On loving, and losing, little creatures

This weekend, I put my cat to sleep. It was not expected, and I’m pretty heartbroken. I also feel silly. There are larger and more important tragedies every day. We had three great years together, and for that I should be grateful. I know I gave him a really good life. He was just a cat. I don’t even like cats.

But oh man do I miss my little cat.

Percival was the first adult decision I ever made — my first real, long-term commitment. I got him a few weeks into my first real grown-up job as a lawyer, working at a law firm in Manhattan — a job I never thought I would be doing, and that still makes me feel far more serious and responsible than I actually am. I’m not sure why I decided to adopt a kitten; I wanted a dog but didn’t have the time, I guess, and a cat-creature seemed better than no creature at all. So I went on PetFinder and found the most perfect black-and-white tuxedo kitten named Che. He was super handsome, so my room mate and I went to the shelter to get him; she decided she also wanted a kitten, so she was going to get his brother. When we got there, there were four kittens in the litter — three healthy, shiny, gorgeous tuxedo kitties, and one teeny-tiny filthy grey kitty who didn’t match at all. The shelter lady swore up and down that the little grey was part of the same litter, but I suspect she was lying; I think he was probably from a later litter, but either all of his siblings had been adopted or for whatever reason didn’t make it, and she didn’t want prospective cat-adopters to think he was a lemon and look past him. Either way, my room mate and I each picked up the tuxedo kitties, cooed over them, and played with them, trying to select which ones to take home. The little grey one kept scooting towards our hands every time we reached into the cage. Unlike the other kittens, he was legitimately dirty, and his eyes were full of gunk, and his nose was runny, and he was slightly cross-eyed. The shelter lady told us he had ringworm, so we should be sure to wash our hands after touching any of the cats. I took pity on him, because it was clear that the pretty kitties got all of the attention and no one ever bothered to hold the messed up little grey one.

I picked him up and scratched him. He stretched his little face up toward mine, flipped his whole body into a reclining-on-his back position, nuzzled his face into the side of my boob and fell asleep purring.

He was mine.
Percival sleeping

I named him Omar Little after my favorite character on The Wire. That name lasted all of three days — little Omar was a huge cuddly wuss of a cat who, if he were a kid, would get regularly beat up on the playground. I re-christened him Percival. My room mate adopted one of his handsome tuxedo brothers, who she named Leopold. And then it was Percy and Leo in our dilapidated, tenement-style East Village apartment for the next eight months. In those months, I started working very intense hours, I broke up with my boyfriend, and I became increasingly unsure of the path I had chosen to take. Then I moved to Brooklyn with a different girl and took Percy with me.

Percy's spot

I remember saying that Percy was the only thing I couldn’t ever leave behind; that he was the only real, flesh-and-blood commitment that I had, and that felt both intimidating and wonderful. He was my responsibility. He was the only part of my life that I didn’t have the full freedom to just up and walk away from. He was just a cat, I know, and not a child or a partner, but I was nowhere near having a child or a partner and he was my cat; he was my living, breathing little buddy who depended entirely on me for his survival. I said to my roommate that it was so strange to think that this little cat, who I got on a whim when I was 25, would be around for all of the milestones in the next 20 years of my life — that he would meet more boyfriends than my parents, that he would live in a home I purchased, that he would be a shared pet if I ever got married, that if I left New York he would be the only thing definitely coming with me. He was just a cat, but he was the one thing that for the next decade or two was not up in the air; he would be a constant presence, the one thing that wasn’t a variable. That felt really significant when I was 25 and working a job I wasn’t sure I wanted and ending a romantic relationship and just feeling entirely lost.

Kisses

Percy was not a smart cat. He was possibly one of the least intelligent cats I have ever met. He fell off stairs, he was utterly incapable of connecting bad behavior to negative consequences (i.e., if you stand on the kitchen table where you are not allowed, you will get sprayed with water), he once poisoned himself by jumping up on said table and sticking his face on a bouquet of lilies. But his stupidity also made him the nicest, friendliest cat I have ever met. As far as he was concerned, human beings were petting machines, existing entirely to give him all of the attention and physical contact he craved (which was a lot), and also to sometimes feed him. I’m not sure it ever occurred to him that a person could do him harm — he would rush to the front door every time the buzzer rang, because delivery men meant guaranteed pets and scratches. If you were on the couch, he was either on your lap or on the couch backing right behind your head so he could put his face on yours. He slept in my bed every night, either right on top of my feet or in the little spoon position — he just had to be touching me. Shannon, my current roommate and long-term closest friend, is a teacher and gets up very early, so around 5:30 he would hear the bathroom door close, leave my bed and go wait for her outside of the shower (and sometimes fulfill his rubber band fetish by fishing into her make-up bag, stealing a rubber band, and then running around the apartment with it in his mouth before depositing it in his water dish). Then he would sit in her bedroom just hanging out until she got ready, and after she left would return to me. When I wake up, I roll onto my back for ten minutes or so before getting out of bed. Percy would hear the roll-over, and veeeeeery gingerly walk up onto my chest and lay down, setting his little head in the crook of my neck. I think he liked to feel my heartbeat on his heartbeat, and my breathing matching his breathing.

Percival / Omar Little

When I came home, Percy was always waiting at the door, ears perked, eyes wide. He would be so happy to have his girl home that his little brain would basically short-circuit, and he would jerk his head to the right two or three times before letting his whole body follow, collapsing on the ground on his back, stretching his legs in all directions. Every day, I would squat down and rub his belly — after work, at 4am when I was getting home from being out, at 3pm on a Sunday when I came back from brunch. Whenever I opened that door, he was there. When I had a Summer of Medical Disasters these past few months, which I won’t detail but which had me in an emotional tailspin as my entire body seemed to fail me piece by piece, he was there. Whenever he was there, he got a belly rub. That’s just how we did things. He’s just a cat. I feel silly for saying this. But squatting on my kitchen floor, petting my little buddy, brought me more comfort than anything else, right when I needed it most.

Percival / Omar Little

Percy was not a healthy cat. He was always scrawny and skinny and sickly. And the problem with having a weakness for sickly, damaged animals is that you end up with sickly, damaged animals. We went to the vet every few months because he was losing weight or not eating or poisoning himself with lilies or or or or. Half the time he got patched up, and half the time the vet just said “He’s just not a well cat, but there’s nothing medically wrong with him.” He wasn’t a thriver. He was a lemon. He was also sweet and cuddly and affectionate and good-natured. He warmed the hearts of cat-haters everywhere (including myself). When he lost weight, again, I didn’t think too much of it. He was always half-way sick without ever really being sick, right?

Until he was really sick.

I took him to the vet on Saturday because he was just too skinny and too lethargic; every day seemed significantly worse than the day before. A week ago, I could say that he wasn’t a kitten anymore; maybe he was upset that I had been traveling so much; he had lost weight before; most cats just lounge around all day, right? He had just had an x-ray and full blood work done in July, so I figured nothing too terrible could crop up in three months. I figured we’d go in, the vet would tell me he needed X medicine, and that would be it.

But when we went in, the vet took one look at him and she said, “I don’t think this is going to be good news.”

His gums showed signs of jaundice. His belly was full of fluid. When she did an x-ray, you couldn’t see any of his organs. His liver was failing. He had a kitty virus he had picked up in the shelter, that sometimes mutates into an incurable, untreatable disease in immunocompromised cats. It was not good news. There was nothing that could be done. The vet told me I needed to consider putting him down, right then.

I couldn’t do it.

I took him home. I wanted my room mate, who was as much his girl as I was, to have time with him. The vet said he maybe had a few days, but to watch him closely; this disease, she said, moved fast. She gave me a steroid to give to him. I predicted we had a week. That was Saturday.

Sunday, my friend P came over and we spent the day petting Percy and letting him sleep in the sun on the previously disallowed kitchen table. As I held my hand on his ribs, his breathing became shallow, and I thought he might stop right then and there. P started to cry. She called Shannon and told her to come home.

When P left, Shannon and I went on Percy Watch. My sister was visiting from Boston, so she sat with us too. We decided he was ok enough to make it another day; we would have one final night and then one final morning, where we could lay in bed and cuddle him and have some closure. He seemed ok, we decided.

And then he didn’t.

He couldn’t breathe very well — we started to see his tiny ribs heave and jerk as he tried to breathe through the fluid that now occupied most of his little body. He crouched, he rolled over, he sat — he was trying to get into any position that wasn’t uncomfortable. He started to cry a little bit. I’ll leave out the rest of it, because it’s sad and not worth detailing. He was on the kitchen floor. The three of us were squatting on the floor with him. I looked at Shannon and my sister and I asked them again and again, “Do you think he can make it through the night? What do you think? What do we do?” and no one could give me an answer. Shannon, who is 100 times kinder than I am and also 100 times tougher, finally breathed, “I don’t think he’s going to have a good night.” We looked at each other and I could tell she was trying not to cry; I could tell that she was trying to balance doing the best thing for an animal she loved with trying to do the best thing for a girl she loved. She was trying to find a way to choose us both.

The truth is, I needed one more night with him. None of this was expected; I couldn’t just put him down like this. He had to wake up with me one more time, and lay on my chest, and know that his people loved him. More than that, I needed him. I didn’t want to wake up without him. I wasn’t ready to let my little buddy go. And I could have had him a little longer, if I wanted — he probably would have hung on for one more night. I could have snuggled him Monday morning, and then rushed him to the vet. I needed him, and he was right there, and it was entirely my call.

Instead, I tried to do right by him. I don’t know if I made the right decision, but I took him in to be put down at 11pm on a Sunday. He probably would have made it through the night, but it would have been a bad night; the night would have been for me and not for him. Or maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better, since I made the call to cut off the life of a three-year-old cat who probably wanted nothing more than to just be petted and snuggled and loved. I don’t know.

IMG_2259.JPG

He’s just a cat. The ambiguity of this decision, the question of when “it’s time,” the fact that there’s never an obvious or easy answer isn’t nearly as heavy with a cat as with a person. But on Sunday night it felt pretty heavy.

I carried him in my arms to the vet. He hated his carrier, and I wasn’t going to make him spend his last few minutes in it. He was an indoor cat, and his eyes were huge the entire ten-minute walk over. I like to think he was curious and interested in what was going on around him, and not scared.

When Percy died, I was holding him like a baby, and whispering in his ears and kissing his nose. He liked it when you whispered to him, I think because the smell and feeling of breath on his face felt good. My roommate couldn’t take being in the room, so she waited in the lobby. My sister stood next to me and rubbed my back. I told him he was my sweet baby, my little bunny, my good boy. I pressed my nose to his nose as the vet put in two injections. And that was it. He wasn’t alone. The fact that I didn’t leave him alone brings me more comfort than anything else, right now.

My apartment feels really empty now. I came home from work today and no one was at the door. I woke up this morning and I rolled over on my back and nothing else happened.

I feel silly writing this post. He was just a cat (and also, I’m not a big fan of the hyper-personal, hyper-emotional blog posts, at least when they come from me). People go through tragedies which are much worse, much more debilitating, much more incomprehensibly awful ever single day. I am a lucky bitch if one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my entire life is putting a cat to sleep. The truth is, I’ve gone through harder things, but none of them have been my call; this was hard particularly because it was my decision. That is still phenomenally, unfairly, offensively lucky.

But here we are. And here is this entirely awful, self-indulgent exercise.

This weekend, I saw a woman whose company I’ve long enjoyed but who I don’t know as well as I would like to, and we had a brief but good conversation. Last night she sent me a message on Facebook saying she enjoyed seeing me, and sending love, and saying a variety of things that warmed my heart in a moment where I felt like my heart had stopped. It was one of the first things I read after putting Percy down, and it was so wonderful and loving that I wasn’t quite sure where to put it. She had no clue about what was going on, and her message was entirely un-kitty-related. I sent her back a brief message saying it was good to see her too, and she couldn’t possibly know how much her message was just what I needed at that particular time. She wrote back, “We are always right on time and we always get the messages we need, you know?”

Yesterday, one of my closest friends who now lives in DC and who visited this weekend and was the person who finally said, “Jill, Percy doesn’t look right and you need to take him to the vet,” sent me a bouquet of lilies — a flower I love but that poisoned Percy a few years ago, and caused one of his many near-death experiences. She has also called and g-chatted and emailed multiple times a day since Sunday, and she has never once made me feel silly or self-indulgent for feeling sad. Shannon, my roommate, was home when I came home today — and when I walked in the door and started to cry, she said, “I did the same thing,” and then she started to cry too. Then I saw those lilies and I felt a little better. Then Shannon opened a bottle of wine and poured me a nice tall glass, and we made dinner together. I checked my email and saw that my mom had written to me, after I had emailed her last night about Percy’s death, since I couldn’t take saying the words out loud. My mom wrote that I was Percy’s mom, and I was good to him, and that whenever I saw a box or stairs or any of his other weird beloved things, I would think of him, and he would always be in my heart and I would always be in his. And she also wrote, “If you hear a thump, know that little Percy just fell off the stairs again.”

My mom is more “spiritual” than I am. She believes in the presence of the dead. I’m not sure I do, when I think about it too hard, but I like the idea. The idea brings me comfort. I like to think the idea is true. I like that she knows the idea is true. I like that she tells me it’s true.

We are always right on time, and we always get the messages we need.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this. I suppose if I’m entirely honest with myself, it’s because I need something — confirmation that I’m not a complete asshole for publicly grieving. That it’s ok that I’m so sad about “just a cat.” Maybe it’s just a need to write down why he was important to me, to explain how sweet and good he was. Maybe it’s that sick Millennial belief that nothing is really true, that nothing really happened, unless it’s documented on Facebook or on a blog (I hope that’s not it). Maybe it’s the same dynamic as the one that compels therapists and mental health professionals to always say (and tell others to say) “Do you want to tell me about her / him?” when someone you know has a loved one who passed away.

