My most beloved cat, Artemis, died last night. That’s about all I’m up for saying about it at the moment, but will do a fuller memorial to her here at some point soon(-ish).
Our cat, Diana, died yesterday. We had her put to sleep because it was all we could do for her. It was time, and I have no doubts about it being the right decision. She was ready. Nonetheless, it is hard.
Diana was with me for 14 years. I acquired her (or vice versa) during the weekend of July 4th, 2004. She was never what you would call a typical cat. When young, she loved to play fetch with some foam rubber balls. As she grew older, she became more interested in seeing if she could teach the humans to fetch the balls, dropping them farther and farther from whomever was throwing the balls for her.
She wanted affection on her terms…which usually meant just as I was falling asleep in bed. She would come up to us and tap me gently with her paw to get my attention. Usually she would start by tapping on a hand or a shoulder, but if I didn’t respond to that, she would tap my nose or eyelids.
Diana was named for the Roman Goddess. She entered my household when she was 3 months old as a companion for Artemis (who was then just over a year and a half). Her name, on entry, was Tango, and she’d had a somewhat hard life. She was living in a tiny studio apartment with 2 humans and 3 or 4 other cats. In contrast, my much larger studio, with just myself and Artemis, seemed luxurious. She was tiny at the time. In the evenings, after work, I would come home and lie down on the couch to watch a baseball game. She would climb up on me, snuggle in the crack between my bicep and my chest (from the armpit to the elbow) and sleep. She was so tiny that all of her body would fit just between my armpit and elbow.
She grew, and became somewhat stand-offish. Eva and myself she could take or leave. However, there were some friends whom she allowed special privileges. Neither Eva nor myself would ever have been allowed to flip her upside down like this.
Artemis adopted her and treated her as her kitten, grooming her and taking care of her, which was a good thing, because Diana couldn’t really keep herself properly groomed. She just didn’t care that much for her appearance, though she was beautiful. For years, Artemis would groom her, and Diana would let her. Sometime, around the last 5 years or so, Diana decided she was too old to be groomed by Artemis, and she didn’t want to be bossed around by Artemis any more. As a result, I spent every more time cutting dreadlocks out of Diana’s coat.
Diana was a brave cat, most of the time. Dogs didn’t phase her. In fact, for the year we had a dog (Snowball–named by a 7 year old, not us), she terrorized the dog psychologically. She would casually saunter between Snowball and her rawhide bone. Diana had no interest in the rawhide bone, but it flipped Snowball out, so Diana started to do it deliberately. It took us forever to catch
on and figure out why Snowball would suddenly start barking. Diana also loved to perch atop Snowball’s kennel and peer down into it.
Diana loved thunderstorms, and would happily watch lightening with me, no matter how loud the thunder was.
Diana did, however, have two mortal enemies: The UPS man and the doorbell. For reasons known only to Diana, the UPS man was terrifying. Not Fed Ex, not US Mail, just UPS. She could distinguish the sound of a UPS truck from half a block away. She tell the difference in sound between the UPS truck and the Fed Ex truck. And she would scurry away at her fastest speed. The doorbell was also scary. People at the door were okay, but the doorbell itself was terrifying. She was a strange cat.
Diana was not particularly motivated by food, which meant that we often struggled to get her to keep weight on. Note, here, Diana deigning to eat, if it doesn’t inconvenience her too much. She didn’t have any foods she particularly loved, and tended to prefer dry food to wet food.
Chewing on plastic was always a favorite pastime. She loved the heavy-weight plastics, like those found in ziplock baggies, but she was flexible. Any plastic bag we left hanging around she would be delighted to pattern with her teeth marks.
Diana had a close relationship with Artemis for most of her life. They would hang together, sleep together. They were usually perfectly happy hanging out together, though sometimes Diana did create a bit of trouble. She would at times hunt Artemis’ tail, or do other things to try to provoke her sister (not biological sister, but definitely how I thought of them).
Diana love to hide in small spaces. She would find a favorite hiding place, and use it for all it was worth. Whenever I moved, Diana would find a spot in the new house and stay there, sometimes for days. Usually it was a spot I just couldn’t find.
Diana was a wonderful cat. We will miss her terribly. She has been a part of my life for almost all of my adult life. I’m not sure what life will be like without her. I will miss her. I’m pretty sure Artemis misses her. I know Eva misses her.
So, it turned out that Chloe was too far gone, and after two days of improvements, she seemed to give up, and after two days of decline, it was time to let her go. We’re obviously sad, but as we only knew her six days, the grief is mild.
Nonetheless, it sparked thoughts in me, wondering what prayer one should say on the death of a pet. And working within the Jewish tradition, I’ve composed the following:
God, full of love, dwelling in the spirit of all life, may the spirit of ___________ be accepted into your love. By the merit of his/her love, may his/her spirit live on in the love of all life. And let us say, Amen.
Edited: I’ve managed to create a Hebrew version of the text below: