What to do when your cat dies?
A cat dying can be controversial. And if you’re expecting to read about a magical procedure and what to do when your cat dies - you’re going to be disappointed.
So! Well-loved feline is dead and buried. But then, cats don’t live that long, do they? And you can always get another. After all, and don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but it was only a cat so let’s keep things in perspective. It’s for the best. Although, if you’re that upset, can’t understand it personally but it takes all sorts, then call up a friend or something!
Cry on their shoulder. Hug them close to you, so close that you feel the warmth of their body searing through your clothes, so close, that you feel the steady beat of their heart, the smell of their skin... the smell of their fur, the softness of their fur, so close, the vibration of their gentle purr fills your head and your heart, so close, that even death doesn’t mean goodbye.
I know what you’re thinking, what am I playing at? Do I care, don’t I? It’s just an animal. A cat. Get over it. They are only opinions but not necessarily my own.
It doesn’t matter what’s expected of you. Does anyone ever consider how the death of your cat is affecting you and does it matter what anyone else is expecting or thinks. No, of course it doesn’t matter. It’s nobody’s business but your own. Whether you are mourning the death of a human or an animal, how you feel, think and behave is entirely up to you. It happens to millions of people and that’s all you have in common because death is a personal affair. Cry if you want to, shout or be silent, but simply deal with it in your own way. Whatever that is. There are no rules.
Yes, it’s an animal, a cat, but it’s my cat. She belongs to me, as far as other living creatures can belong, be it human or animal, and I love her with every breath. We don’t have to speak to communicate. We can do that simply by looking at each other. She knows my looks, my moods and responds accordingly. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. She’ll get me out of a bad mood quicker than anyone I know and refuses to put up with any nonsense and quite right too. Although, that can work both ways, I decided, why should I be made to feel like the one who gets it wrong? Except, I never get the chance to put that into practice and for two good reasons. I excel at getting it wrong. So shoot me! I am only human. And secondly, she never gets it wrong.
At least, she never used to. Past tense.
Many years ago I was visited by a sensation I never wanted to experience again, but I knew I would, and that I would loathe it to an even greater degree. Many years ago a skeletal type hand was thrust into my chest in its feverish search for something with which to hurt me. It found its target without too much difficulty because the hand, which had since grown long jagged nails, latched onto it and I felt my heart being ripped, torn and gutted from my chest in such a manner only seen by Vincent Price. Except this was no film and it was really happening and I had to deal with it. And I did. It’s incredible what strength we have inside us when we least expect it.
That’s why I know how you feel. What I don’t know is how you’ll deal with it. But that doesn’t matter. Like those off-hand remarks you may or may not hear being spoken to you, “You can always get another one,” with the best of intentions at heart. I like to think. However, a few months later that’s exactly what I did. It wasn’t planned and it wasn’t a conscious decision either, but aren’t they the best ones?
That’s how I knew in years to come I was going to be visited by that bony hand again with its serrated claws - but I was prepared this time... as well as I can be. It means I treasured (all the more) every second she was with me. Each moment was a gift and it was priceless. I sincerely hope all the companionship and pleasure she gave me over the years - and I truly hope I gave her - will take precedence over her actual death.
One last thought. I firmly believe, when the time comes for that bony hand to reach into someone else’s chest... I have to believe a few familiar (furry) faces will be waiting to greet me amongst the less hairy ones.
It’s never goodbye between us, my darling, only à bientôt.
19 July 1994 - 1 February 2010