I have what many would consider an inappropriate amount of grief for a cat. But I have to ask: what is the appropriate amount?

5. In the middle of the night, he would jump into bed, burrow under the covers, then pop up with his head directly on Rita's (my wife's) pillow, the rest of him still covered, but with both his paws touching her neck.

4. How when I held him, he would wrap his arms around me and hold his head tight against my neck. I've never known a cat that would actually hug you.

Other days have been short gasps of grief, eyes welling at the sight of a favorite toy or the now barren place by the heat register where he would curl up on cold Michigan afternoons. (A place where my other cat will no longer roam.)

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When I worked at my desk, Bongo used to jump up and nudge me until I would unzip the top of my hoodie enough so he could climb inside and curl up against my shoulder and stomach. He could stay that way for hours. Sometimes I would forget that he was there. I would get up for a cup of coffee and realize that I still had a cat in my sweatshirt.

According to the rules that many men still live by, if I absolutely had to grieve over an animal, a large dog would be much more appropriate. Which would seem to indicate that grief is proportional to the size, weight and genus of said deceased animal. Which is a nice way of saying that a goodly part of the world believes that a two hundred pound man should probably get over the death of a 10 pound tabby in about a couple of days. Shake it off, dude. It's a cat.

We feel what we feel. Grief is involuntary. Grief has no proportion to weight or size, genus or gender.

I just wanted to write about the gifts that this small furry creature had given me. Even then, by using the past tense, I was trying to get used to the idea of him being gone. I don't know if it helped or not, but at least I have this short record of him now. And at least I was writing something.

Why? Because dogs are bigger, sloppier, smellier, not to mention pack oriented. All of which is to say, more like men. Cats are supposed to be feminine because they're smaller, cleaner, elusive and mysterious. There's plenty for feminists to unpack here, but suffice to say that societal perception of companion animals still feels a lot like Bros before Hos.

Imagine this: I have even cried as I cleaned out their now only half filled litter pans. It's quite an image, isn't it? A middle aged man weeping over a litter box. Before you judge me, I should mention that my other cat was down there with me, Women Canada Goose Montebello Parka Grey Australia Sale yowling and staring at the nook in our storage area where Bongo used to nap. She was looking for him.

Which leads me to another reason why the death of Bongo has perhaps affected me in such a profound way. His illness and subsequent death occurred at the same time that I was leaving a job that had subsidized and sustained my writing career for the past two decades. Leaving a long held job is it's own type of small death. (Not to be confused with la petit mort, which is considerably different.) The fact was that this job had, for the first time since I had held it, seriously sent my writing schedule off the rails.

´╗┐About Grieving the Death of Your Cat

There is something in my male mind that tells me, I am not allowed to be doing this over a cat. Perhaps it's because men are not supposed to be cat people to begin with. The collective mindset tells us that cats are feminine and dogs are masculine, hence I'm supposed to love dogs.

I say this not to elicit sympathy, but to merely state a fact: My cat died and I am sad. Which, if you have ever loved an animal, is a perfectly appropriate response. Yet I'm not telling the entire story. I am very sad. I am breathlessly, obsessively, perhaps ridiculously sad over the death of my cat, Bongo.

Obviously, I am that type. Which presents a decent counter argument to the idea that men are not supposed to love cats. Or that men who own cats are something less than masculine. He had nothing to prove. Jack Kerouac adored cats, too.

I have what many would consider an inappropriate amount of grief for a cat. But I have to ask: what is the appropriate amount? How much am I allowed? No one really says it, but my guess is that it's not a huge allotment.

When local humane societies want to do "provocative" advertising, they'll photograph a tattooed biker badass on his Harley with his favorite Persian long hair. Which is fine, but they're still doing it because it's a novelty and it goes against a stereotype. All because there's still a strange unspoken (or spoken, depending on who you're with) stigma attached to "men who love cats." They are a notorious Beta male type.

I have cried every day for the past 16 days since his passing. The days shortly following his death included long sobbing fits, with my nose running and so much saltwater pouring from my eyes that my beard became spongy with tears.

3. The question mark at the end of his meow when he would walk into a room.

In his autographical novel Big Sur, when Jack Duluoz reads a letter from his mother telling him that his beloved cat Tyke has died, he falls into paroxysms of grief. Fellow Beat William S. Eliot and Charles Bukowski. These guys even wrote about cats.

1. Sometimes when he would chirp at me, I would just meow back to him, copying the way he said it, then he would meow back, then I would copy that. We could go on for quite awhile. Most cats don't seem to like when humans imitate them, but he seemed amused by it.

Either way, the collective mindset is an idiot. You might even say that the ideas about men and cats are starting to change. You could bring up Marc Maron, the respected podcaster who recently interviewed President Obama. Maron calls his house "The Cat Ranch" because of his fondness for neighborhood feral cats that offer him just the kind of damaged affection that he craves.

Why didn't I remember more about him? I loved him too and I grieved furiously for him as well. So I assembled a list of things that I wanted to remember about Bongo. Somehow it made me feel better to do it while he was alive. It's a long list with many items, but here are a few:

All this might explain some of my extreme reaction to my cat's death, but I have still not answered the question that I posited earlier: How much is a grown man allowed to grieve for a small, incredibly affectionate, inquisitive, playful, talkative Mackerel tabby?

After a year of not having the time to write, I was severely depressed. Pair it with the crisis of faith that I'd been experiencing about writing and publishing in general. (What's the point of continuing to do this? Why don't publishers want this new book? Does anyone even care?) That's a potent combination. And the fact that these two events the loss of a long term job and the loss of a long loved cat happened simultaneously, well, I guess that could explain some of the intensity of my grief.

None of which is not meant to diminish my love for my cat. As Bongo grew sicker and sicker and I knew I was going to lose him, I thought about my last cat, a sweet tabby named T Bone that had died about twelve years ago. I realized that at this point that I possessed only a handful of memories of T Bone. Of course I remembered him, but I wanted specifics.

Yet grief does not work that way. At least my grief doesn't. Which leads me to something else that I've had to deal with since the death of Bongo: my own shame over my grief. I have been hiding it from everyone, including my wife. The fact that men often hide their emotions is certainly no big news, but there is an extra element here since the object of said emotions is a cat, a small, delicate, furry creature.

2. Watching him jump onto the fridge. It was almost slow motion. He did it with such ease and grace. And he would do it even if you were standing two inches away.