RIP Tosh-LOVE

With a huge hole in our hearts, we said goodbye to Tosh-Love on Saturday, June 1st. Sadly, his cranium bone cancer got the best of him. We lost the best first-mate ever. And we’re forever grateful for the 9 1/2 half SHORT years “Tashi Delek” graced our presence. If you knew him, you know his energy was larger than life. The life of any party, making the rounds to say hello and get petted by anyone who would love on him.

Below are some of our favorite videos and photos that show this uniquely wonderful being! The world was truly a TOY for Tosh… from fetching toilet paper to grabbing garlic to taking a feather duster or a dog for a walk, helping with boat projects, and jumping through hatches, life was pure joy for Tosh!!

And it was truly synchronicity that he fell into our life…

Synchronicity and Kittens

Back in 2014 (several years after Maui and then Jackson had passed on) we had finally started to think about getting new kittens again. However, there is a kitten “season” (spring/summer) and it can sometimes be difficult to find new kittens in late fall/winter. It was already late October, and we knew if we were going to get kittens, it had better be soon! We saw an ad that Denny’s Pet World, in Totom Lake, (across Lake Washington from Seattle), was hosting a Kitten Fair, where all the no-kill shelters in the area would bring their kittens for adoption, so off we went.

We were looking to get a Gray Tabby-Tuxedo (gray tabby with white paws and chest), and another Tuxedo (black-and-white, like Jackson had been.) There were many shelters there with tables full of kittens, but nothing fit that bill. At one table, there was a large cat enclosure with several kittens climbing a cat tree inside.

The woman from that shelter said “This one is REALLY special. If I didn’t already have 5 cats of my own, I’d be keeping him.” Kirk thought that was just a marketing ploy! But we picked him up—and he was super friendly—if a bit startled by all the noise and commotion in the busy store. We loved on him for a few minutes, and then put him back with the other kittens on the tree in the enclosure. He was already four months old, and we wanted a younger kitten.

And, truth be told, we were headed out of town the next day on vacation, and couldn’t really adopt kittens that day anyway—what were we thinking going to a kitten fair before going on vacation? And we hadn’t really seen what we were looking for. So we left…

Back at the car, Kirk looked at Heidi and said, “Maybe we should rethink that friendly tabby? The lady said he was super special, and he’ll probably get adopted quickly. If we want to get kittens soon, this might be our best chance.” Heidi agreed, and back we went to talk with the woman, who turned out to be Jean Favini from Oasis for Animals. We explained that we were headed out of town the next day for 2-weeks vacation, and asked if we could adopt him, and pick him up in two weeks.

Whidbey Island Trailer Trash Kittens

Jean was very skeptical at first—wanting to offload kittens—not keep them! But since she was from Langley on Whidbey Island, so we asked if she happened to know Kirk’s best friend, Dr. Bob Giswold, the dentist and his wife Sara, also in Langley? Well of course she did! We told her we were headed to Mexico to visit them for two weeks and would be willing to adopt the tabby kitten and pay her that day, plus pay her extra for room and board, to keep him until we returned.

And we wanted another Tuxedo kitten when we picked him up, and she just happened to have three Tuxedos that would be ready by then. As we signed the paperwork, another woman working with Jean said to Kirk, “You have to be sure to kiss every one of the spots on his belly, every day!” Kirk promised he would. And off we went to Baja, Mexico, excited to have two new kittens when we returned.

On November 13, 2014, we drove up to Whidbey Island to pick up our new tabby boy and a Tuxedo kitten too. The shelter hand named him Tater, but we quickly renamed him Tosh, after one of our favorite Reggae artists, Peter Tosh. ( Plus we already had a nephew nick-named ‘Tater’, and that would be confusing!) They had us wait in a small room with Tosh, while they brought in three Tuxedo kittens, each in its own carrier.

When they opened the carriers, one Tuxedo lept out, ran straight over to Tosh, jumped on him, and rolled around, as they chased each other around the room. The other two Tuxedos hid in their carriers. “I guess we’ll take that one!” we said. We had wanted another boy, but SHE turned out to be Tikka (then named Tico). Tikka picked Tosh, just as we had picked Tosh… and even then, he truly was the most special, unique, gregarious cat we’ve ever known.

With much gratitude to Jean Favini for our Whidbey Island “Trailer Trash” kittens. When he was rescued, Tosh was only a few days old, emaciated, and starving. Jean dropper-fed him round-the-clock. And without a kitty-mama, he quickly imprinted on people, and thought he was a human! We have no doubt that Jean’s early love of Tosh helped to shape him into the amazing cat he became.

Gatos Del Mar

Unbeknownst to them, they were headed to a sailboat to become boat cats! And so their boat-life adventures began…

Tosh, stalking the wild foredeck… and then there was the time he got himself into the crab trap!?! Look what we caught!

He navigated us down the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and always stood guard at the front door.

Tosh was a Bengal-Siamese mix and was a BIG talker. He carried on conversations with us all day long. And more like a dog than a cat in personality, we called him our “guard-dog”, sleeping in front of the companionway threshold so anyone who came to visit had to pass him first.

He loved fetching toys, and always had to be where we were, doing whatever we were doing, “Can I help, Dad?”. He even chased dogs away from our boat!

You could put a Santa hat on him and take a photo, he always hammed it up, always had a smile on his face and such love in his heart. He was a BIG part of our family. Waking us up every morning with kitty kisses, and a keen eye on his food bowl.

