x

Val said...

Massive comforting hugs Tom Cox. I am so very sorry

Kirsten said...

I've just got back from a mini-vacation, during which I read, identified, and laughed along with Close Encounters of the Furred Kind during the quieter moments. I came home to the scent of not yet fixed Leonard everywhere (soon!!!), and thought of George immediately. In between unpacking and placating my fuzzballs, I decided to check the internet and see what was new and the first thing I saw was your beautiful tribute to Shipley. He was an exquisite boy and I am so sorry for your family's loss. Losing a beloved fuzzball is never easy and while over time it gets a wee bit easier, it never goes away. Please accept big fur coated internet hugs from me, Loki, Edward and Leonard (the fuzzball gang) to you, Ralph and Roscoe. Please don't stop being you, and bollocks to anyone who expects otherwise. I shall wait anxiously for your next missive and continue to enjoy the blog in the meantime (I simply can't do twitter). Treat yourself well, spoil the fuzzballs often and generously, and please continue to live life on your terms, not someone else's. If you ever find yourself in the Toronto area, I would be delighted to take you out for a cup of tea (or something stronger if preferred).

Kristi said...

My friend introduced me to your twitter feeds and books when I was mourning the death of my cat, Mojo, who was a big, talkative boy and a big personality. I loved reading about Shipley (and all the the others). I've shed tears for both him and The Bear. Keep being yourself, in your writing and your photos.

Sarah Jane Hamshere said...

So sorry to hear you have lost Shipley so soon after Bear. I lost 2 cats within a month of each other and another within the year. It was very hard. I still miss them, and the cats I have lost since.

Mercy said...

So sorry, you are having a crap year. There is nothing really to say that would make it better. I am struggling to type this as my cat is trying to trim his toenails on my lap, he is not a respecter of other people's feelings.

Sara said...

Very sorry to hear about Shipley. Living in West Yorkshire, I often see signs to Shipley and would always think of him. So hard to make that decision at the vets, many of us have been there in that position and it's horrendous. Prayers with you x

Julie said...

Aw Tom I'm so sorry. I genuinely adored reading about Shipley in your books, and all your gorgeous furbabies. A lot of love went to The Bear, but my heart belonged to Shipley. I feel for your loss, it's not an easy thing, especially two so close together. Keep hugging Roscoe and Ralph, lots of love xxx

Ann Hiloski-Fowler said...

Definitely sobbed and laughed! Beautifully written. Shipley was a lucky cat to have such a human. Thanks for sharing some of Shipley with us.

Sara said...

Very sorry to hear about Shipley. Living in West Yorkshire, I often see signs to Shipley and would always think of him. So hard to make that decision at the vets, many of us have been there in that position and it's horrendous. Prayers with you x

Unknown said...

TY for sharing so much of you and Shipley - I'm crying out loud and getting a shady as hell look from my own Addison. I also went through the decision for multiple cats within a short time.. it was the right one- Shipley trusted you on that.. never makes it feel any better.. Be gentle with yourself as long as Roscoe and Ralph will allow

Melissa Joulwan said...

Thank you for sharing your life with Shipley with all of us. Just had a good cry and cussed a few times in honor of Shipley. Sending you, Roscoe, and Ralph much love across the pond.

Pints and Tunes said...

This is so beautifully written and I'm so deeply sorry for your loss. My pangur looks very like Shipley and she is similarly sweary and bolshy and needy and funny and affectionate. I love your writing, have your books dotted around the house, and always look forward to new pieces. My heart breaks a bit that this piece is so sad but it's no less beautiful.xx

Cynthia Vickers said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news. The world will miss Shipley's energy and catness. He was, indeed, a fine figure of a cat. I'm sad your friend is gone.

Nicole said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Shipley. I have enjoyed getting to know your cats through your writing, and have cried many tears over the passing of The Bear and, now, Shipley. Your cats are lucky to have found such a loving home. x

TJ said...

So sorry to hear about Shipley. A fine cat, and if your books are any indication, well-loved - would that we might all be remembered with the same eloquence with which you brought him to those of use who were not lucky enough to have been sworn at by him in person.

Anonymous said...

RIP Shipley
Nothing I can say will make a difference but I know you had to make the hardest decision in Shipley's best interest and I salute you for making it.
Thank you for this wonderful tribute to a special boy one could always tell how much you live him and I'm sure you don't need a (carpet hole) reminder.

D.frances said...

