I deal with grief in a number of ways. The top few involve ugly crying, copious amounts of chocolate, humour and writing it out. Thus, A Really Long Cat Obituary.
This is Annie, my beautiful cuddly cat who past away recently from old age. And by old age I mean old enough that she probably used all nine of her lives and stole a couple extra. That or she was just so awesome that the Great Cat God decided to give her a few more because I know my family certainly lost count of how old she was quite a few years ago.
Annie’s name, as we were told by the family member who we got her from, was not inspired by the redheaded orphan from the musical Annie but is actually short for Antagonist. And boy, could she definitely be an antagonist at times. She had a habit of stealing your spot on the couch if you got up for food or to use the washroom and would more often than not tick her paw or face into your drinking glass if left unsupervised for very long. If you left your plate on the table she’d be licking it clean in a matter of seconds.
She was a sweetheart, who gave the best night time cuddles – even if occasionally it was more her using your face as a pillow. This past May when I first got back from school she started to come into my room at night. This one night she came in, hopped up on the bed while I was reading, and curled up to go to sleep. A few minutes later she turned to look at me with an expression that clearly stated it was time for bed and she’d like the light off now. Then she turned her head and closed her eyes again – once she thought she had gotten her point across. This occurred a few more times, and it was absolutely adorable. By this time she’d already become skinny and frail so of course I started crying. Just a few tears, nothing ridiculous… But in response she got up, lied down to face me and just looked at me until she reached out with her paw and touched me nose. Almost as if she was saying ‘Now is not the time to cry. Everyone and every living thing gets old eventually and dies but right now is time for cuddles and sleeps’. Of course she’s a cat so it could have meant nothing at all or she could have just been trying to convey that I was interrupting her beauty sleep. To me however (and this just may attest to my future as a crazy cat lady), it was one of the sweetest most calming gestures I’ve ever received and it was from a cat. My quirky and odd cat. Actually my other two cats are also quirky and odd so maybe that says more about my family and of me than that does of them…
Deep down I know that it was probably better that we didn’t have to put her down and that she isn’t in pain any longer but damn, it’s hard. When my mother first told me, I bawled my eyes out in her car for what felt like forever because a) I hadn’t been with Annie when she died, b) I loved that cat, and c) I’m an emotional mess most of the time anyways (depending the week almost anything moving, inspirational, happy or depressing will at least make my eyes well up with a little). I immediately wanted to call into work the next day and tell them I couldn’t work because I was dealing with the loss of a very dear member of my family. But I don’t think work would have actually accepted that reasoning.
The big question I now have is what is the appropriate grief period for mourning a cat? Is there one?