I think, as trite as it feels, this is me telling you about him. It feels uncomfortable and awful. He was just a cat; I’m not suggesting he’s the same as a parent or a sibling or a grandparent or a child. I think that’s ok, though; I don’t think that all grieving processes have to be the same, or even comparable. He was my first adult commitment, and his death was my first truly soul-crushing, truly alone adult decision. He was the first creature I loved because I chose to. I’m writing this, I guess, to memorialize that.

Author: has written 5268 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

201 Responses

  1. Esti
    Esti October 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm |

    This is a really beautiful post, Jill. You don’t need to feel guilty for grieving “just a cat”. You lost someone you loved, and it hurts. You absolutely did right by him, and I’m sure he knew how much he was loved.

  2. Placebogirl
    Placebogirl October 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm |

    I had a grey kitty once, and my first only-mine pet is a tuxedo kitty. It’s not self-indulgent to grieve, it’s human, and humane. Yes, you’re very, very lucky if this is the only really tough decision you have to make, but that doesn’t make this decision not-tough, or Percy’s death not-sad. I hope that coming home gets easier soon.

  3. Matt
    Matt October 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm |

    That it’s ok that I’m so sad about “just a cat.”

    It is.

  4. craftydabbler
    craftydabbler October 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm |

    I’m sorry. Thank you for telling your story and his. He wasn’t just a cat, he was your friend. Sending you love and sympathy.

  5. alynn
    alynn October 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm |

    My heart’s broken for you. This is the second “just a cat” account I’ve read and both spoke to my cat lady heart and made me cry huge sobs. (If anyone is curious the other is book, Dewey.)

    It’s amazing what a connection we can have with our furry purry little friends.

    Going to hug mine now.

  6. Katniss
    Katniss October 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm |

    It’s been five years now since I had to put my pet kitty Albus down and this post still made me cry a bit just thinking about it. You lost a loved one and you’re hurting. There’s no reason to feel badly about that.

  7. EmmaSofia
    EmmaSofia October 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm |

    Ah, Jill, this is a beautiful and necessary post to celebrate and mourn your companion, Percy. I am grateful you wrote it — and shared it. At some point, take a few hours to read Donna Haraway’s “Companion Species” … the non-human animals that we share our lives with are no less significant than the human ones, and sometimes — more.

  8. exprairiot
    exprairiot October 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm |

    You might not know why you wrote this, but I think I do.

    When bad things happen to us–regardless of how much we want to intellectualize and minimize them–we need to reach out to people that have felt the same things, the same emotions. When my beloved cat was put down several years ago, there was no comfort quite like talking to other people who had loved their cats like I did. (And like you, I’m not a natural cat lover either.)

    The animals that we love when we’re in transition may be the ones that matter the most to us. But maybe we don’t a reason. Maybe loving other animals is really what makes us human.

    At any rate, like many others that have lost animals, I feel your loss, and I send my sympathies.

  9. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage October 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm |

    Never feel guilty for loving and caring for another lifeform regardless of species; it’s a sign of advanced ethics and thought, and Percy was your companion through what sounds like rough times.

    I have to go squeeze my little girl now, the runt of her litter and the apple of my eye.

  10. The Amazing Kim
    The Amazing Kim October 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm |

    Percival sounds like he was such a good friend, and you sound like a brilliant pet owner. I bet you gave him the best life he could have had. I’m really sorry you couldn’t spend more time together.

  11. Azalea
    Azalea October 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    He was more than a cat to you and because you knew him best , when it comes to describing him, you and your opinion matter most. I’m sorry for your loss. I cried when I had to put my dogs down and I had a lot mre time with each of them and did not use it wisely. I never let SPyder or Sasha sleep in my bed and when they were put down it was one of the things I regretted. When you lose a loved one, it hurts, pet or human it still hurts.

  12. Lindsay
    Lindsay October 11, 2011 at 10:45 pm |

    Jill, thank you for this amazing post. I’m so sorry for your loss. This message has come right on time for me; I have an appointment at a shelter tomorrow to adopt my first cat. I have all the usual jitters, but your amazing words have made me feel like I’m making the right decision. I’m not terribly eloquent, but what I’m trying to say is that you’ve really moved me, and my thoughts are with you.

  13. Deborah
    Deborah October 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm |

    I’ve loved and lost and grieved for little cats too. It’s very sad. Yes, there are many worse things, but right now, this is the one that matters for you. Tomorrow you will sigh a sad little sigh, and carry on, but right now, it’s good to mourn for your lovely wee cat.

  14. Sam
    Sam October 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm |

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry for your loss.

  15. Stephanie
    Stephanie October 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm |

    Condolences.

    I’m approaching 60 and have “had” cats for about 40 years. Of course, I’ve had to have lots of cats euthanized.

    The last time, just a couple months ago, the doc said to me “you don’t seem like you want to do this,” trying to make sure. And I said “of course I don’t want to do it, but I am so weary of putting them to sleep.”

    Your cat looks very beautiful.

  16. Toonces
    Toonces October 11, 2011 at 10:49 pm |

    You did the right thing by bringing him in, Jill. Even if you are now doubting yourself. Doubting oneself after euthanizing a beloved pet is perfectly normal, and I’m going through that right now myself. He was ready to go. It’s us, as owners who love our pets, who have a hard time letting go.

    I had my girl Toonces put down a couple of weeks ago. After 16 years together, her health began failing last Spring. First it was her thyroid, then it was her kidneys. It was time to say goodbye, and I could tell she was suffering, so I took her to the vet and set her free. Like you with your Percy, I whispered into her ear how much I loved her, and stroked her chin, as the vet injected her. By this time, she had gone blind due to kidney failure. But she I knew I was there with her, and was purring as she died.

    She wasn’t just a cat, and neither was your Percy. He was a little soul who chose you, and you chose him back. Animals give us some of the purest love there is. Percy was lucky to have known such love from you, and it sounds as if you made his short life very happy and content.

    Thee day after my girl died, I was in the kitchen, with my front door open. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fly into the house, and up my stairs. Then it flew back outside. It was a gorgeous brown and blue butterfly. I followed it outside, where it sat on a stump and slowly opened and closed its wings at me, as if it was showing off. I reached out to it, and it floated up and fluttered away. I hadn’t seen a butterfly around all summer. My Toonces’ nickname was “Butterfly Face”. I said to her, months ago before she got sick, to come back to me as a butterfly when she died, so I would know she was okay. I sure felt her spirit in that moment, I can tell you. So much that I started to cry.

    I’m guessing Percy is still close by you, making sure you are going to be okay. And I’m pretty sure he misses you as much as you miss him.

  17. tafel
    tafel October 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm |

    You know what, as the owner of many cats over many years who has made that call more times than I would like – you did the right thing. Exactly the right thing. You nailed it when you said that one more night would have been just for you, not for him. He already knew you loved him, and you showed it by not letting him suffer.

    Knowing that will probably not help whatsoever at the moment, but it will later, I swear.

  18. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm |

    I am so sorry for your loss, Jill. My first puppy, the first one I raised from a tiny little furball was named Percival as well. I felt the same when he was put to sleep. Its not silly at all…people have connections with animals, we bond. They are our family.

  19. Laura
    Laura October 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm |

    I read your post with a kitty on my lap. Thank you for reminding me to cherish him. You and Percival were lucky to have each other.

  20. Captain Awkward
    Captain Awkward October 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    You made me cry. Having to make that decision for a small, helpless thing that loves you is one of the worst parts of being a grownup. Goodbye, Percy/Omar Little!

  21. cass_m
    cass_m October 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm |

    So sorry for your loss. I think the first one is the worse because until then you don’t believe it will happen. You made the right choice for Percival, a truly generous act. I hope you get another furry companion some day. Everyone can use some unconditional love.

  22. Alison
    Alison October 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm |

    Jill, I am so sorry. I have been in that spot, that “what’s the right thing to do here” dilemma, and it is awful. You’re torn between easing their suffering and giving in to your own immediate desires, between the knowledge that they are hurting and can’t be helped and the knowledge that you are, as I berated myself for, taking their life. But please, please know you absolutely did the right thing. You didn’t take Percival’s life, you gave him peace. You didn’t act cruelly, you acted in the most compassionate way there is – faced with the suffering of another, you made the suffering stop.

    You did what was best for him, and that is the most anyone can ask of his or herself.

    And believe me, there is nothing at all silly or flighty or whatnot about what you are feeling. Remember, just because there may be worse things in the world doesn’t mean a given bad thing isn’t bad in and of itself. And as someone who has lost many pets, some that had to be put down and some that went on their own, I can say that anyone who thinks it is easy or painless or whatever, anyone who would call you silly for hurting or for needing love and support, knows jack and shit about love, compassion, emotion, etc. You are NOT silly, you are NOT out of line here in any way, shape or form. Pets love us unconditionally, they give us something we cannot even put into words, they become as much a part of the fabric of our lives as any human being, and when they go they leave an emptiness behind the same way people do.

    You’re human. And you’re hurting. And there is nothing that isn’t valid and real and worthy of respect about that.

    My heart goes out to you.

    RIP Percival.

  23. Amelia
    Amelia October 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm |

    My cat died unexpectedly two months ago, so this post kind of brought me to pieces. I’m in my 20s and moved him with me into my first apartment, so understand what you said about feeling like he was your responsibility– the one thing you couldn’t leave behind.

    Thank you for sharing this. I don’t think you need to justify how you feel to anyone. He wasn’t “just a cat.” He was a cat who was really important to you.

  24. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth October 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    Losing animals is just as hard as losing people because they love you without condition. I’ve had one of my birds for 22 years and I can’t imagine life without him. He’s been with me through childhood, my parents’ divorce and my marriage. He moved with me for college, for law school and for two different jobs. No matter what Percy loved you and you gave him the best possible life. There’s no reason to feel guilty about mourning his loss.

  25. Laura C
    Laura C October 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    I was full-on bawling by the time I finished reading this. Because the beloved dog of my childhood did die alone, a thought that still destroys me nearly 20 years later. Because what you thought about Percy being with you through the big milestones and daily life of the next 20 years is something I have thought about my Henley. Because it’s just a beautiful post, so richly and lovingly observed.

  26. Mom
    Mom October 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm |

    To feel is to love. To love is to feel. Sadness and loss are confirmations of love. Little crazy Percy was double loved by you and Shannon. Maybe he will write a tell all book in heaven about two NY single girls. A best seller. He remains at your feet in bed and in your heart. You obviously feel his loving warmth. Listen for his thump. I still cry over Goosie. A good cry for he too was loved by two wonderful girls. A gift to all.My loving sympathy to you and Shannon.

  27. K
    K October 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm |

    I’m so, so sorry, Jill. Losing a beloved pet can be so wrenching, especially when you are the one charged with deciding when to say goodbye. And truly, it breaks my heart that you seem to be wrestling with whether your grief is justified. No marginally decent person would ever judge you for being sad to lose your buddy. Please be kind to yourself.

  28. rachel
    rachel October 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm |

    this is beautiful and touching. thank you so much for sharing your memories of percy.

  29. DonnaL
    DonnaL October 12, 2011 at 12:01 am |

    I’m so sorry, Jill. This was a lovely post. Please don’t feel guilty about grieving for him because he was “just” a cat. He loved you, and you loved him, and what’s important is that he knew he was loved, from the beginning to the end. You were lucky to have each other.

  30. Mammaduck
    Mammaduck October 12, 2011 at 12:08 am |

    It’s not silly to find tender and profound connections in this big, brutal world with a small creature. What we find in those connections, even when we are constantly working on bigger problems in the world, is that kindness and connection transcend the human experience and link us to other species. That’s a good daily lesson in love, for if we love so small, perhaps we can love that greater world in which we all must live.

  31. @ClinicEscort
    @ClinicEscort October 12, 2011 at 12:08 am |

    Jill, I am so sorry you lost your Percy. It is hard. It IS hard, even if it’s not a person you’re grieving. And it’s okay to grieve the loss of a creature who loved you unconditionally, uncomplicatedly. This is a thing that pets can give us that people almost never can.

    If it helps you feel better about feeling selfish or self-indulgent, let me tell you about my 2006. I lost three pets that year: my best cat ever, who I’d had since I was 17; my sweet sad sickly rescue husky, who needed to have found me so much sooner than he did; and my best cat ever’s replacement, who I believe we lost, so soon after getting her that she hadn’t even gotten past hiding in the basement yet, to melamine in the Chinese-manufactured catfood she ate while still in rescue. After the second death, I had to quit the on-site contract job I had then because I could.not.keep.it.together at the office. It sounds ludicrous typed out like that, and probably my client thought I was the worst kind of flake. But pain grows to fill the space it’s given. I was a lucky bitch like you are a lucky bitch, and maybe that’s why these three relatively minor losses added up to be almost unbearable for a little while there. Still, that didn’t make it any easier to get through.

    I’m sure Percy knew, on some cat level, exactly how much you loved him. Even if he *was* stupid. I hope there’s some comfort for you in that.

    (Also: why why why must it always be 11 PM on a Sunday? STOP THAT, PETS. JUST STOP.)

  32. Tony
    Tony October 12, 2011 at 12:08 am |

    I’ve never even had a dog or cat… I’ve definitely been missing something!

  33. amber
    amber October 12, 2011 at 12:41 am |

    Whenever anyone tells me that they feel silly for being deeply affected after an animal family member (I can’t even say pet anymore ha) has passed, I always think about how human and animal remains have been found buried together dating back to as early as 7500 BCE. That makes the relationship to cats as old as civilization itself. The strong bonds between humans and our feline and canine friends crosses historical and cultural divides as well. Frankly, I’ve always thought our ability to make emotional connections with animals has been the greatest representation of our humanity as a species.