You. The you who wrote this beautiful elogy have offered the world an amazing glimpse of who we can be, and how we can see this world, if we so choose. I can only speak from what I have received from your posts and your books. I have chosen to remain off of twitter much for the reasons you outlined here. Life doesn't occur- or shouldn't - in soundbites. Context and continuity, along with actions are what make up the story of each of us. From your writing, I have gathered this: You are a man, whose cats are persons, family, not property. You honor their personalities for the individuals they are. And you love them all with all that you are. You are a thoughtful person who appreciates kindness and true friendship, and you are very protective of that. You are a tremendous writer who has the ability to offer wisdom in multiple genres. You are someone who cares deeply and who is hurting immensely. You are absolutely right. I don't know you. But I do know how much joy your words have brought me many times when I was suffering my own staggering grief. And I do know how much pain you're in now. And for that I am so truly and completely sorry.

SB said...

Oh Tom, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing Shipley with the world. A cat who was much bigger than his body. We will miss him and his antics. Sending love your way from Canada.....

Maggie said...

What a beautiful tribute to dear Shipley. I'm so sorry for your loss. Through your writing and photos, you've given us a glimpse into your special cat-world, in which The Bear and Shipley live on. Please keep being yourself. Sending you, Ralph and Roscoe kind thoughts from deepest Norfolk.

Umaymah Hewitt said...

Oh Shipley <3 Your Sweary Cat will be much missed! I'm a vet-in-training and can't express how your words make me feel - there are pet-owners like yourself out there is a massive comfort and motivation to all of us in the profession. Thank you for sharing Shipley with us x

gentlydementinggp said...

Oh, fuck. I am so sorry, Tom. I hadn't quite clocked how frail Shipley had become... it seems to me from the above really lovely and thoughtful piece of writing that you have very good vets of whom you're very appreciative, which is a real blessing. Your gorgeous and characterful cats have benefited from the fact that you are strong for them and take pains for them so that they don't have to. Look after yourself. And in the broadest sense, WOFFAL. x

Bridgette Lawrence said...

Bloody cats! coming here, stealing our love , beds, favourite chairs, warm bit on the landing on top of the heating pipes, top off a defrosting cheesecake. As of last week we are now a two cat household, down from four just a few months earlier. I miss Freds maunging and Flos dizziness, both so different.
Keep being kind Tom, unless someone is a complete arse xx

Heather said...

Another beautiful tribute Tom, I'm sorry for your loss.

Therese said...

Thank you for telling us so beautifully......tears and smiles......Much love to you, Roscoe and Ralph❤️

Mary Desrocher said...

Tom, what sad news, yet again. Thank you for sharing your Shipley and The Bear with us. I have been where you are, making the choice of whether to prolong my cat's life or let her go, and I chose the latter. You know in your heart you made the right choice, but the grief is not any different than with a cat dying in their sleep. May they live on in your wonderful writing, and may time lessen the tears and bring wistful memories instead. Love from a fan in Toronto.

Teresa Sadler said...

So, so sorry. Will have a hearty curse in Shipley's honour.

Lori Taylor said...

Tom,
No words can express my feelings of sorrow for you, just as no words,no matter how eloquently put, can describe or convey the personality of our beloved furry friends and what they indeed mean to us as cat lovers. You never know someone until you live with them, and the same goes for cats. You learn each other's behavior's and routines and in turn learn to live together, not always in harmony. I don't presume to know you on any account or level, therefore I wouldn't dare to judge you. I have yet to read any of your books, although I intend to eventually, all I do know is you are a lover of cats and that is enough for me to be a fan. I love knowing that someone cares sooo deeply for these unique creatures. I too have loved and lost many cats in my life, of witch 18 years being the longest one has owned me... Sushi was her name. I guess I really just want to say thank you for opening up and sharing your cats and your feelings towards cats. It's a passion for sure. As I said in the beginning, I know no words can express the sorrow, but I am truly sorry.

Lisa said...

Tom, I don't know you, however, you have brought your family of cats and the life you are willing to share to many people, me included, who take immense joy and also pain from your words and photography. I feel for you at this time as I remember my boy who sadly didn't quite make his 20th birthday and also as I look down at my own terminally sick Bear cat for whom sadly, the end is near. Please ignore the hateful remarks. Kindness is King. Look after yourself Tom. xx

Dee said...

Sad for you again. I've read your books and so have gotten to know that version of you and your kitties. Having lost three in 14 months in the last two years I get the piling of grief. We keep risking our hearts again. I too have one of those anonymous black cats that are hard to see except with our hearts.

Pluto said...

Like so many others I came to your writing through the MySadCat twitter account, but I keep reading because there's so much more. Thank you for sharing Shipley with us. As an American in today's political climate I found his creative swearing inspirational and cathartic. I admit to passing a fair bit of time admiring Shipley's vocabulary and watching Malcolm Tucker supercuts on the internet, always trying to up my own game. Shipley always made me think of my own talky (but much less assertive) black cat, who passed in much the same sudden way, and I may have to go through some old pictures tonight, play some Willie Nelson and relive some memories. I'm grateful for your writing, and thank you again for what you share with us.

