Thursday, May 13, 2010

Announcement from Borderlands Books

On behalf of Jude and Alan of Borderlands Books:

Ripley: June 10th, 2002 - May 12th, 2010

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of Borderlands' beloved and original bookstore cat, Ripley. The suddenness of her passing has us all in shock; we've written the following to provide the details of what happened.

We brought Ripley to the vet this past Tuesday morning because she'd been throwing up. Upon examination and following an x-ray and a ultrasound, our vet determined that she had a large mass in her stomach which was partially blocking her esophagus and most likely caused by untreatable and extremely rapid carcinomatosis (in this case, a mass of tiny cancers which created a fluid-filled sack around itself). There was another possible diagnosis, almost equally bad, but the determination couldn't be made until the next day, pending test results.

Having discovered completely unexpectedly in the course of about two hours that our cherished companion of seven and a half years was very likely dying, we took her home to spend what time with her we could. She was warm, happy and comfortable, and even though she had essentially stopped eating, she cheerfully devoured a small amount of smoked turkey (her favorite food) that we offered. She spent the afternoon in Alan's lap while he read and petted her, and she spent the night sleeping curled next to Jude, as she has for almost all of her life.

Wednesday morning we received confirmation from the pathologist of the carcinomatosis diagnosis. There were no useful treatments for her condition - the vet told us that it was possible to drain the sack and partially remove the blockage, but due to the rapidity of the cancer's replication, we'd be back in exactly the same situation in a day or two. Furthermore, the treatment would be painful for her. Since Ripley was essentially unable to eat or drink, the conclusion of her conditon would have been death by dehydration or starvation, which was obviously unacceptable.

With great difficulty, we made the decision to euthanize her.

On Wednesday evening, we brought her back to the vet. The incredibly kind people at Mission Pet Hospital had set up low lights and a soft blanket on the table for her. We were there the whole time, and Ripley was purring as we talked to her and rubbed her ears. At about 6 pm, wrapped in the flannel bathrobe that she loved, she was given an anesthetic, and, once asleep, an overdose of barbiturate to stop her heart.

Ripley is buried in a quiet, sunny, wild-rose covered location in San Francisco.

There are no good ways to lose an animal that you love, but there are many worse ways than this.

We extend heartfelt thanks to all of the caring staff at Mission Pet, and very specifically to Dr. Dave Gordon, whose kindness and consideration made this dreadful situation as painless, both for us and for Ripley, as they could.

We hope that this addresses the majority of your questions. We request sincerely that you respect our grief and do not talk to us or the cafe and bookstore staff about this, or ask questions right now. Despite the dispassionate tone of this note, it is frankly too painful for us to talk about, and we all need a little time. While we appreciate that many, many people loved Ripley and will feel devastated by this news, and in many ways Ripley "belonged" to all of us, please understand that it's taking considerable effort for some of us just to keep functioning right now, and every funny story, heartfelt wish or sympathetic look may set any of us off in a fresh wave of tears.

Truly, we just don't want to talk about her right now.

We've set up this blog for people to share their stories or photos, if they wish.

Thank you for your understanding.

Jude Feldman and Alan Beatts


  1. My Eulogy for Ripley -- Alexandra Duhamel

    When I first met Ripley, she was not yet the famous bookstore cat that she became; she was a few weeks old and had been transported down to our house in Los Altos for some event...probably a barbeque. She was so tiny that she fit under the cabinets along the baseboards. Our house was so new to her that she spent all the time exploring and was not approachable by people unless the people came bearing bacon. Thus cementing Ripley's love for processed meats.

    This was a cat that could hear and differentiate the sound of a cryopack of meat being opened 3 rooms away. Nothing makes a cat come running faster than prosciutto.

    Later, when we lived in Grass Valley, Ripley often came with her parents for a weekend visit. Her humans arrived slightly frazzled after a 3 hour car ride with Ripley serenading the whole way. But Ripley was ready to explore or nap as soon as she arrived.

    Ripley and I shared lovely, relaxing spa days when she stayed with us while her humans were on vacation. At least it was relaxing for her humans; I know Ripley and I did not enjoy the nails being trimmed, the ear cleanings or the baths. Once Sly came along, at least one problem was solved in that he and Ripley had a symbiotic ear cleaning relationship.

