The Arwen the Cat Memorial GeekList
Bryce Journey
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In memory of Arwen the Cat, 2001 - February 24th 2014

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1. Video Game: Magical Cat Adventure [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Bryce Journey
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My wife and I moved into our house in March 2003. We had been married about six months and were ready to get out of my apartment. There are a lot of things that a recently married couple need to get when they move into their first house. But I knew there was something we needed to get before anything: a cat. Because can a house be a home without a cat?

At the Humane Society, we looked at several cats. There was a big, lazy one. There was a shy, terrified one. There was one who just sat in the greeting room and didn't respond at all. Now, at the humane society, most of the cats are kept in this central area where each cat's cage opens up into a central cat lounge and playroom. That's where all these cats came from. But there's another, smaller area off to the side, with small cages that don't open up to anywhere. This is where the cats who don't get along with other cats are kept.

This is where we found Arwen.

(Arwen on the day she came home with us)
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2. Board Game: Personality [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:9651]
Bryce Journey
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From the moment we first laid eyes on her, we could tell that Arwen had something in spades that the other cats we'd looked at lacked: tremendous personality.

(She's happy, she just isn't showing it)

She wasn't one of those lame sweet and loving cats, though. She was a cantankerous kitty. On the spectrum of cats personalities, she was a grumpy cat and there was no doubt about it. She wore her emotions on her long coat of hair and we loved that about her. She was the type of cat that greeted you at the door when you got home from work - not because she loved you - but because her water dish was only 4/5ths full and she wanted you to top it off right now!

(Arwen glowering from under a blanket)

She came with the name, "Grace," which was a terrible name and didn't suit her at all. There was nothing graceful at all about her - in any sense of the word. She didn't move gracefully, nor did she exhibit the qualities that we associate with the state of grade, like patience and understanding.

(Arwen explores her new home. Here she is in the fridge for some reason.)

We re-named her "Arwen," which didn't suit her much better except in the sense that she clearly thought of herself as an exotic princess. Plus, it was a cooler name than "Grace" was.

(Arwen posing with one of the expansion packs from her favorite card game, Lord of the Rings)
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3. Board Game: Love It! Hate It! [Average Rating:5.36 Unranked]
Bryce Journey
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We had a friend that got a cat, Hermione, a few weeks after we'd gotten Arwen. We agreed to watch Hermione over night while she got the cat's space ready. It's only for a night, we thought. Arwen won't mind.

(Arwen growling at our friend Kim for introducing her to Hermione)

But Arwen did mind. She was not amused at all. Arwen followed her around hissing and growling at her. We finally had to separate them by keeping them in different rooms. Arwen spent the night lying by her door continuing to growl and hiss. She knew that other cat was out there somewhere still and she was't going to tolerate it. When Hermione left the next day, it took Arwen several days to become convinced that other cat was really gone and not coming back.

There would be no other cats for us while Arwen lived with us.

(Arwen gnawing on Kim a little for introducing her to Hermione)
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4. Board Game: Ferret [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
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In fact, she hated most forms of life. She liked me and my wife okay but that was about it. When we decided to keep a few rats and ferrets for a period of years, Arwen tolerated their existence by pretending they didn't exist.

(There's a ferret on the other side of that umbrella)

We had one particular ferret, JumpRope, who was fond of pouncing Arwen when she wasn't expecting it (and she was never expecting it). When that happened, Arwen just turned and looked at the energetic animal with an expression that refused to believe what just happened actually happened.

(Arwen hiding in a tent - unfortunately for her, it's the ferret tent and she's about to receive an unpleasant surprise)
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5. Video Game: Rats! [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Bryce Journey
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There was one pet that she didn't mind, though: Ender The Rat Of Doom. Ender The Rat Of Doom was a very a friendly rat and we let him roam out of his cage quite often. He liked to walk back and forth on the couch and, if there just happened to bet a cat lying on the couch, he bravely walked right up to her to investigate, snuggling up to her, and even crawling on her. Even more strangely, Arwen let him.

(Arwen checking out the rat cage)

In fact, she even started taking on some rat-like characteristics herself. If the door was open to his cage, she liked to squeeze through it and hang out inside. She even started eating cheese.

(Arwen in the rat cage)

Ender lived about three years, a good age for a rat, and when he passed away, Arwen noticed his absence. She moped around the house and slept in the empty spot on the floor where his cage had been.

(The rats liked to play in these boxes too)
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6. Board Game: Beddy-Bye Baby Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Arwen returned to her life-form hating ways when our son, Luke Ender, was born. Like the ferrets, her defense against the unwanted intrusion was to pretend it didn't exist - for the most part. There were times where she would hop on a table over-looking his bassinet and growl in a low voice.

(Luke put those minions on her...)

For awhile, I was the only one in the house that she would be nice to. It took her about a year to forgive my wife for bringing the squalling, weird-smelling, little thing into the word and start rubbing up against her legs again.

(...and this Cthorian...)

As for Luke, he's 4 1/2 years old now and only in recent months did she allow him to approach her and scratch her head. Perhaps she sensed her time was running short and wanted to make her piece with him.

(...and these robots.)
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7. Board Game: Got Milk? [Average Rating:4.17 Unranked]
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When she was a young cat, Arwen's favorite toy was a milk tie tied to a string. She eventually grew out of that and developed an affinity for human flesh. After being rubbed and petted, or at any random time really, she might grow playful and gently attack the person showing her affection. It was her own unique way of showing affection and we called it the "Arwen love bite."