    So what I’m trying to say is that missing Percy is definitely NOT silly. Great post Jill.

  34. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles October 12, 2011 at 12:42 am |

    I’m sorry for the loss of your boy, and I understand it. I have two kitties, brothers, and while I love them both very much one of them has more of a bond with me. He is my baby, I am absolutely crazy for him. I’ve been really sick all weekend and he has spent a lot of time sleeping on the bed where I have been stuck. You absolutely made the right decision in taking Percy to the vet when you did, it was the right decision for him. Take care of yourself, Jill.

  35. Tori
    Tori October 12, 2011 at 12:47 am |

    That it’s ok that I’m so sad about “just a cat.”

    As I was reading this, my dog Casey — who is small and gray and believes that all the humans in the world surely exist just to pet her — had to come over and nuzzle me because I was crying so much.

    Casey says it’s okay.

  36. Lindsay
    Lindsay October 12, 2011 at 12:49 am |

    Jill: Oh dear. Lindsay, adopt and love a kitty! As hard as these days have been, Percy brought more happiness and joy to my life than I ever could have imagined. I wish he could have been around longer, but I wouldn’t do a single thing differently, even though it hurts very badly right now. Enjoy it. Love your new little friend.

    Jill,

    Thanks for the reply. Just to clarify, what I meant is that I’m now very content in my decision to adopt a kitty friend tomorrow. (I can’t sleep with the anticipation!) Your lovely words about Percival moved me, and made me realize that if I could care so much about a cat I’d never met, I’m really ready to have one in my life. I meant nothing negative by my comment and I’m so sorry if I came off as sad or discouraged. I’m actually very encouraged by your cat caring and want to have a relationship like that with a pet. So, thanks again for for sharing something so emotional.

  37. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 1:01 am |

    Aw, Jill, I’m so sorry.

    You did the right thing, though: better that he be released from his suffering than you have one more night with him just because you can.

    Oddly enough, I’d been thinking about Sugarplum earlier tonight and how it’s been just over a year since I had to put her down. I was surprised as well that “just a cat” meant so much to me.

  38. Allison
    Allison October 12, 2011 at 1:11 am |

    I’m so sorry for your loss Jill. Sounds like you had a very cute, very loved little kittie who will be missed tremendously. Thank you for this post.

  39. Natalia
    Natalia October 12, 2011 at 1:13 am |

    Jill – I was wondering why you’d changed your profile picture… You know, he was more than a cat, he was obviously a friend. Some pets are our friends. That’s the way it is.

    We had a similar thing happen to a grey little kitten of ours a few years back. Virus – fluid in the belly, laboured breathing, etc. It was especially hard because my brother was still very young then, and it was a tragedy for him. After we had Archie put to sleep, we buried him alongside the ashes of our dog – the dog had been cremated all the way back in the States, and my father brought her ashes back across the ocean, because he couldn’t just bury her somewhere where he couldn’t get to walk by the little grave. That’s how much we all loved that dog, Joy – and you know, it’s normal. Joy also saved my mother from attack a couple of times, but even if she hadn’t – I doubt those feelings would have been any less strong.

    So when we buried Archie next to Joy’s ashes, we all shook his little paw goodbye through the bag he was in – even my dad, who’s an enormous former Soviet military officer who’s dealt with a lot of shit. And it was perfectly normal for him, because we were burying a beloved member of the household. Not just a cat.

    I’m so sorry that you lost your friend. I think the dead do look in on us every once in a while, when they feel like it, and I think it’s true for animals we had a bond with. I don’t give a shit if anyone calls me crazy for this – once again, this same big, burly, ex-military father of mine once told me a story about how he felt Joy’s presence on a turbulent airplane ride. There was a problem with the plane, it was detouring to land elsewhere, and my dad was seriously worried – when he felt Joy put her head on his knee, like she often did after he’d come home from a shitty day. Couldn’t care less if it’s “just the brain playing tricks on you,” etc.

    I hope you get plenty of comfort, meanwhile. Take care of yourself and please don’t feel as if you have to justify feeling this way – to yourself, or to anyone else.

    xo

  40. 4catlady
    4catlady October 12, 2011 at 1:26 am |

    Dear Jill,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Percival sounds like he was one very special kitty who knew he was deeply loved. You were a good cat mom. I know you don’t know me, but “hugs” anyway.

  41. Caperton
    Caperton October 12, 2011 at 1:45 am | *

    It’s not silly, and it’s not self-indulgent. I’m really sorry about Percy.

    We went through the same thing with our Harveycat just a few months back–the unexpected illness, the knowing what needs to be done, the hoping against hope, and the just one more night. For The Boy, Harvey had been that same sense of adulthood and stability–the one thing that was always there for the 16 years he owned him.* The hardest part for me was just seeing this huge, tough bouncer of a man cry. So no, missing your dear friend and mourning his passing isn’t silly at all. Percy sounds like a great guy.

    *Not sure which ones the “he” and “him” are referring to here.

  42. Sofi
    Sofi October 12, 2011 at 1:56 am |

    My heart goes out to you. Of course it’s ok to grieve a cat or any pet. They give us unconditional love and ask so little in return. Percy looks like a beautiful cat. Your post made me cry. We all grieve for those we love.

  43. Ennu
    Ennu October 12, 2011 at 1:57 am |

    If this post was to tell people about how wonderful he was, congratulations! I fell in love with him while I read it and am now crying, too!

    I also want to add my voice to those assuring you that you did do the right thing by him. Last December I had to put my 14 year old cat down. I’m 23 now, so I had her for most of my life. Unlike Percy, she was a big, healthy, fat farm cat that we all thought would last to at least 20. She might have if she hadn’t developed a cancerous tumor in her jaw bone. We took her in when we first discovered the bump and the vet said those sort of tumors usually occur in a limb, which is then amputated, but there was nothing they could do about the tumor in her jaw. She said Sweetie may have a full year, though. She didn’t. She went downhill super fast. Within 3 weeks she lost a whole lot of weight, stopped grooming herself and eventually could barely eat as she couldn’t close her mouth. I agonized over when to put her to sleep, but decided on sooner rather than later. Then after it was done I agonized some more, thinking maybe she could have lasted another week or so and I just put her down too soon because she was so pitiful to look at. It took a long time for the grief to subside and for me to realize that I *did* do the right thing. She was in such bad shape. I can’t know how much longer she would have lived, but I know she was suffering, and when it comes down to it, making sure she wasn’t hurting anymore was all that mattered. I think you’ll realize that about your little buddy, too.

  44. Skateaway
    Skateaway October 12, 2011 at 2:14 am |

    Jill, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I couldn’t finish your post and I couldn’t read many of the comments because I just lost my dog of fourteen years in May. There is no “just” in “just a dog” or “just a cat.” You loved him and he loved you.

    My thoughts are with you.

  45. DanaR
    DanaR October 12, 2011 at 2:28 am |

    I’m sorry. Thank you for taking the little sickly one – why they had a kitten with ringworm out where the other cats and humans can catch it I don’t know. He was gorgeous.

    And he was NOT “just a cat”. I am a vet nurse and we always have people apologising for crying, embarrassed for caring. Why would anyone have a pet they did not love? His life was worth as much as any life, and your loss is still a loss. RIP beautiful boy.

  46. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon October 12, 2011 at 3:13 am |

    I bawled reading this. He looks / it sounds like he was a really great little kitty dude and I’m so sorry.

  47. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 3:19 am |

    Jill, I am sorry you have lost your little companion. He wasn’t “just a cat” he was your cat and that is what made him special.

  48. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 12, 2011 at 3:24 am |

    Jill, I am so sorry

    This was a beautiful piece that while yes very personal (and that’s not a bad thing) also touches perfectly on the general concepts of love and loss and death and spirituality (that paragraph on wanting to believe if only because the idea of it makes you feel better is something that really hit home with me) I feel weird saying this but thank you for writing this.

    I’m crying so much right now and my thoughts are with you during this hard time (and a loss of a loved pet is a hard time, don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t feel as sad as you are, or say how lucky you are that it was just cat)

    Again I am so sorry.

  49. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 12, 2011 at 3:38 am |

    I remember my first Guinea Pig, JT named after my favorite character on a short lived Teen Soap called Swan’s Crossing. I loved that little guy I as maybe 9 or 10 at the time (younger maybe even). He was my first pet, I remember the last night I had with him, he had gotten really sick and I’m not sure from what but we took him out of his cage and put him on a towel in our living room. I sat there petting him and hugging him as much as you possibly can hug a guinea pig, telling him how much I loved him. I remember saying goodbye, because we knew that he probably was gonna die during the night. I remember going to bed hoping just hoping that he’d be ok, but he wasn’t he was gone.

    It never got easier either with my 2nd Guinea Pig Cinnamon and my third Albie (Albie loved stairs my god, you wouldn’t believe how fast a little critter like that could climb stairs it was a sight to see).

    It’s funny, even though I haven’t had a Guinea Pig in something like 5 to 7 years, and even though I’ve now lived in 3 or different places, when I’m at my parent’s home, I still instinctively sometimes look over the corner of the dinning room where we always kept our guinea pig cage (same place for all 3 of them if I recall correctly, same cage too) expecting to see them there, and they never are. But that corner will always have that happy memory for me, it will always be the home of my Guinea Pigs.

  50. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 12, 2011 at 3:45 am |

    to add on, we had to put my second Guinea Pig down, I remember taking him to the vet hoping we could save him, hoping beyond belief that just maybe there was something these animal doctors could do. I remember just the sheer shock and loss I felt when they told us he had to be put down, that there was nothing they could do. I really don’t know why I am rambling on about this but I never really have talked about it much and even after so many years it feels nice to just share.

  51. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 12, 2011 at 3:53 am |

    Toonces:
    You did the right thing by bringing him in, Jill.Even if you are now doubting yourself. Doubting oneself after euthanizing a beloved pet is perfectly normal, and I’m going through that right now myself. He was ready to go. It’s us, as owners who love our pets, who have a hard time letting go.

    I had my girl Toonces put down a couple of weeks ago. After 16 years together, her health began failing last Spring. First it was her thyroid, then it was her kidneys. It was time to say goodbye, and I could tell she was suffering, so I took her to the vet and set her free. Like you with your Percy, I whispered into her ear how much I loved her, and stroked her chin, as the vet injected her. By this time, she had gone blind due to kidney failure. But she I knew I was there with her, and was purring as she died.

    She wasn’t just a cat, and neither was your Percy. He was a little soul who chose you, and you chose him back. Animals give us some of the purest love there is. Percy was lucky to have known such love from you, and it sounds as if you made his short life very happy and content.

    Thee day after my girl died, I was in the kitchen, with my front door open. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fly into the house, and up my stairs. Then it flew back outside. It was a gorgeous brown and blue butterfly. I followed it outside, where it sat on a stump and slowly opened and closed its wings at me, as if it was showing off. I reached out to it, and it floated up and fluttered away. I hadn’t seen abutterfly around all summer.My Toonces’ nickname was “Butterfly Face”. I said to her, months ago before she got sick, to come back to me as a butterfly when she died, so I would know she was okay. I sure felt her spirit in that moment, I can tell you.So much that I started to cry.

    I’m guessing Percy is still close by you, making sure you are going to be okay. And I’m pretty sure he misses you as much as you miss him.

    That is beautiful! So amazingly beautiful.

  52. tigtog
    tigtog October 12, 2011 at 4:13 am |

    Jill, I’m so sad for your loss. Percy looks like such a sweet character, and your description of him is so vivid. He deserves your grief at the thought that he has gone from your life.

    You made me cry, for you, for Percy, for all the cats and dogs I’ve lost over the years, and for myself. We all deserve to grieve these loving animals who bring us such joy and delight.

    I’m just going to pat my fluffy grey cat now.

  53. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 12, 2011 at 4:44 am |

    Jill, I’m so sorry. I have a cat who I was only going to keep temporarily until I could find a permanent home for her. I got her in 2007. I got quite attached to her. I’ll be devastated when she dies. Percy sounds like he was a love, and it’s perfectly normal that you miss him.

  54. falnfenix
    falnfenix October 12, 2011 at 4:45 am |

    crying now.

    i wasn’t much of a cat person, either, before i adopted my first. they get their adorable little claws in your heart and don’t let go. don’t feel guilt for mourning…he might not have been a human, but he was a part of your life, and you loved him. mourn him, then remember him. and consider adopting another.

  55. FeministWhore
    FeministWhore October 12, 2011 at 5:01 am |

    You gave him a home, and belly scratches and a heartbeat to lay against for three precious years. Don’t feel silly. He wasn’t just a cat, he was your friend. Don’t ever feel silly for missing the friends who’ve gone.

  56. Chaldanya
    Chaldanya October 12, 2011 at 5:25 am |

    This post had me in tears. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    I have three cats all have their own personalities; all of whom I can tell who’s coming on the bed or up the stairs by their walk. I see some of my kitties in what you describe of Percy’s habits. They are part of my family. They are three of the strings on my heart. Were anything to happen to them, I would grieve because they are my friends.

    Percy (and what a cute little bugger he was) was your family and you absolutely have every right to feel his loss keenly. You’re not being over-emotional and altho’ he might be ‘just a cat’ to others he wasn’t that to you.

    I’m honoured that you shared your story of Percy with us.

    N

  57. Florence
    Florence October 12, 2011 at 5:27 am |

    Oh god, Jill, I’m sorry. I’m choking on my tears over here.

    The greatest tragedy of loving your animals is that they always go before you.

  58. blue milk
    blue milk October 12, 2011 at 6:15 am |

    That’s so sad, poor you, Jill. Made me cry,but this is beautifully written, a lovely testament to your little cat.

    I just wanted to say something about the ‘just a cat’ thing, I see this often, people heartbroken and half apologising for the fact that they are grieving an animal’s death – everybody, it’s ok, grieve in peace, it’s real grief and you’re in real pain.

