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Goodbye Kitty

Goodbye Kitty

My cat died today. She was my companion for 16 years. She lived with me through some of the best moments of my life and some of the worst. Family came and went. Friends and came and went. Partners came and went; yet through it all, there she was, loyal, loving and at my side; purring, playing and napping—as cats do. She was my little furry touchstone as I went from one stage of my life to the next. When the dust settled it was she and me.

Her name was Tallulah (named for a lyric in a Tori Amos song, in case you were wondering). I adopted her from the Toronto Humane Society in 1996. She was a bit of an anomalous adoption because she was an adult and typically people go for the cute and cuddly kittens when on the prowl for a pet. I could say that I chose her, but anyone who has adopted an animal knows that they choose you.

She purred so loud I thought she could be heard over every other creature

I remember spending two days at the THS looking for just the right cat. It was mind-boggling as there are typically hundreds of cats and kittens looking for a home. Sadly, many won’t find one. Tallulah happened to me on the second day of my search. She sidled up to the front of the cage and just locked eyes with me. She purred so loud I thought she could be heard over every other creature there. I’d never heard a purr so loud. Maybe it was just loud to me because she decided I was her new human.

And so began an odyssey between man and feline that would last over 16 years: There were plenty of funny—and bizarre—times like when she went on one of her morning sojourns around the apartment and at top speed, bouncing off walls and furniture—as cats do. This time she miscalculated the contents of my claw-toed bathtub and nose-dived into four feet of water. She launched back out like a guided missile and tore under the bed. Cowed for a cat, she glared at me with a mix of peevishness and humiliation as I laughed hysterically at her soaked self.

Then there was the time—not long after I brought her home from the THS—that she went into heat. I didn’t realize that she’d gone ‘seasonal’ as I hadn’t had a cat since I was a wee child and didn’t know the signs. I was soon to learn. I awoke form a deep sleep in the middle of one hot summer night to the demonic yowl of a voice calling my name, sort of. “Meeeaaannddrrooooo” was being caterwauled through the apartment. I sat up in bed, half awake, listening to this nocturnal sonata thinking to myself, “Wow, how cool, my cat can talk and she knows my name.”

Tallulah used to love to climb on my back and stretch out from shoulder to shank while I lie on the floor watching TV. She had a sonorous purr that would make me fight to stay awake. Her purr was so soothing and familiar. In times of stress or strife, I’d pull her up on my chest and pet her as she purred, her vibrations giving me a sense of calm and peace. That was one of the incredible things about this little ‘hollow kitty’ as she was called: she had a purr that could register on the Richter scale.

Tallulah, I hope I gave you as much as you gave me.

In the last year of her life, Tallulah became very tiny and frail. She struggled to eat and keep food down from time to time, but she was not to be taken by death just yet. When it seemed like she was about to give in, she would rally and show vestiges of the girl I knew for 16 years. Finally, she just couldn’t win her battle against the inevitable; she was, after all, 19 years old.

As anyone who has lived with an animal companion knows, making the decision to euthanize him or her is incredibly heart wrenching. You don’t know if you’re doing it too soon or too late. You are racked with thoughts of ‘too soon’, ‘am I making the right decision’ and all of the other ambiguities that go along with the responsibility of ending another creature’s life. As much as it broke my heart, I knew that Tallulah was ready. She was not enjoying her life, she was struggling. I did not want my friend to suffer. I had to hold her and send her on her way.

Here’s to you, the feisty bundle of fur that brought so much laughter, comfort and companionship to my life. Tallulah, I hope I gave you as much as you gave me.


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10 Comments

  1. I have tears in my eyes I read the story of your beloved Tallulah. I lost my buddy, Rudy of 17 years recently….a great big bundle of cuteness and love. Not a day went by when he didn’t make me laugh at one of his antics, or just marvel at what a beautiful creature he was. I know the hearache seeing their decline, and having to play God and make the ultimate sacrifice….but it’s a wonderful thing you did for her…the decision you made was the ultimate gift…and most selfless act. She blessed you with 19 years of unconditional love and companionship….what more can you ask of such a little creature. I hope your heart heals quickly…

  2. its a horrible thing so sorry….every time we lose unconditional love from something it takes a little away from us….{; (

  3. I’m so sorry. She I’m sure she was loved every day of her life.

  4. What a pretty lady, a great friend and a lucky cat.

  5. Andrew, I am sending you big hugs today. Our pets never leave us in spirit. I hope you can fill your heart with warm and furry memories today and always xo

  6. You were both so lucky to have found each other and to have shared your lives for so many years. Tallulah will be sadly missed, but I like to believe we are all going to be again together some day… xo

  7. Oh Andrew, I know what this feels like. I lost my beloved Shady a few years ago and I cried for so many days and nights. I still think of him in the early morning when he used to pounce up on the bed and announce his presence with an enthusiastic MEOW! and cuddle up on my chest gazing into my eyes and purring. He was my best friend for 10 years before he took ill. I was so heartbroken when he got very sick and just gave me that look that it was time to go. I miss him every day. I have since adopted 2 beautiful girl kitties from the local animal shelter… both were 2 years old at the time. They have become my little muffin tops and sleep in my bed every night (one of them under the covers!) They are just awesome. Shady will always hold a big place in my heart and everyday I wish he was still here… announcing his arrival.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful words.

    jenn

  8. You have all my sympathy, Andrew. As you know, I lost mine last year, and it still hurts. My only solace is that she is no longer ill and suffering. I hope those thoughts will sustain you through this difficult time. Hugs to you. I will now go read your homage. xxx

  9. So, so sorry! I know the feeling, having lost one, and dread the day I must say farewell to either of my two.

  10. So sorry to hear this. I know how pets play a very important role in our lives and losing them is always heartwrenching.

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