(Young Arwen playing with her favorite toy)
(Arwen enjoying a foot)
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8. Board Game: Trading Spaces Game [Average Rating:2.50 Unranked]
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Like any cat, Arwen had her favorite spaces around the house. In her younger days, this might be on top of the fridge or in the nook in the ceiling of the game room. But as old age started to catch up with her, she was more content to enjoy one particular kitchen chair or the keyboard of the computer.

(Young Arwen on top of the fridge)
(Young Arwen in the ceiling of the game room)
(Arwen on her favorite kitchen chair)
(Arwen getting comfortable on the laptop)
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9. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:216]
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When I acquired my copy of Dune from Craigslist last year, Arwen was there to help punch and organize the game.

(Arwen helping to inventory my copy of Dune)
(Arwen posing with my copy of Dune)

When I posted the find to that week's Thrift list,
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photoshopped a picture of Arwen's head on the Dune box. That picture instantly became my new avatar, the wallpaper for my laptop, and a displayed print.

(Arwen the sandworm)
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Arwen did like to play board games. She contributed the Win, Place, Show pic for the excellent What Cats Get Up To When Gamers Are Out Geeklist. And she has several other related action-pics in my personal gallery.

(Arwen playing Mice and Mystics)
(Arwen playing Saboteur)
(Arwen playing Trajan)
(Arwen playing Discworld)
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Like many cats, even more than actually playing a game, Arwen just enjoyed lounging in a board game box while my wife and I played a game. Arwen contributed several entries to another excellent GeekList: A Cat In Every Box, including the 100th entry to the GeekList. Some boxes fit her better than others, but she wasn't picky.

(A tight fit - not really a fit at all, actually)
(A better fit)
(That's more like it - nice and comfy in the Mage Knight box)
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My wife and I had a running joke that the board games we buy ourselves for Christmas were really presents from Arwen. I took this to the next level last year and wrote a GeekList from Arwen's perspective in which she went Black Friday shopping at the excellent local game stores in Omaha that discount their board games 50% on that day. Last year, she really outdid herself and scored some terrific bargains for us.

(Arwen with her Keythedral find)
(Arwen with War of the Ring. She liked to get us Lord of the Rings games whenever possible.)
(Arwen perching on her Crayon Rail collection)
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Perhaps Arwen's most enduring legacy here on BGG is her recent series of Arwen the Cat Reviews of various board games, a series that has now been cut tragically short. I had a fun time writing these twelve reviews from her perspective and, despite her expression in some of the accompanying pictures to these reviews, she had fun helping me bring the reviews alive with her photogenic presence.

(Arwen reviewing The Speicerstadt)
(Arwen reviewing Firefly)
(Arwen reviewing Tanto Cuore: Romantic Vacation)
(Arwen reviewing Relic Runners)
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What was Arwen's favorite game? That's easy - Kemet.

(Arwen's favorite game)

She liked the central role that Bastet, the cat god, played in the game and she liked how the gameplay was a metaphor for cat worship. And, of course, all those pieces to scatter about...

(She loved the sculpted miniatures...)
(...and the red army with their cat claws.)
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That brings us to this last weekend. A few years ago, Arwen was diagnosed with diabetes and had been on insulin every since. When she suddenly stopped eating and became listless, we figured her diabetes was acting up and she'd need her medication adjusted. We brought her to the vet for tests and observation. An IV brought her ketone levels under control and the doctor was confident we'd be able to take her home again in a couple of days after she started eating again.

I called the vet the Monday morning, hoping to arrange a time to pick Arwen up and take her home. But Arwen still hadn't started eating again. Her energy hadn't returned and she was more nauseous than ever. The vet had grim news for me. Her diabetes left her vulnerable to infection and infection had struck her hard. A bad one. Her kidneys were starting to fail and there was nothing the vet could do to reverse the abrupt deterioration.

With a heavy heart, I drove my wife and son to the vet to say goodbye. I hold Priesthood power in my church and one thing I like to do for all my pets when the end is near is to give them a parting blessing. I bless them with strength and serenity so that they might depart this mortal world without pain. My particular Faith believes that animals possess souls and because of that I believe that someday I will be reunited with them in the next life.

It comforts me to think of the Journey pets together in the next life being cared for by some departed family member. My mom miscarried a girl between my brother and I and I've had strong inclinations in the past that it is she who cares for my departed pets. But this time I had a different inclination. During the blessing of Arwen, I was in turn blessed with divinely given inspiration. Last year, my wife had a miscarriage of a child. And during Arwen's blessing, I was inspired with the knowledge that it was this child who would be caring for Arwen in the next life. I was inspired with the knowledge that Arwen was departing this world at this time for a very particular reason. My life has been blessed because of Arwen's presence. And now it is time for Arwen to be with this child of mine who was never born so that they can also experience the simple and boundless joy that they were unable to know here on Earth of having a pet to love.

Goodbye for now, Arwen. I am having difficulty smiling today because I miss you so much. But my heart is full from the knowledge that the happiness you brought me is being shared with another.

(Young Arwen)
(Nice and comfy)
(A spring day by the window)
(Reading my comics)
(Playing)
(Me and my kitty 11 years ago at Christmastime)






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