Chicken had been ill for about a year and a half. We had him on steroids for most of that time, and he'd been steadily losing weight and energy. His organs were finally giving out, he'd couldn't jump on the couch or eat much without throwing up and he was down to five pounds when we had the vet put him down.
He has been a wonderful, affectionate, and tolerant (of the children) friend and companion. He's traveled from San Francisco to Albuquerque to Raleigh and always adjusted quickly to his new home (though he did get himself trapped in the woodwork of our downtown apartment.)
I remember Chicken and Morpheus (who also passed this year) chasing each other in our SF apartment sounding like camels charging from one side of our place to the other, little Chicken doing aerial somersaults in pursuit of the elusive shoelace. He'd wear himself out chasing things and performing for us and end up panting for air.
I recall combing fleas out of his fur for hours, which was good practice for nail clipping and other chores he'd soon need to endure stoically. As a young cat he was willing to fight for a corn cob or steal a bit of food from your fork en route to your mouth. He'd probably grab it out of your mouth if your took too long to chew.
Chicken was, on occasion, pretty smart. For example he quickly figured out the trick of the laser pointer, he'd chase the dot for a bit and then follow the line of light back to the source and stare into the beam (that pretty much ended that toy). The latter part wasn't too smart, but I think cat's can be forgiven ignorance of lasers. He enjoyed a good chase, and would in his younger days drag toys from all around the house to us to play with him (including some pretty big ones).
He usually took a while to warm up to people, but once he did, he was very affectionate. This didn't apply to people feeding him in our absence, to whom he immediately cozied up. We'd always caution people feeding him that they might not see him while they were here. But, they'd always respond upon our return that he immediately came out, gave them head butts, and sat in the laps for as long as they'd stay.
From the beginning he was very tolerant of the kids, if not over loving of them. He eventually came around and would give them head butts. He had two long term cat friends and roomies, Morpheus and Spooky (that latter was given away for fear he would roll over and smother infant Sophie). His primary nemeses were autumn leaves caught in the wind and swirling around our back door. He'd whine and claw at the glass in frustration.
People would always wonder at his name. The way I remember the story (16 years old) is that Alexis B, Amanda and I went to the SPCA in San Francisco to get a cat (against my wishes). Amanda picked out the saddest, shiest cat in the place. His name tag said 'Ariel.' We decided the name didn't really fit him so went about trying to pick a new one. I wanted a Shakespearean or Greek name: Horatio, Orestes, something like that. Alexis wanted old lady names: Agatha, Mildred, etc.. (Chicken was a male kitty). Amanda wanted to wait and decide later. After much argument, Alexis admitted that it didn't really matter what we named him, since she called all small animals "Little Chicken." I can attest, having watched a few nature shows with Alexis, she would call all the small animals Little Chicken. So we decided that we'd save him the confusion and just name him chicken. The name fit for the first few years of his life, as he was pretty skittish. Since naming our little guy Chicken, I've heard it used several other times (c.f. Bitchy Bitch's cat).
Pretty much anyone who spent much time with Chicken loved him. I was looking into kenneling options this summer, and the woman at the counter of the Pet Hotel heard his name, and remembered him from a year and a half go. "I love him!" She exclaimed. That was the kind of impression Chicken left.
I wish cats were immortal, but they aren't. Chicken had what seemed like a good life and was surrounded by people who love him.
He will be missed.