    Nothing made me feel more loved by Ripley than when she would curl up on my lap while I was reading or watching tv. She loved a lap, any lap. This led to the person trapped being 'cat trapped' and having the right to boss everyone around with imperious commands....fetching tea etc. Ripley held you hostage right up until you were too full of tea and had to go to the bathroom. Then someone else would offer to take your fleece wrapped bundle and sacrifice their freedom in order to be cat trapped.

    Our cat, having been sat on one too many times, has a defense mechanism whereby he leaves one paw or one ear outside of the blankets he has burrowed into. Not so Ripley. More than once she was unfurled when a blanket was picked up to be folded, sat on on the bed and made into the bed. You learned to poke and prod any lumps before making a move with Ripley around.

    I have no first hand knowledge of this, because I shower, but Ripley liked to lick knees when people were bathing. Or so I have been told.

    Her favorite places were warm: the front window at the store, the computers at the cash register, Jude's lap and Alan's bathrobe (and vice versa).

    Ripley got sick. Ripley went for therapy. Since a hairless cat cannot lose any hair, Ripley's reaction was to turn into a wooly footstool because of her treatments. But the treatments worked and she was all cured. Her family, friends, and fans breathed a sigh of relief.

    Sadly, she was with us for only a few years after her treatment.
    She was suddenly diagnosed and taken from us in a matter of hours.
    We are all still in shock.

    When she was away from the store, people asked about her. When she first got ill, people were very concerned for her. The 'Cats are In' sign really mattered to her many fans. While Ripley will no longer be IN the store, she will live on IN the hearts of everyone who met her.

    Our deepest sympathy goes out to her humans, Wolf and Jude, her many current and past colleagues at the store, her friends, her fans and any lap that will seem a little empty without her.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about Ripley's passing. My 16 year old cat, Oscar, passed away in November and I still find myself expecting to see him when I enter my apartment.

    Back in 2003 or so, Ripley was featured as a guest cat on kittypr0n. When you're ready to watch them, her scenes can be seen starting at the 3:54 mark in this video:

    and continuing throughout most of this video:

    -- Katrina James

  3. I'm so sorry. She was a wonderful cat.

    ~ Eva

  4. This is incredibly sad news. My heart goes out to Alan, Jude and everyone who was touched by this incredible cat.

    I remember how she decided during the WHC2006 convention to simply high tail it out of the main room during our gathering to get a breather from the manic activity. I didn't blame her. I wanted to do the same! And then I'll never forget introducing her to my boyfriend last year. She was immediately drawn to him when I the Big Cat Person could hardly even get her attention! I was delighted that she knew instinctively what a wonderful person he is. She was an incredible cat in so many ways. I adored seeing her perched here and there, or gliding through the bookstore during my readings, signings or visits. She personified dignity and grace. And love.

    Take care, everyone. You're special to me, too, Alan and Jude.

  5. You have my sincerest sympathies. I lost my sweet 17-year-old kitty on December 30. Although I don't feel any less sad that she's gone, it slowly becomes easier to remember all the happy memories. I hope your joyful memories can become a source of comfort.

  6. I remember well my reading at Borderlands, with Ripley presiding over it all. I am so, so sorry to hear of her passing.

  7. I'm terribly sorry to hear this. My deepest sympathies.


  8. It is always sad when you lose a pet. Because I live in the country and my cats are all free to come and go, I never know when one has gone forever... Now I know how mums, wives and lovers felt when during the war they were told their son, husband etc was "dispersed."

  9. I am so very sorry to hear of this loss. I never met Ripley myself, but I wholeheartedly understand the loss of a beloved pet having gone through a similar thing with one of my rabbits last month. Losing her was devestating and I can still barely speak about her now. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who knew and loved Ripley.

  10. Heartbreaking -- such a wonderful cat. Ripley was lucky to have such wonderful owners in her life as you.

  11. I used to visit Borderlands for a book reading group, and adored Ripley, who would choose the person least interested in cuddling a cat, any cat, especially a Sphinx, and would hop up on his lap with a look of curiosity, gently putting her paws in his chest to gaze interestedly into the poor victim's eyes. She'd then turn around for a quick modeling session, tail up, and pose there until whomever she'd chosen either tried to put her on the floor, wherein she'd try the whole process again, or would relent and attempt to pet her, which would make her leap off and go scout the store again.

