As some of you saw on Facebook, I had to put down one of our cats on Friday night.

Pod was the last of the three kittens my mother got for me back in 1997. The advantage to having a mother who works for a vet is that there are plenty of potential pets to rescue. The caveat is that these pets are sometimes … broken.

Pod’s rear leg was a mess. When he sat down, it would swivel out at an odd angle. My friend Emily was the one who pointed out that it looked like Pod was flipping you off. (If you scratched under his chin, he’d shake that leg to flip you off more emphatically.)

You can see him below hanging out with Flop, the slightly cross-eyed one, who is now the last of those three cats still with us.

When he was old enough, the vet amputated his bad leg (which happened to be the only spot on his body with white fur). It didn’t slow him down.

Pod grew up to be the punk of the family. He’s the one who would jump up on the couch for head scratchings, and would gently bat at you with his paw if you dared to stop paying attention to him. He was persistent, too. It didn’t matter how many times you removed him, he’d leap right back up.

If you scratched his chin just right, he would sometimes start to drool. When he was older, he’d steal the dogs’ beds and growl at them if they tried to take them back. He’d also growl if they dared to walk too close to one of his nests. Just to remind them who was boss.

For such a scraggly-looking kitten, he grew up to be a gorgeous cat, with a big old mane. He also developed a shoe fetish. For a while there, we’d always find him stretched out with his front paws in my wife’s sandals or my daughter’s shoes.

When we put in the bookshelves in our living room, he claimed one of the bottom shelves as his own personal cave. He developed chronic congestion troubles in his old age, meaning when he came onto the couch for petting, not only would he bat you with his paw, he was also likely to sneeze on you. That cat could shoot some impressive snot rockets on occasion.

Pod made it into my books, too. He was the ship’s cat in The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. I believe he may have popped up in at least one other book in that series.

We knew he was having trouble when he stopped growling at the dogs.

I’ll leave you with one last pic, which I think sums up Pod pretty well.