My Cat Died Today

This post is primarily for animal lovers…My cat died today…I am writing this in immediate retrospect, a sort of eulogy…It is actually the day after he died, but it still has not sunk in, I still cannot fully assimilate the loss… He was my faithful companion for over 16 years,and I will miss him….

And while I realize that human life is more precious in the larger scheme of things, still to me, he was my only source of comfort, my stability zone, and my safety net, all rolled up into one big ball of huggable, loveable fur, sharp teeth and razor claws for the last 16 years…His death was not a big surprise, the vet had diagnosed him with some form of cancer over a year ago, in fact at the time she allowed as to how he could pass in either 4 days or 4 months…

She called me in fact 4 days after my grim office visit to see if he had died, and seemed mildly surprised that he had not…In point of fact, he lived for a full year after receiving this sentence of “death by diagnosis”, and believe me, I treasured each and every day like it was his last, until finally yesterday it really, finally was his last day on this mortal plane…

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There is a lot to be said about this attitude, of living each day one day at a time, isn’t that what we are all supposed to do anyway? At first, I treated him with kid gloves, constantly refilling his water dish and refreshing his food several times a day while he looked at me quizzically because of all the extra attention, because of course he did not know he was sick with a mortal illness….The notion of doctors and terminal illness and sickness never penetrated his cat consciousness…He was either full go or sleeping, as cats love to do, all the time…

After a while I relaxed my vigilance on hovering over him every minute, and started to treat him more normally, but still giving him that extra attention his condition required while still constantly being aware of any fluctuations in mood or distress…His ignorance of his medical “death sentence” in fact opened up new perspectives to me on a cat (or dog) and their lives…My cat, in a lot of ways, had it a lot better than me!

For example, he never once in his long life (16 ½ years is approximately 83 in people years) had to do something he really did not want to do….He never had to get up early and force himself out the door to labor for 8 plus hours in work world; he never had to put up with some fat piggish boss breathing down his neck all day long, or some simpering subordinate bosses lackey constantly sniping and criticizing him for the most minute faults, as I and most working people have to endure to pay the bills…

What were bills to him? He never had to pay one or worry about finding the money to pay a bill in his entire life!…He never had to deal with the ogres at the IRS or the State Franchise Tax Board, or the gnomes at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)…He never had to sweat out the monthly rent payment, or deal with an irate landlord, or co-exist with neighbors he did not care for…He would simply ignore them…

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Animals are supremely and innately honest, they either like you or they don’t, and they don’t bother to pretend otherwise…My cat never got himself embroiled in boring social situations like after work dinners or enduring droning testimonial speeches at the office Christmas party, or of getting rejected by some hot prospect at the neighborhood bar…He was never trapped in a loveless marriage, or confronted by lawyers or salesmen or telemarketers or computer scammers/hackers…

But don’t get me wrong, my cat LOVED to be around people he liked, he was quite the social animal and he always enjoyed the company and ministrations of people he let into his world, in fact he was way more sociable than me! He would always walk up to visitors or family members and sniff them and check them out and if he liked you, he definitely let you know it!

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Man with cat curled on his lap, working from home

 

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Not to say he had no outside, animal fun, because when he was younger, say 2-5 years old he was an outdoor cat, and he was quite the hunter! He would roam the neighborhood freely and fearlessly all day long, engaged in fascinating cat pursuits like exploring, fruitlessly chasing after birds (he never got one,) but he was adept at hunting down and killing and bringing home various small animals like mice or baby gophers or other pests…

At the end of the day when my girl friend would call him home and I was returned from work, he would deposit these hard won prizes proudly at our feet, as if to say, “Here you go guys, dinner is on me tonight!” He never quite understood why we rejected these tempting morsels, but he was proud of himself for hunting them down, like a lion in the jungle…

Occasionally he would get into a scrap with another male cat, some kind of turf war, and he always acquitted himself well and drove the intruding cat off of his turf..He was “street smart” and avoided large dogs or angry cat hating people adroitly, with the grace and skills of a true feline, to the manor born….