    She could teach those who were wary of her unusual appearance to learn to get past the surfaces. I loved petting her soft, suede-like skin, rubbing the ears that would glow translucent in the sunlight. She wouldn't let me do this long, but I adored her, so I was happy.

    I learned that Ripley is a lot like life. If you try too hard to get her affections, she'd know it and ignore you. She knew who her friends were, and in time would pay a visit briefly, nuzzling you as if to say, "I didn't want you to feel neglected, but I've had important things to sniff..." She would charm you briefly before moving on. If you already liked her, there was no challenge, but she didn't ever make you feel slighted.

    I would pass Borderlands Books in the evening sometimes, seeing her stationed atop a row of books lined vertically, assessing her view of the parade on Valencia, observing as if collecting notes on the novel she would write.

    I will miss her greatly. My wish is for comfort at this time, Alan and Jude. We all were fortunate.

  12. I'm so sorry to hear about Ripley! I feel lucky she came and visited me while I was in the shop on Monday.

    My deepest sympathies, Alan and Jude; I still tear up regularly about my cat Gracie who died 7 years ago.


  13. Ripley was a giant among cats. I will miss her.

  14. Alan and Jude, I am so sorry. She was a lovely being. I am hoping people will post lots of pictures here, as she was always a wonder to look at and commune with. And, on a lighter note, I know that I'll think of her every time I see Sigourney Weaver.


  15. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  16. Alan, Jude & everyone at Borderlands -

    I'm very sorry to hear about Ripley. My thoughts are with all of you.


  17. Ah, no, I was so sorry to hear this. :( She will be greatly missed. Every event I have ever been to at Borderlands was enlivened by her unique presence. My heart goes out to all who are touched by her passing but especially to Alan and Jude.

    Julia Dvorin

  18. Alan & Jude (& Borderlands gang),

    My condolences to all y'all. Not a great year - my mom passed three weeks ago and my aunt a couple of months before that. Sigh. Plus, I won't forget because May 13 is my birthday.

    Ripley, I'll miss you! Play nice with my mom if your paths happen to cross!


  19. I'm so sorry. I've gone through the same with a beloved cat, and had to make that same hard decision.

    Long-distance hugs to you all.


  20. Hi guys,

    I am so, so sorry to hear of this, and I hope that things will least a little time.

    Being from Ireland, I've been to Borderlands twice. My first time, I appeared on your doorstep at midday, and eventually left at about 6pm. When I walked through the door, and started to browse, it took a few minutes before I realised...something....was following me. Suddenly, from nowhere, Ripley plowed forward and butted into me. The next few hours were spent gather books by the armload, and sitting down to read, with Ripley beside me, purring and butting me. When I eventually left (with far too many books for me to carry), I left with some wonderful experiences, some pictures I'd love to send to you sometime, and a longing to come back - if only to see Ripley again :)

    A couple of years later, I did just that - and spent less time (but not much) among your shelves, and more time playing with Ripley (and still about 6 hours in your store).

    I'll be back again soon...but I feel it'll be a very bittersweet experience.

    Take care.


  21. Ripley was a dear cat, and one of the many reasons that I love Borderlands. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  22. I never got to meet Ripley, but I have heard many, many stories. I sorrow for the loss of this kitty, for all of us, and especially for those who knew and loved her.

  23. I'm so sorry to hear this. My sincere condolences to all who loved her. Alan and Jude, I hope if some day you're able to read these comments without too much pain, it may help in some small way to hear that the grace Ripley brought into all our lives was truly cherished. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  24. I'm sorry to hear your sad news about Ripley. Losing a companion sucks.

  25. Terribly sorry to hear about Ripley. I don't get up to visit as often as I'd like, but I was always happy to see her when I did make it up from the South Bay. I lost one of my cats very suddenly a couple of months ago, and it's been hard.

