As most of you know our darling 20 year old cat Marlowe died on Sunday 28thJuly at 5 am. Stella and I have been dreading this moment. For the past few years we’ve thought, this is it, but somehow Marlowe kept going. Despite major surgery when she was young and other trips to the vet as she grew older she was doing really well, until May. Medication for high blood pressure, an over active thyroid and kidney problems slowed her down. Suddenly she behaved like a twenty year old. And yet she gave us two more loving months, more than we ever expected.
The pain we feel is enormous. The huge energy that little cat exuded is absent in every single room in our house, including the bathroom, as she took great pleasure strolling in when we were there. She once tried to get into the shower with me. She made her way down to the cellar, into the loft storage space and sneaked into the shed.
She was such a determined soul, chasing the foxes, watching the birds from her place on the garden table, but never killing one. In twenty years there was no sign of fleas and our furniture remained unscratched. She even managed to step out of the loft door – which I left open for a few seconds – and find her way around the glass balustrade, balancing on the narrow pipe, our own Olga Korcat, nothing to stop her falling onto the paving below. With Stella’s enormous patience and cat whispering and my absolute hysteria, Marlowe followed instructions, turned around and found her way back inside.
There are reminders of her everywhere. The spaces where her bowls, glasses, toys, litter trays and food once stood, now signify her immense absence. We can’t turn a corner without expecting to see her, feel a paw stretching out, reaching for us for a quick kiss then back to sleep.
She had a sweet, adorable nature, followed us around the house and garden because she liked to be with us. Afternoon cuddles with Marlowe were part of my day. Coming home and knowing she would be waiting was always exciting. She loved us and we loved her. I never knew I could love a cat so much, so absolutely for over 7300 days. That’s a lot of love.
I have experienced grief for different losses, miscarriage, illness, the deaths of my sister and father, mother-in-law and so many friends. This grief feels no different. But with each of those griefs Marlowe was always here to comfort us, a constant presence in our lives. We could come home and here she was. She never expected anything from us, just food, water, cuddles and care. When Marlowe died I suddenly felt older. I looked through photos, mapping Marlowe’s twenty years and our twenty years. So much time, so much has happened and she has been a part of every significant moment in our twenty years as a family.
On Saturday afternoon when we returned from yoga, she surprised us by making it up to the loft, which she hadn’t been up to for a while as it was too far for her little legs to carry her. But there she was on our bed, in her usual place, where she used to sleep. We carried her down to be in the garden with us. She walked over to the bay tree, stood there and looked at us as if to say, this is where I want to be.
On Saturday evening she curled up in her regular place – a blanket on Stella’s lap in the living room. And then up to bed we three went, she nestling between us, Stella holding a paw, my hand cupping her head, which is what she loved. At 4.43 she nudged me. She tried to stand but couldn’t. Stella took this as a message that she wanted to be carried down to her litter tray. Once downstairs her legs gave way and I carried her back upstairs where she lay on her blanket, in brief discomfort for a few minutes, one gasp then nothing. Another gasp and that was it. Quiet, beautiful, gone. Even in death she looked pretty and soft.
I have been crying constantly, great deep howls from within. I have an ache in my stomach, I’m not hungry and I dread the nights and the mornings, as my routine has gone. I give gratitude for the life we could give Marlowe and for the life she gave us. I know Stella and I are lucky we have each other to share the memories. I am only too aware that not everyone has this.
For the few who don’t get it, there are so many who do. The kindness has been overwhelming and constant. We have been touched by words of comfort, so many words of comfort. It makes a difference.
I write this because it helps and because I want to remember, but also because we need to acknowledge the importance of the death of our furry companions. Sometimes we are too embarrassed to say ‘I’m grieving about the death of an animal’ because we don’t want to be met with blank faces or sighs from those who don’t get it. We shouldn’t be embarrassed. It’s a death, we need to grieve and be allowed to grieve, in whatever way is right for us and for as long as it takes.
6 thoughts on “My cat, my friend, my grief.”
Oh Shelley, from one of the ones that gets it, I’m so very very sorry for your terrible loss. Much love to you and Stella xxx
Thank you Ann. It’s hard. Permanent ache in my stomach. xx
Beautifully written and expressed. Losing our pets is heart breaking. They give so much love unconditionally to us. My heart goes out to both of you at this time
Thank you so much for kindness.
😪😪😪😪 Beautiful words 😘
So get this !
All my animals have been a major part of my life, always there for you, no matter what, yes…… it’s like losing a member of your family !
Remember….. you gave her your all for 20 years
That’s special 😘😘😘 xx
Oh Rachel. Love you. Xxx