Forever Loved: Antin

Forever Loved: Antin

If you are loved, you are strong.

If you are Antin, you are stronger than death.

As I write these words, I feel as weak as an orphaned kitten. Death leaves us breathless even when it enters the front door. But none of us saw it coming this time.

Antin never believed in fanfare. If you are strong enough, you let your love do the talking. If you are Antin, your love is always talking.

Everyone was talking when the new tuxedo arrived in 2022. No one knew how he became paralyzed in adulthood. His back story was threadbare. All we knew was that a distinguished cat had arrived, with long legs that would not walk, and kind eyes that would run to meet yours.

Antin distinguished himself daily. He dressed for breakfast as if for an audience with kings and queens. He welcomed plain mornings like they were the best thing that ever happened to him. He welcomed plain people like we were the best thing that ever happened to him.

He never outgrew the shock of being here, in the sun, with us.

If you are loved, you become ever more astonished, not less. If you are Antin, you grow large enough to contain galaxies.

Antin was legendary for legions of reasons. He was the first cat to move from the Community Room to the Lobby to the Community Room to the Lobby, for the delicate veterinary diagnosis of “he wanted to, and we love him.”

He modeled a kilt-like “drag bag” with humor and style, just one set of bagpipes short of leading a parade. He modeled unfailing patience as we expressed his bladder and expressed our secrets into his ever-open ears.

If you are loved, you never need to crawl, even if your back legs don’t work. If you are Antin, you believe everything works in your favor.

He laughed out loud — I am telling you, I heard him — every time someone confused him with “the other paraplegic Lobby tuxedo.” Mr. Rogers and Gandhi bore more in common with Olive than Antin did.

But if you are loved, you are always laughing. If you are strong, you are able to laugh at yourself. If you are Antin, you are able to forget everything sad that ever came before.

If you are Antin, you are able to convince humans that everything sad can be redeemed.

We did not know Antin’s past, but he reminded us of the future. He dressed us up in gentleness. His big eyes never landed on anyone other than a friend.

His big meow — studly, stately, suited to the hero or toreador in an opera — never spoke anything false. It often spoke of the acute shortage of crunchymunchies in the Lobby.

If you are loved, you are never alone. If you are Antin, this extends beyond the end.

We do not know just what went wrong on the first Sunday of spring, only that Drew was Antin’s angel through unspeakable hours.

Antin’s front legs were usually mightier than the “World’s Strongest Men,” those athletes who pull eighteen-wheelers with a single index finger. But on Sunday, one leg gave out entirely. Combined with an irregular heartbeat, this suggested a clot.

But, no. Throughout the day, Antin’s neurological status declined, until love was left with only one option.

In the arms of receptionist Sharon, with whom he was smitten; with squeeze-treats on that tongue that always told the truth; Antin gently left the world he changed.

If you are loved, you never leave. If you are Antin, you come back in memories that will keep us strong.

I will not whitewash this day in pastels. We are broken at Tabby’s Place. We are falling apart, falling safe into a species who does not need language to love. The cats are comforting us. We are comforting each other. Antin is comforting us.

If you are loved, you resurrect in memories. If you are Antin, you are everyone’s favorite memory.

On the night of Antin’s death, our Board and Staff turned from human beings into a river. I am telling you, I saw it.

One paralyzed tuxedo cat was adored and adored and adored and adored. The whitecaps rose and rushed together in the words you are about to read. Do not try to restrain your tears. Step into the current and let love take you. It will give more than it takes, even on a day like this.

That same terrible night, a kitten was born. We had waited, long and anxious, for shy Saturn to have her litter. The hour seemed late. But no sooner had Antin crossed the veil, than one new life cried forth. Saturn had a baby, delicate and marmalade. He was less than three ounces.

If you are loved, you do not need to be strong. Love will be strong. Love will take turns being strong for everyone.

Drew — the same Drew who tenderly carried Antin through his final day — would be the newborn’s foster mother.

If you love, you carry Antin’s legacy. If you are Antin, your love lives forever.

New life on a night of tears

Ready your Kleenex for what follows. Thank you, beloved friends. Your words are a balm. And thank you to those who grieve beyond language. Your love speaks across silences. Antin adored you all.

Allison, Board: “I always thought of Antin as a classy butler at the Waldorf Astoria. The way he would sit up in his tuxedo suit all put together (couldn’t see his diaper). He had gorgeous soulful eyes and long white whiskers. I’d lean down to him and say ‘Hello Antin!’ and he would look into my eyes and in a classy deep voice say ‘Meow.’ Such a classy gentleman he was. He loved to be petted and he loved sleeping in Valerie’s big dog bed. Love him dearly.”

Carolyn, Staff: “Antin was a sweetheart who knew exactly how to get whatever he wanted. From his start in foster, to his debut in the Community Room (and then his move to the Lobby, a move back to the Community Room, and finally back to the Lobby), he has had us all wrapped around his paws and doing his bidding. Antin’s antics knew no bounds. From breaking into donated treats and food and appearing like magic when a treat bag was crinkled, to putting on the biggest dramatics when crated and slipping out of his diapers; Antin was a treasured part of Tabby’s Place. I’ll miss him so much, and am so glad that he was ours.”

