8-17-15 Tom Cullen

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Tom Cullen (Tommy)
June 28, 2005 – August 14, 2015.

Friday morning, we said goodbye to Tommy. It was completely unexpected and heartbreaking – you can read the details of what happened either on Fred’s Facebook post, or in Saturday’s entry (where I cut and pasted Fred’s Facebook post).

This was completely out of left field – Tommy wasn’t a young cat, but we certainly expected him to live to be older than 10. He had autoimmune issues (as did Sugarbutt), and he’s slowed down in the past few years, but he was pretty healthy. He spent his days either inside near the air vent in the front room (where the cool air comes out) or hanging out in various areas of the back yard. I am so grateful that we were able to be with him in his last few minutes, and that the last thing he heard was both of us telling him what a good boy he was and how much we loved him.

I had just finished writing my thank you cards for the people who donated in honor of Sugarbutt’s memory Thursday night. We had no idea this was coming.

He was the center of our clowder. Everyone loved him; he had such a calming energy that all cats gravitated to him almost immediately.

Our center is gone, and we are reeling.

We buried him in the back yard, next to his brother Sugarbutt, at the fenceline where he liked to sit and watch the birds and chickens and dogs.


Tommy (then Barrett) and Sugarbutt (then Sad Eyes) along with their brother Smitty (who was Sugarbutt’s twin) and tortie sister Little Cal, came to us at the end of September 2005. They were almost 12 weeks old. I don’t know what their situation was before they came to us, but they were a friendly bunch of kittens.

Tommy, front and center.

The whole litter was friendly, but Tommy was especially so. If I sat down, he was immediately in my lap, rolling around purring and wanted to be petted. He loved to have his belly rubbed, and would purr up at me with one paw raised over his head, a move that we referred to as “praising the Lord.”

My absolute favorite picture of Tommy; always has been.

The whole litter was slated to go off to Petsmart in October, but the day they were to go, Tommy started mysteriously limping. I decided to keep him at home for another day or two to be sure he was okay, while the rest of the litter went. That night, Fred and I talked about what a cool kitten he was. I danced around the subject of keeping him, but didn’t outright ask, because the deal Fred and I made when we first started fostering was that I wouldn’t ask to keep any of the fosters.


We started talking about better names for him, and at one point Fred suggested the name Tom Cullen (which is a name from Stephen King’s The Stand, if you’re not already aware of that) and said we could call him “Moon.” We laughed, and threw around some more names, and then Tommy went off to the foster room and Fred went to bed.

Fred woke me up the next morning by putting Tommy on me, and said “We can keep him, BUT his name has to be Tom Cullen.”

Sugarbutt was adopted and then returned, and after about a week apart, the brothers were reunited.

I love that they were able to spend their lives together, but so sad that their lives weren’t as long as they should have been.

We refrained from fostering for a year (at Fred’s request), and in that time Tommy became good friends with Mister Boogers. They became buddies and partners in crime.

When we started fostering again, that’s when we realized what a wonderful Ambassador Tommy was to the fosters. He didn’t seek out their company, but when they came around – and they always did, drawn by his wonderful calming energy – he was so very patient with them and so willing to clean their ears.

Tommy and Jake.

Tommy and Elwood. Did I mention how patient Tommy was with the other cats?

Baby Tommy and Miz Poo.

Tommy and Reacher.

He loved to be on and in things – especially boxes. I’d get so excited when a good box arrived at the house, because I knew it would make Tommy happy.

He was the ultimate gentleman, dignified even when we put silly hats on him. He was patient and kind to his humans as well as cats and chickens. He was snuggly without being pushy, and if you felt sad or overwhelmed by life, he’d let you hold him for as long as you needed to.

As much as everyone loved Tommy, no one loved him more or with more passion than Stinkerbelle, of course.

The first time she met him, back when her name was Maryanne and she was our foster. She hissed at first, but then she fell in love; of course she did.

I’ve said repeatedly in the past eight years that I hoped Tommy would outlive Stinkerbelle, because she would be lost without him. I’m so sad for her that he’s gone; she took a lot of comfort from him. It’s only been a few days, so I don’t know that she understands he isn’t here. She isn’t acting any differently than usual, at least not yet.

This house is so quiet now; Tommy was never a noisy cat, but the lack of him now is deafening. I know the shape of our clowder will reform around his absence, leaving a scar where he was. I’m grateful that we had 10 years with him, but it wasn’t long enough.

