Jasper's Page


July 31, 1988 - June 2, 2007

Jasper, Age 1
Jasper, Last Day

Jasper was quite possibly the most kid-friendly cat who ever lived, and was renowned for possibly being the emotionally neediest cat as well. He would greet all visitors to the house and treat them like he had known them for years. He purred loudly for everyone, and loved any kind of attention, but especially being held. I would carry him around on my shoulder as I went about the house, and he was so tolerant that I could even show people his "roasted on a spit" position, in which I would hold him by front legs in my left hand and back legs in my right. I would like to say he had one wail for food, one for water, one for attention, but really his wails, which could be nearly nonstop when he was up and about, all sounded the same. Many times people calling on the phone would ask if we had a baby, but it was just Jasper.

When Mary got her first apartment in 1988, she wanted to get a cat, and planned to visit the animal shelter. We had been to several cat shows by then, though, so Steve felt we should get a purebred cat, because it was just more exotic and more exciting. One specific breed had caught his eye, the sable Burmese, essentially just a brown cat. It seemed ironic that a cat the same color as nearly all woodland animals and our own hair should seem exotic, but we had never seen cats in brown before, and he felt there was something more endearing about those brown cats than the other breeds. Research showed that Burmese were felt by some to be the most personable breed, craving human attention, and also could be as vocal as Siamese. We wanted to get Jasper from the same breeder we had seen, Carol Decker White of Godivasweets cattery, but we needed to wait a while for her to get any kittens. In the meantime, believing that we should have two cats so they could keep each other company, we decided to get a second, and decided on Abyssinian for reasons I can't remember. The Abyssinian breeder talked us into taking a half-breed kitten, because the prize winning mother got out one night. She assured us the cat would look just like an Abyssinian but would probably be healthier, and the $75 price was attractive, so be shortly brought Persimmon into our lives. Two weeks later we made the trip down to a Philadelphia cat show to take our choice of one of three Burmese kittens. One of them seemed to take to us right away, so he made our minds up for us. We paid the lady her $350 for our pedigreed 3.5 pound boy, $100/pound. On the way home we came up with the name Jasper, which seemed right to us. We did not learn until later that Jasper is a brown mineral (shown below), or that it is very common for sable Burmese to be named after brown things. Later we showed Jasper, and he earned 13 ribbons, eventually reaching the exalted title Double Grand Champion.

Like Persimmon and probably all kittens, Jasper was a handful. He tore around Mary's tiny apartment at all hours. But certain qualities quickly stood out, aside from his appearance, which was very roly poly. He liked to curl up and sleep on a reclining person right up on their shoulder as close to the face as he could get. He would stare at you with his huge saucer eyes and wail at you. As he got bigger he quickly became too big to fit there any more, but he was pure lap cat and would generally spend his evenings on our laps while we watched TV. Unlike Persimmon, he would settle down on the wooden shelves that covered the radiators, heat up as hot as he could get, and then sprawl on the floor to cool off. He loved to sleep under our covers at night, but we had to put a stop to it because he couldn't settle down reliable. He liked to walk all over our countertops, and we started spraying him with a water bottle, which worked at first, but we had to augment it with swats. Even so, he developed a lifelong habit of drinking running water from the faucet. When Christopher was born, the cats peered into his bassinet and knew that something had changed. They became second class citizens on that day and never recovered their premier spot in our affections. But the cats, most especially Jasper, became close friends to our children from their earliest moments, and Bridget developed a very close relationship connection with Jasper.

Jasper was almost never sick and lived 3-4 years longer than average for his breed. He was quite prone to upper respiratory problems when he was young, which is common in Burmese, but he outgrew it. When he was still pretty young we had his thumb claws removed because he was a danger to himself -- the eyes of Burmese are so big and "poppy" that he scratched them several times with these claws. He started having problems with infected teeth about halfway through his life, and the vet advised us that if we brushed his teeth we could probably prevent this from becoming a serious problem. But we found this was more than we could handle, but we did give him Dental Diet from then on. In the end, it may have been his bad teeth that got him. He had been fighting some kind of cat cold for a month or so when he stopped eating and drinking almost entirely. He had dropped to four pounds by his last day, having lost a pound just that week. He had been ten pounds in his cobby prime. Although he seemed to be past his cat cold, and his chest X-ray showed no pneumonia or cancer, for the first time ever he did not bother to get up and cry for food (he had at least before then gotten up to cry for food, even though he would not eat it). He was ready to go, and not unhappy about it, just resigned. We had the option of pulling nearly all his teeth to see if removing this lingering infection could help, but it did not seem a humane option.

A Short History of the Nicknames of Jasper, listing just the major variants

In Chronological Order
Font size indicates frequency of use

   Jaspy(derivative of Jasper, discontinued when GB started)
GB (derivative of Jaspy, discontinued when Jeemee started)
 Geebondanza (derivative of GB, as in "Buona Sera Geebondanza", a name we came up with on our honeymoon in Italy.)
   Pesty Boy
   The Wailer
   Wailing Jennings
Jeemee (derivative of GB)
 Jeemee Boy (derivative of Jeemee)
   Brown Boy
   Fat Little Jeemee Boy
   Bad Little Jeemee Boy
   Dumb Little Jeemee Boy
   The Brownness
   The Fatness
   The Badness
   The Dumbness
   Jeematola, Jeemarama, The Jeemanator, etc.
Jeems (derivative of Jeemee)
 Mr. Jeemsters (derivative of Jeems)

The Major Cat Ballads

   (sung to Bad, Bad Leroy Brown)
Oh he's bad, bad Jeemee Brown,
Baddest cat in the whole damn town,
Badder than old Persimmy,
Meaner than the junkyard dog.
(there was an actual mean junkyard dog living across the street)

   (sung to Here Comes Peter Cottontail)
Here comes Jasper with the long brown tail,
Hopping down the kitty trail,
Hippity, hoppity Jasper's on his way.

   (sung to Lemon Tree)
Persimmy, very pretty,
and Daisy Mae is sweet,
but the poor cat named Jasper,
just needs to get beat,
Persimmy, Persimmy, etc.

   (sung to The Surrey With The Fringe On Top)
Foam golf balls make Daisy a scurry,
Up and down the stairs in a hurry,
Ain't no doubt that she is a furry little kitty cat

   (sung to Eternal Flame)
Is this kitty an Eternal Pain?

Jasper Through the Ages

Little Jaspy Roars   

Baby Jasper   

Little Jasper sits with his young dad, 1988   

Cook's helper, helping with pina coladas in 1989 

Jasper in his show quality prime, sitting in wedding invitation box in August 1990. 

The Official Portrait, 1989

Jasper relaxes with Steve, Oct 1993   

Drinking from the sink 2003   

Jasper in March, 2007
Age: 18 1/2

Jasper in March, 2003   

The big baby, with fang  

Last Day  

The Cat Angel now sits over the final resting spots of Jasper, Persimmon and Daisy Mae.

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Steve Wagar <steve@wagar.com>
Last update: 06/11/07