The Loss of a Pet is a Painful Thing

Patches with his Feisty Face On.

Patches with his Feisty Face On.

Today’s post was originally going to be about an enrichment activity for your dog, but that’s going to have to wait for another day. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my little buddy, Patches.

A Kitten Comes to the Family

Nineteen years ago, I was driving along, on my way home from picking up my cousin, when I see two little girls hunkered down by the side of the road with a box that that had “Kittens” written in crayon across it.  Me being a sucker, I pull over, and decide to take a look. I reach in, and pull out a tiny black and white kitten.  And I took him home.

Patches was one of those kitties that liked to hide under the couch and rake little toes with his claws, or hang off a German Shepherd’s face. He was a terror, but I was in love.

Kitten Grows into Cat

As Patches got older, he learned how to climb on to every surface in the house. He delighted in drinking out of your glass on the kitchen counter. He loved to steal food (read steak and chicken breasts), and slowly and methodically push breakables off tables to smash on the floor. One night, I had guests over and we decided to get a pizza and wings, and after eating in the living room in front of a movie, we found the lid open on one of the pizza boxes, chunks of topping missing, and Patches was licking the grease off his paws acquired by walking across the pizza.

Cat Develops into Best Friend

Patches ultimately became one of the best friends I ever had. He followed me through the house, slept with me at night, kept me warm when I was cold, and was my constant companion. He got me through the death of my father, the death of my aunt, and the death of my husband. Without him, I would have been lost. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t love, and get love, from my dogs. I did, and I do, but a cat is different. He CHOOSES to love you, while most dogs love you like they breathe. And he loved me.

Cat Deteriorates

Over the last year, Patches lost weight, stopped grooming himself, stopped using the litter box, and had trouble climbing up on the bed and couch. I knew our time was limited, but it was hard to face. I actually went as far as to make an appointment to have him put down a few months ago, and then canceled it, rationalizing that if he was still eating, he, couldn’t be that bad. But then he started having periods where he would cry, and pace, clearly in pain, and I decided it was probably time to say goodbye.

Cat Crosses the Rainbow Bridge

So I took him to the vet on Tuesday. My fiance, Mike, took the day off to go with me. I took some cooked beef liver with us, and was giving it to him the whole way to the animal hospital. Things went smoothly, and he went quietly, unlike me. I was devastated. I had been up for two nights in a row, and was totally exhausted. My eyes and head were killing me from crying, and the crying continues. I spent yesterday morning in bed, feeling like a wrung out rag, and while I’m feeling a little more functional today, I feel incurably sad.

One of the worst things about having pets is their short life spans. Sometimes, looking back, I feel like there is an endless chain of loss, and I guess there is. Patches lived to be nineteen years old, a truly venerable age, and, while it is accurate to say that he had a long, happy life, it is also true that I had nineteen years to twine my life with his. I had that cat as long as I had my husband, and when I think of it that way, it seems unsurprising that I his loss is so difficult. It’s a long time to be together.

I’m grateful to have had Patches in my life, especially for so long. He was a bold, infuriating, loving companion, and one that I will never stop missing.

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