  59. ellid
    ellid October 12, 2011 at 6:20 am |

    I had to put down my beautiful green-eyed tiger cat Siren a couple of weeks ago, and will be picking up her ashes this morning. Let me assure you that you are not alone – I had my girl for seventeen a half years, and losing her was agony. They might be “just cats” but they are our friends and our companions, and they are more loyal than family, friends, and lovers.

    They ask for so little – food, shelter, love, and a quiet good-bye when the time comes for the long sleep. You gave Percy all that. You did well with the little gray cat, and you are entitled to your grief.

    My deepest condolences. Believe me, I know.

  60. Greg
    Greg October 12, 2011 at 6:22 am |

    I haven’t commented here before, but this was very touching. I work at an animal shelter in Colorado, and I can tell you that if your heart were shared by the rest of the country, we wouldn’t have an animal welfare problem. You are not silly. Thank you for sharing Percy’s memory with us.

  61. Maureen O'Danu
    Maureen O'Danu October 12, 2011 at 6:29 am |

    I also had to put down my 14 year old feline fur baby two weeks ago, after a degenerative spine condition finally left her unable to walk. I had plenty of warning, mourned her well in advance of her passing, and still was completely discombobulated.

    I took the afternoon off work and went to the pound to pet kittens and feel better… and it was free kitten day. You can imagine how that turned out.

    I will never replace my beautiful, fragile, sickly, agoraphobic Bridget. But Dany and Circe are new members of my fur family, learning how to navigating a home filled with dogs and boys, a big, boisterous man, yarn, sewing, and a rowdy, boisterous knitting group of fabulous women who come on occasion.

  62. ParanoidAndroid
    ParanoidAndroid October 12, 2011 at 6:42 am |

    Hi Jill

    I’m so sorry you lost Percival, he was a gorgeous little thing and this was a wonderful post.

    Whenever I read stories about our relationships with our pets and the bonds that we form with them it always makes me feel a bit better about humanity.

    Pets make people’s lives better-they can offer companionship, comfort and that feeling of safety that you cant quite put your finger on. I can’t bear to think how lonely I would be without my pup.

    I hope Percival is out there somewhere snoozing and snacking even more than in his former life.

  63. Ciara
    Ciara October 12, 2011 at 7:07 am |

    Aw i cried my eyes out at this. I am so sorry for you. I can’t imagine losing one of my cats. and it’s not silly at all. your pets are loving and kind unconditionally. All they ask for is food and belly scratches. they don’t judge you if you screw up or think you’re a lazy brat if you spend all day in your jammies, they don’t care if you are popular or rich or thin or any of the things we’re supposed to be. I definitely think you did the right thing by the way. he would have just suffered otherwise.

  64. Kara
    Kara October 12, 2011 at 7:20 am |

    A beloved pet is never “just a….” anything.

    And if anyone tries to minimize how you feel by saying something stupid like a cat is not a parent, spouse, child, grandparent, whatever… Well, they are just an being asshole.

    My sincere condolences.

  65. SEK
    SEK October 12, 2011 at 7:20 am |

    Jill, I’m just going to chime in with the chorus of people who think you need to cut yourself some slack and stop writing and thinking he was “just a cat.” He wasn’t. He was a part of your life, a dependent who reciprocated the affection you gave him, and he passed. You don’t have to feel sorry for mourning him, or for writing a memorial post for him, because there’s absolutely nothing untoward about the pain you’re feeling or the decision you made. (Which, for whatever it’s worth, I believe was the right one.)

  66. Ashley
    Ashley October 12, 2011 at 7:20 am |

    Aw that cat is so adorable. Don’t feel silly. A cat can be just as much of a companion as a human being. It’s healthy for such feelings, even though it hurts. I have lost many cats and a few dogs so far in my life. It always hurts. Sometimes I still think about my dog I had for 15 years, and she died 6 years ago but I still miss her.

  67. saurus
    saurus October 12, 2011 at 7:21 am |

    I don’t think there’s anything “self-indulgent” or “hyper-emotional” about this kind of post, or that grieving someone who mattered to you is somehow selfish. I’m not trying to intentionally inject a feminist angle here, but sometimes it’s okay to take up some space, you know…I don’t see this post as a sign of weakness or caving in. It’s okay to express real personal sadness, it’s okay to seek validation from online strangers, it’s okay to feel unexpected or overpowering emotions.

    I feel like these things are so often relegated to territory of “pathetic” and “narcissistic” and “needy” and while that potential does exist, they could be equally found in the land of “human” and “community” and “love”. It’s okay for us to need each other, whether that’s just a little in a time of grieving or a lot, day to day.

    I’m as much of “whoa, boundaries” person as the next, but without strangers on the internet who flitted in and out of my emotional vomit leaving encouragement and sympathy (and sometimes a little tough love) throughout my high school years, I really don’t think I would have survived.

    And more broadly, I think sharing our emotions and the “private sphere” is often discouraged because it’s the so called dark country of women and marginalized people and everyone who’s been taught to tamp that shit down because it’s leaky and embarrassing instead of Real and Serious and Worthwhile. We’re allowed happiness, anger and irritation, and that’s apparently it…

    I attended a conference recently and one of the things I loved most is that when people ask you “how are you”, you don’t have to give a stock answer; you can answer for real and no one sees it as infringing on their supposed right to everyone’s emotional distance from each other.

    My partner and I are already dreading when our young cat passes, because – as another cat-mourner I’ve met said, animals are like the heartbeat of one’s home. Or at least little metronomes, with their soothing behavioral patterns and cute idiosyncrasies and soft, sometimes smothering attentions. There is nothing I look forward to more after at a day of work than coming home to my prissy but affectionate little cat.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Jill.

  68. Ice Princess
    Ice Princess October 12, 2011 at 7:35 am |

    My deepest condolences, Jill. There is nothing “silly” whatsoever about this. Someone you loved, and who gave you love back, is gone, and there is no way for that not to be painful and full of grief. As someone above noted, loving an animal comes from having a big heart and a sense of ethics beyond one’s own existence–being willing to take on the care and responsibility for another life is one of the most profoundly decent things we do as humans. The tradeoff is that we face these moments, and these moments are horrible. But they’re part of what makes having them in our lives so worthwhile.

    I lost a deeply beloved cat nearly six years ago, in quite similar circumstances–he was fine when we went to bed, and he was very much not fine when we woke up the next morning, and it became obvious over a couple of days that he would never be fine again. Everyone assured me that he would not get better and that the choice to send him off gently, in my arms and knowing to the very last moment that he was loved, was far kinder than letting him hang on in misery, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It took me many months to come to terms with that choice, and I still cry when I think of him. An animal who touches our lives in this way matters, and nothing at all can change that.

    I am so sad that Percy is gone, even though I didn’t know about him until this post. But I’m also very glad that you had him in your life and that he gave you so much.

  69. Caitlin
    Caitlin October 12, 2011 at 7:39 am |

    Jill, this post was so beautiful, thank you so much from someone who’s also lost a beloved pet in the last few years. I’m sitting in bed in Brooklyn with my always sick, clumsy, and kind of dumb cat, Langston, curled up next to me and crying for you and Percival.

    Percival was so lucky to have you to love and care for him for his time here. He was so lucky to have someone who loved him enough to make the choices he was incapable of making for himself. I think also that he knew those things.

  70. JS
    JS October 12, 2011 at 7:40 am |

    Companion animals are the only creatures who accept us exactly the way that we are and love us unconditionally. You don’t get that from people on a regular basis.

    Don’t feel silly for being sad. Percy loved you and you loved him back; losing that is a very sad thing.

  71. Alex
    Alex October 12, 2011 at 7:51 am |

    Totally crying at my desk. Thanks girl, that was beautiful.

  72. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 12, 2011 at 7:53 am |

    Oh hon, so sorry for your loss. Our furry friends mean so much to us—and if it’s ridiculous to cry over a cat, I’ll own that one too. I totally lost it after our big boy, “Max”, had a seizure and died during a routine vet visit. He wasn’t ill—they don’t know what happened. He just seized and stopped breathing; they intubated him and tried to revive him, but couldn’t. That was a month after we buried my mother. I buried him in the backyard under the mountain laurel I got from my mom’s funeral. The vet’s office sent a card a few days later, with Max’s paw print. I bawled again.

    Hey…did the vet’s office give you the number of a grief counseling service for pet loss? The University of Illinois has a 800 number for a pet loss hotline; it’s staffed by veterinary students trained in grief counseling. 877-394-2273. They’re open from 7-9PM CST, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

  73. celeloriel
    celeloriel October 12, 2011 at 7:54 am |

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Jill. It’s not self-indulgent at all to need to heal from something so sad. I hope that your good days outnumber bad ones.

  74. MariaAnn
    MariaAnn October 12, 2011 at 7:59 am |

    Definitely NOT silly. I have three cats with my husband whom I love. One as dumb as Percy, the other two super weird female kitties. I will be devastated when they have to move on and was relieved when one of my kitties did not have cancer as we had feared. I had to talk to my parents when one of their cats (a childhood pet) was ready to go to get them to take her to be put to sleep. Our vet at the time, a gruff old school doc who has since passed asked my parents if they wanted the ashes they shook their heads and he told them that he would scatter her ashes among the white pine trees. What a wonderful man he was. (My grandmother took her beloved mutt dog to that man years ago to be put down after realizing it was the right thing for her dog and he was so kind to her, I will always be grateful to him. Always.) I guess my rambling is just – many of us feel the loss of a pet keenly – no worries about feeling self indulgent or silly. This is neither.

  75. JinianVictoria
    JinianVictoria October 12, 2011 at 8:07 am |

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I still miss my Tuxedo Boy and his 2 sisters Rocket Paws and Little sister. They were from the same litter and I was honored by their prescence in my life for 15 years. They were a fact for me in my life and gave unstintingly love. They were their for me thru some very lonely and hard times, two moves and some love relationships that failed. I cried when they died and still feel their loss even after 5 years. I had them cremated and kept their ashes in my dressing room. On a shelf so they are always near me. Our little friends will always be part of our soul and that is at it should be. Adopt another little friend when you feel yourself ready to do that and also know that somewhere on your star path your little friend is waiting to accompany you on yours.

  76. chava
    chava October 12, 2011 at 8:08 am |

    Aw, man. I’m so sorry.

    That little, scrawny kitten had an amazing and loving three years–because of you. That kind of love is never stupid, or silly, and there’s nothing more human than to grieve its loss.

  77. Nahida
    Nahida October 12, 2011 at 8:16 am |

    Dammit, I actually started to cry somewhere in the middle.

  78. CDawg
    CDawg October 12, 2011 at 8:29 am |

    Percy wasn’t “just a cat”, he was your boy. Our relationships with our pets are primary relationships, not so very different from relationships with friends and family. It’s right to mourn when they pass on.

    I started crying, too. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  79. Leah
    Leah October 12, 2011 at 8:44 am |

    *wipes away tears*

    There is no need to justify. It is a real loss, as real as losing a person. I really appreciate what you said about Percy being your first grown-up commitment. I have been thinking of getting a cat myself, but that idea has stopped me. I am way too scared to have that responsibility. At the same time, I look forward to the day that I am ready.

  80. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    I’m very sorry.

  81. Sarah
    Sarah October 12, 2011 at 9:02 am |

    I just had to put down my cat last Tuesday. I got him when he was an ugly kitten and I was 14. Now I’m 28, living alone and missing him in my big empty apartment.

    You did the right thing, Jill. You’re a good kitty mommy. This post really hit me and I can’t thank you enough for writing it. Sounds like your little guy and Neptune had a lot in common. Neptune sucked at being a cat but he was mine and I love him.

    Best of luck. You did the right thing. and I’m so sorry.

  82. Andrew Burton
    Andrew Burton October 12, 2011 at 9:02 am |

    Very sorry for your loss and your sadness.

    I’ve had a young kitten die in my arms (shelter cat, FIV), and our beloved, delicate 15 year old Princess: she took sick when I was at work, and my wife called me to come home. She died in my arms 20 minutes after I got home. It was a good death, I hope, cradled close to someone who she loved.

    This, by Kinky Friedman, is heartbreaking, heartwarming, and affirmative for those of us who choose to continue to put ourselves into that fragile circle:

    On January 4, 1993, the cat in this book and the books that preceded it was put to sleep in Kerrville, Texas, by Dr. W.H. Hoegemeyer and myself. Cuddles was fourteen years old, a respectable age. She was as close to me as any human being I have ever known.

    Cuddles and I spent many years together, both in New York, where I first found her as a little kitten on the street in Chinatown, and later on the ranch in Texas. She was always with me, on the table, on the bed, by the fireplace, beside the typewriter, on top of my suitcase when I returned from a trip.

    I dug Cuddles’ grave with a silver spade, in the little garden by the stream behind the old green trailer where both of us lived in the summertime. Her burial shroud was my old New York sweatshirt and in the grave with her is a can of tuna and a cigar

    A few days ago I received a sympathy note from Bill Hoegemeyer, the veterinarian. It opened with a verse by Irving Townsend: “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle ……

    Now, as I write this, on a gray winter day by the fireside, I can almost feel her light tread, moving from my head and my heart down through my fingertips to the keys of the typewriter People may surprise you with unexpected kindness. Dogs have a depth of loyalty that often we seem unworthy of. But the love of a cat is a blessing, a privilege in this world.

    They say when you die and go to heaven all the dogs and cats you’ve ever had in your life come running to meet you.

    Until that day, rest in peace, Cuddles.

    http://www.utopiarescue.com/epilogue.htm

    (My wife, daughter and I currently live with three cats and an 18 month old Australian terrier, Rosie, who’s sleeping next to me as I write this).