    When she wasn't off snoozing somewhere, I'd often persuade her to sit on my lap while I was looking through a book. I could also pick her up and carry her around the store - imagine my surprise when I was told last year that Ripley didn't like to get picked up and carried around by visitors! Once I carried her around for a bit, then put her down, and she followed me around the store meowing at me until I picked her up again!

    She certainly had as good a life as a cat could ask for. But, alas it was too short.

  26. I'm so sorry for your loss. Ripley was a magnificent creature and I adored her. I loved going into the shop just to sit a cuddle with her. My fondest memory was at the Ray Garton book signing when she hopped up on the table and hung out with Mr. Garton.

    I will miss her greatly.

  27. So so sorry for your loss. Ripley will be much missed.

    After many visits, she finally decided one afternoon last fall that I was an acceptable lap and I was trapped for several lovely hours - fortunately during a reading and signing! - while she held court. I spoke to so many new people as they came up to pet and speak to her. Of course I had to get a picture to commemorate the event:

    I imagine heaven for cats as having lots of angel wing feathers to chase. I hope Ripley is playing with all my cats who have gone before her.

  28. I'm so very sorry for your loss, I wish I could have known Ripley better, but I'm glad I got to meet her. She was a wonderful cat.


  29. Aw, so sorry to hear the news. Hang in there.

  30. Visiting Borderlands has always been a joyous occasion for many reasons, not the least of which was Ripley's presence. I will continue to frequent that sci-fi oasis, but I can assure you that every time I step through the door I will dwell for a moment on the memory of that wonderful and strange little creature.

  31. Very sorry to hear this sad news. Condolences and love.

  32. So sorry to read this, as a fellow pet lover you have my absolute sympathy.

  33. I only knew Ripley through blog posts and photos. I loved her expressions--I could envision her wearing pince-nez, a pencil behind one ear, glaring at an unfortunate customer.

    I am very sorry for your loss.

  34. What a sweet and endearing cat. As much a part of the Borderlands experience as the books. Very sad news. Ripley will be missed.

  35. Ripley has a posse. She will be much missed.

  36. Thank you, Jude and Alan, for sharing Ripley with us all these years, and for what must have been a difficult post to write. Like so many others, I'm very sorry for your loss.

  37. I'm so sorry. Just last weekend, she ignored me at the counter but chased me into the back of the store to insist I make a lap for her in a chair there. My condolences to everyone who knew and loved her.

    Taken on Saturday, May 8:

  38. Nanci Kalanta (Horror World)May 14, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Ripley in real life but she graced my desktop every October since I first saw a picture of her. She was the coolest cat I'd ever seen.

    It was obvious that she was well loved. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  39. So sorry to hear this, guys. My thoughts are with you...

  40. Russell BorogoveMay 14, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    I'm sorry to hear about Ripley's passing. Seeing her always put a smile on my face.

  41. My condolences. I am fortunate to have met her at the store last winter.

  42. I am very, very sad to hear this news. Of the many bookstore cats I have known, Ripley was the most awesome in ways too numerous to list. I even have pictures of my dad (who normally hates cats) petting Ripley with this huge grin on his face. She was that cool.

    I offer my deepest condolences on her loss.

  43. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. It's terribly hard to lose a pet. My sympathies to the whole Borderlands family.

  44. Oh, this is a sad day.. Ripley was such a wonderful kitty... always coming up to me and greeting me, jumping into my lap in the back room chairs, just a marvelous cat. She always had a purr going and won heart right and left.. I'll miss her along with everyone else, like part of the family gone.. Wishing her the highest possible evolution in the kitty bardo..

  45. I am so sorry to hear of Ripley's passing. I have never had the honour of meeting Ripley, having only heard of her through Seanan McGuire, but I had hoped to remedy that when I visit SF later this year.

    Alas, it was not meant to be.

    My sincerest sympathies to all who loved her.

  46. I was a fan of Ripley. He was unique in my experience, very cool, very much in charge, very right for the store. He had a good life.

  47. I'm so sorry. She was a wonderful cat. I've posted pictures of her on my blog:

    - Keyan

  48. Our first experience with a hairless cat, all those years ago at her start -- freaked my wife out when she "felt watched" in the stacks and then saw this amazing creature coolly observing her...

