Amy came to us at the age of two and is definitely the most high-energy cat we’ve ever had. She is constantly running around our house chirruping like a small bird and is very play-oriented. She is also a bit of a roly-poly: if you pet her and she is laying on a chair, she will squirm herself right off of the chair!
Her favorite activity, by far, is Eat Play Love. We play the game with Amy and her adopted sister Angie with Go Cat’s Da Bird toys and Amy goes absolutely crazy hunting the bird (or rather, da bird). Overall, she is very mischievous but has a heart of gold. If we don’t have time to do Eat Play Love with her, she will make up her own games, including: OMG Something Is Happening in the Other Room and I Must Run There at Full Speed and other favorites.
Angie came to us in midlife at the age of six. She is very different than our previous cat Jackie (see below) but also has many of her qualities. She is definitely an alpha-type cat and completely controls our household. She is also very sweet and has a nurse-like energy. This may be because her previous guardians were elderly and had to surrender her when they got too old to care for her.
Two of her favorite activities are sitting in my lap and doing my wife’s hair. I’m not making that up: when my wife gets out of the shower and lays on the couch, Angie uses her mouth and styles her hair. I mean, not very well, but she does her best. We joke that in her past life she was a hooman hairdresser.
I lost my wonderful cat Jackie in 2019. She was such a blessing in my life and taught me so very much that I know I will never have another animal companion quite like her.
Jackie came to my wife and I in midlife, at the age of five. We first met her at our local humane society, where she captured our hearts with her unique personality. Jackie was a talker who was fond of purring and meowing at the same time, giving her a gravelly voice at times like a hardened human from the big city.
We don’t know much about the first half of her life, except that she was a stray at one point and then was taken in by someone with too many animals who was forced to give her up for adoption. When she came to us she was shy around us at first, preferring to keep her distance by staying at the top of the staircase in the apartment we were living in at the time.
Soon, with some coaxing, she would become a fixture of our daily lives, however. She would eventually lay claim to three separate kitty beds, one in each major room of our current house. We joked that she was actually a kitty researcher doing a study of human behavior, because she would always position herself so that she could have a clear view of both of us at all times.
She was not a lap cat and she positively hated being held. Her preferred method of expressing affection was to lay with her humans on the floor, using our hands as pillows:
And woe be to the soul who tried to cut one of these hangout sessions short! Jackie was very particular about two things:
Jackie was a bit bossy, you see. And by “a bit,” I mean “A LOT.” She was a creature of habit who treasured routine. When that routine was disrupted, for any reason, she would become testy and that gravelly voice would emerge as though she were saying: “Hey! This is not how we do things!”
After her passing, I composed this poem to memorialize her:
You still turn corners in this house,
a four-legged dinosaur, the Keekeesaurus
Rex. You have lived with us
so you are with us. On your two-tone
legs. If the heaven of animals
exists you are not there, because
you hated other animals in life.
You were only ours. And we
were your bad cats. Terrible
at being close and quiet. Ineffective
hunters. Sparse meat eaters. We
could’ve lived more simply.
We could’ve spent more time
lazing in afternoon shadows
or angled sun. But you taught
us not to regret. To ask for what
we want. To never forget
that the best life is lived
close to the ground,
soft eyes open
to each possibility.
I can also honestly say I was completely unprepared for the depth of grief that I would experience at her loss. I was never someone who would say things like “pets are family,” but Jackie really was a family member to both myself and my wife, and losing her has felt just as intense as the loss of human family members that I have personally experienced.
And I know everyone says this about their pet, but: Jackie really was special. Every life she touched was enriched by her calming presence and loving gaze. So many other humans fell in love with her while she was with us, in fact, that we joked she could easily find a second forever home if she ever got tired of ours.
Jackie was diagnosed with Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia in the early fall of 2019, a very serious disorder in which an animal’s immune system attacks its own red blood cells. And though we sought every possible medical intervention, this disease was just too much for her body to cope with and just a few short weeks after her diagnosis, we were forced to say goodbye.
The outpouring of support we experienced at her passing was truly overwhelming to both of us.
We will be eternally grateful to have shared our lives with such a loving, compassionate being who taught us so much about being in the moment and loving unconditionally.
If you have also recently lost a pet, there are resources out there to support you. Please don’t try to grieve alone.