  83. Cooker
    Cooker October 12, 2011 at 9:03 am |

    I also want to thank you for sharing. And thank you for giving Percival the best life he could have hoped for, he deserved it. Thinking of you in PA.

  84. John
    John October 12, 2011 at 9:23 am |

    He looks like he was a Burmese. I’ve always mourned my animal companions: I think it is a sign of humanity. Good on you.

  85. Elisende
    Elisende October 12, 2011 at 9:43 am |

    Toonces:

    He was a little soul who chose you, and you chose him back.

    I’m sure I’ve screwed up the quote tags, but This. Percy was Percy and he sounds very, very special. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Given the symptoms you describe, I think I’ve lost 3 cats to the same disease (adopted a scrawny stray who infected my 2 others. Herbie was pure joy in cat form, though, and I’d take him in all over again, even knowing how it turned out.) You did the right thing. I waited too long with the first and it just gets harder and harder for them. You made the right choice — the best choice for Percy.

  86. Taylor
    Taylor October 12, 2011 at 9:50 am |

    Totally crying after reading this. I know how it feels…I lost my lovely black cat to a car. Less than a year later I lost my pretty little dachshund because of distemper. Saddest experiences of my life (I haven’t had any significant family member loss).
    My heart goes out to you, Jill. Don’t let anyone make you feel like this isn’t important. Your heart can love a cat just as much as anything else.

  87. Jadey
    Jadey October 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |

    The day before we had scheduled my poor sick girl to be put down, she disappeared from our backyard, which she’d never done before. My mother scoured the neighbourhood, but my fat, bright orange, Garfield-looking cat was nowhere to be found. I was already heartbroken over putting her down, and having her vanish was even worse, though I tried to tell myself that she was doing what came naturally. Then after two days, she came back. She was still sick and we rescheduled her appointment for the next day, but I had my last night with her. She was never a very friendly cat – she liked petting but seemed not to like people, although she’d warmed up to me and my mother eventually (we got her as an adult cat, and I never knew much about her past, but it seemed like she might have been abused or neglected). I don’t know why she came back exactly – I don’t think it was lack of food because she already wasn’t eating at that point (which is how we figured out how sick she was in the first place), so I like to think that it was because she missed us. On that last night, I got out a fold-out mattress and slept on the floor with her because she couldn’t make it up the stairs and carrying her hurt her too much. We put down a couch cushion as well which she crawled on immediately, and then wiggled up close to me and stretched out one paw to rest on my side. I was holding her the next day when she died.

    My mother has lost too many pets to want to go through all of that again, so I had no more pets for a long time after that except the occasional cat-sitting stint for a friend. I meant to get another cat as soon as I moved out but stupidly moved to a province where property owners are allowed to discriminate against pet owners when renting. But me and cats are meant to be, heartbreak aside, and I’m going to find myself a new tabby to love one day.

    Jill, this was a good post. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t really understand what draws us to these creatures, but our love is real and powerful, and it doesn’t cheapen or denigrate our love for other human beings. I agree with the other commenters that it is a sign of our positive humanity.

  88. Véronique
    Véronique October 12, 2011 at 9:58 am |

    Thank you so much for sharing that. It was a beautiful post, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. But then, I am a cat person. Our cat has been with us for eight years. We adopted her from the SPCA, and we always knew that her kidneys weren’t the greatest. She is in early stage renal failure now, but still doing pretty well. At some point, we’ll have to face that same decision you made — when to let her go. We want to make sure that we can do that when she’s hurting or just not doing well. We don’t want her to suffer. But I know that we will suffer at her loss.

    Thank you for the pictures! Percy might have been sickly, but he was really a beautiful cat. I love the grey. And cuddle kitties are the best.

  89. Matt
    Matt October 12, 2011 at 10:00 am |

    The silliness is what makes love hard. Pets have a mundane way of creeping into our hearts and putting down roots. Objectively, it’s hard to see the profound way that by being an addict for physical contact, meeting you at the door, and waking you up as was his custom could affect you, but pet lovers understand that grief from that loss is inevitable and real. This lesson about love is one of the greatest lessons that pets illustrate: love isn’t all about grand gestures and proclamations, but rather being there with love day after day.

    It’s clear that Percy’s life was better for having you in it and vice versa. Take care and thanks for sharing, Jill.

  90. a.m.
    a.m. October 12, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    Thank you for writing this. I’m crying, too, now–but in a good way, a way that feels important. I lost a very, very beloved cat a few years ago, very, very suddenly. He died in my arms. And last year my family lost the small runt-of-the-litter lady that I picked out when I was eight. We grieve these things, and it means something. It also means something to share them, and so really, though it feels indulgent to you right now: thank you, again. It helps to exorcise grief onto paper. It helps the rest of us a lot. And it is a great tribute, to boot.

  91. Larry Meegan
    Larry Meegan October 12, 2011 at 10:04 am |

    Jill, I am really sorry for your loss. We live; we love; we lose. And even when it seems our heart has actually been ripped apart, we go on, richer for the love but poorer for the loss.
    Peace, Larry Meegan

  92. Shakatany
    Shakatany October 12, 2011 at 10:05 am |

    It’s always hard to lose a fur person. I find this poem by Suzette Hadin Elgin brings a bit of comfort to me when I lose someone human or otherwise:

    DEATH
    (for one who has died)
    You go from us
    into a new becoming;
    we rejoice for you and wish you an easy journey
    into the Light.
    The winds will speak to us of you,
    the waters will mention your name;
    snow and rain and fog,
    first light and last light,
    all will remind us that you had
    a certain way of being
    that was dear to us.
    You go back to the land you came from
    and on beyond.
    We will watch for you,
    from Time to Time.
    Amen.

  93. jaz
    jaz October 12, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    I’m so sorry about Percy. He is a continued blessing to your life. Don’t feel guilty or anything negative about sharing your feelings, it’s important to let them out and help you process. You have a loving supportive community here, thank you for sharing this personal story with us. Big healing hugs and much love xoxo

  94. Meredith L.
    Meredith L. October 12, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    I am so sorry about your kitty cat. It’s so tough to lose those little pals. When I had a dog I had to give her up after four years, and the woman I gave her to lost her. That was 11 years ago and to this day I still dream about my poor doggie, lost in the world somewhere, and I can only hope some nice person found her and gave her a good home.

    Even when my fish died, I cried. It’s really hard to say goodbye to someone or something you truly care about.

  95. Don Jones
    Don Jones October 12, 2011 at 10:12 am |

    I agree with Skateaway and others about the word “just”. There ain’t no “just” about cats. They are all special. No matter what happens, no matter how brilliant or foolish you are, they don’t care. I have a pen and ink drawing of a cat – a kind of minimalist thing with the inscription, “My ancestors were Gods. What were yours?” It is no mistake that the Egyptians elevated them so with their seemingly divine mix of wild animal and quiet comforter to we who are,”just” humans. At 64, I have had to make the decision that you did several time. It doesn’t get easier, but the pain afterword does becomes tempered with memories and a word for which I do not quite have the vocabulary to express, gratitude, I guess, at the opportunity of sharing my life with the felines who have shared their lives with me.
    Here is a little poem I wrote for the passing of Vesta, one of the first.

    VESTA

    The sun
    this morning,
    dull orange,
    a molten brass orb
    as heavy as my eyes,
    tore free of the
    broken horizon
    into a contradictory sky
    as pale blue as the eyes of one
    who will not see it
    again
    and
    for whom I weep.

    We who remain
    on this bubble of life
    with the shape of the Earth
    flexible,
    beautiful,
    fragile,
    ephemeral,
    will also soon be gone,
    adrift in the
    endless sea
    of The Goddesses’
    memory.

    To that Sea
    we each may take
    only
    our time together,
    our sharing,
    our love,

    and

    this shimmering moment.

  96. Tavie
    Tavie October 12, 2011 at 10:18 am |

    Your story made me cry and remember sweet and loving little cat friends that I have lost and other sad and bittersweet memories.

    My heart is with you.

  97. The Naked Redhead
    The Naked Redhead October 12, 2011 at 10:19 am |

    I believe we can be judged in this life by how we care for those who are “weaker” than we are. For how we champion for those who do not have a voice, and for the kindness that we show to those people or beings who no one else would show kindness to.

    What you shared here is beautiful and moving, and shows that you care about things that go beyond loving “just a cat.” And as a long-time reader of this blog, and as someone who has needed the voice of this blog to read and learn and grow…that means the world to me.

    I’m sad for you, yet I am so happy you had Percy even for a little while.

  98. Stephen
    Stephen October 12, 2011 at 10:20 am |

    I’m so sorry.

  99. JD
    JD October 12, 2011 at 10:21 am |

    Please don’t feel silly. He was your darling, of course it hurts to lose him. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, or a bird, or a lizard, or a person – once we start to love another being, give them a place in our world, there is a space there that feels empty when they’ve gone.

    It’s been 6 years now since I put down my last cat, Tinkerbell. We’d had the same two cats since I was five; they had just always been there, for a decade and a half. When the first, Rainbow, went in her sleep, I was sad but not broken up very much – more shocked. Tink was inconsolable for months. She lasted another year or so, but then she got sick, and there really wasn’t much we could do. One night she was just in so much pain – we knew it was time to let her go. This time I was a wreck. I held her and talked to her for the ride over and I cried the whole time, which is unusual because I rarely cry.

    She knew we loved her, and she was a dear cat. I started to cry reading your piece thinking about her. Sometimes I think it’s so much easier to cry over pets (at least for me) when we grieve because it’s uncomplicated – you just love them, and they just loved you. With people it’s so much more complicated, even the ones very dear to us. Thanks for writing this.

  100. R
    R October 12, 2011 at 10:22 am |

    That was beautiful. Crying at work. I’ve lost pets and people and grief is grief.

  101. Julia
    Julia October 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |

    Jill, cats (and dogs, and rats, and fish, and rabbits) are never “just cats” when you take them into your home and love them like family. My boyfriend has two cats – they’re not even really mine, but we live together and I treat them like my babies, too. If we lost one for any reason, I’d be inconsolable, same as him. Losing a pet *is* losing a family member. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  102. Sarah
    Sarah October 12, 2011 at 10:46 am |

    My husband and I are serious cat people. We’ve volunteered for kitten rescue places, and we have rescued six cats in all. Five are still living with us.

    It’s a ridiculous mathematics that the brain wants to do instead of letting the heart just feel: Is it better to get a chance to say goodbye first? Or to come home to find them gone already? Like comparing methods of breaking your leg. They both suck; what does it matter?

    Last April I came home from work to find our kitty Fidget dead on the floor. She was a purebred pixiebob we had rescued from a breeder, and sometimes they have heart issues. We had nine years with her cantankerous self. She loved to sit on your lap, but you couldn’t bother her. She didn’t like our other cats – which was ironic because we originally got her as company for our only cat, back in the day. She yowled very loudly when she didn’t like something. We loved her madly, and when I found her, I fell completely apart.

    Thanks for your post. Yes, I’m thanking someone for making me cry. More irony. But best wishes and I know that Percy is hanging out with you, happy to fall off the stairs again. Take care.

  103. Siobhan
    Siobhan October 12, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    You love who you love.

    I’m sorry you lost the little guy.

  104. AshKW
    AshKW October 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Jill. Thank you for letting us see a little bit of Percy’s life through your eyes; he was a special guy. Take good care of yourself.

  105. Maggie Gordon
    Maggie Gordon October 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |

    There’s nothing ever wrong with feeling sad about loss particularly as Percy was a friend and companion to you. People should feel upset when their pets pass away. When I lost my childhood cats, I wept and reached out to my friends as well. This was a beautiful post. Thank you.

  106. Anonymouse
    Anonymouse October 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss Jill, but I’m also thankful that you’ve chosen to share this. Of course, he wasn’t “just a cat” and my dog wasn’t “just a dog.” And you know, maybe his life was only three years, but you chose him and you gave him that chance and he had a friend. You did right by Percy in taking him home, in letting him go, and in writing his story.

    And now I’m crying at work.

  107. Corissa McClay
    Corissa McClay October 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |

    I have a grey kitty now, and he is just as not-smart and overly-affectionate as you describe. I’ve had him for six years, and this post has made me appreciate him even more, all over again.

    I’m terribly sorry for you. The future-me that will have to deal with this empathizes. But this is also so sweet and so true, that I can’t imagine anyone could condemn you. And I’m glad that you shared it. Hopefully it helps you.

  108. BadKitty
    BadKitty October 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |

    Oh Jill, I’m sitting at the school computer with tears running down my face. You took care of Percy’s needs instead of your own. That was a brave and loving act. I’m so sorry for your loss. My logon name, BadKitty, is in honor of my first and most beloved cat. He died over 10 years ago and I still miss him. There’s no shame in grieving over the loss of your best friend.

  109. Kara
    Kara October 12, 2011 at 11:51 am |

    They say when you die and go to heaven all the dogs and cats you’ve ever had in your life come running to meet you.

    What a beautiful, beautiful sentiment….

    *sniffle*

  110. TeaBQ
    TeaBQ October 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    Absolutely the loss of little ones is devastating. They are tiny creatures who love unconditionally and depend on us for survival. They’re a part of our families. It doesn’t matter that they may be furrier and shorter than other family members are.

    I had a scare with my cat last year and just the thought of losing him had me miserable. I told friends at the time that my heart was broken. He was there for me when I was at my absolute worst and I hated the thought of anything bad happening to him.

    I was lucky in that he recovered but it could’ve just as easily gone the other way. I say this not to contrast what you just went through, but to point out that I was in a similar situation and can speak to the question of did you do the right thing.

    It’s clear from your words that this was not a decision you made lightly. You wanted to do what was best for Percy and not for you. That is the key thing. You knew the answer to that question and you acted on it. You knew in your heart that the night would not be pleasant for him, and to make him go through it wouldn’t be kind.

