I recognize that a post on my cat dying is somewhat of a departure from “homemaking with intention, beauty, and mirth,” but the reality is it’s what happened at my home last week. And I suppose how I deal with the ups and downs of life at my home can be “homemaking with intention, beauty, and mirth” after all.
The tears hit you when you sit by the fire and miss him sitting on your lap, when you realize all your passwords are somehow cat-related, when your kids want to pet the kitty and the kitty isn’t there—when you remember how he always tolerated them laying on him, pulling his fur, and “giving him hugs.”
And you also feel like maybe you shouldn’t be so sad.
Because it was a cat, not a person. And, anyway, you’re not one of those people who gets pet insurance, the best cat food, or even all the recommended shots.
You agreed with your husband that you would pay for the necessary surgery last year, but after that, he was in God’s hands. You forked over the cash and prayed that the little guy would make it at least another year.
He made it a year, two weeks, and one day.
You’re unfamiliar with death, having never lost anyone close to you. Holding an animal as its life comes to a close is strange and prompts all kinds of thoughts and questions.
Now you have to decide what to say to your preschooler when she asks where the cat is. Now you have one cat instead of two.
The one that’s left has never been apart from his brother. They were buy-one-get-one free at the shelter, so you got them as a pair.
It ended up being really bad deal, financially speaking. Double the shots, double the medication for kitty respiratory issues, double the kitty food.
But it was a good deal otherwise; they kept each other company, which probably kept the neurosis to a minimum.
Their affection was endearing, even to your cat-tolerating husband. They snuggled in the winter and licked each other’s faces.
You wish you could make the remaining kitty understand what happened to his brother.
You try to tell him all about it and remember that you’re talking to a cat. And that you’re probably projecting all these human emotions onto him anyway.
No, you didn’t lose a person–you lost a pet.
You know someone whose husband died this winter. You know someone else who lost their father.
Your mourning isn’t like theirs. It’s much less intense and will be shorter-lived.
But it is grief.
Kind of like when you move and leave friends behind. Or change jobs, find a new church, or when a friend moves and leaves you behind.
These are the comparatively smaller trials of life that don’t feel so small when you’re in the midst of them.
But it’s probably healthier not to compare sorrows and to just let yours run its course. In my experience, it seems to be over sooner when you don’t ignore it anyway.