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A Wake for Jimmy McNulty

We lost one of our residents at Chris & Kelly’s Home For Wayward Dysfunctional Animals yesterday. It was completely unexpected and he was only eight years old, but our bold cat Jimmy McNulty passed away. A blood clot suddenly lodged between his heart and his hindquarters, rendering him half paralyzed. He was in a lot of pain and the vet said any surgical options might kill him, since his heart was already weak and his body temperature was so low. So we made that horrible choice for euthanasia, to take his pain away. It was the most unpleasant death of the five pets we’ve lost together, but Jimmy went out as stubbornly as he lived, standing his ground all the way.

You may be wondering, “Why did you name a cat after the protagonist of The Wire?” Well, Jimmy came to us through our friends Jason and Anne, after their relatives found him living in a church parking lot in West Virginia. I had just finished watching the entirety of The Wire and joked with Kelly that naming a cat “Jimmy McNulty” would be fun, because we could reenact scenes with Bunk together. About a week later Jimmy moved in.

It turned out that he had a lot more in common with his namesake than we ever imagined. To quote McNulty’s eulogy in its last episode (above):

He was the black sheep. The permanent pariah. He asked no quarter of the bosses and none was given. He learned no lessons. He acknowledged no mistakes. He brooked no authority, he did what he wanted to and he said what he wanted to say.

One of Jimmy’s first nicknames was “Food Dick.” 5 minutes before every meal he’d come cruising around like a land shark, pushing obnoxiously against all of us (dogs, cats, ferrets and humans alike) until he was fed. And every meal time, without fail, he’d shove his way past the other animals and bully them away from their food after he woofed his own down. We quickly learned Jimmy had to be isolated in another room for meals, or else he’d disrupt everyone else and eat half their bowls. Sometimes the others even left little offerings for him, as if he were some mob thug demanding a tribute.

He was well fed all right and had a belly-full-of-jelly to prove it. But Jimmy Jams also had the widest eyes. Eyes that would stare into the distance with clarity, as if he were somehow divining the future. And for such a bullish cat he never looked the part. A perfect “M” formed in the fur between his ears and his eyelids were surrounded by flamboyant guyliner. We rarely heard him, because Jimmy had the tiniest little voice for a cat. Barely a squeak would come out and sometimes when he opened his mouth to meow, you couldn’t even hear him.

James Tiberius McNulty never met a box he didn’t like. He always came when called and was always there when you got out of the shower, ready to lick your legs dry. He'd even clean the dogs' paws. It was a service he provided. In fact, his insistence on licking earned him another nickname, “The Reach Around Cat.” No matter what the situation, he’d return any affection with an insistent licking that grew painful after awhile from the sandpaper friction of his barbed tongue. If you were lucky enough, he’d even groom your hair. We called this service a “Jimmy Job.” See the video below for evidence.

But again, to quote his fictional counterpart’s wake, “Christ, what an asshole.” He’d steal the food right off your plate. Hell, I once saw him run across the living room with a full slice of pizza in his mouth. He’d eat anything left on the kitchen counter and even lick down the pots and pans at night, leaving behind his wet paw prints.

And every time you confronted him about such an offense, he’d just look back with a shrug, as if to say, “What the fuck did I do?” I saw this bastard stand his ground against pitbulls and humans alike, multiple times his size, popping them the Old One-Two right in the face if they dared get in his way. Even at that one final visit to the vet, he sank his claws deep into my face and ripped a slash across my left thumb. I honestly don’t want the scar to ever go away.

All of my animals teach me something: wonder, independence, being yourself, perseverance. But Jimmy Cat? He taught me not to give a fuck. No matter what.


My wife found this quote by Nick Cave that we'd like to add to our memory of Jimmy. It perfectly captures how we're feeling right now.

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