Kate Murray’s recently deceased cat lives on not only in her heart, but also on her leg.
Murray, a 23-year-old South Portland resident, recently got a portrait of her late cat, Colonel, “like the Army, not the popcorn,” she said, tattooed on her upper right thigh. The 17-year-old, fluffy white and black cat died March 2, 2015, three months shy of his and Murray’s shared birthday.
“My mom doesn’t like tattoos, so I told her I’d wait until he died so it’d be in memoriam,” Murray said.
The 7-inch tattoo was completed April 3 at Wicked Good Ink on Exchange Street in Portland. Because “tattoos have to mean something,” Murray said, Colonel was the perfect subject for a piece of ink.
“I always knew I wanted to get a tattoo of him because he’s one of the biggest parts of my life,” she said.
Colonel entered Murray’s life the summer before she started kindergarten and quickly became her best friend.
“I wasn’t good at making friends,” she said. “I had one really good friend, but I always had Colonel.”
Colonel, who was “such a character,” was there for Murray as she grew up, went away for college and came home again. Whether he was making her smile with his tricks or comforting her when she was sad, Colonel was always by Murray’s side. Oftentimes, she said, he was planted right on top of her.
“I was really lazy when he was alive because all I wanted was for him to lay on me,” she said.
Although Murray has had other pets, she said there was something special about Colonel.
“I honestly think he was the nicest being on earth,” she said. “He really liked people and was never mean. He just loved.”
Toward the end of his life, Colonel started having seizures and became increasingly sick. A few days before he was euthanized, Murray took her indoor cat to the beach.
“I think everyone should see the ocean while they’re alive,” she said. “Maybe that comes from living in Maine, but everyone should see it.”
As Colonel was being put down, Murray played their favorite song, “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” by REO Speedwagon.
“‘Even as I wander, I’m keeping you in sight,’” Murray said, quoting the lyrics. “It’s about always coming back to that same person, or cat.”