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Tiggins shot this photo of Meatshake on Sunday, October 29th, 2017.

Grey still calls out to her,



I don’t know if this is a normal human reaction to tragedy, but when a terrible, life-changing event happens to someone else I often find myself thinking: “A few days ago, they had no idea this week would turn so ugly.”

Nine hours ago, our week turned ugly. Or, if you’re one of those week purists who go by the whole accurate belief that “the week actually starts on Sunday, dummy,” then I guess you could say our week started ugly.

Either way, at the current moment, circumstances in the Shady household are less than warm and fuzzy.

Earlier today, Kathy and I made the hard/grueling/awful decision to put down Meatshake. It’s human nature to want to know how/why Meatshake died, and I promise to get to that in a bit, but before I go there I want to talk about her life.

I was never a big fan of cats. To be honest, I loathed them. In addition to finding them (at best) impartial or (at worst) completely uninterested in anything human beings were doing, I was also horribly allergic to them. Never in a million years did I think I would one day own a cat.

And then I started dating KB.

Unlike me, she was a cat person. One thing she wasn’t was a dog person (so much, in fact, that when we first started dating, Mr. Fabulous was a near deal-breaker for her). But over time, KB became a dog person, and I started to consider the idea of owning a cat.

On November 4th, 2008, KB and I moved to Los Angeles with Mr. Fabulous. As soon as we settled into our new place, KB started pushing for us to adopt a cat. “But I’m allergic,” I countered, thinking that would be enough for KB to lay off the idea. It wasn’t. And still she persisted. And so, on January 17th, 2009, we adopted Meatshake into our lives.

I announced her arrival into our family shortly thereafter.

Meatshake won us over during a visit to our local animal shelter. They put us in a room with a bunch of cats to meet with, and as I knelt over to pet a different cat, Meatshake ran up my back (with her nails digging into my spine), and propped herself up on my shoulder. This calico was clearly desperate for attention, and I personally loved meeting a cat who didn’t fit the “I have no real use for you, human” expectations I had expected.

From the second I met her, Meatshake wanted, craved, and needed love and attention. She reminded me a lot of someone else I knew. And like that, a connection was made.

When we brought Meatshake home I was still horribly allergic to her. Like, seriously, deathly allergic. My eyes watered, I broke out into hives, and I sneezed nonstop. “Give it time,” KB said. “You’ll eventually get used to it.” And she was right. I did. Sure, it took a couple weeks to taper off completely, but in the end nearly three decades of horrible cat allergies turned into nothing. Meatshake had officially become my gateway drug into full-on feline mode.

I don’t know who Meatshake was before we adopted her, but the rumor at the rescue was that she had been one of many cats owned by a hoarder who had recently been forced to give up her animals. She was a runt, malnourished and ignored in every respect. She was so underfed that her belly protruded out, so much, in fact, that the rescue didn’t know if she was pregnant or suffering from hunger. Thankfully, it was the later.

I started to think Meatshake craved attention because she never got it in her previous home, that the reason she regularly forced herself into our faces was because we gave her what no other person before us had: love.

Tonight, just hours after saying goodbye to her for the last time, I still think that.

Meatshake was a part of our family at our first L.A. apartment on Cashio, then at a home we briefly housesat for in the valley, then at our first apartment on Packard, then our second apartment on Packard, then our temporary squatting situation with KB’s parents, and finally at our current place, the first home we ever bought. She moved with us six times, flew cross-country with us, and witnessed more people come through our front doors—for parties, Food Nights, and general whatever-ness—than most humans host over a lifetime.

She was a little sister to Mr. Fabulous, and a big sister to Heisenberg, Grey, and West. In Los Angeles, she would lounge outside on the porch, in the backyard, or on our deck patio, and in Chicago she kept warm by lying across the heat vents in the floor. But her favorite spot was always in our laps.

I used her in a cartoon pitch for a children’s show, and, in a weird, meta-fueled experience, she briefly became the mascot of the band who had created the song that she was named after.

She groomed Mr. Fabulous and Heisenberg right up until the very end, cleaning their coats with long licks from her super sharp tongue. It was a sign of love she always gave but rarely received, though on those rare occasions she loved the attention. So much, in fact, that a handful of times, KB and I would dab a small amount of peanut butter on Meatshake’s back and let Mr. Fabulous go to town on her. That may sound weird/gross but, to be honest, I don’t care if it does because Meatshake loved the hell out of those few moments of pure bliss.

Of course, those are just a handful of fun anecdotes from nearly a decade of experiences, and nothing I write here will ever make you fully understand what Meatshake meant to us. That is normal and exactly as it should be. Because, yes, while Meatshake was occasionally neurotic, switching from a loving purr to a vindictive swipe at the drop of a hat, the only things she ever wanted was a person’s love and attention.

We used to joke that Meatshake was like a dog because she would come when you called her. I could be anywhere in the house and all I’d have to do is yell, “Meaty!” Within seconds, she’d come running. Her needs were simple: warm laps, a willingness to be licked, and unconditional love. We should all strive for such simple goals. Minus the “willingness to be licked” part, I guess.

