Cat People

Today we wrapped Rascal in a blanket and took her to the vet. She laid in my wife's arms while she whispered, "You're a good girl."

Rascal’s old. Too old to purr, she sleeps all day, she can’t jump anymore. She’s twenty years old.

Her back legs quit working months ago—arthritis. And she only eats soft food.

She came into this marriage as Jamie’s illegitimate feline. Back then, Rascal was piss and vinegar, wrapped in fur, with a preference for squatting on expensive items.

I don’t mind telling you: she used to hate me.

As a young cat, she’d glare at me like Rosemary’s Baby. Once, she hid beneath our mattress to avoid a veterinary visit. I tried to remove her; she tried to sever a major artery.

Another time: she vomited in my dress-shoes. And once, on Christmas Eve night, she deposited a holiday miracle on my pillow.

But that’s ancient history.

I’m not sure when it happened, but we fell in love. She quit despising me and started waiting in our windowsill for me to arrive home from work.

I even took her fishing once. I gave her a few baitfish. She tortured them, then licked their guts clean.

During football games, she’d sit on our coffee table—beside my beer—watching TV. So help me, the cat watched television.

When I’d holler, “C’mon, dammit!” at Alabama’s offense, she’d flick her tail.

And she’s a daddy’s girl. While I write stories, she sleeps on my desk, between my typewriter and computer. Or in my lap.

I went to pet her last night. A clump of twenty-year-old hair came off in my hand. Her skin is paper. She’s been losing weight. Her bones are porcelain

God.

Time is running away. I’ve changed a lot in twenty years. You wouldn’t even recognize the person I used to be, either.

I used to be stupid, impulsive, short-sighted. Long ago, I skipped a college English final to go on a fishing trip. I earned an F.

What was I thinking?

Some days, I look in the mirror and wonder at the new lines on my face.

Today we wrapped Rascal in a blanket and took her to the vet. She laid in my wife’s arms while she whispered, “You’re a good girl.”

And I felt my eyes get wet.

The doc came in with a syringe full of pink stuff.

“Ssssshh, Rascal,” said my wife, sobbing.

God decided not to give us kids. We’re average individuals whose children come from the local pound.

My offspring are the kind that use litter boxes, or bury bones in the backyard. But they’re part of me. I feed them. Pray for them. They ride shotgun. They go fishing.

They even sit on my lap while I write.

At least they used to.

I’m writing alone tonight.

49 comments

  1. Beverly Stovall - January 15, 2017 2:20 pm

    SO SORRY TO READ ABOUT YOUR LOSS…..LOSING ONE OF YOUR
    BEST FRIENDS ….IS SUCH A DIFFICULT TIME….BUT TIME DOES MAKE
    THE PAIN BEARABLE…..BUT NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR THAT MESSAGE….
    WHEN YOUR HEART IS BREAKING……SO CRY ALL YOU NEED TO……AND
    KNOW THERE ARE MANY WHO ARE FEELING YOUR PAIN NOW….
    GOD BLESS YOU FOR CARING.

    Reply
  2. Kay Keel - January 15, 2017 2:25 pm

    Oh my goodness! Bless yours and Jamie’s hearts. Losing a much loved pet is so hard. And accepting that the right thing to do involves a trip to the vet, a syringe, and a sobbing goodbye is even harder. I feel your pain.

    Reply
  3. Christy Jordan Keyton - January 15, 2017 2:36 pm

    I am so sorry. Losing them leaves a big hole. I sure wish animals lived as long as humans!

    Reply
  4. Pamela Lacey - January 15, 2017 2:52 pm

    I can only echo what all the other readers have said. Tears are running down my cheeks as I type this. I’m remembering my own sweet fur babies who have brought me such joy, companionship, and love throughout the years.

    Reply
  5. Judy - January 15, 2017 3:10 pm

    Really, really hard thing to go through and that empty spot in the house, when you come home afterwards.

