The Death of a Cat


I never thought I’d get so sad about the death of a cat.

Excessive emotional attachment to animals has always seemed to me to be unseemly and self-indulgent. Cats, in particular, I’ve long suspected of being unworthy of the sentimentality they inspire.

We took in Ruby last year. A friend asked for a favor. The cat needed a home. The kids wanted a pet.

She was an extraordinarily beautiful animal, I mean beyond being sleek and graceful and all those cat things, she was just a very good-looking cat. Those eyes.

She and I got on well enough. I liked to tease her by doing that thing when you pretend your hand is a scampering rat. In turn, she enjoyed climbing on top of me in bed and digging her claws into my flesh. I liked to rub her neck and she liked to skirt around my legs when I was trying to take a piss.

I’d watch her from my office window, making small territorial gains in our yard, against a big ginger cat that lives next door. She was less fierce and less experienced than her rival, but she stood her ground.

My children found her to be fascinating, loving and playful. I thought, this cat will be part of my life for a good while, and we will all enjoy one another.

Yesterday, she came home late. She was injured. We knew it was bad. We took her to the vets. They said she had been hit by a car. She was in pain. We signed the papers. We said goodbye.

And now, unexpectedly, I am grieving for her loss. My wife and children are very glum.

It’s not merely that something is missing but that some one has gone. And now, I think I understand the connection we have with the animals we love, and how it feels when that connection is broken.