Marieke Knies said...

So sorry for your loss. It's so hard to loose them...especially 2 in such short time. Always love what you write and this eulogy is beautiful, made me cry.

Kellie Stein said...

I'm so very sorry for your losses. The Bear and Shipley were very special - thank you for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for you. Reading it makes me feel better because i've lost my cat a few years ago and i've always felt kind of silly for being sad over a cat. It's just i loved her so much. You put it into words.
(SO sorry for my english, but I speak spanish, im from Argentina)

Anonymous said...

So sorry.

Mary and the family said...

Kindness is, indeed, the only choice. So sorry about Shipley. Take care of yourself.

Julia said...

Dear Tom, Roscoe and Ralph,
I am so sad to hear about Mr Bollocks Fucktrousers, a.k.a Shipley. I always thought of him as a needy genius; this opinion was strengthened when I read peer-reviewed research last year that individuals who swear a lot have higher intelligence. The breadth of his vocabulary seemed intergalactic at times. Tom, thank you for sharing your and your furbags' lives with us. Please don't let the obnoxious online comments get to you. There are far more people with bigger hearts and less narrow outlooks on life who love your writing and your cats....you seem not too much of a cockwomble too :)

In honour of Shipley, I intend to swear every hour, on the hour, for the rest of this week. Words on my list include furry fucktrousers (of course), cockwomble, shitpot twat willy, dipshit bell end and cock-juggling arsebadger.

Theresa Hicks, CCH said...

Oh Tom, I am so sorry for your loss and just two months since The Bear's passing. I do understand what you mean when you said that Shipley's passing hit you harder than the loss of The Bear. I have had many cats in my life but when Amelie died in Nov 2013, a large part of my heart died with her. She also had kidney disease. I still grieve for her and miss her more every day. I think that loving them and providing a good life is what we do in exchange for unconditional love. They are our friends and companions through all of life's challenges. I know that your good memories of Shipley and his sweary self will get you through the hard times. Sending my love and a hug from one cat parent to another. Theresa aka beadnutt1953@yahoo.com

PSMH said...

I'm so sorry, Tom.

jeesau said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss of Shipley. When I first read about him in your books, I thought your expression of his meowing as swearing to be genius. Since then, I think of my cat's noisy demands as little rants of profanity.

So, from a terribly rainy California on a grey afternoon, I send you my warmest regards (if that can be done through a computer screen). Thank you for sharing what you do with us -- words, photos, felines.

RIP dear cat.

Margaret K. said...

So sorry. So very sorry.
We have a Shipley - his name is Nipper. His twin, Buddy, was a friendlier version and we were devastated to lose him. I dread the day when Nipper leaves us, too.
Peace to you. Love to you and your pride.

meghanmckinney said...

I'm so sorry for you loss, Tom. The Bear and Shipley have made me smile for years. I don't know if it will help, but please know how many people share your grief and wish you (and George and Roscoe) well.
I had to make that choice quickly too, and my vet was wonderful. I got to spend that time with Millie, but I regret not telling her I love her. I was in tears and she always go so upset when I cried - I didn't want her to hear the tears and get upset. She went peacefully, after a long illness, so it wasn't totally unexpected, but it is still hard. When a pet is such a part of your life - a friend you've had for years, it can be hard. I put Millie to sleep two years ago today, and I still miss her. Even though I've adopted another cat who I love, Millie was with me through so much. There are just some pets that were meant to be in your life, and we carry them with us, in our hearts, forever.

Christine March said...

Oh Tom, it's so hard to believe you've lost Shipley so soon after The Bear. Sometimes the universe is an unfair and cruel place. But thank you - as always - for making me laugh out loud, through my tears. May it comfort you, just a bit, to know that Shipley and The Bear are deeply missed by so many who have come to know them through your books and blog. I will go through the rest of my life wishing I could swear like Shipley.

Harry said...

This is a beautiful essay. Yes we are more than Cat Parents, but yet identified by such. Your pain is felt by those of us that follow you, yet so is your humor, your walks, your music and other parts of you. As a catmom I understand your psin. As a genealogy librarian, a friend a sister and much more, thank you for sharing other parts of you. As a multiple cat parent i understand how one can get lost among the others when one is some prominent. We love them all for their individuality yet often are identified by one. May Shipley rest in peace. Hugs from Texas...Sue Kaufman

James D. Ward said...

I'm sorry, mate. This is a lovely tribute. Looking forward to the new book.

Sandi-mom said...