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After a while, as the years passed, he became exclusively a house cat, and stayed inside all day, but after my girl friend died he would always greet me excitedly at the door when I returned home from work every night…He would purr and rub up against my leg, and for a cat, he was surprisingly affectionate, because his favorite thing to do in his middle and later years was to sit on my lap while I watched endless hours of sports on TV or read a book…In some ways he was a lap cat, like a lap dog, but of the feline persuasion…

People often asked me “Aren’t you lonely without a girlfriend?” and I would always honestly reply, “I may live alone, but I am never lonely because I have my cat”…He was my pal, my buddy, my hangout with, go to guy, my partner, and he never once let me down….As the years passed I noticed he was slowing down, but then so was I, so we remained equally matched…

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In the last year of his life with his medical “death sentence” hanging over both of us, I got into the habit of taking him outside, twice a day, morning and night…By this time he was chronologically older than me, so he was no longer a threat to bolt over a fence and disappear, he had lost that capability…

I could easily keep up with him, no need for any collars or leashes, nothing whatever like that, and I would take him on walks to our housing complex back yard parking area, which he enjoyed immensely…I guess the thrill of exploration, the sensation of fresh air, the thrill of heady new scents, the social activity of the neighbors reminded him of his younger, bolder exploratory years…

But all good things must come to an end, and in the last month I noticed a definite slowdown, it was as if he was a mechanical clock winding down in energy…I knew he was dying then…People asked me why I did not have him “put down,” but I rejected that option because he never once seemed to be in pain, or complained or whined…He was very stoic, and I did not want his last few hours of life to be a twisted melange of bright lights, strange voices and people man handling him, medicinal smells and antiseptic odors in the strange, alien environment of the vet’s office…I did not want him to suffer that fear, that panic, that disorientation if at all possible…

But instead he was content, as always, to be with me, following me from room to room of his familiar home, this apartment he had lived most of his life in, where he knew every nook and cranny, where every sight, sound, sensation and smell were comfortable and familiar to him…The night before, he had slept in my lap for the entire length of the Giants baseball game, like he had so many times before while I petted him and talked to him, and he was warm, and vital, and content…We both were…

Finally yesterday, while I was typing my daily blog he was lying on the floor next to me, he always did want to be next to me, forever following me from room to room, and I petted him constantly and talked to him until suddenly, I noticed he was cold, then in a few minutes stiff as the rigor mortise had set in…

He died peacefully, in his sleep, perhaps in a coma, but never once demonstrated any pain or fear or discomfort…He just simply died in his sleep, at home, in his familiar comfort zone, and I fervently hope that when it is my time I will be able to do the same thing…He was the best cat anybody could ever have, and probably the last cat I will ever have…He spoiled me…

His name was Hoss, and even now I can almost hear him moving about, rustling at his water dish, padding silently through the apartment out of the corner of my eye…I will never forget him, and I treasure each and every minute we spent together, especially the 3 years after I retired, the equivalent of 15 cat years, together…I will especially miss our twice daily outings and the quiet companionship of him just sitting, purring on my lap…

My cat has died, and I will miss him, I miss him fiercely right now and I am misty eyed as I type these words, but I will never forget him…. And in that sense he, like all of us, is immortalized in the treasure trove of memories, the association of time and places, secure in the memories of those he left behind…for now.

2 thoughts on “My Cat Died Today

  1. I totally feel the pain and grief you are going through, I was told after losing two children I was unable to have any more, after the death of my second child I guess it was my maternal instincts what drove me to purchase two kittens Jethro and Marmalade who grew into a huge ginger giant of a cat, it probably goes without saying these two magnificent feline beasts were my children in my eyes and I loved them with a passion but after 18 years Marmalade passed over and my naughty Jethro a year later, my grief was at the time unbearable the stillness in my home was unreal I thought I would never get over it but as time passed the gut wrenching pain subsided and my life although as you say quite lonely went on…I sometimes whilst sleeping sometimes feel the two little monkeys jump on my bed, I have my photographs of my feline children and along with the pleasure of looking and remembering the memories the photos bring back to my mind, the longing to cuddle them still feels unbearable..I’m so sad for you and I once again have that feeling I know you have in your stomach it’s awful ..please stay positive xxx

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    1. Thank you so much Catherine for your sympathy and support at the recent loss of my cat, my pet, my best friend…I feel exactly as you described about the loss of your beloved cats, I think that sometimes I can hear or feel my cat’s presence in the other room, or catch a glimpse of him just out of the corner of my eye, and find myself talking to him….The worst is when i come home and open the door and he is not there to greet me, this always makes me sad…

      My next door neighbor gave me a sympathy card with a very emotionally supportive pamphlet enclosed called “Rainbow Bridge”….It is a poem and you can just Google it, I just did it, and if you have never heard of this, it is a poem about animal lovers and their pets…I urge you to look it up on Google and hope that it will bring you some relief, even now….Thank you again for your kind letter of sympathy, Sincerely, john whye

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