It never is.

Goodbye, sweet Tommy. We will miss you so very much.


If you’re of a mind to, donations can be made in Tommy’s name to Challenger’s House.

They accept donations by mail (check or money order), by phone (Mastercard/VISA), or there’s a Paypal button at the bottom of the Petfinder page.

Challenger’s House
112 Tristian Rd.
Toney, AL 35773

Phone: 256-420-5995


2014: No entry.
2013: Hallo there, Norbs. You need a snuggle?
2012: And Wellington, you’re not so bad, either.
2011: The thing about Molly Peppers is that sometimes her mouth writes checks her Paw o’ Doom can’t cover.
2010: Something about grocery day really gets the Bookworms riled up.
2009: his hernia is FREAKIN’ ME OUT, MAN (also: Jake and Elwood show up!)
2008: No entry.
2007: (We don’t let Newt wander freely through the house, because being inside freaks him out and he’ll sit at the door to the outside and howl to go out. He’s not an indoor cat at ALL.)
2006: No entry.
2005: That’s just the way it seems to go for us.



8-17-15 Tom Cullen — 54 Comments

  1. He was a beautiful, sweet and perfect example of the awesomeness that are black cats. I never realized what an ambassador he was to all who entered your home.

    Rest in peace, Tom Cullen. You will be missed by many.

  2. My heart is aching for you and Fred. I burst into tears right there at work when I read Fred’s post on Friday. I didn’t even “know” him so I can only scratch the surface of understanding the pain and shock you guys are feeling right now. All my love and comfort to you both. ♡♡♡

  3. Oh, Robyn. Oh, Fred. Oh, Stinkerbelle. I just cannot find the right words. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Rest in peace, Tom Cullen, Sir. It was an honor to know You through the Love-and-Hisses blog.

  4. A wonderful tribute. I’ve been thinking about Tommy so much this weekend, and what I kept coming back to was that he was a real grown-up: thoughtful, calm, patient, caring — the soul of sweetness. It was a privilege and a joy getting to spend virtual time with him. Many thanks, Robyn and Fred, for letting us do so.

  5. What a beautiful boy. I especially love the photo of him lounging on the piece of wood outdoors – he looks so regal and sleek. And of course the pictures in the boxes! My deepest sympathy. Rest in peace Tom Cullen.

  6. What a beautiful tribute. I remember how you wrote that Tommy’s calm energy helped you a lot after Miz Poo’s passing. It must be so hard, but that little limp he conveniently developed led him to a great life and the place he was meant to be.

  7. Tommy looks so much like my Charlie (and seems as if they have the same personality as well) that I read this lovely tribute with tears in my eyes. It never feels like you have enough time with them no matter how old they are when they pass.

  8. The picture of “Tommy and Elwood”…It is like Elwood is saying, “I lubs him and he ain’t going anywhere!”. The last picture of Stinkerbelle and Tommy…that is the epitome of adoration!!!

    They could live to be 100 yrs old, and it still wouldn’t be long enough. Each takes a piece of our hearts…and that part belongs to them forever.

    I am so sorry of your loss. I think every commenter/reader can identify with what you are going through and I know we are all here for you…united.

  9. Oh, Tom Cullen. Sniff! I know that was hard to write, but what a wonderful tribute! Reacher sends his love, along with Gladstone (fka Mr Stripey), and Rosie & Bailey, our cat loving dawgs. And lots from us people-types, too!

  10. I was quite worried about Twee when Em died because Twee was so attached to her. We had some issues while Twee tried to force her bond on to others, but she came through it okay. Purrs for Stinkerbelle as she adjusts.

  11. How appropriate the banner this morning is none other than Sugarbutt, peering down upon Tommy. My heart aches for you, Fred, and Stinkerbelle.

  12. Beautiful post. There may be tears at my desk in the office. Again.

    Purrs to you all and Stinkerbelle.

  13. what a great tribute….the pictures tell a wonderful story (though the one of him being smooshed by Elwood may be a classic). our hearts are broken for you….

  14. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful cat. We never have enough time with them, and it seems harder each time. He had a wonderful life there with you, so glad that is wherehe wound up. Thank you for sharing the joy and the sorrow. Hoping Stinkerbelle copes well.

  15. I’m still in a state of shock. He was the TOMMY, and you summed it up completely in that he was the center of the cats. Even with the fosters, he was uncle Tommy and they seemed to snuggle whenever they could next to him.