    If keeping him around until morning had been the right decision you would’ve done it, not the least of which is due to how that would’ve been the easier decision to boot. No trying to track down a vet late at night, extra snuggle time for you, the delay of the loss – all of it. You knew the right thing to do by Percy and you did it even though it was hard for you.

    Liver problems in cats can go bad very quickly. It’s a quirk of the way cats and their livers behave. Do not tear yourself up wondering how and if you could’ve done things differently. The circumstances of the illness would not have changed. The only variable is how you handled the ending, and based on my experience you were completely in the right.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Percy. Your entry describes him wonderfully and he sounds like he was an amazing cat.

  111. Lori
    Lori October 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Beautifully written, Jill. And yes, it’s okay to feel sad about a cat. Your post was so honest and poignant. (In fact, after reading your post, I started thinking about my childhood dog who we had to put down in 1993. Your post made me think of her, and then I got sad about her, 18 years later.) Losing a pet causes real feelings of grief. I am sorry for your loss.

  112. DouglasG
    DouglasG October 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm |

    So, so sorry for your loss. The aspect of the adoption being such an early adult decision really resonates. My first cat (O) came into my life about a month after I first started living on my own. With all we went through together and with his eventual companion (C), I really don’t know how I’d have gotten from Year A to Year B otherwise.

    They were quite a remarkable pair. It was almost as if they were given a list of character traits or preferences and took turns choosing, while remaining generally inseparable. They often ate off the same plate in perfect amity; their only disagreement was that, if I ever put out one bowl of Fancy Feast dry food, O would push C out of the way.

    At nearly 14, O developed a blood clot in the middle of the night, had to be rushed to hospital and died almost a day later, after appearing to be potentially on the mend. It was a great consolation that on his last good day I changed my sheets (one of his favourite games). C seemed to try to take over O’s personality as well as his own, and lived another three years. His death was a little like Percival’s – the surprise bad news from the vet that it could be time to put him down, a three day period of camping out together on the floor, a little hope when he ate almost normally for a day, and then The Deed, but at about 4:00 p.m. on a Friday.

    That was almost six years ago, and I still feel odd whenever I sleep through the night after fifteen years of C having me well trained to expect his waking me up for his 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. meal. (There was never any question of my being in charge of the household.)

  113. tessa
    tessa October 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    oh, i’m crying.

    i took in a stray a few years ago. i felt very similar to jill – taking in the cat made me feel like a grown up (finally) with a huge responsiblity. i named her turnip and she was absolutely lovely. i remember thinking it was so weird that i ever hesitated in taking her in – she enriched my life so much!
    i remember feeling so blessed that she was going to be by my side for years and years to come – thinking, at the same time, that i could never be that lucky. turns out, i wasn’t: she went out one day (like usual) and just never came home. she is still missing to this day – despite repeated, huge attmepts at finding her. i still miss her!
    i grieved for a year or so, then went to a shelter and got another cat. i named her pearl and she has helped me immensely!

  114. Donna L
    Donna L October 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm |

    TeaBQ:
    They are tiny creatures who love unconditionally and depend on us for survival. They’re a part of our families. It doesn’t matter that they may be furrier and shorter than other family members are.

    This is so, so true. I very much think of my Ziggy, my 5-year old orange tabby, as a fur person, a little man in a fur coat — because he is a person to me. Unlike many cats, he *loves* being picked up and carried around for extended periods of time, his head resting on my shoulder (when I come home at night he stands up against me with his paws stretched up as far as he can reach, in a very clear “Mommy, up” gesture), and I promise you that the feeling I get from that isn’t so different at all from how I used to feel when my son was a toddler and I would pick him up and carry him around. Except that my son’s teeth and claws weren’t quite as sharp!

  115. Tara
    Tara October 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm |

    Hey Jill.
    Thanks for posting this. Being this transparent and giving detail to confrontations with love in life gives courage to others to ascribe meaning to the things they feel naturally pulled to or devoted to in life, no matter how teeny-tiny or seemingly large.
    And sometimes things don’t need us to first ascribe any meaning; it just happens as time goes on, which is what happened with Percy.
    The other day, I had the option of taking home a rescue puppy, which would have been an impulse “buy”, and ultimately decided, you know what, this is a bigger decision than I thought. I’m 23, and this pup will potentially be with me…for everything and everywhere,…for the next 16 years. I was surprised by how much that surprised me. It would have been my first big adult decision. And I decided that animals deserve us in the best way they can have us. If I take a pup home sometime in the near future or late future, I can only hope that I care about and do right by him/her as much as you did for Percy. Much love in your not-indulgent and very-human time of grieving.
    Tara

  116. Brandy
    Brandy October 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm |

    Echoing everyone else: I am very sorry for your loss, and your grief is not silly or selfish. I can’t even read the whole post because it reminds me so much of my own experiences. Since childhood I’ve lost 9 cats, and as with the people I’ve lost, some I recovered from quickly, and others I’m still grieving for. It doesn’t matter what species they are if you love them.

  117. 'stina
    'stina October 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    I’ve written too many pet obituaries in the last few years. It’s the byproduct of getting older, I think.

    I don’t think in the slightest that there’s any reason at all to apologize for grieving “just a cat.” Just because there are other, larger hurts in the world doesn’t mean that yours are somehow invalid. Loss is loss, and on top of everything else you are feeling, you shouldn’t have to worry that you’re feeling inappropriately.

  118. Marlene
    Marlene October 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    I’ve posthumously fallen in love with Percy from afar.

    I miss him too.

  119. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte October 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    No beloved pet is “just a” anything, but I have to say Percy was a special little bugger.

  120. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin October 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

    Thank you for sharing this.

    My cat died four years ago and I haven’t been able to get another one since then. Much of your description of your own cat reminded me of him. He was clumsy and uncoordinated. He’d come from a bad home, so he had separation anxiety and would follow you around everywhere like a dog.

    In many ways, he reminded me of a bratty little boy, but he was affectionate and loyal. I took him to the vet and was told the operation required to save his life would cost $5000, which I didn’t have. Instead, he wasted away for most of two weeks, where I saw him grow visibly weaker and weaker.

    He grew so weak he could no longer push himself up by his front paws, and instead lay in front of the downstairs door. I had not had the emotional stamina to have him put down, but I knew that doing so had become a matter of simple mercy.

    He died in the backseat of the car on the way to the vet and I cried like a river.

  121. cabochon
    cabochon October 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

    Oh, Jill. One of the worst mistakes I ever made was going to work the day after the night my beloved Greta died. The first time anyone looked at me and asked if something was wrong I burst into tears. When Greta’s sister soon after opened kitchen cabinet doors searching for her, both my husband and I cried.

    I am so sorry. How wonderful your friend was, and your relationship. What a life lesson a cat can be.

  122. Lucy Gillam
    Lucy Gillam October 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He clearly loved you, and you him.

  123. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl October 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    I was going to type something,but I’m crying too much. It’s not silly to grieve.

  124. pockysmama
    pockysmama October 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm |

    My condolences Jill. It’s never easy. And pets are never “just” anything. I sometimes think animal/human bonds are the purest form of love there is. I am bawling at my desk freaking out my co-workers.

    Someone sent me this when I lost my Yorkie two years ago and I wanted to share it with you and Percy and everyone who has lost a beloved pet.

    The Rainbow Bridge

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

  125. Anne
    Anne October 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    Jill,
    I am so sorry! My Dewey died unexpectedly Sunday night and I have been crying nonstop for the past three days. I love him and miss him more than words can say. It’s okay to be heartbroken. He’s not just a cat. I will cry for your loss too.

  126. NormaJ
    NormaJ October 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    This post made me cry. I have a cat who I love so very dearly and who was also there for me during one of the toughest period in my life. He isn’t “just a cat” just as Percy was not “just a cat” – I think its ok to grieve. My cat is very much part of my family and as he gets older I worry about him more and more. And I know I will be devastated when he moves on. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  127. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage October 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    I shouldn’t have read these comments at work. I hope no one comes into the studio while my face is still streaked with tears.

    *sniffle*

  128. toritan
    toritan October 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    I hope it is OK for me to say that reading your wonderful story has helped me regain perspective, and made me feel better about some work related difficulties I am facing right now (better described as soon not having work related activities).

    Thanks.

  129. RosemaryRiveter
    RosemaryRiveter October 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

    While I read this my not-too-bright cat fell off the couch trying to get over to the the desk to visit me. She finally made it to flop across my arm and purr and I started crying. Because she is “just a cat” but the unconditional love we get from our pets is so precious, and it’s our job to keep them healthy and happy and to help them move on when they’re too sick to be happy any more.

    You took a sickly kitten and gave him a home and the best possible life he could have had for his short time. People to snuggle, stairs to fall off and delicious poisonous plants to chomp on (my dumb kitty is also a determined chewer of things that are bad for her).

  130. Sarah J.
    Sarah J. October 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    I am so sorry for your loss and like so many others I was in tears after reading this. I’m about to leave the country for grad school and that meant leaving my one and a half year old tabby behind. It was devastating. He was all I could think about while I was reading this. Like Percy, he’s the runt of his litter and my friends and I used to joke that meant he’d gotten the least oxygen in the womb :) He’s got a habit of jumping at walls and trying to climb up doorways and sometimes peeing where he shouldn’t pee, but I’m convinced he’s the best cat in the world. When I had to leave him behind he wouldn’t let me put him down. He kept trying to climb up my body, and when I finally sat down and started to cry he came running up to me, jumped in my lap and stuck his nose in my face like he was telling me that we’d both be ok.

    And I’m crying again. The point is, they’re never just cats. They are companions, in every sense of the word, and I am so grateful for every cat that’s been in my life. I’m glad you had Percy. I’m so sorry you didn’t get have him longer.

  131. Heather Tovey
    Heather Tovey October 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    He may not have been a parent or a sibling or a grandparent or a child, but he was still a friend.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It’s beautiful, and it made me cry. Sending you lots of warmth during this time.

  132. mattw
    mattw October 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    This was very touching and you said a lot of things that just instantly connected with how I feel about our Buddy. He had to be put down at the beginning of September when it became apparent he would lose his fight with feline leukemia. I never in a million years thought I’d care about a cat like I did him. I considered he and his siblings, residing at Amandaw’s house, to be interesting little diversions when I first met them all.

    Buddy sort of chose me in the same way that Percy did you. When he was a teeny little kitten, any time I’d walk in Amandaw’s front door, he would come trotting up to me while the other three kept on playing their reindeer—er, kitten games. So I said “this one must be my buddy” and the name stuck.

    He and his littermates were sickly kittens (there were a total of 7, 3 of which were stillborn), and Amandaw dove head long that summer into caring for them, managing to save him and his sister, who is still with us. Among the many debts I owe her, she saved me my best friend before I even knew he was my best friend.

    We adopted a new kitten, Harvey, who is a shorthaired grey kitty like Percy. He has tons of personality (we believe he was born at least part-feral) and I know he and I will get along just swell. And I suspect we will adopt numerous kittens over the next (hopefully) many years. But I’ll never forget Buddy. He was the first cat I ever chose. And I was the first human he chose.

  133. mattw
    mattw October 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    dola,

    All of which is to say that as somebody else who never liked cats and now, well, tolerates them ;-), I sympathize.

  134. David Sallis
    David Sallis October 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm |

    Jill, I’m so sorry. You did right by the little feller, both at the beginning and at the end. Percival was a very fortunate kitty, and he knows you love him.

    I have loved and lost several cats, and I know my life is better for it.

    This may sound pithy, but somebody told me once that “grief is the price we pay for love”. I would take that deal all day long.

  135. Gretchen
    Gretchen October 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    Thanks for sharing this Jill, and no you’re not an asshole for feeling grief at the loss you have suffered. You’re post made me cry and reminded me of all the little non-people i have lost. There’s no need to devalue your feelings as an overreaction in ‘the grand scheme of things’ etc, coming from someone who has been totally heartbroken by the losses of ‘just a lizard’, numerous ‘just a rat (s)’ and a close call with my wonderful and slightly feral ‘just a cat’. I’m sorry for your loss.

  136. Courtney
    Courtney October 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    He was just a cat.

    He was also one of your best friends, always there to comfort you, and woke up every morning nuzzled against your chin. He was always pleased to see you, and he always made you laugh.

    You had a relationship with “just a cat” — and that relationship has been lost. I think most, if not all, of us have had our “just a cat” or “just a dog” or “just some other animal.” In the end, they are our companions, sometimes even moreso than many humans are, and when they leave us, there’s a hole where they used to be.

    So you’re fine being sad, or crying, or having a little ceremony, or whatever makes you feel like you’re coping in a healthy way with the fact that your friend is no longer with you. It sounds like you did everything you could to make this sickly little cat’s short life the best it could be, and whether you do or don’t believe you’ll ever see him again, he was comforted until the moment he was gone.

    Cry, mourn, and blog all you need to. Don’t let any of us get in your way.

  137. Gretel
    Gretel October 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    Damn, Jill. I’m weeping. And that is not something that happens often. I’m really sorry for your loss. It sucks.

    Do what you need to do to feel better, and don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. I’ve mourned both my father and my first pet, and both deaths affected me profoundly in very different ways. Pain is pain. It doesn’t really matter what causes it in the end if you’re dealing with it in the present.

    I wish you many more lilies and glasses of wine.

  138. SherryH
    SherryH October 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing Percival’s story.

  139. Mellokitteh
    Mellokitteh October 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm |

    Hi everyone. I’m a long time, first time. Jill, I feel your pain. This summer we had to put our sweet kitty Truman down after 13 wonderful years and it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do thus far in my life. He was this little life we loved and were responsible for and making that choice (even though it was the right one to make) felt HORRIBLE. I think part of why it feels so horrible is that they can’t tell you, “It’s okay. I know you love me, Mom and Dad.” Grieve as long as you need and never feel silly for celebrating a life that brought you so much love and joy. You and Percy are in our hearts.