Oh Tom, Ralph and Roscoe, I am so very sorry for the loss of Shipley, so soon after the loss of The Bear. I know that your writings here, must be a great way to let some pain out, with the striking of the keys as you pour your heart out. Wish you knew how your readers and followers knew just what to say right now. My wish is for Shipley & The Bear to come to your dreams, your visions as you will be reminded of every inch of your house, bed, feeding station, hole in the carpet, the grounds they loved to roam....I am looking at my little house now, seeing our beloved Baxter (Ralph's total look alike) and remember his favorite places to sit to look out the windows at the Roadrunners and Quail, and people go by. Baxter passed very similar to Shipley, noticing his back legs wouldn't hold him up. After two weeks, many tests, vet visits, special food / diet, our sweet furry boy cat looked up at me and meowed the saddest meow, and I knew that was his cry for .... please let me go. Crying for days, grieving him always, loving him forever. One fine day, we will all be reunited with our furry pets, very very special members of our families. Wish I could give you hugs in person. Thank you for sharing the lives of your sweet, sassy, swearing, silly, very loved cats with us. I will cherish your books even more now. Shipley, may you and your brother The Bear rest in Pet Heaven pain free forevermore. Ralph & Roscoe, cuddle up way more to your sad broken hearted humans; I know you will feel the loss too.
(((((Big Hugs from Sandi, in Arizona...USA)))))

Sherry F said...

I love your writing Tom and, in common with everyone else (surely!) that's encountered your books, I'm entirely enamoured with your cats. I wish I had the talent to bring my own pack to life so vibrantly!

Reading is my way of coping with the most difficult times in my life - such as when Mum's cancer returned in 2014, through to when we lost her a year later. During that time I reread all of your books (that I had at the time). I found solace in becoming utterly absorbed in someone else's world. Although the Bear was a beautiful soul, Shipley was my favourite because of his FUCK YOU WORLD! attitude (of which, as an aspiring anarchist, I highly approve) and because he made me laugh. I remember introducing his @MySwearyCat Twitter feed to a colleague at work. He laughed so hard his nose ran. Proper can't-get-your-breath laughter from both of us as we scrolled through Shipley's colourful posts.

I'd been thinking about Mum tonight, and how it was at the end. Thinking about how short and precious life is, and how tightly we need to hold those that we love. How much we should treasure those that bring us joy - indeed every moment of joy. So I came upon this news and read your heart-rending eulogy with blurry eyes.

Thank you for sharing such raw emotion. Such things connect us all. We all understand love and grief. And thank you for your wonderful writing, your wonderful stories and for letting us share your wonderful cat-filled world. Long may you continue.

RIP Shipley. xxx

Anonymous said...

Tom, I'm so sorry about Shipley. Thank you for sharing a little bit of him with us.

Stacy D said...

I like all your cats equally, they are all unique, like friends- and that's what makes them special. You seem to me like a really cool guy who loves his cats and the people he calls friends. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing your cats and yourself with us. Peace

David said...

Sweary cats are a constant reminder not to take our lives too seriously. They sneer and grumble and generally disdain the tendency of humans to get too full of ourselves.

You have written a magnificent ode to a cat who lived every day right up to the point where he couldn't. I have had cats like that. I am sorry for your loss, but happy that you had the time together. Deep breath. Hug your remaining kits, and when the time is right, rescue another one.

Autumn said...

Oh darling Shipley, how sad I am to see you leave us, you magnificently sweary little chap. So sorry for your loss Tom, I can only begin to imagine how you must be feeling; lots of love to you, Ralph, and Roscoe.

Bonnie said...

I just want to day I love you. And your cats. And your sheep friends. Seriously I love you from over here in Canada.

Ceridwen said...

Dear Tom, everything I wanted to say is already said in the previous posts. So, take care man and all the best to you.

Sheila said...

I'm so sorry. I can't imagine how hard this must be. I loved reading about Shipley. Thank you for sharing him with us. Please try to ignore the callous bastards who don't get it.
I think you are an amazing writer, and I'm really looking forward to reading your next book. Please take care.

Carol Brouwer said...

So sorry for your loss of Shipley, Tom. You gave him a great life. Thank you for sharing him with us through your wonderful books.
Carol

Elaine said...

So sorry to read this Tom. I know how you feel. I lost my Pandora in May last year and, although it was expected at some time because she had chronic renal disease, I am still in shock and grief. At my son's request we had her cremated so she could stay with us but I am still unable to look at or touch her casket. She was probably the least known of my three cats. Velvet is the character and Athena is the baby. Pandora was just mine and didn't want to know anything about anyone but her immediate family. People said she was aloof and unloving, but I know that the other two would scoot off the bed when the food was being doled out but Pandora would prefer to stay with me. They are all special, but some are even more so. Love to you all. X

Linda Oostmeyer said...

