Your cat has passed on. What remains?

What remains of your lost cat, long passed away? You may have kept her ashes. They are a dry, dead substance which awakens your memory of her in bright colours and sharp definition. The remains of our beloved cats that have died are in our memory.

How often do you sit in your armchair or lie in bed and harvest your memory, flicking through the video clips of your mind? How many memory movies do you have of her or him?

Although everything that I experienced with my beloved Missie and Binnie is in memory, I can only recall certain events but they are very clear.

The first and most delightful is a short memory video of Missie running down from the back of the garden with Binnie following. I had just returned from work and was living in a detached house, alone, with quite a large garden. They heard me arrive and raced to greet me at the kitchen door. Missie’s athleticism meant she was well ahead of Binnie. Joy was written all over her body and behavior.

Before that I remember Missie as a kitten chasing around the house with her brother tearing up furniture.  There are many more memories. As long as I live she lives in my memory. I worry that she will no longer exist in any form when I die.

The clearest memory I have of my late Binnie is holding her on my shoulder when she was at the end of her life. She was frail and bony. I felt very strongly that the end was near. The strong emotions harden memory.

You don’t need to look at a photograph of your cat or a video after she has died. You simply dip into your memory. Memory seems to bring not only still and moving images but also a greater connection with emotions that you had at the time. It isn’t only the physical presence of your cat that you memorise but the attached emotions.

There is a wider primal concept of memory based on the belief that the earth has a mind. When you visit some places you can sense the history. It is almost as if the memory of times past is locked into the fabric of the landscape. This is the concept proposed by John O’Donohue in his book, “Stone As The Tabernacle of Memory”.

If this is true my Missie has left traces of herself in that home I occupied for a short time and where she died.

I’ll finish on a John O’Donohue quote from the book:

“The soul is the home of memory, as you go through your life nothing is ever lost or forgotten; all the kindnesses and experiences of your life are gathered together in the Divine tabernacle of memory.…”

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Your cat has passed on. What remains? — 36 Comments

  1. I don’t have any ashes but I have a grave I can go and visit which is not marked, just an area of grass. I can plant flowers there which is nice. I haven’t been able to open up my balcony since Red died. I will in June. I can’t walk past where I found him so I have to take a very silly long way round route every day when I go to and from work. The places hold something. I’ll have to go and visit the spot where I found him in June I think. Somehow it’s not right to be unable to face it so I think I need to just do it.

    Thinking of Missie and Binnie running through your garden must make you incredibly sad Michael. Just hearing you describe it makes me awfully sad.

    • There is a deep scar inside me, under which is pain. Yes I always shed a tear when I think of it and I don’t have to have a glass of wine to do it. It can be anytime. We share that problem, your Red and my Missie.

      • My Panda Luna came from a fellow employee of Nebraska Book Co. She was also a farmer, and catlover. That is how I came to acquire Panda, the first of two tuxedo kittens from the same momma “Little Shit.” [a term of endearment, blv me]

        When my beloved Panda passed away, my daughter and her paternal grandfather bought me a stone engraved “I came,
        I purred,
        I conquered.
        Madeline chose it for Panda.
        When I went back down south to visit the catlover/farmer, wanting another kitten from the same mother (who was a tuxedo B/W herself), we searched the barn, the combine, the tractor, and finally found Panda’s later “sister” under a couple of pallets. It was November; I was wearing a long Herringbone tweed coat and wrapped “Luna” inside. Linda, the farmer, asked me to follow her to the shrubs at the side of the house.

        Underneath the thick shrubbery, she pulled out an emaciated, sick red tabby, Luna’s brother from the same mother, just diff. fathers. As she did so, she exclaimed, “If you don’t take him, he will die. The owls will get him.” And so, that’s how I ended up with two five-wk old kittens named Luna and Shrimp.

        To get to the point of this story, when we the Orchard Street bungalow and acre-property went into foreclosure, we were forced to move quickly, and we ended up half-a block from a busy street here in Lincoln, NE. Luna, being the feisty one, ventured out of the yard, one too many times, and must have crossed that busy street one night, because she didn’t come back for bedtime. I fretted all night, and the nxt morn, my boyfriend and I went for a walk, hoping to call her home.

        As we finally turned the last corner to head home, near the corner of that busy 33rd St, a white van suddenly moved from its parking spot. There lay Luna, facing the our house, only one more away, and blood was trickling out of the side of her mouth. I picked up her stiff little body with the soft black and white fur, sobbing, and I carried her home.

        When we had her cremated, I lied about her weight, intentionally. She wasn’t 3.5 lbs, she was twice that, in my mind. I miss her and her older sister dearly. Thank God that I have her brother still. I don’t know what I would do without my little Shrimp.

    • Marc, I know that you find me somewhat abrasive. But consider this…

      He wanted no one else to find Him, except You.

      You feel tremendous guilt, because you were not there when He passed. That is not your fault. He just wanted you. You wanted to find Him! He still loves you as much as You loved Him! Don’t EVER forget that. Okay?

      • He will be by your side, forever. He loved you and you loved him. That is everything, my Friend. Give Red flowers and the best grave that you can. And always know, you gave him Love, just as he did for you! We live longer than our cats! It’s our human instinct and nature.