  140. lb
    lb October 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

    This had me in tears. Being a cat parent myself i understand that place of both despair but also feeling juvenile and priveledged because this is what has caused you to despair. Love islove no matter who what its shared with.

  141. Bridget
    Bridget October 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    I’ve been reading this blog for a couple of years and I remember you mentioning your kitty several times – it’s clear what an important part of your life he was. This post and the comments are a testimony to our ability to love these little creatures. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  142. Lins
    Lins October 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    Female cats in heat can mate with multiple males and have kittens from those multiple males. It is not unusual for kittens from the same litter to have different fathers and therefore look completely different. Often, mothers will actually ignore the ‘runt’ leading to the runt becoming more sickly. I guess its to make sure the larger ones are sure to survive.

  143. Lins
    Lins October 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm |

    It also really bugs me when people say ‘just a cat’. I often refer to my cats as my babies or my children. Today someone said–”Well its not your child, its just a cat” What kind of a statement is that really? They are not ‘just cats’, they are living creatures with personalities, intelligence, love, kindness, sense of humor…they feel sad when left alone, they feel joy when their loved ones call to them and share loving touch. I have chosen to love them, care for them. They are my children and that’s exactly what i want.

  144. AnotherJenn
    AnotherJenn October 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm |

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s not even a tiny bit silly or self-indulgant to mourn the loss of a pet. He had an important place in your life and his loss is terrible. I hope it helped you feel a little bit better to tell us all about him and read the responses here.

  145. RedSonja
    RedSonja October 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm |

    Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for loving Percy, and letting him love you in return. Perhaps he WAS “only a cat”, but then we are “only human”. Thank you for letting him go when you did, with the sort of unselfishness that only true love can yield.

  146. Cluisanna
    Cluisanna October 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm |

    I’m so sorry, I’m crying right now because your story is so touching.
    And although our society values human lifes and well-being over that of animals, I don’t think there is much difference in mourning the loss of a human or animal friend.
    Really, this is just so sad, you cat seems to have been so much in love with you.

  147. losingmyreligion
    losingmyreligion October 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm |

    ‘just a cat’ – I remember that phrase. My dad was dying of cancer – and I live far away from my childhood home. My cat was ill too – and I developed this train of thought that if I could keep my cat alive (he was 18 years old), then my dad would stay alive too. When my cat finally needed to make his final visit to the vet, I thought I could handle it. But he was my first cat-companion and I couldn’t believe how much I grieved. I kept sort of standing back and looking at myself and my grief – I was astonished at the strength of it. When my dad finally died, I grieved for him too. Maybe my cat’s death was a ‘practice’ for when my dad died. But to be honest, the grief for the cat was different – more simple and direct, no baggage, no family complications, just grief for the loss of a cat whose every interaction with me was unconditional. My house felt empty without a felid spirit in residence. I’ve another one now – he’s 10, and no doubt we’ll have to go through that journey again (unless he outlives me). I kept saying to myself when my first cat died that ‘he’s just a cat’, but the ‘just’ word is kind of an insult, not to your cat, who doesn’t know about the word ‘just’, but to your capability and need for to give affection and caring. I hope soon that another felid will cross your path, and find the beeline into your heart – for both your sakes.

  148. RachelB
    RachelB October 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm |

    I’m so sorry that you’re hurting.

  149. ballgame
    ballgame October 12, 2011 at 8:45 pm |

    Jill, I’m sorry to hear about Percy.

  150. sabrina
    sabrina October 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    jill,
    I feel for you right now. I had to put my childhood dog down my freshman year of high school and six years later I’m still sad about it. You never will forget the amount of love you gave and got from him. From one pet lover to another I wish you easy healing.

  151. rae
    rae October 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

    I’m so sorry. Losing a pet is tough, no matter how it happens. Cats are amazing companions and I absolutely know what you mean about the cat being the one who is there for you during difficult times. Being able to form strong bonds with animals is a good quality, not a fault. And social justice doesn’t mean that you don’t get to feel sadness about your own losses, especially the loss of a loved one, just because someone, somewhere always has it worse.

  152. honeyandlocusts
    honeyandlocusts October 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm |

    No shame, ever, for feeling love and for feeling loss.

    May Percy rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon him.

    Love, grace, peace to you.

  153. Christina
    Christina October 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm |

    I am so glad you shared your beautiful story. I too lost a cat-baby to what I think is the same disease (FIP).
    So, I know.
    Just a cat.
    But still.

    I’m totally crying, and sending all my love. xo

  154. karak
    karak October 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm |

    I started to cry less than halfway through.

    I lost one kitty to liver failure, and my favorite (and probably only) dog to cancer, and another kitty to…I don’t know what. We both became deathly ill at the same time. I made it. He didn’t. He stayed with me every day of my illness, through my crying and hallucinations and vomiting, and then when my parents finally decided I needed hospitalization, my fever broke. I asked for him first thing, because the one constant reality of my illness was his solid presence on my chest or my feet. My dad couldn’t bear to tell me he was gone, and hid it from me for another day before finally admitting to me my cat died. He stayed with me every minute and I like to think he was still there, loving me, comforting me, at the very end.

    I’m sorry for you loss. Your kitty loved you, and you did the right thing for him.

  155. Mary Ann
    Mary Ann October 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm |

    In tears after reading this. My first “just mine’ kitty is only seven months old, and I’m already so head over heels in love with him that it terrifies me to think he could be taken away too early and too fast. So, so sorry for your loss.

  156. Abigail
    Abigail October 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm |

    I’m glad you got to spend three years with him! And I’m sorry he had to leave you so soon. He sounds like an excellent cat.

  157. Sandy
    Sandy October 13, 2011 at 12:52 am |

    Oh Jill, I am so sorry.

    This was a beautiful post. And judging from the responses it sounds like it stirred echoes of grief for pets gone by in many. many people. Myself included.

    As someone said upthread, there’s something about the pets who see us through times of transition.

    …of course, Percy sounds tremendously special on top of that.

    I got my kitty when I was 15, as a foster cat. I realized very quickly that she and I were meant to be together, and I adopted her. She was around two years old when we met. Last year we had to put her to sleep. I was 31. She saw me through most of high school, my adolescence, dating and relationships and finally meeting my husband, falling in love with him, worrying that it wouldn’t work out, and then it blissfully working out, us moving in together, life going on, the fun times, the tough times. She saw me through literally half my life.

    Of course with the right kittypet, it doesn’t matter how long you have together. You fall in love, and there it is.

    I won’t go into all the ways my kitty was amazing and special, but she haunts me. I have two new younger cats now, handsome and winsome and funny fellows, and I love them, but they aren’t her. It feels bad admitting that I don’t love them as much, like admitting to preferring one of your children to your others, but they’re cats, they don’t care. I have her photograph and her ashes on the mantle, and I’m afraid she was the pet of my life, that I’ll never know pet-love like that again, that I’ll be going to my grave wishing I could hold her one last time. I want to believe in life after death just so I can see her again. I feel like possibly that all makes me sound just a little obsessive and creepy, but grief, it does things to you.

    Um… my point, what was it. Just that I know, more or less, how you feel, and your tribute to Percy touched me deeply and between the post and the comments and thinking about my baby, yes, there were some wistful tears over here.

    Anyone who denies you your grief is a serious asshat and can fuck off.

    The pictures of you and him are wonderful. The camera loves him, you can really glimpse the world of personality you describe.

    And it’s cliche, but the sentiment that your loved ones who go before you live on as long as you remember them… I like that one.

    I now feel like I, as a commenter, have vomited my emotional cat stuff all over your post, but um. It felt a little cathartic. This whole post and thread and this comment. Thank you for sharing this, I know it had to be utterly heartwrenching to write.

    *hugs*

  158. Ashleigh
    Ashleigh October 13, 2011 at 1:03 am |

    i have a grey tuxedo cat named Hermes. reading this made me cry and hug my cat. i know how you feel.

  159. suspect class
    suspect class October 13, 2011 at 10:28 am |

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Jill. I think you made the right decision in choosing what you thought was kindest for Percy rather than what you wanted for yourself. That’s the best, most loving thing you can do for a pet who depends on you for everything. Wanting to share your grief and stories of your pet with others is not narcissistic or foolish.

  160. Alcharisi
    Alcharisi October 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |

    I’m so sorry to hear about Percy, and when I read your beautiful piece I of course needed to go snuggle my own cats, Lilith and Libby (who is also a little grey shorthair). They’re 15, and I’ve had them since I was nine. And though presently they’re both still full of vigor, they’ve started developing some heath problems (Libby has hyperthyroidism, and Lily has urinary tract issues), and every vet visit reminds me that I’ll have to make the same decision for them much sooner than I’d like. Those girls are so wrapped up in my own emotional life, I know full well that when it happens I’ll be a wreck.

    Grief is not a finite resource, nor is love. Your grief for this cat does not in any way diminish your ability to appreciate other losses and sufferings. Percy was your friend. You loved him, and it is right and proper to grieve his death. May the little fuzzbutt’s memory be a blessing.

  161. Lauren
    Lauren October 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    I left my kitty at home when I left for college, and I miss her so so much. Even more after reading this post. I got her when I was 10 and as soon as I live in a place where I can take care of her (re: don’t life in an apartment that would evict me for having her), I’m going to get her back from my parents.

    This post was beautiful and heartbreaking, Jill. Percy sounds a bit like my mom’s cat – not very smart, really just looking for lots of love. She gets so excited when people pet her that she starts drooling because she forgets to swallow her saliva, which is kind of gross in a really cute way. She also loves to drown hair ties, and until I read this I thought she was the only cat that weird. Wow I REALLY miss my kitty and my mom’s kitty now. And living with little furry creatures who cuddle with you every night.

  162. amber
    amber October 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot be accused of confusing my pets for humans, but when they die I mourn and I mourn hard. The most uncomplicated relationships I have are with my pets. I hope that when the time comes I’ll have the wisdom and strength to do right by them.

  163. lizfits
    lizfits October 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm |

    This was so beautiful, I just couldn’t stop crying. I’ve lost family pets when I was younger, and I had to put down a beautiful, snuggly, loving kitty in May. Sometimes we’d just spoon and nap together, and it was so hard to let him go, though I could see his pain. Goodness, I’m crying again thinking about the vet’s office. Loving any living thing is beautiful, and losing it is always hard. Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope you feel better as the grief begins to pass.

  164. amber
    amber October 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm |

    Also, one day when a friend and I were visiting my dying grandfather he said (quite out of the blue), “If I go to heaven I don’t want to see any people. I just want to see my dogs.” This was a Korean War veteran who was talking about his hunting dogs. To an extent they were pets, but they lived in outdoor kennels.

  165. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni October 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    There’s no such thing as “just” a pet. They’re companions, they don’t judge you, they don’t hurt you, they take you as you are and love you unconditionally.

    My beautiful black lab, Jessie, went over the Rainbow Bridge in august 2003. I still miss her. She’d been by my side for 13 years, and I’m not joking when I say I felt her death more than the loss of any human family members. It’s only in the last year that I’ve been able to even consider getting another dog (it’s in the five year plan) without feeling like it would be a betrayal, or just too painful.

    We have rabbits at the moment, twin house bunnies who we adore, and as much as I love them it’s not the same as a dog or a cat. But even so, one of them rolled onto her back the other day, and I swear time stopped. A year ago the other one had to have surgery, and my partner was shaking visibly when we dropped the bun off at the vets, prompting the receptionist to say “It’s ok mummies, your little girl will be fine”. That day was agonisingly slow, because we were at home dealing with a terrified rabbit who’d never been separated from her sister for more than ten minutes, while worrying about the other one.

    They’ll never be “just rabbits” in the same way as your boy was not just a cat. They share and enrich our lives, I firmly believe that human lives just aren’t the same without furred, feathered, or finned friends.

    I’m sorry for your loss. I hope the day when the happy memories outweigh the sad ones comes soon.

    x

  166. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni October 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm |

    Amber – you’ll know the right thing to do.

    I had my dog for 13 years, apart from the odd broken tail (she wagged too hard, stupid dog!) and one bout of fleas, she was never sick.

    One day I’d gone out without her, with my parents. When we left she was fine. We were only out for 20 mins picking up a prescription, and when we got back and opened the door the house smelled awful. Jessie had soiled herself, something that had never happened before. As she hopped over the front doorstep I noticed she was shaking, and her head was lolling to one side.

    After an hour with no improvement (we’d called the vet, who said it may just have been a seizure) we decided to take her to the emergency vet clinic, as it was after hours for the regular clinic. After my Dad put her in the car I climbed in next to her, and said “I promise I won’t let you suffer”. By the time we got to the clinic she seemed worse. The lovely vet said “It doesn’t look good. I can do tests, try some things, but it won’t be pleasant, especially as she’s 14 and pretty much an old lady”.

    My parents went quiet, but I knew the right thing was to ask the vet to put her to sleep. She’d had 13 years of running and playing (we adopted her from the local kill-shelter originally when I was 11, the day before she was to be destroyed) and love, and I’d promised her no suffering. As her leg was shaved, and the vet said “It’s time”, her tail started wagging frantically and she did that labrador happy-noise that sounds like “chuff chuff”. She licked my face, rested her head on my chest, and it was exactly like she went to sleep.

    It won’t be easy, it will break your heart, but you will make the right decision for your pet in the end. Don’t worry about that.

  167. wembley
    wembley October 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm |

    There’s no such thing as “just” a pet and there is nothing bad or awful or selfish or self-involved about writing about missing your little buddy. This post made me cry and I never cry about stuff I read. Your cat reminds me of the little faildog my friend/ex-roommate has that I miss so, so much (he’s still around, thankfully, but I don’t live there anymore).

