Dealing with your cats death

As a young girl, I witnessed the loss of a few pets; a cat, a dog and a couple of rabbits but none of their deaths affected me as much as the death of my beloved Claire. My parents found Claire as a little kitten in the back seat of a race car. She soon became a cherished and much loved family pet. Claire Claire, as we called her, was more than just our pet cat; she was one of us.

Claire was unique in many ways not just because she was an unusual exotic looking classic tabby but because she was half human. Claire never used a litter box, she knew how to use the toilet and she would flush afterward. Claire knew how to play catch, she would not only catch the toy thrown to her but she would bring it back to you and she loved to play hide-n-seek. She would greet you at the door when you came home with a meow and a cute little smile.

As a young girl, Claire would curl up on my pillow as I slept. She would sleep in my closet on my shoes, she even protected me from a mean boyfriend. Claire had one mean growl and would certainly tell any potential suitor who was boss. I know it seems weird but Claire was my best friend. She was very important to me and her death was a nightmare.

Claire was 18 years old when she passed away. It was the summer of 1983; the summer after I graduated from high school. Even at age 18, Claire was a healthy cat who only went to the vet for her annual check up. Claire didn’t die of old age, she didn’t die because she had some life threatening illness. Claire died because someone’s pit bull attacked my younger sister then attacked Claire.

Claire spent a week at the vet but there wasn’t a lot the vet good do. Claire suffered a collapsed lung, two broken legs, a lacerated spleen and several other minor cuts. The vet told us to take her home to see if she would improve on her own. Claire didn’t improve but she did hang on for another week.

The night she died, I had come home after a date, walked to where Claire was sleeping to say goodnight to her. When I reached down to give her a kiss on the top of her head, she let out a meow. For two weeks after the attack, Claire never meowed, she didn’t even purr. I remember feeling so happy that she meowed. I started talking to Claire; petting her and she began to purr. Claire even lifted her head off her blanket as if to say, “see I am getting better.” However, Claire was not getting better, she was dying, she was saying goodbye.

Claire’s breathing became labored and suddenly she stopped breathing. As tears fell from my face, I performed mouth to mouth. I was not ready to say goodbye to Claire Claire, I couldn’t say goodbye. A glimmer of hope, Claire started breathing again. She was purring, and she meowed loudly, she stretched her paws out to me, then she died.

Sitting on the floor with Claire in my lap, I just sat there in disbelief. I didn’t know what to do next. Do I wake up my sister’s, my mom and dad? Do I bury her before anyone wakes up? I couldn’t decide, so I just placed her back down in her bed, laid down next to her and fell asleep.

Claire has been gone almost 25 years and she will always be my favorite cat. I still miss her and each time I bring a new cat into my home, I secretly hope that they are just like her. Claire was more than just a cat, she was an extension of me.

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