An Ode to Sing Sing

Sing Sing poised to attack any interloper with her famed, right-front paw.

Sing Sing was one tough cat.

Born just outside the gate of the famous prison near New York City and named for it, she was the only kitten from her litter to survive.

Sing Sing was a gift to our daughter when Cecylia was almost six. The kitten promptly bit and scratched her and ran off to hide under something.

She weighed about five pounds and stood about a foot tall. For the first part of her life, she spent much of the time outside, hunting snakes and toads near our home in upstate New York. She often would be gone for several days at a time during her hunts.

It took about 10 years before anyone could hold her without getting bitten.

I was never a cat person, but somehow she became my cat. She enjoyed jaunts around the outside ledge of my apartment building in Philadelphia when I commuted between the city and upstate New York. She only fell off the ledge once.

About five years ago, she decided that being petted and sitting in my lap or on my chest were somewhat enjoyable until she would bite me and head off to sulk.

Three years ago, she couldn’t hear anymore and had trouble eating. But she was still the queen of the house, beating back our dogs and other cats. No one messed with Sing. If a cat could yell, she did, along with a fair amount of hissing. But she did purr sometimes from her perch on the kitchen island, where she often planned her attacks on people and animals.

When we got a new dog in 2015, she promptly smacked the 100-pound Great Pyrenees in the snout to demonstrate who was the boss.

Sing Sing lived for the sun and spent hours baking outside. If she’d been a person, she clearly would have been a beach bum.

At the end, she didn’t suffer. But it was clear she couldn’t rally yet another time from the brink of death.

Sing Sing died last week at the age of 19, arguably the most interesting and independent animal I’ve ever met. She will be missed.