To answer the question I’m sure everyone wants to (but is afraid to) ask: in the end, cancer got her. That seems to be the case so often these days—for pets and humans alike—that it’s not even worth mentioning the details. All one needs to know is that, last Wednesday night, we started to notice that Meatshake wasn’t being herself. She was sitting alone in the kitchen, wouldn’t come when called, and seemed distant and depressed.

We took her into our vet. Her blood work wasn’t good. They suggested an emergency room visit. It quickly went downhill from there.

At 3:00 today I was taking her in for what I thought would be a routine “she’s sick, we’ll give her some fluids” type of visit. Just before midnight, she was gone.

As a parent of two kids, the photos on my phone have shifted over the years from being mostly pictures of pets and beer, to primarily photos of Grey and West. But on October 16th, Meatshake was chilling out in the sunlight on our kitchen table. She looked fierce, like a badass. I shot just two photos.



These aren’t the last photos I took of her, but they are the last photos of her that I should’ve taken because this is how I want to remember her. I guess I’d like you all to remember her that way, too.

I know some of you might want to send a card or flowers or whatever to express your sympathy. Please don’t. If you feel the need to do something in Meatshake’s memory, please consider donating to your local shelter, or (better yet) adopting your own little buddy to take care of, love, dote on, and spoil.

From this point on, our household will never be the same again, but I know we are all better for having had Meatshake in our lives. And of course, as our week ends (or starts) with this tragedy, KB and I know there are other things going on in the world that put things into a greater perspective—shootings, terrorism, racism, division, etc.—but none of those things will ever detract from the loss we feel or the void left behind in Meatshake’s absence.

In the end, I’d like to think that Meatshake became a Justin person (although it was obvious that she preferred KB over me… most living things do), but what I know is that she will forever be remembered as being the one who turned me into a cat person. More specifically, a Meatshake person.

We miss and love you dearly, Meatshake, and hope that, wherever you are, you’re no longer doing the grooming, and instead are finally the one having her coat licked… with or without the encouragement of peanut butter.

You were the best.



PS: For a more comprehensive look back on Meatshake’s life, click here.

…this is what the front of it looked like:

The 2016 Shady holiday card! Front-style!
And this is what the back of it looked like:

The 2016 Shady holiday card! Back-style!

Grey was rocking her inner John McClane (and male-pattern baldness)…

Grey McClane!

…while KB fell from Nakatomi Plaza in her Rickman haircut.

Hans GruKBer!

I did my best corpse-in-an-elevator impersonation…

Ho... ho... HO-MY GOD!

…while Beth portrayed a blonde, ballerina-dancing Russian, and Meatshake and Heisenberg served as her feline background muscle.

Beth's cat backup!

On the back, Mr. Fabulous became a giant stuffed bear, and Pip peeked over the backseat while Argyle talked on his huge cellphone.

The 2016 Shady Christmas Card! Back-style!

Obviously, this one took a lot more work than last year’s Krampus card.

We already have our Easter card done,


The Albion Beasts.

That makes three of us,



No, the other side,



…Meatshake will find a way to sleep in a box or basket.

Even if it’s covered in a sheet.

Meat in a box,


Sending her to whoever wants her.

Meaty delivery,


…that measures two feet by three feet. In addition to the foam stuffing that came with the bed, we shoved an old down comforter inside for extra padding.

It’s a little extravagant, but we figure an 80-pound dog could use it.

Still, for some reason, she sometimes chooses to sleep on one of the cat beds.


Meatshake and Heisenberg don’t mind. They just take over one of Fab’s spots.

And they couldn't care less.

Living in a bizarro pet world,


…who is the four-year-old daughter of our good friends Brett and Marci, to draw a family portrait of us (including our three beasts).

What began as one drawing soon turned into nearly two dozen. Brett and Marci were kind enough to send all of them to us.

Holy art!

Apparently, our family’s females (which is everyone but me) became Lucy’s muse.

It was a hard choice, but in the end we decided to frame this one:

The Shadys by Lucy Beighley.

Yes, that’s KB walking Mr. Fabulous, Meatshake, and Heisenberg while I tag along, picking up piles of their smelly turds.

As payment, we sent Lucy a gift certificate to a toy store near her hometown. She bought two stuffed animals with her hard-earned money: a fluffy cat she named Cat, and a stingray she named Sea Horse.

This makes Lucy my favorite kid ever.

Just one in a series of commissioned portraits,


…including these two prints by Berlin artist Dirk Verschure

Dirk Verschure!

the painting of our three beasts by our good friend Jason “McFly” Kincaid

Three beasts by Jason "McFly" Kincaid!

…our good friend Marla Campbell’s original portraits of Mr. Fabulous…

Mr. Fabulous by Marla Campbell!


Meatshake by Marla Campbell!

…and Heisenberg…

Heisenberg by Marla Campbell!

…this “Being Bill Murray” print by Spain-based illustrator Loren

"Being Bill Murray" by Loren!

…this Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog print by Austin-based artist(s) We Call Ourselves An Institute

Jim and Kermit by We Call Ourselves An Institute!

…this print from Hungarian artist Aman


…and finally, this original pen and ink illustration that also created by our good friend Marla Campbell.

Marla Campbell!

Needless to say, our walls are quickly filling up.

Fifty (give or take) more pieces to go,