    Reply
  6. Carol DeLater - January 15, 2017 3:35 pm

    There really isn’t anything anyone can say to help you feel better. The heartache of losing a best friend only becomes less painful with time. You can remember the best, but more importantly remember that you were there at the end and what a comfort that was for them.
    Xx, Carol

    Reply
  7. Tish - January 15, 2017 3:49 pm

    I’m so very sorry-no words -(( hugs )) for you and your wife. My cat was named Liebchen.

    Reply
  8. John Miller - January 15, 2017 3:53 pm

    And your readers have tears streaming down their face because we understand.

    Reply
  9. Elaine - January 15, 2017 4:03 pm

    I remember (and still love) every cat I’ve had in my 69+ years. Currently we have ‘Charlie Parker,’ a totally black sleek pocket panther, with green-gold eyes, adopted as an adult when his elderly owner entered nursing care. At 18 lbs., he can enforce some of his preferences… and our hearts will be broken when he goes.

    Sending sympathy, but knowing your memories will not fade.

    Reply
  10. Gayle Dawkins - January 15, 2017 7:50 pm

    I know what you’re going through. 2 yrs ago we lost our 2 fur baby kitties 1 month apart. They were 17 years old. Our last precious ball of fur is about 11. To make that trip to the vet is the hardest thing to do even though you know you have too. So sorry for your heart break.

    Reply
  11. Nan Claypool - January 15, 2017 7:53 pm

    We lost our two boys within 90 days of each other to cancer, one 13, one 10….they went on to join the generations of cats we have loved, and so we are down to one female, who sits on someone all the time.
    Much sympathy is being sent your way. It’s a difficult decision and you will mourn for a long time. I am so sorry!

    Reply
  12. Maggie Perez - January 15, 2017 8:22 pm

    I too have tears as I read this. My animals are part of our family, each adding their own personality and traits to this wonderful life. I am so sorry for your loss. Sounds like Rascal had a good run.

    Reply
  13. Calista - January 15, 2017 8:24 pm

    ??????

    Reply
  14. Maureen - January 15, 2017 8:27 pm

    I feel your pain – we all face this with the animals that we love. But the love is worth it…

    Reply
  15. Teresa Eubanks - January 15, 2017 10:42 pm

    What a loving tribute.
    Two things stand out to me.
    One, it’s rare to find a man willing to accommodate your animals instead of insisting they accommodate him.
    Two, you use a typewriter?

    Reply
  16. Shawn - January 17, 2017 2:38 pm

    I am so sorry. They sure take a part of us when they go. I just lost my 16 year old boy, Bogie.

    Reply
  17. Matt - January 19, 2017 3:53 am

    The first time I read this, I felt my eyes get wet. Then I made the mistake of offering to read it aloud to my wife. We both were choking back sobs by the time I finished.

    Reply
  18. Faye - February 14, 2017 4:16 am

    So sorry. The pain returns to me now as I remember my previous losses of beloved pets. I wish you pain-free memories soon. Though you can never replace a loved pet, you can find joy in a new one. It does not dishonor the memory but pays tribute to the love and happiness they provided.

    Reply
  19. Lara - April 5, 2017 11:58 am

    That’s one of the hardest and most loving decisions we make for our fur kids.

    Zoloft turns 14 this month. She’s our shelter kitty who spooks at people walking across the room.

    I hope the best of memories bring you comfort in the days ahead. My family sends lots of love your way.

    Except for Zoloft who sends hisses.

    Reply
    • Yvette - April 5, 2017 10:20 pm

      Zoloft: what a perfect name for a cat!

      Reply
  20. Laurie - April 5, 2017 12:18 pm

    I am SO sorry for your loss. As a foster mom to many rescues I’ve been there more times than I care to count. I have no great wisdom to impart but the tears you shed do help heal your soul.