His favorite fetching toy was a silicone bracelet from Judy & Paul’s condo. And Kirk did kiss all of those spots on his belly… but maybe not every day.

After a hard day at work, helping Dad with the engine, he crashed asleep in the drill box!

A fantastic boat cat, Tosh was afraid of the water after a harrowing swimming adventure in the COLD Seattle waters, (recounted in the book Kitty Karma: Big Stories of Small Cats Who Change Our Lives). He preferred walking centerline on deck, never veering near the edge of the boat—unlike Tikka, who’s always looking over the edge, almost to her demise!

On our voyage from Seattle to Mexico, off the coast of Baja at 0300 one night, with rough seas, and Kirk off watch, Heidi heard Tosh crying. She went below to see what was up—and there was Tosh, sitting at the bottom of the companionway stairs, toy in mouth, wanting to play to fetch. He didn’t even seem to notice the boat rolling to and fro, or that it was pitch dark…he just wanted to play!

He also loved jumping down through the hatch above our bed, about a 4′ drop onto the mattress below. When the hatch was open, he’d jump down into the bed, race back up the companionway stairs, up on deck, jump through the hatch again, and do that—over and over again… always with a smile on his face, and pure joy in his heart! And he loved playing with (or chasing) small dogs.

When it came to eating, Tosh never met a food he didn’t like. But some foods didn’t like him back. He could hear you silently slicing an avocado below decks while he was asleep on the foredeck, and next thing you knew, he was right there, begging for an avocado! He loved guavas, mangos, bananas, and coconut, truly a tropical boy. And we had to hide the avocados, or he’d get them off the counter, eat them whole, skin and all (well, not the pit), and then gastric trouble would ensure the next day.

Here Tosh helps us pick the garlic for that night’s salad!

Tosh was always SO amiable, you could burito roll him, or pick him up and swing him by his tail (not that we ever did!) he never cared what you did, so long as you loved on him! (But he did NOT like to be picked up outside, for fear of the water.)

Always the helper, Tosh even helped the housekeeper Manuela to dust!

He was our medical miracle, beating nasal cancer five years ago, but sadly not this time… Grateful for the 5 bonus years we got with him, and to everyone who cared for him and loved on him over the years. He was the most remarkable cat we’ve ever had the pleasure to love. And we played his namesake Peter Tosh for him as he crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Ironically (or not…there are no coincidences) Tosh shared his birthday with the Late Great Dr. Bob Giswold (July 1) and just missed turning 10 next month. Both also passed on June 1 (Bob in 2015, Tosh in 2024), and both left us much too soon. The brightest stars always burn out quickly.

Tosh loves to fetch anything and help with projects, so he was keen to help us stow the Costco toilet paper!

Heidi wrote this song/poem about her boy Tosh when he was first diagnosed with cancer five years ago at age 4. The biggest lesson he taught us was “All the world’s a TOY—life brings me pure JOY.”

Tosh-LOVE

My name is Tosh with a capital T
Which stands for Trouble
cuz that is me

But I mean no harm
cuz I’m just a baby
And my heart’s as big
as the deep blue sea

All the World’s a Toy,
LIFE brings me pure JOY!
And when I’m not a loafer,
I love knockin’ things over

Cuz that’s what you do,
When you’re an audacious cat,
And that’s how you know,
That the world’s not flat!

But I mean no harm
cuz I’m just a baby
And my heart’s as big
as the deep blue sea

I am the cats meow
if you wanna kowtow
And they call me Tashi Delek
Tho I’m not always so angelic

But I’ll tell you right now
that I mean no harm
cuz I’m just a baby
And my heart’s as big
as the deep blue sea

I’m a Gato Del Mar,
That’s a cat who’s sailed far!
4,000 Nautical Miles,
And most of it full of smiles!
But I’ve been swimming twice,
Which was really NOT nice!

And one more thing
that you may not know
I love guava and avocado
But my favorite snack
Is a gecko toe!

And I mean no harm
cuz I’m just a baby
And my heart’s as big
as the deep blue sea

And there’s one last thing
You must know about me…
My only M.O. is L-O-V-E-!

After Tosh’s passing our friend Allison (a psychic medium) sent us additional lyrics channeled by Tosh, saying “The poem/song has a new ending …”

And now I’m light 
And it’s great up here!
No more pain
No more fear

But I see that you 
Are sad today
And I am right here –
Just a breath away

And I mean no harm
cuz I’m just a baby
And my heart’s as big 
as the deep blue sea  

You’ll see me flash by
In the corner of your eye,
Or you’ll hear my cry
To remind you that I 
Still love you guys.

Return will I,
And I’ll mean no harm
Cuz I’ll just be a baby
With a heart as big
As the deep blue sea

So take a page out of Toshi’s playbook, tell someone you love them, hug them, and go have some fun today, or hang around upside down (this was his favorite way to sleep)! And if you have a great memory of your encounters with Tosh, we’d love for you to share in the comments below.

Tikka is missing her brother too, and getting lots of extra love these days, twice as much to go around. She’s not a cuddly lap cat and doesn’t like to be picked up, but we’re hoping she’ll come into her own personality a bit more now that she’s not under the shadow of her alpha male, gregarious big brother.

RIP Tosh!

We miss you to Jupiter and back, thanks for gracing us with your presence and giving us SO MUCH JOY, for as long as you did. You were the BEST BCOB (Big Cat On Boat!) Gone WAY too soon, never forgotten.

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