    Please hug Stinkerbelle and the others a little tighter today. So many pic’s over the years of Stinkerbelle gazing adoringly at him…

    I know that I kept hovering over my Donna this weekend.

  16. Oh that is such a beautiful tribute to a beloved heart-cat! And here I go tearing up at work again, but Tommy is so worthy of my tears and all the other tears that have been shed for him since Friday. Rest in peace, Tom Cullen… I know all of the homeless kitties arriving at The Bridge now have a new best friend to take care of them!

  17. Oh my heart aches for your loss of Tommy and the other two so close together. My “Bo Jack” looks just like Tom Cullen who by the way was a handsome guy. All those bottle babies will keep your mind some what occupied. From the Peppers first human to the fantastic keeper of Kitties my heartfelt condolences.

  18. Oh my. I just can’t believe it. I am so sorry for you and Fred. It is unfathomable that you have had to go through this again so soon. Much love to you both and all of the kitties. Tommy will be missed by many.

  19. Robyn, Fred and all at Crooked Acres my heart goes out to you. What a sad heartbeaking story. I wish you peaceful healing thoughts and prayers to you all. xoxo

  20. Robyn, this breaks my heart almost as much as losing one of my own (I lost one in June, too). I am so sorry.

    It’s funny — I’ve always seen Fred as kind of a quiet guy, going about his business without too much of a ruffle. But his post on Friday made me cry, and showed us what a good, loving man he is. You are fortunate to have him as a partner in fostering and in life (and he, you).

    This has been rotten summer for many of us, and I hope the fall brings better things.

  21. So sorry to hear about Tommy. Cats seem so invulnerable but they can be gone so quickly. He had a happy life with you,that should give you comfort.

  22. This is a wonderful tribute to Tommy. Such love from both sides. We will miss him even though we never met him. I feel such a loss. I told my babies all about Tommy this weekend. I think they could tell I was sad about something but they were not sure what had happened. I hope the universe will calm down now and let you get over the hurt and just remember the love.

  23. The tears are just streaming down my face, as they do every time you have to say goodbye to another beloved kitty. I’m so sorry about Tommy, and as sad as it feels to hear of him gone, it’s even sadder because of the losses you’ve already had. It’s too much. My heart just hurts for all of you, and I wish peace and healing for Crooked Acres.

  24. Oh Robyn. My heart aches for you. Just last night, I sobbed for my sweet papa, who we lost 18 months ago. And then I immediately thought about you and how many babies you have lost this year, and that kind of grief over and over–it takes my breath away. And then I read this and my heart broke open for you again. It’s too much. It’s just too much. I am so, so very sorry. {{hugs}}

  25. So very sorry. I hate it when I lose a part of me that we call cat. I have a black cat and they just seem more special than the other kind.

  26. Robyn, Fred and Stinkerbelle,
    I’m so so so sorry for your loss, Tommy had a wonderful life at crooked acres and brought sunshine to so many. It is terrible to lose a fur baby and you and Fred have lost too many in recent months. Hugs for everyone.

  27. Oh Tommy. What a beautiful boy! I’m so, so sorry, Robyn and Fred. You have had too many losses this year. I’m sending good thoughts your way.

  28. Tom Cullen was a wonderful and beautiful cat, what a lovely (and well-deserved) tribute. All my thoughts are with you <3

  29. What a sweet, wonderful, unique boy he was. I miss all the Crooked Acres kittehs who’ve passed, but he’s left a special mark. Please keep us posted about poor Stinkerbelle; I have to imagine she’s going to eventually figure out he’s gone and is going to be be a very sad little girl. 🙁

  30. The stories you told and the accompanying photos were amazing. What a glorious boy your Tom Cullen is. I am so very sorry for you loss, I read it with leaky eyes on FB. Maybe SugarButt needed her brother and now they are together again. Do you know what happened with the two other siblings? Keepin Stinkerbelle in our purrs and you in our prayers.

  31. When I first read about Tom, my black cat, Taco, was sitting on my lap. I started to cry and he stayed there, while I held him and cried for a great cat I never knew. I cannot imagine how you and Fred are feeling but just know that you both gave him love and a good home. And hopefully, my Shortie, Doc and Kramer are with him now. Please give Stinkerbelle a hug and kiss from me. Take care…

  32. I’m so sorry. I’ll never forget Tommy’s entries in the kitty compatibility chart… he LOVED everyone and everyone LOVED him. Prayers for the Tommy shaped hole in the hearts of all at Crooked Acres.