    A first pet, especially when you’ve never had one, is a big deal, and Percy sounds like he was so, so sweet. This is a really moving piece of writing. Please don’t feel bad about it.

  168. wembley
    wembley October 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Also, wtf, I wrote “a first pet, especially when you’ve never had one” — holy redundancy, Batman. I meant, like, your first adult pet, and if you’ve never had a pet until adulthood, it can be a real life-changing experience. Anyway. Really sweet, moving post, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  169. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote October 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm |

    As well as being terribly saddened at your loss, Jill, I learned something from the reading of this: I can’t eat pizza (my dinner) and cry at the same time.

    I’m mostly a lurker, but I remember the post a few years ago where you first announced that you’d adopted Percy, and how surprised you were that you were doing so, because you really had never been a cat person. I’d smirked to myself, saying “That little sucker’s gonna have her eating out of his paw in a matter of days”. I was right, obviously!

    If there really is a “Rainbow Bridge” somewhere, and nobody deserves a bucolic afterlife more than our pets, my three departed cats (Daisy, Fox and Bailey) will know to be on Percy’s welcoming committee. And when you feel the time is right, I hope you’ll choose to give a good home to another lost kitty, since you clearly did a stellar job the first time around.

  170. Cranes
    Cranes October 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm |

    A living creature that loves you is never “just” anything. They are important and there’s no shame in feeling it or admitting it.

  171. Liz
    Liz October 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm |

    This is a beautiful post, and you have nothing to be ashamed about in writing it (except perhaps that there’s no disclaimer to warn people away from reading in public if they don’t want to be that weirdo crying into their laptop).

    The decision to put down a pet, to let them go when you yourself are no where near ready to never see them again, is truly one of the most heartbreakingly adult things we can do. Of course it’s not on par with true tragedies, but it’s a pain and a grief that’s bit to be taken lightly. I hope you can look forward to the day when memories of Percy are more happy than sad. The pain never really goes away, but the knowledge that you probably saved him from more suffering, an were there for him until the very end, can help.

    Thanks for the post. I’m off to find some extra-absorbent tissues now.

  172. Kimberly
    Kimberly October 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm |

    I had to put my sweetheart cat down a few months ago, and your post has me in tears remembering. Mine was almost as sudden, but he had been a healthy boy. He loved to snuggle with people, and more than once I woke up to find my face in his fur. I’m sorry you had to lose Percy. Thank you for posting though. He was lucky to have you.

  173. Kale
    Kale October 14, 2011 at 12:43 am |

    Jill,

    Thanks for sharing. I have been thinking a lot about my cats (one dead, one alive) right now as I moved away from home permentantly last month. I miss both of them, but know I can’t have my own cat for a long time. This remind me how much eventually getting a cat isn’t a choice. I’ll have to. I just love having them to much.

    My first cat was a couple months older than me and was always there. Like your cat, she was the odd one out in the SPCA litter. Like you, when I moved from one province to another as a kid, she was the only thing that mattered that moved with me. In the worst days of elementary school, when I felt totally alone, I could come home to her and cry. She was my best friend because she was there when I couldn’t and wouldn’t let anyone else be close.

    What I’ve learned Jill, is that they are always there. On my first real stretch away from home and so sick I lost my voice and couldn’t call my mom, I know she was there, in some way.

    Thank you for your story.

    Also, to everyone else. Adopt from the shelter or SPCA! You’re saving a life!

  174. Naamah
    Naamah October 14, 2011 at 1:44 am |

    “Just a cat.” We hear that from so many people who don’t understand what it’s like to lose a companion. “Why are you so upset? She was just a cat!” We don’t need to say that to ourselves. There is no such thing as “just” a cat. You loved him, he loved you, he was a *friend.* Give him — and you — that respect.

    Losing a pet, a good companion, is a unique kind of pain. It hits you in places where human loss just does not. We spend more time with our pets, usually, than we do with many human beings we love. I felt worse about losing my cat than about losing my grandparents. It’s silly to think that we shouldn’t feel that loss as much as the loss of, say, someone we saw a few times a year, simply because one is an animal and one is human, and one therefore must have been more valuable than the other. It’s got nothing to do with value, and everything to do with the sudden empty real estate in our hearts, the huge spaces that will always be there, empty of them.

    We aren’t obligated to mourn pets less than humans, or minimize our own loss. It’s not like losing a child or a parent or a partner, lord no, but that’s apples and oranges. Loss is always an ugly fruit, and there’s no good way to have to eat it. I can conceive of losses worse than losing a furry friend, and I’ve absolutely felt them, but that doesn’t mean that it should hurt less than it does to lose our pets, or that it doesn’t deserve respect from others.

    I had to put my girl down early this year after a sudden stroke. Fine one minute, then an hour later, she was gone. It is not an easy choice to make, even when it has already been made for you and you know with one hundred percent certainty that it’s the only thing you can do that wouldn’t be unforgivably cruel and selfish. It can be a simple decision, but not easy, never easy. Don’t feel bad, and don’t doubt yourself. You did the right thing. I know you’ll feel bad and doubt yourself anyway, that’s part of the whole deal, but you did what he *needed you to do.* You did not fail him. Cherish your love for him, because it will remain, still living.

    I wish you strength, and all the time and space and love you need. Be kind to yourself.

  175. Lisa
    Lisa October 14, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    Ugh, what Cranes said.

    There’s also no shame in my crying my eyes out right now.

  176. Julie
    Julie October 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm |

    Jill, I’m so sorry. I remember when you first got Percy and posted those adorable pictures. Thank you for sharing this, and be well.

  177. Intransigentia
    Intransigentia October 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm |

    I’m sorry for your loss, but happy you and Percy were able to share so much in the time you had together. Also bawling my eyes out at the office and have run out of tissues.

  178. AnotherTracey
    AnotherTracey October 15, 2011 at 1:40 am |

    Jill, I’m so sorry for your loss, but thank you for this post and for telling Percival’s story. He clearly didn’t have long here, but sounds like you gave him a lovely life and loved him well.

    I’ll join the long line of folk telling you not to feel silly or ashamed of grieving for ‘just a cat’. Reading the comments and the many stories of profound love and grief tells you that you’re not alone.

    Sandy, you have me crying buckets. I hope you find that love again–and I hope, hope that somehow you get to see *her again.

  179. Michelle
    Michelle October 15, 2011 at 11:56 am |

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is so sad :( I know that had it been my cat, I would go crazy and cry all the time. So no, it’s not silly to be sad about “just a cat”.

  180. Jay
    Jay October 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm |

    Very moving, Jill. Thank you.

  181. Alex
    Alex October 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    What a beautiful post, thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jill.

  182. Becky
    Becky October 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    When I lost my little girl cat in August, I also felt silly for being so crushed. But a loss is a loss. Percy was part of your life, and you loved him. It didn’t start to get easier until I grieved for my cat – I hope it gets easier for you soon, too. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  183. Cynthia
    Cynthia October 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm |

    I have had to take three cats to be put to sleep since 2008 (and will have to take one more soon). One young and unexpected, but the rest because the first batch of kitties that I adopted as an adult all got old and sick one after the other. The only thing I’ve ever regretted was keeping them too long.

    Tonight I’m looking at the old guy, who has been my friend longer than anyone except my blood relatives. He’s limp, he is recovering from a respiratory infection and his nose is, mysteriously, bleeding, and when he sleeps I sometimes have to shake him awake. The vet says he can go on…but should he? I will give him medicine and fluids a little longer, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m not sure who is benefitting from this.

    Anyway, this goes to say, you made a tough decision at the right time for your cat and the way you did it and the time you chose was out of love. Don’t feel silly about missing him. I still miss little Pearl 3 years later and I’m sure I will miss the old guy for the rest of my life, he was my first cat, the kind of special cat where you know that he cares specifically that you are the one he is with.

  184. Jackie
    Jackie October 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm |

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. My cats are like my babies, I’d be so sad if one of them had to go, even though I know eventually it will happen. :’(

  185. Miss S
    Miss S October 16, 2011 at 12:31 am |

    I’m late to this discussion, but I wanted to say I’m sorry for your loss Jill. I know that feeling, and I don’t think that the pets we love are ever “just” anything.

    ((((())))) Hugs.

  186. Jennifer
    Jennifer October 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm |

    Sorry for your loss, Jill. That was a beautiful and touching way to memorialize what Percy meant to you.

  187. Tracy
    Tracy October 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    As many others have stated, it’s perfectly ok to grieve so much over a pet. My cat died over a year ago and this post still made me cry. I think it just depends on the person, but you are certainly not alone in experiencing such grief over the loss of a pet.

    Also, The Wire is the best television show I’ve ever seen and Omar is my favorite character…he’s Obama’s favorite too.

  188. Gabrielle
    Gabrielle October 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    I just cried at my desk. Thank you for sharing. I completely, completely get it.

  189. tielserrath
    tielserrath October 17, 2011 at 5:51 am |

    He was your cat, your friend and you loved him.

    He wasn’t ‘just’ anything.

    And you made his life a happy one. That’s the most important thing you could do.

    *sniffs*

  190. Sera
    Sera October 17, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    A little late, but…

    One of my little creatures passed away yesterday. Leukemia. Damn it. He was the most beautiful cat, mostly white with a heart-shaped grey patch on his side. I love that cat. He was at home when he died, warm and comfortable and completely fucking unaware due to the Valium in his system.

    I cannot seem to stop crying today although I am usually an exceptional compartmentalizer. Our other kitty is going to pieces. Becuase it was after bedtime last night and they had school early this morning we haven’t broken the news to our kids yet.

    Really, though, I would be glad to live as he lived and die as he died. He was loved, happy, wasn’t sick for very long. He went painlessly wrapped in his favourite blanket, being taken care of by the people who loved him completely.

    Doesn’t stop the tears, does it?

  191. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere October 17, 2011 at 11:54 am |

    Once a bit of time has gone by, I recommend renting “Year of the Dog”–it covers the whole “just a [dog] cat” feeling really well, I think, and is a nice little movie about how profoundly pets affect our lives. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0756729/)

    I’m sorry about your kitty. I’m glad he had you.

  192. Lizzie
    Lizzie October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    Oh, Jill, I’m so sorry. I don’t comment very often, but I’ve been reading for a long time now, and I remember when you got Percy. I’m glad you were able to give him a good home and lots of love during his time here, and glad you two got to spend three years together.

  193. Ashalah
    Ashalah October 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

    I am so so sorry for the loss of your little Percy. It sounds like you gave him a wonderfully happy life and he gave you a lot of happiness too. That’s the best thing about animals right? This was a very beautiful memorial to him and totally made me tear up. *hugs*

  194. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf October 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    I remember when you got Percy and posted pictures of him. I’m so sorry about your loss. Your love and caring for him made his life wonderful and safe and comforting, and that is the gift that we give to our pets in return for their love for us.

  195. Rachel
    Rachel October 19, 2011 at 4:39 am |

    This is a beautiful post Jill. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I lost my kitty best friend of 13 years a year ago today, and today’s been really difficult. He’ll always have a place in my heart.

  196. Anna
    Anna October 20, 2011 at 8:19 am |

    “There are larger and more important tragedies every day. He was just a cat. I don’t even like cats.”

    I cannot tell you how much I really, really hate this sentiment.

    There is always a “bigger” tragedy. Dear lord, it doesn’t make anyone’s sadness about something else invalid.

    To call someone’s companion animal “just” anything is incredibly insensitive and rude. Pets may not be important to everyone; that’s fine. But there’s no need to regurgitate these harmful ideas that makes people feel stupid or guilty for grieving over the loss of a pet.

  197. nick
    nick October 25, 2011 at 10:19 am |

    “Sorry…” is never enough. Celebrate the memory of all of the best there was – - and it will last forever.

  198. thefallgirl
    thefallgirl October 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm |

    Although I’m reading this a while after you posted it, I want to thank you so much for sharing this. It’s hard, but along with the rest of the people here I have to say that I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with mourning for a beloved pet.

    I had to have my cat OC put to sleep last summer and I still miss him as, I think, do my surviving cats. He was a good, loving companion. There’s much to be said for putting love and care into pets, they can make life so much fuller. I try to remember that I am likely to outlive my animals not so I can dread it (though that happens sometimes) but so I can appreciate the time we have together all the more. But G-d, it’s hard to lose one.

  199. Cee Kay
    Cee Kay October 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm |

    I am sorry for your loss. Loss is loss. Don’t be apologetic for mourning your cat. He was your baby.

    Your post brought back memories of the day when I lost my dog. She was attacked by some other dogs and was recovering but suddenly took a turn for the worse. I rushed her to the vet who said nothing could be done. As I was coming back home with her in my arms, she just looked at me and I swear she “smiled” at me. And then she was gone. Nothing is as heart wrenching as losing someone you love. Hugs. You were brave and kind to decide to let him go before you were ready to lose him.

  200. susan
    susan November 10, 2011 at 1:14 am |

    Jill,
    I don’t really know how I came across this blog, but I was totally spellbound by your story of Percival and I can completely relate. You continually say how he is “just a cat” as if embarrassed by how much he touched you and how it shouldn’t be that big a deal. I can assure you that he wasn’t “just a cat”. He was a loving companion who depended on you and allowed you to open your heart. Sadly, he did not live a long life, but I can only imagine how much shorter and sadder his life would have been had you not adopted him. What a wonderful cat he was- full of love and trust and how could you not have loved him. I have a cat much like Percival who I adore completely. I will be sure to give him an extra hug tonight and every night I have him, I count myself blessed.
    You gave Percival a life of love- a tremendous gift even though it was a short life. He was a truly lucky kitty and you were lucky to know the love of a small creature. It’s a tremendous gift.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.