    We've loved her ever since, watched her go through her changes; loved seeing her in her special spot observing people coming in and out. She will be missed.

    Now her two compatriots take the baton. Nice to have them there.

    We'll visit them, after a little time...

  49. I'm so sorry guys. This made me weep three thousand miles away, and I can only imagine how you're doing. Jude was so understanding when my Spartacus died last year, and this brings it all back. Hang in there; the only comfort at all is that she's no longer suffering.

  50. To me, Ripley has always been an icon of some of the most wonderful things in our city: fantasy, deviance, and strange attraction, to name just a few. Ripley's image will always stay with me.... So sorry for the loss!
    Hawkeye Parker

  51. Ripley was my cat fix when I was in the Mission area for a number of sad months, and my own cat was in New York City. She gave me a clearer sense of what my cat was thinking -- the vivid expressions on her wrinkly face made me think harder about what my cat might look like under all her fur. I remember fondly how she'd climb me when I picked her up. I loved coming by late in the evening and seeing her through the window, sleeping on top of the warm computer monitor. Rest in peace, beautiful creature.

  52. Theresa DeLucci, Tor BooksMay 15, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    I'm so sorry to hear about Ripley. Meeting her and visiting Borderlands was a highlight of my trip to San Francisco. Thinking of you, Alan and Jude.

  53. Ripley was a wonderful creature and there are many of us who will never, ever forget her.
    Amanda ex-booklady

  54. I'm so sorry. I'm so very sorry. I can't think of anything else to say right now.

    Lori White

  55. Deepest sympathies.
    Love, Rose O'Keefe

  56. I'm really sorry to hear about this. Both my girlfriend and I enjoyed being cat-trapped by Ripley whenever we stopped by Borderlands. Sitting in the back area, with the afternoon sun coming in, reading a good book, and having a purring cat sleeping on your lap and demanding scratches is one of the nicest experiences there is.

    We lost one of our cats last year after a long and exhausting battle with what was probably cancer, and we're still not over it. It's really sad. But, Ripley had a wonderful life that she lived on her own terms, and was beloved by many!

  57. So sad, so very sad.

  58. I've got a picture around somewhere I took one day when Ripley was following me around the store and jumped up to the arm of a chair next to where I was looking at some books and meowed until I pet her.

    The last time I saw her was just a few days ago while I was in the used book section and one of the book clubs was ending its meeting but couldn't fold up one of the chairs because Ripley was in it and didn't want to move so they left the chair. When I walked near to look at some books she started to meow until I pet her. She was just that kind of cat.

    Ripley was a great cat and I'm very sorry for your loss.

  59. Although I never met your beautiful kitty, my heart goes out to you. Losing a loved one is always hard.

    My cat Sam had his life saved at Mission pet by Doctor Gordon so I know that your lil guy was in good hands. Sending love to help the pain!

  60. Ripley, rest in peace. Your family loved you.

    Brett, Chicago

  61. I have many fond memories of Ripley, but my favorite was probably attempting to pet her with a Cthulhu hand puppet. Not quite sure how she felt about that, but she's always been a great sport. I'm going to miss Ripley so much!!!

  62. I just found out yesterday.

    After a few visits and tentative sniffs (on both our parts), Ripley decided I was a good head, ear, and back-scratcher. I will miss her.

    I lost my own cat, almost as suddenly, in December of 2009. I know how sad this is.

  63. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was directed to Borderlands by a friend in Chicago when she found out that I was going to be visiting San Francisco last weekend.

    She wrote "I highly recommend an afternoon reading a book lazily at Golden Gate Park. That and the Mission are my favorite parts of SF. Also, there is an awesome sci fi bookstore with friendly hairless cats in that neighborhood called Borderlands. Have fun!"

    I was only there for about 2 and a half days, and I didn't get to spend an afternoon reading in the park, but I did make a point to get to the book store.

    I was sad to see the news about Ripley, and reading the memorial here brought on a few tears, as well as a few smiles to my face.

    I never got a chance to meet Ripley, but I'm still saddened by her loss, and I wanted to offer my sympathies and condolences.

    Chris in Indianapolis


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