My Cat
Jan 28, 2009 General Nonsense |
Soon after I started cartooning, about 19 years ago, I got my first pet, a kitten. I named her Sarah, after an editor who gave me my big break in cartooning.

I found the kitten from an ad in the paper. A local woman's cat had a small litter in need of homes. They were little tuxedo cats, mostly black with white paws and mixed faces. The woman put them on her sofa as sort of a line up from which I could choose. Three of the cats ignored me, walking to one end and playing amongst themselves. The fourth stared me straight in the eyes and approached. She selected me. Or at least that is how it felt. She made me feel special from the first second I knew her, and I hoped to return the favor.

Sarah bonded with me immediately. When I whistled, she would come running, climb on my chest in the Sphynx position and begin purring. She was a one-human cat. Rarely could another touch her without risking bloodshed.

Other cats came and went as my living situation changed. Sarah didn't care for any of them. She loved me intensely, and in her view no cat or human could compete. In time she became my office cat, to better avoid all creatures that were not me.

Every day since 1990 she competed with my work. When I picked up a pen, or lately a stylus, she would come running, yelling in cat language that I should pick her up and give her my full attention. She was my forced work break, and there were many. She was my only company for most of my day. Cartooning is a lonely art, but I was never alone.

Recently her tiny body started to shut down. But it never stopped her enthusiasm in seeing me. She dragged her arthritic body over to me every time I entered the room, even if I had only been gone for a second. She never failed to purr. I loved her intensely.

In the past month she had been letting me know the end was approaching. Maybe it was the way she moved or just some sort of animal ESP. I just knew. And so I spent as much time as I could with her, extra petting, in just the ways she trained me. Recent visits to the vet confirmed that there was no cure for old. We tried to enjoy the time we had.

Yesterday all of her systems reached their limits. The vet explained the options to my wife and me. I asked the vet what she would do in this situation if it were her cat. She wisely refused to say. I asked my wife. She wisely refused to say. This was my decision, and Sarah's. That is how it had to be. I looked at Sarah and asked her if she was ready. Her eyes told me she was, but the pain of uncertainty was unbearable.

Sarah had a history with the vet. Her chart had a big warning: She's a biter, and she has all of her claws. No one touched this cat safely but me. She was a vet's nightmare. And so the vet explained how this would come down. If Sarah allowed her leg to be shaved, and the injection to go in, without fighting, this would be the best alternative. Otherwise they would have to use some sort of cat gas chamber. That option seemed unthinkable. But it would be worse to try one method, fail, and go to the second. Again, it was my decision. And I was in no frame of mind to make decisions.

I opted for the injection, and hoped for the best. Sarah still had some fight left in her, as we learned minutes ago while the vet checked her vitals. But somehow she knew this was different. She knew it was time. After 19 years of fighting veterinarians, she let the vet shave her leg without the least resistance. And in so doing, she told me I made the right decision. I looked in her eyes as the life drained out of them. I was devastated.

But today I am happy, even more than usual. I think about how much Sarah enriched my life and I am grateful. I think about how much I learned from my relationship with her, and even from her passing, and I am thankful for it all. Today everyone in my life seems more precious. I'll always carry Sarah with me, and I know I am better for it.

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Jan 28, 2009
I am sorry for the loss of your beloved cat, my thoughts are with you.

Jan 28, 2009
H. P. Lovecraft wrote a bunch of overwrought, wordy horror short stories during the early 20th century. He also wrote a beautiful poem about a cat:

The ancient garden seems at night
a deeper gloom to bear,
as if some silent shadow's blight
were hov'ring in the air.

With hidden griefs the grasses sway,
unable quite to word them
remembering from yesterday
the little paws that stirred them.

Extra hugs for my kitty tonight. Thanks for a beautiful eulogy.
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Jan 28, 2009
Funny how we recognise that putting loved pets down when the time comes is the best thing to do and a final expression of our love for them, whilst doing the same for loved relatives (I'm talking about assisted suicide here, readers!) is potentially the path to a prison sentence .... What a mixed up world.
Jan 28, 2009

I'm so sorry for your loss. My best wishes to you.



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Jan 28, 2009
My condolences on the loss of Sarah. Thank you for sharing that. I'm glad that you had nineteen years together.

A complete stranger said once to me on hearing that my beloved dalmatian had passed, "A good dog is hard to lose" and there was something in his tone and demeanor when he said those words that has always stuck with me.