That was a moving tribute. I understand the hard decision of what is doing the right thing for a beloved pet as opposed to our desire to keep them here with us. I cry with you dear Tom, as I know your heartache. Take comfort in knowing that the Bear was there to welcome him home.

AfternoonNapper said...

Though it may not be any solace, it is nonetheless worth mentioning that I for one do wish I knew the real you. My assumption is that I would like you — not for happiness and fluff but for what I perceive as a bit of petulance and eternal sorrow mixed with the ability to see beauty in the littlest things. And, well yes, cats. Always cats. Sending resonate purrs from oversea friends Penelope (white and black) and Trouvé (black and white).

Anonymous said...

Tom, I was gifted your books recently. Have enjoyed reading about your kitties so much. Sad to know Shipley has gone to join The Bear.
There are no words, just tears. We never have them long enough...

Joanne

coopersview said...

I am so very sorry to hear of Shipley's passing, especially so soon after The Bear. I truly enjoyed becoming acquainted with each of them, and your entire brood (fur-covered and humans) through your books and blog posts, so thank you for sharing them with an entire world of strangers. Please take care, and take comfort knowing that because of your art, countless, anonymous strangers fell head over heels in love with wise The Bear, foul-mouthed Shipley, the most handsomest cat in the world (Ralph) darling, stealthy Roscoe, and all the rest. Hugs from the States.

Paul Taylor said...

All the best Tom & Ralph & Roscoe. Take care of all that you love and I hope that your pain will soften and that the sun will soon shine brighter. Paul & Deb & Light Fandango

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking for you. Two huge holes.

Anonymous said...

So very, very sorry for your loss. But thank you for sharing your life's impressions with your readers...We are better people for it.

Arynn said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I discovered you and your furry friends because of The Bear being shared by one of my facebook friends, and as a cat lover myself I wanted to read more. My mom and I both loved the books, because what's better than to read about cats (especially while snuggling cats!). Shipley's antics always brought a smile to my face. Thank you for sharing him with us, he was very loved.

ella said...

So sorry to hear about Shipley. Thank you for sharing his wonderful character a little bit with us random internet-people. <3

Carla Buttner said...

Thank you for the generous way that you share your life. You have made me love your cats too, and for the second time in as many months I grieve for a cat I know but never met. You are an extraordinary man Tom Cox. I love your photos, your humor and your kind spirit.

sjayr said...

As heartbreakingly sad it is to picture you without Shipley (even though many of us have never met him, or you)we can't but help insert ourselves in the experience as we recall our own losses. The beauty here, at least for me, is the outpouring of love, affection and sincere appreciation for Shipley, and you. In that you've shared so much of your life and your cats, and also, their passing. The world's a bit mad right now, so I want to truly thank you for the opportunity to witness the INVOLVEMENT, the REACTION, the CONNECTION you've created through your writing. That seems quite wonderful to me. Not to mention the proliferance of f-bombs, as we call them in North America, in these comments and Twitter. That's just fucking awesome. Rest easy Shipley, and enjoy spreading the joy of sweariness in the heavens.

caroline Davison said...

I'm in tears with you once again,I have an 18 year old black cat and this is a reminder that all the best things must come to an end- Shipley,as did The Bear,was a much loved cat and had a happy life with you.
Sending love and hugs from New Zealand xxxx

Keira McKenzie said...

I am so sorry you have lost Shipley. It is a terrible pain. They take up so little physical space yet are huge in every other sense. Keep your heart warm, Mr Cox.

Kemberly Herding said...

Mere words of condolence seem woefully inadequate, but I will offer them nonetheless: I am deeply sorry for your loss, and thank you for allowing us a look at your gloriously foulmouthed friend as you knew him.

Rest gently, Shipley.

Leslie Walden said...

I'm brokenhearted for you. Know that many of us didn't believe Shipley to be less and loved him in his own right. We also know we can't know in tweets and don't seek to pigeonhole you based on them. I will keep you and your kitties in my thoughts. Peace.

lillito said...

I am so happy you had the many years with him that you did and sorry for the pain of missing him now. Great love to you.

Alice (Dot) (also Rockhen) said...

I'm so sorry you have lost this beloved and characterful cat. It must have been a terribly hard decision to make to let him go, but you were thinking of his comfort and well-being to the end. From reading your books and this website I'm really struck by the level of love and attention you give your cats and I think they live very good lives. I enjoyed reading about Shipley and have shed some tears for him, reading your post this morning. How could anyone confuse him with The Bear? He was unique.