  33. I am so sorry .No one can understand unless they have lost a fur baby. My heart in broken for all all you.

  34. Crooked Acres family, I am so very sorry for your loss. Tommy was a very special boy and will be missed very much. *hugs, love, and purrs*

  35. Such lovely pictures of such a handsome cat. Maybe he’ll meet up with my Amber in the great beyond and they can be mellow loving kitties together.

    It’s never long enough but he was so much loved, and knew it. I mean, look at him. He totally knew.

  36. Robyn, my heart hurts for you and Fred. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful cat. We never get to keep them long enough, under the best of circumstances. Tommy knew nothing but love while he was with you.

    I’m going to have (another) good cry in my black boy’s fur…

  37. Such a lovely tribute to a quietly amazing cat! My heart goes out to you, Fred, Stinkerbelle and the rest of the clowder…he was such a special guy. And yes, no matter how long they are with us, they go far too soon. Holding y’all in my heart and prayers.

  38. Fellow blog readers: If you want to see what’s really an entire movie’s worth of Robyn’s Tommy pictures, click on the Flickr link for his “album” here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robynanderson/albums/72157645133378150
    When you get there, in the upper right corner there’s a little icon that looks like a TV with an arrow in it. Click that, and at 5 seconds a picture times 1,335 photos, that’s over 1 hour, 50 minutes of Tommy awesomeness. I haven’t gotten very far because I’m at work , but my very very favorite of Tommy so far is this one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robynanderson/14117330975/in/album-72157645133378150/

    • Robyn, while we’re talking about favorite photos, I’d like to nominate the photo of Tommy and Elwood on this page for your Favorite Pictures page. I feel like that picture says so much about their individual personalities, and their relationship with each other. I like to imagine Tommy saying, “Dude, sit wherever (oof!) you’re comfortable!”

  39. Oh Robyn and Fred….

    This broke our hearts when we saw the news on Friday. I have searched for some words to sum up the last couple months and the losses you have gone through but well, there’s nothing more than it just s*cks and I am sooo sorry…. Please know you are in our prayers!

    So many hugs,
    Ann, Rich, Izzy, Bill, Red, and Georgie

  40. Such a lovely tribute to dear Tommy-my heart just breaks for your losses this year.

    I know as a fan of your blog, I am just an observer, but I do feel real grief when you lose a cat. My biggest comfort is, in all the world, no cats have a better life than they do at Crooked Acres. So even if that life is devastatingly short-these cats have had more love, affection and pampering than most cats ever receive.

    You will be missed, sweet Tommy!!

  41. Oh man. I am so very sorry for your loss. I remember when you adopted him and Shuggie. That seems like such a long time ago! Tommy was a beautiful boy and I loved seeing pictures of him throughout the years. Thank you for sharing the good and the bad and the funny and the many beautiful photos and stories of your cats.

    Hugs to you and Fred.

  42. Others mentioned tearing up while reading this at work—which is precisely why I didn’t read this at work. A beautiful tribute.

    I’m so, so sorry, Robyn and Fred, for your loss.

  43. What a lovely tribute to a great, great cat. My heart goes out to you both and to Stinkerbelle and the rest of your cats. Tommy was truly a magnificent fellow. He will be missed. I am so sorry for your loss.

  44. Sweet Tommy, Cat Idol, loved by all. Could there be anything better? I wish he had had many more years of adoring looks from Stinkerbelle, and naps with all and sundry. This has been such a hard year for you guys, and I’m so, so sorry.

  45. He reminds me so much of my Shaye, who was mostly black (except for white splotches on his underside shaped like a bikini and a bow tie – I called him my stripper penguin) and had that same sweet, calm soul that both kitties and people were drawn to. It’s never long enough.

  46. What a beautiful spirit. I am so sorry that Tommy left us, but his light will shine on forever. A fitting and beautiful tribute, Robyn.

  47. Hi Robyn and Fred,

    My most sincere condolences for your loss. In spring, we lost our dear man-cat to the same thing that happened to Tommy, and so I know what horrible unfair shock it was.

    I know that it’s been an awful year. I know that each and every furry little soul who gets to spend time with y’all is loved. So thank you so much for all the love that you are able to give, and to share with us.

    Thank you.