Grace, Staff: “Antin was such a cornerstone of the lobby. From lounging on his mega bed, to scooting up to you and looking at you with those soulful eyes, Antin commanded attention and adoration wherever he went. He truly was one of the sweetest and gentlest cats to grace this earth, and so stoically tolerant of us dressing him up, both for fun and to try to keep him from wiggling out of his diaper.”

Jae, Staff (Antin’s foster parent during his initial quarantine period): “Antin Shmantin … Antin arrived unexpectedly one day on our doorstep and left us just as suddenly as he came – a marvelous mystery wrapped up in a handsome tuxedo suit. Antin adored everyone and had no hesitations when asking for food or love. When he was at my house for his initial quarantine period, he would crawl over to the edge of my bed, put his front paws up, and scream at me until I picked him up and placed him in my bed. (I ever forgave him when he pooped on my blankets – twice.) He loved nothing more than to be with people, snuggle, and make near constant mini muffins with his front paws. I will miss hearing his morning greeting from his crate and seeing his bright and expectant face every time I walk through the Lobby.”

Karina, Staff: “I’m crying so hard as I write this goodbye for my friend. Antin was one of my favorites, and he always made me smile when he scooted over to me in the lobby. When he looked up at you with those soulful eyes, you knew you were in the presence of a gentle angel. It was our ritual for me to say ‘hi, Mr. Handsome,’ and he would meow back to me. You are in my heart forever, Antin.”

Kitty LeFey, Board: “It is impossible to think of Antin without also thinking of Tabby’s Place staff, volunteers, and visitors. He loved us totally and completely. We loved him deeply and truly. His personality – so sweet and gentle. His bearing – so regal…and so silly. His whiskers – magnificent! We all had our special rituals with Antin, each one a recognition of how truly special he was, and I am grateful to him for being one of my rescuers. He may have been at Tabby’s Place for only 2 years, but time is irrelevant. Antin is forever cherished, forever ours.”

Rey, Staff: “Antin was such a kind soul who truly did not have a mean bone in his body. He went through a lot but always took it in stride. He always came running up for treats and he was such a good boy for everything we did to him even when it was unpleasant. I will forever miss his presence in the lobby and he was definitely so loved by all. He was the sweetest boy, and he did not deserve this life. Tabby’s Place will never be the same without him.”

Sarah, Board: “I am heartbroken to say goodbye to my friend Antin. He was a kind soul who was content with the simple pleasures of a few treats and a warm lap to lay on. Antin endured more than his fair share of struggles, yet now he runs free across the rainbow bridge. I will deeply miss his sweet face and gentle spirit, and I feel honored to have had the privilege of knowing him.”

Sharon, Staff: “Sweet Antin, words cannot describe how much you will be missed by everyone. I will always remember your baritone meows, adorable muffins, and how you could hear a treat bag opening from a mile away. You have won over our love a million times. Thank you for keeping me company at the front desk, and making sure I knew where the treats were. The lobby will not be the same without you. I miss you so much already.”

Sue, Board: “Antin was just the most wonderful soul. With his saggy diaper that was usually dragging around his knees to his little earnest face gazing up with a ‘please put me in your lap’ expression, he always made me laugh and smile. No matter what stressors were in my life on any given day, a quick visit with Antin was all it took to make the day better. I mourn this enormous loss with all of you today. Thank you all for being his world and for giving him the best life. He knew how much he was treasured.”

Tiana, Staff: “I’m truly lost for words tonight. Antin was such a wonderful boy, a huge presence for all of us. I think of his early days when he was in the Community Room, where I’d sometimes hang out to do paperwork with him. One of the fondest memories that I have of Antin is, one morning, I was walking into the Lobby, and volunteer Larry was sitting in one of the lobby chairs eating chips. Antin, of course, was at his feet begging for some crunchies, to which Larry so hilariously said, ‘no self respecting cat would eat Doritos, Antin.’ I will forever love and miss Mr. Shmantin, his morning sad boy meows and his cute little face when he’s begging for lap time. Run free, little buddy.”

Tiff, Staff: “Antin was a gentle giant! He trusted us from day one and stole every single one of our hearts. I can’t imagine what his life was like before us, but I can bet that he didn’t know real love until he blessed us with his perfect presence. He tolerated so much, between the butt baths, the drag bags, and just letting us take advantage of him. I can’t stop crying as I think of what else I could possibly say about Antin and his puuuurrrfect soul. He will forever be in our hearts, and we are beyond lucky to have had him in our lives.”

Photo credits from top: Pat, Allison, Carolyn, Grace, Jae, Tiana, Tiff, Drew, Carolyn, Grace, Jae, Tiff, Carolyn, Jae, Allison

1 thought on “Forever Loved: Antin

  1. Fall in love with Tabby’s Place. Fall in love with Antin. Fall in love with life. Finally, weary and unable to walk, he left. Knowing he was loved. The little marmalade born in the same night should be named Antiny.

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