The internet can be a cruel and stupid place. What strikes me about it is that, while it can offer connection with wonderful people one wouldn't otherwise have any dealings with, it's also a place in which one can be grossly misunderstood to a degree that's almost inconceivable in face-to-face life. It's not just the lack of context, it's encountering people who import an utterly different context, who make totally different assumptions about what's funny, or what an allusion might allude to, or what's obviously true. Plus there is, often, the lack of a presumption of good intent. When we talk to our friends we fill in the gaps in the conversation in a charitable way - we assume that comments are relevant, meant well etc. On the internet, perhaps especially on Twitter, that often doesn't happen. And it's exhausting. But as someone who loves your short writing as well as your long, I'm glad you make the effort.

Natalia said...

Dear Tom. I am so incredibly sorry about passing of your wonderful, foulmouthed, gregarious friend Shipley! It breaks my heart that there will no longer be photos or updates about his adventures and it feels as if I've lost a cat of my own. I was lucky to get to know him through your books where every mention of his wild punk ways invariably brought a smile to my face and made me laugh. Just like The Bear he will continue to live on in your writing and will not be forgotten. My thoughts are with you...

O said...

I lost my cat on the exact same day last year, so this hit me hard. Although I never knew Shipley personally, his presence on the internet always brightened up my day.

I am so, so sorry for your loss. I hope you are coping well, and send hugs to Roscoe and Ralph.

Anonymous said...

Tom, another beautiful piece of writing. So sorry your home will be missing yet another piece of its soul. The internet is just an extension of the real world, which unfortunately can be as cruel as it is sublime. I hope you find your inner Shipley to just say 'lick my furry bellstick' to the lot of them. Thank you for all that you do. RIP beautiful Shipley.

Jacquline said...

Love you, love your cats, love your words. I cried like a baby after reading about The Bear's passing, and this hits me just as hard. I'm a cat lover through-and-through, but I think it's more a testament to your writing, really, because I feel like I know these cats... with their huge personalities, and so I feel the hugeness of the loss.
I've got two black cats here with me (one of whom has her ass halfway on the keyboard atm, making typing a task...but anyways), I'll be giving them extra love and appreciation today. Thanks for sharing yours with us. Much love.

Sherril Gurney said...

Oh Tom, I am so desperately sorry. I feel for you. I have loved reading about you and your beloved fur babies through your books. I lost my Bella in September whilst I was battling cancer and now I am feeling the excruciating pain of knowing that my dear Cleo's time is most likely near. I saw your heading and just burst into tears. For so many reasons. The Bear. Now Shipley. Two beautiful souls. You don't know me, I don't know you personally, but I just want to send you warm hugs anyway. It just hurts so much to lose them.

Mo said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I fell in love with all of your cats through your books, and I cannot thank you enough for sharing them with us.
I don't care what anyone says, cats are as loved a family members, and it is a huge part of your life when one passes away.
You have wonderfukl memories, and both the Bear and SHipley have had an amazing loving life with you. Thank god it was you that brought up these wonderful creatures as no one could have written so beautifully about them.

Amelia said...

I don't ever comment, for the exact reason that I would never assume to really know anything about the 'real' you; I simply enjoy your writing for what it is. But the fact that today you've talked about that exact thing made this feel like the right time to do so. Having said that, there's nothing specific I wanted to say. In fact I don't know what to say. I just wanted to acknowledge what you'd written, as well as express my sadness and understanding for your loss of a great friend. There is a lot of kindness out there, but the online world seems to cause some people to forget how to be kind. It's a strange place.

Take care, and be kind to yourself 💙

Tory said...

Hi Tom,

Firstly, I'd like to say that I'm very sorry for your loss. Losing a friend is the worst thing in the world and I don't think people put enough value on what it's like to lose a pet friend. A cat is a friend who is literally always there for you. Good day, bad day, whatever, a cat doesn't care or judge, cats see us at our very worst and they're still just there, being our friends. No human could ever match that kind of companionship. There's a quote I read that helped me when I lost a human friend a few years ago but I like to share it with people who have lost their pets because I think it sums up the feeling so well:

Losses are very personal and comparisons never apply. No loss counts more than another. It is your loss that counts for you. It is your loss that affects you. Your loss is deep and deserves your personal attention without comparison. You are the only one who can survey the magnitude of your loss. No one will ever know the meaning of what was shared, the deepness of the void that shadows your future. You alone know your loss.

To me, that quote is important because it combats when people say "it was just a cat", there is no such thing as "just a cat", you lost a friend and you deserve to grieve over that with the same dignity as anyone who has lost someone they love. It is not fair or kind for someone who has had a "bigger" tragedy to judge you for your reaction to your loss, everyone is entitled to feel grief when they lose someone they love, cat or human.