A good cat is hard to lose, too.
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Jan 28, 2009
I had a cat like Sarah, he wasn't so much a one person cat like yours but more of an affection !$%*! (I was preferred but he'd let anyone pet him). There were plenty of teeth and nails for anyone who didn't know his subtle moods and I think I was the only one who really understood them well. He was always a reliable friend and companion and I think I even picked up some tenancies from him. He at the start of fall. He was getting old and I didn't have much time for him either so I think it was well timed.
Jan 28, 2009

Thank you for sharing about Sarah it is wonderful to have such a loving tale to share with the everyone. The love you showed for her at the end is beyond words and I know from your comments she loved you to. Of all your strips and all your comments I think this one blog entry says more about you than anything you have ever done and I am deeply honored to share this with you.

Jan 28, 2009
My sympathies to you at the loss of your cat ......I know how you feel......TC
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Jan 28, 2009
You are the second of my favorite writers to lose a loved animal and write an amazing piece on it (the first being Bill Simmons at ESPN writing about his dog-- a great piece-- http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090122).

I'm a cat person and had to put down some loyal (well, as loyal as cats can be) cats in my life-- but despite the pain and sorrow of losing one, the joy they bring is well worth it. Now if I can just teach mine to throw up on the tile instead of the carpet....
Jan 28, 2009
Scott, this post finaly convinced me to register just to comment. Some cats just have that effect on you and its impossible to forget them, It certainly sounds like Sarah was one of them, more human than most humans and often much better company. I know it seems like she's irreplaceable but when your ready go to a rescue centre and I'm sure that one of them will just stand out to you.
Jan 28, 2009
I'm sorry for your loss, losing a pet can be very hard. I lost my cat several years ago and couldn't stand for her last moments to be with a vet technician. I stayed with her in her final moments and while it was hard to see her go I was happy she didn't spend her last moments scared and with a stranger. Cherish the happy moments and that special bond. Sarah is still with you in spirit.
Jan 28, 2009
My sympathies to you at the loss of your cat and close friend of many years. Your closing about people in life being more precious to you was very tender.
Jan 28, 2009
Scott...let me start off by saying that I am very sorry to hear about it. But I am happy that it went the way it should have.

I wrote something previously on here...but towards the end I must have hit a button because it jumped back a few pages and I lost everything. I will try again since it is a good story.

I never was a cat person growing up and didn't have any animals...until I got married. My wife had a cat, Bela, that she had raised since Bela was born. She was the runt of the litter and her mom had abandoned her. My wife taught Bela everything she needed to know. Soon after we got married, Bela came to live with us. One night I woke up and she was laying like a person next to me with her head on my arm. Ever since that...she has been attached to me. Bela thinks she is a little person. She holds cat conversations with us when we talk to her. She hates the outdoors and thinks that everytime we eat a Hershey's Kiss that we are doing it so she can play with the balled up piece of foil afterwards.

A few years back, Bela had to live with my wife's parents because the place we were in would not allow animals. She went missing for a month and we received a call from the neighbors saying that they had found her locked in their shed. She had been there this whole time. She was just skin and bones and could not hold anything down. We went to go get her and took her to the vet. They said there was nothing they could do for her other than to make her comfortable and wait for the inevitable. We refused to believe it and took her home no matter what the complex said. We kept her warm in a blanket and bottle fed her. The next day she was about the same...the 2nd day she actually made it out of her bed and walked a couple steps and fell. We cheered her on as she slowly made it to the food bowl. On the 3rd morning I woke up and felt something furry running across my feet. Bela was up and following me everywhere again. Since then she is pretty much back to normal. We think there may have been some damage...but she is fine other than hating when her food dish is anything but full. I don't think she ever wants to be hungry again. She is going to be 12 soon and I don't want to think about having to go through what you did. I'll make sure to go home and give her some extra attention tonight.
Jan 28, 2009
Oh Scott - you were so lucky to have her in your life, to remind you to take time and just scritch behind the ears. As you said, you're happy you had her, but there will be a gap. No one, nothing, ever will fill that gap, but her love for you will help. You gave her the freedom she needed at the end and that was the best gift you could have ever given. Grieve, rejoice and remember your faithful, loving companion.
Jan 28, 2009
Hmmm, this could be a bad omen, I certainly hope it doesn't affect your career. I know, you need to have your cat cryogenically frozen until some day somebody has a cure for kicking the lunch pale.
Jan 28, 2009
Condolences Scott. In many ways, I think many dogs, cats, other pets are examples of some of the best qualities that humans can aspire to: fierce loyalty, unconditional love, instant forgiveness, personal courage (of course the degrees all depend on the personality of a specific pet). I think everyone should let themselves be taught by one, even though the pain of losing them must be paid in the end.
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Jan 28, 2009
Oh. So sad even if it is just a cat. Glad you are not exactly a lonely cartoonist right now.

Richard Dawkins blogged recently "If you don't think a pet could be loved as much as human being, you don't know what love is."

Hope you get over soon.
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