Our cat, Missy, passed away yesterday.
The last time I dealt with the loss of a pet was back in 2003 when we had to put down our first cat, Nicky. Later that year, my rabbit, Snowflake (nicknamed Snowy), passed away as well. Of course, we’ve all experienced how incredibly difficult it is to come to terms with a loss. Today marks the three-year anniversary of my grandpa’s passing. While losing a pet may seem lighter on the surface compared to losing a relative, all pet owners can relate to the heartbreak of losing a beloved furry friend, whether you’ve owned the pet since it was born or adopted it into your family later on. Regardless of how long your pet has lived with you, once that pet passes away, it’s devastating.
In the past 24 hours, my grief has come and gone in waves. I broke down into hysteric sobs when we got the call from the vet’s office that our cat was gone, how sorry she was and how they did everything they could. Currently, I feel peaceful and relaxed as I write this blog post, but who knows when the wave will come crashing down again. Adjusting to life without her is already proving to be difficult, especially since your pets become such large parts of your daily life. When they’re gone, they leave a gaping hole in your heart that nothing else can replace.
When my grandpa died in March of 2014, he left behind three cats, Missy, Harry and Cat (yes, my grandmother named a cat, Cat. I remember when she told me her name, I chuckled over the phone and said something to the extent of, “That’s perfect.”). My mom has two sisters who each took a cat. The first night we brought Missy home, she was noticeably reticent and reluctant to adjust to her new environment. Our other cat, Twinky, was also far from happy to welcome the newest member of our family. It took a while for both of them to get used to their new living arrangements.
In fact, for the first few months after we brought her home, Missy stayed upstairs in my room and was terrified of coming downstairs. She made my room (which I share with my sister) her new home, and she eventually chose me as her new favorite human (her first love was my grandma, though she loved my grandpa as well). Likewise, I remember the exact moment I fell in love with this cat. It was a few nights after we got her, and she took to sleeping in my bed with me. I initially found this to be a jarring adjustment, as I’d never had a pet sleep in my bed before. In the past, our cat, Twinky, would sometimes stay on my bed during the day, but he would never sleep there at night. Missy loved being with people, though, so when she wanted to sleep in my bed, I welcomed it, as I’d always wanted a lap cat. I loved the closeness of getting to snuggle with a warm, fuzzy kitty, but the kicker was when she was getting herself comfortable to go to sleep. She curved against the bend of my stomach and legs, allowing herself to nestle perfectly against my body.
From that point on, I was smitten.
It’s funny when you think about your pets and their strange yet adorable little idiosyncrasies that give them defining personalities. We quickly got to learn more about Missy and how much she differed from Twinky. Missy was a lap cat who’d jump up on the couch, claim your lap as her temporary home and curl up and sleep there. Twinky, on the other hand, has never been a lap cat. Instead, he enjoys being held once in a while, while Missy was not a fan of that in the slightest. She also didn’t meow often, unless it was a quick cry to let you know she was impatiently waiting for you to fill up her food dish. Twinky, meanwhile, is the kind of cat who lets out these long, high-pitched meows, like he’s telling you about his day. Missy was more in your face when it came to food. She’d jump on the table, and we’d scold her until she jumped down. Still, she was adamant, refusing to part until we dropped her a scrap of chicken or a piece of popcorn. She was, for whatever reason, positively infatuated with Cheez-Its. When someone opened a box, she’d bolt down the stairs — and she was loud coming down those stairs, mind you, like a tiny bull barrelling down — and she’d jump on the couch and scratch at the box to try to claim a cheesy treat she was desperately vying for. We’d inevitably cave and break off a small piece, and she’d scarf down the salty snack with a satisfyingly speedy crunchcrunchcrunch.
Missy was warm and rambunctious. She’d often cover her eyes with her paw when she slept, a heart-melting little quirk she evidently learned from my grandma. She’d sometimes watch TV with us, and she’d scurry over to the sound of an opening can or a tearing plastic bag as the sound was usually an indicator that she was about to be given a treat. If any of us would bend our head towards her, she’d often sniff at our mouths to see what we’ve eaten. She’d also run over to a mug of steaming hot tea and sniff at it in curiosity. She liked to play with those green straws from Starbucks. She’d sometimes carry it in her mouth like a dog does with a stick. Sometimes I’d find the straw near my bed, and sometimes it would be in the living room. She’d rub her head against my hand in demand of attention, and sometimes she’d even curl up on my chest when my lap wasn’t available because my laptop was in the way. She’d look directly in our eyes and stare up at us with such big, round, owl-like eyes à la Puss in Boots in Shrek 2, only much more loving and nowhere near sad. (My dad even sometimes called her Miss in Boots.) She was sweet and cute and friendly and affectionate. I’m grateful for the nearly three years we got to spend with her, and I’m also happy that we still have our cat, Twinky, who will be turning 14 in April, but I miss her a lot already. She was profoundly loved, and she’ll be in my heart forever.
❤ In memory of Missy ❤
August 30, 2008 — March 16, 2017