Secondly, I would just like to thank you for sharing your cats with the world. I have read all your cat books and relate so intensely to all of them. I'm just a cat loving woman, here in little New Zealand, half way around the world but your books made me feel proud to be a "crazy cat lady". You are the kind of cat guardian I aim to be with my 4 cats (Tigger, Jake, Mandy and Will). I loved Shipley and The Bear and feel your loss as if I knew the boys myself, in real life. You write so brilliantly, in such detail, it feels like you truly captured their personalities and put them into words that made us all know and love them like you do.

Lastly, I just want to encourage you to never stop doing what you're doing. I know people are cruel and hateful on the Internet but there are also fans like me, who love reading your writing. Reading about your cats and your dad and the rest of your crazy, country life is so interesting and enjoyable. Your books have made me laugh and cry, as have these beautiful tributes to Shipley and The Bear. Please don't let a few idiotic people bring you down, be a Shipley and say "kiss my hairy balls, fuckfaces!"

Tory, New Zealand.

Pinny said...

Oh Tom. It's so strange that you don't know me, as through your books and your love of cats I feel we are kindred spirits and friends. And as a friend I am so very sorry, what a blow to come so soon after The Bear. Sending much love.

Stephen Willett said...

Very sorry to be reading your beautiful piece about Shipley's end. As with The Bear,
I am sure we will all be hugging our beloved cats that little bit tighter.

Anonymous said...

Losing my two 16 year-old cats in 2014 was heart-breaking. Reading your posts brought it all back....but happy memories surface and we are better people having loved and received love from these amazing animals.

Plastic Fruit UK said...

Farewell Shipley, he felt like an honorary friend through your writing. Sending you my condolences.

Yvonne Aburrow said...

I am very sorry to hear this, Tom. Shipley sounds like an awesome mogbeast - one of a kind.

I am also sorry to hear that complete strangers are abusive towards you on the internet.

I get people assuming things about me, too, but I usually just think "what a wanker". It can still be painful - especially if you bare your soul more than I do in blogging and books.

Mary Dowdeswell said...

Thank you Tom, We recently lost 2 of our furry friends, Wonderful Cretan ferals with attitude. Jacko, loud and manic and Ricky with many bits missing (tail, ears and front paw) within 3 weeks of each other. So sending you love and kind thoughts, it's hard but didn't we have a great time with them....

Debbie Underwood said...

I actually said OH NO out loud in the office when I read this, an hour ago. I am heart-sore for you. 30 years of being owned by cats, and having to say goodbye to many means I can say I truly empathize.
Only this morning me and our 2 current cays, Pagan and Minxy-mou were lying in bed listening to husband chuckling away...he was on the loo, reading The The Good and Bad and the Furry, which he got me for Christmas, and is his current Morning Book, (I devoured mine at one sitting - not on the loo! ). What a lot of fun and joy your cats have bought to us, as well as you, and each other and everyone else out there.
So very very sorry. What a fabulous little character he sounded.

Carolyn (Longtime reader, new subscriber) said...

Oh Tom. My heart ached as I read the sad news about Shipley. I loved seeing the photos of him upside on your lap, paws akimbo, wanting tickles. The feline gods have certainly been very hard on you this past few months but I hope that Ralph and Roscoe are both doing well. Perhaps it will soon be time for you to give another small furry creature the chance to enjoy the love and lifestyle Shipley and The Bear thrived on so well for so long. Thank you for the wonderful writing, the shared love of cats and your openness.

Gwenfar's Garden said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Shippley's death. We had to make the decision to put our beloved cat Merlyn to sleep, when he got terribly ill with FIV. It was once of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make and sometimes I still, 2.5 years on, still feel guilty about. I go through a lot of 'what ifs', despite having tried everything and the Vet saying there was nothing else they could do. I understand just how hard it must have been to make the decision for Shipley, and ache for your loss.

How hard it must be for you, losing two cats in such a short space of time. If it helps, I always feel you love each cat as much as the other. Each has their own personality and your love for each seemed equal.

The internet can be a hard place at times, but it can also be a good place. Just be yourself and anyone else can just fuck off. It's your Twitter account, they can choose not to follow/engage.

Thank you for sharing the news of Shipley's death with us. I'm bawling for him just as I did The Bear. We will miss Sweary Cat. No doubt he is in cat heaven abusing everyone with his usual verve. Hugs to you Tom.

Sweet Camden Lass said...

Sleep tight Shipley. Sweetest dreams.

Thank you for sharing all four kitties with us. I'm horribly allergic to cats - so I have to enjoy them vicariously.

That sounds like a horrible day. But there will be better days, when you're ready for them.

*hugs*

Anonymous said...

So sorry, I know the pain...

Dotty Jo x said...

A truly fabulous tribute, Tom. Having lost two furry companions myself I have some understanding of how raw this must be for you. Sending love. x

Debbie Underwood said...

I did already try and post, but am rubbish at this stuff, so have ho clue where it went or if I managed it Anyway. I just wanted to say, having now fully read your article, instead of just the first part, with the Shipley news, what a brilliant piece that is, I couldn't agree more about social media which, as an utter techno-ludditie I constantly get wrong! I do a sort of blog on Facebook and the amount of times I seem to upset or even outrage people by what I think are funny, or off centre comments and views to do with my life and my cats makes me despair!! And give up, which I do a regular basis until I forget the angst and start the whole thing off again. And that's without ever venturing onto Twitter. Long live, authors like you, and books, and proper well though out and sensitivity written pieces as this was.

Coulinjo said...

Thank you, Tom, for your words. Your words always leave me with hope - something that the Internet (or is is in lower case internet in this case?) doesn't always provide. Reading about Shipley's death while listening to Smith Street Band, and drinking red wine leaves me wrung out. I wish I could give you what you give me.

Anonymous said...

Aw dear Shipley, RIP marvellous cat. I am so sorry for your loss, Tom, I will really miss Shipley and his wonderful turns of phrase. I loved the fact he usually had his teeth on show, mid-chat, in his photos but the one of him upside down on the cushion is fabulous too. You did the right and kindest thing, but I know it hurts. You're right about social media - it's turning the world upside down and it's hard not to be affected by it. I preferred it when we were all a bit mysterious. Though then I wouldn't know about Sweary Cat - bless his foul-mouthed soul. Be kind to yourself, and please know that the vast (VAST!) majority of us are on your side and the others are a waste of atoms. RIP SHIPLEY!

Annie A said...

I felt very sad to hear about the beautiful sweary Shipley, and having just read this wonderful piece you've written Tom, I have tears pouring down my face. One of my cats is currently shouting at me (she worries when anyone in the family is upset) & I have just cuddled her (perhaps a little too tightly!). It's so hard losing our little furry pals, but I for one would rather endure the pain of this loss than never have had the privilege & pleasure of a life spent with these wonderful little souls (& giving them the life that they deserve). I hope you take comfort from your memories & all the wonderful photos of Shipley, keep writing Tom! Don't ever let the b******s get you down, and yes, I do believe that kindness is they key to inner happiness!

Tamasine said...

I had tears reading this difficult piece, but also through that came a chuckle. Shipley was truely a class act friend, and the loss of a friend hurts like hell. I lost three of my best last year, broken hearted and lost without them, saw two ol snagglepusses on the RSPCA internet, who's owner had died needed a home. THey knew how I felt, afterall they lost their person. People thought I was mad taking in two cats of 15 and 12, but these two gingerpuds have brought pure joy to my world in just their first 6 months.

See, I believe social media can do so much good too. I wouldn't have found my new best friends without it. I also wouldn't ever have heard of inspirational writer, 70s lover, gentle nature loving, cat bloke Tom Cox.

Tom I hope you read what people have written in response to your blog. I for one would totally miss, your pictures that make me miss what I love about England, your funny cat quips, that remind us all that cats are people to, but all of that leads us to your writing and that's bigger than any small minded individuals jealous rant on a fleeting piece of social media. bless you and the pusses past and present.

Jane said...

Oh Tom, sorry to hear about beautiful Shipley so soon after the Bear. I feel your sadness. Shipley was a little beaut x

Liz Mc Loughlin said...

So heartbreaking for you Tom. I loved your obvious joy in his rock and roll irreverence. Your pieces moved me to uncontrollable tears, the depth of your love for both of them was truly magical. Take care of yourself xx

Solstice Yarns said...

So sorry to hear about your loss, Tom. I have sobbed, reading your beautiful tribute, for your loss and , selfishly , remembering cat friends I have lost and will lose in the future. I'm currently reading your books and absolutely loving them, becoming acquainted with your cats and their individual personalities and your descriptions and appreciation of the great outdoors, not to mention the human highs and lows. The internet can be an infuriating and daunting "place" at times but I thank it for bringing writing like yours to my attention. Sending hugs ( I know internet hugs are meaningless...but it would be a real one if possible) and extra scritches to Ralph and Roscoe. x

Jane H said...

Tom... we lost our cat, Jack, last month in the exact same circumstances... one minute here, the next - gone. And, like Shipley, he has left this enormous hole in our lives. He was definitely a "dog cat"... I'm sure you know what I mean. We loved him so so much... we will miss him forever. We all knew Shipley through you, your books, social media... and we loved him too so it's incredibly wonderful of you to share your story with us. You're right that Social Media has it's bad, evil nasty face... but turn it over, and it gave us you - and Shipley and The Bear... We all cry together for the loss of our beloved cats... they are family. Big hugs. Rest in Peace little guy... go play with Jack... you'd have gotten along really well xxxx

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