  2. Since I run a breed conservation program I always have at least one kitten from any one of my cats. Suleiman my best ever passed away from kidney failure but I have have his daughter Jasmine (mother is Minos) and several of her kittens. Suleiman’s offspring are also incorporated in European and UK breeder’s stock. . That’s a lot better than just some photos.

      • I have Red’s little sister Molly – they even met for a short period but never had time to get to know eachother. Gigi is a cousin or nephew I guess. I just visited Red’s mum and grandmother today and they both have recently had litters sadly. It was wonderful to see them as usual and the kittens. I am going to be going regularly to check on the kittens. The lady handles them way too much and roughly. I will bring them good wet food.
        Red is buried there too. So there is a continuance of sorts. Molly is very like him in certain ways, it’s uncanny and specific.

        • Why don’t you take home one of those kittens, Marc? Besides Molly. ? Rescue one more from the same mother; what do you have to lose? 🙂 Please know, I feel for you–hopefully you are in a better frame of mind now–update?

  3. We have hundreds of photos of our cats over the 39 years we’ve shared our lives with them and we have framed photos on the walls of each and every one.
    But as you say Michael, we only have to dip into our memories to see a sort of video in our minds of them when they were with us. We can relive happy times and try not to think of the sad partings, but sometimes they creep in and the pain is still there even years later.
    I sometimes long for just one more day with each and every one of our late cats but then the parting once again would be too much to bear.
    I suppose we humans have to know grief and loss to appreciate the happy times, but it is certainly very hard on us.

    • I sometimes long for just one more day with each and every one of our late cats

      I don’t know how much, but I would give a lot, to see and hold my Missie again. I’d give the earth.

      • I’m so sad for you Michael your grief even now feels so tangible but think of what a worthless shell of a person you would be if you didn’t have these feelings? I firmly believe Tennyson’s saying ‘Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ even though losing just breaks your heart 🙁

        • Leah, thank you for quoting Tennyson. Tennyson’s poems [and sayings] helps us all through trying times. He certainly had a gift. Not unlike our beloved Cats, eh?

  4. We have been cat lovers, rescuers & helpers for @ least 50 some yrs. Have adopted or been adopted (which is which?)from purebred American Russian Blue to Ginger Tabbys, Silver Tabbys, Tuxedos, you name it.
    Our most memorable ones were our dear Russian Blue that loved my husband & open windows in cars/trucks where he loved to sneak in for a long nap not surprisingly scaring driver out of wits at such sight, sadly we lost Keke due to renal failure, he was only 12 yrs old. Almost 25 yrs later we still miss him & his antics as if it was today.
    Also a female Tortie we found (7/81)in an abandoned home, she adored my husband, tolerated me (food)but truly hated out son with Cerebal Palsy.
    Early December 2004 she waited for her beloved, drank a bit of water & few minutes later passed away in his arms, few weeks later as I took our other cat to vet made the comment “Dr S Panchita did well for being 20”
    to my surprise he answered “No mam, Panchita was @ least 24 yrs old, just wish more cat owners cared for their cats the way you do”
    I had to fight off the tears as I made the reply, “Thanks, we consider them part of our family from day 1”
    keenpetite
    SE Arizona (USA)

  5. I have the most amazing memories of my cats some of them so vivid yet others such as how their fur felt or how their meow sounded I struggle with. Yet them again I would cry every day if I could keenly feel and hear those parts of them

    I cried for 2 weeks when I lost Basil 🙁 and I had to wait for winter to blow away the nest of Autumn leaves he’d made for himself in the front garden. I couldn’t disturb them because I could still see some of his fur there and for me that kept him alive for a while longer.

  6. Though there were cats all around me growing up, my first feline companion didn’t happen until I was 32 and it’s been a love affair ever since. The memories of my beloved purrbabies are too numerous to recount here, the tears of loss would make the telling long and difficult. Bitter sweet memories…I’m already crying ♥

  7. The fabric of the landscape, the multidimensional matrix that encompasses the landscape, our experience, our emotions within that context and time. This is what ties us to our universe, even our multiverse.

    Haven’t we all had passing thoughts of either our cats passing away with us, or we with them? I know that I have, each time one meets her/his earthly end. And yet, when I look into the night sky following my little Shrimpster’s gaze, wondering what he can see that I, too, can see; and what I can see that he can not; and what he can see, in his infinite wisdom, that I cannot; I wonder, isn’t this life beautiful? It doesn’t matter how poor you are; it doesn’t matter, the aches and physical pains, because in that moment, in that exceoptional moment, the entire universe seems to envelope me, Shrimpie, us. And I feel content.

    Sometimes, in a moment of clarity during our reality, I think, wow, my cat is so much more venerable than me. 🙂

  8. Michael? Do you ever chase your cats around the house? I do. That’s how I bond.

    Would Charlie accept a kitten? My experience -as well as yours, no doubt–tells me that he would. Provided that it is NOT Siamese…. (?)

      • Do you happen to know how long Charlie could live? Michael, my spotted-bellied silver tabby loved to romp around the bungalow at Orchard St with me. He never tired of it! I’d sometimes give up, lie down on the floor to rest up a bit, and he would pounce on me again, as if to say, “Are you going to sleep all night? Come on, it’s your turn!” I miss it so much.

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