    Reply
  21. Laura Young - April 5, 2017 2:05 pm

    I became “Mother” to 2 cats that had belonged to my fairly new daughter in law, She had had them for many years but a new baby so disrupted the lives of her cats that they stayed under the bed. She asked me to take them. I have loved cats but losing one always breaks my heart. Even sadder was when one of the two adopted this time died. While they tolerated each other’s very different personality and refused to sleep in the same cat bed, when Angel passed in her bed after a long illness, I found Tyson licking her to groom her for burial, I guess. Then he slept in her bed from then on. He would search for her and cry when she could not be found. I cried as much at his behavior as her death. We do love our cats.

    Reply
  22. Linda - April 5, 2017 2:36 pm

    I’ve always had cats since I was a little girl. My dad and brother had bird dogs. Mama and I had at least one cat. My last cats were sisters when I adopted them from the pound when they were balls of fur. They were the sweetest pets ever, and I thanked God for them. Cancer came to both of them around the same time, and they were euthanized together at almost 15 years old. My husband was dying with cancer during that time. I haven’t been able to get another cat (or two). I miss those fluffy girls who would entertain me every day.
    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  23. Gail Campbell - April 5, 2017 2:58 pm

    My heart breaks for you and Jamie. Losing a fur baby like Rascal really hurts. Take care.

    Reply
  24. Terry Goddard - April 5, 2017 2:58 pm

    Love comes luckily.
    Pain follows slowly behind.
    Life’s delicate blend.

    I am sorely sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  25. Michelle Booth - April 5, 2017 3:26 pm

    The pain is soo real. I lost my 23 year old son in a car accident in 2014. I had to put his cat down in 2015. I felt the grief for both and each, all over again, and still, and wrapped up all in a great big tornado of sadness and memories and happiness that they would be together again.

    Reply
  26. Angela Lane - April 5, 2017 7:15 pm

    Such a sweet tribute. My husband and I adopted an orange kitten and he lived with us for 18 years before he just fell into an eternal cat nap. RIP, Rascal and say hi to my Scooter-man!

    Reply
  27. HRC - April 5, 2017 8:03 pm

    You’re a good man Sean Dietrich … lovely sentiment ?

    Reply
  28. Susan - April 6, 2017 2:30 am

    It’s never easy. Pets just love you and it’s so hard when they have to go.
    Our sweet cat is facing her end….intestinal cancer. She came to us as a Hurricane Katrina rescue. When we got her, she was very sick from almost 6 weeks stuck in a house with minimal food and only flood water to drink. The bad water left her with IBS which finally morphed into cancer. It’s pretty tough, but she got a second chance and a good life with us.
    By the way, you’re a wonderful writer. I shed numerous tears reading about Rascal.

    Reply
  29. blondrocker - April 6, 2017 3:44 pm

    We all know the tears that both of you are experiencing now….never easy. You gave your baby love, food, attention and a good home for 20 years. Blessed are those who love fur babies just as you would a child. Prayers to you & Jaime ??

    Reply
  30. Maxine Cockerill - January 18, 2018 1:40 pm

    The love and subsequent pain at loss is as real for these “children” as the biological ones. Hold the memories close. Rascal knew love.

    Reply
  31. Fran McGraw - January 18, 2018 1:42 pm

    You touch my heart with every story! Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  32. Linda Crawford - January 18, 2018 1:45 pm

    This one resonates. Our sweet Jocko died at 23. Our youngest daughter had known him her whole life. It was a bad day.

    Reply
  33. Diane Rinaldi - January 18, 2018 2:15 pm

    Our Wee Wee is a fraidy cat – everything is a potential threat, even though we’ve never been ? but she’s our 15 year old, our oldest child, and I can’t imagine life without The Wee perched on the top of the couch, or bumping her head on mine while i read your stories in the morning. Im so sorry for your loss! I dont want to read your stories alone ?

    Reply
  34. Lisa Palmer - January 18, 2018 2:20 pm

    I found a kitten when I was 12, and had her until she was 18. She was with me from my childhood until I was a grown married lady. My husband loved her too. I was a total wreck for a week when she died. We have other cats that I love dearly, but no other pet will ever make that life journey with me.

    Reply
  35. Mary Ann Massey - January 18, 2018 4:18 pm

    I dread the day when I lose either of my Dachshunds….they are my babies. I just had to say that reading your post made me realize that you rescued all your animals…THANK YOU SEAN for giving hope and a wonderful home to these helpless fur babies when they had no hope…..I love your stories…your posts are the first things I read every morning

    Reply
    • Barbara - January 18, 2018 4:39 pm

      You made me have cry drops this morning, a lot of cry drops. I recently had to put one of my kitties down because she was so sick and in pain with no hope of getting well. She was a rescue I adopted when she was 6 weeks old and I had her for 12 years. I know the pain of losing a fur ball but the love she gave us over the years makes up for it. God bless you for loving Rascal the way Jamie did.

      Reply
  36. Kathleen Long - January 18, 2018 4:21 pm

    Rascal knew she was loved. That is the bottom line. I have always thought that what is meant by “9 lives” is that you get the same cat’s essence 9 times in your own life. I have had the same cat, in a fashion, over and over again throughout my life. From early childhood, until now, when my current kitty warms my arthritic hands as I pet him.

    Reply
  37. C Cline - January 18, 2018 6:18 pm

    Our cat is 23 years old and has been losing weight over the past several years.. I have to rub her belly every night when I go to bed. She comes to my side of the bed and meows until I pick her up. She still purrs loudly during those rubs. She determines when I should finish and I rub as long as she wants. Sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 15 and even sometimes 30 minutes. It’s a nightly ritual. She sleeps most all the time now. I have two beds for her and I put one by my side of the bed when weather turned colder this past week. She been sleeping there all night. Her name is Timba. ♥️ I totally understand understand your story and love for Rascal. So sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  38. Melinda Impastato - January 18, 2018 6:45 pm

    I pegged you to be an Auburn fan. Dang, looks like you may be a bammer!

    Reply
  39. Cathy W - January 18, 2018 8:08 pm

    This is us, right here. We had Trixie for 20 years and let her go August 13, 2007, in the backroom of Dr. Wally’s office. We gave her a name for every letter of the alphabet. We still talk about her every day and regale our three year old socialized feral kitty Muffin with tales of her mentor and our perfect feline child, Trixie Wayne Hildreath. Rest In Peace, dear Rascal.

    Reply
  40. Pat Irvin - January 18, 2018 9:32 pm

    Our Jen lived 22 years. I still cry for her, and it was 20 years ago… like with anyone you love, you don’t get over it, you go through it, and it never ends.

    Reply
  41. candyalso - January 18, 2018 10:54 pm

    Love is a four legged word~ So sorry Sean and Jamie.

    Reply
  42. Dora Huelsbeck - January 19, 2018 2:17 am

    So sorry for your loss. My fur babies are special. They know when you are lonely or sick and check on you or stay by your side till you are better. Ellie Mae will help you and Jamie through this hard time. Praying for you.

    Reply
  43. Dolly - January 19, 2018 2:24 am

    I’m so sorry.

    Reply
  44. Karen - January 19, 2018 11:48 pm

    I am weeping because I was at the vet with the pink stuff in the syringe a week ago with my dog, Sugar. We had good times and rough patches, but I loved her. I miss her every day. I am so sorry about Rascal. It really hurts.

    Reply
  45. Mary Anne - January 21, 2018 6:00 am

    We’ve been right where you are. It hurts. I’m so sorry. Pets are part of our family. Period. And it’s tough losing them. Rascal was lucky.

    Reply
  46. Debra - January 21, 2018 8:59 pm

    ?????So very sorry….The next time you are in Dothan get Tonye to drive you by our cemetery ~ 5 dogs, 1 cat & 1 betafish! Psalms 56:8 states that God has collected my tears in a bottle. That cemetery I know represents at least a semi-truck full of tears!! As I type a kitty is snuggled up next to me! Feel your pain ?

    Reply
  47. Charaleen Wright - March 22, 2019 4:59 am

    Reply

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