Blake, R.I.P.

My cat Blake died Sunday just after noon.

I am probably kidding myself, but I am telling myself he did not suffer too much. He’d gotten thin as he had gotten older, actually quite thin, but I didn’t think there was anything amiss till last May. During a regular exam, the vet didn’t hear any breathing in one lung. She took an Xray. She saw a mass and showed me film, with its big white angry blob in the middle of a much more subdued grey-black pattern of bones and organs. She said it might be cancer, told me what it would take to firm up the diagnosis, and that he could get chemo. I didn’t think it was right to put a 15 year old cat through that. She said he’d stop eating if it was cancer and that he could go very suddenly.

He came home and continued to show his long-standing keen interest in being fed, so I put it out of my mind. But last Monday when he was napping next to me I could hear his breathing was labored and he didn’t get up to nosh, which he normally does. His breathing improved but he was subdued in a way I hadn’t seen him save a few day spell when he was a kitten, when he’d gotten his ribs badly bruised. He was smart enough that it seemed possible back then that he was having a cat think about his mortality. Last week, he knew he was dying.

I took him to the vet my other cat sees on Wednesday (I’d switched Blake to a different vet when I was considering taking him to Australia, since then only two vets in Manhattan could certify animals for that, but I hadn’t liked the aggressiveness of the upselling when Blake was discovered to be sick). Their reaction was basically, “They found a pulmonary mass last May and he’s still alive?” They gave him an appetite stimulant and a supply to give him at home. I asked about getting palliatives. They needed to do bloodwork. Due to communication delays, he didn’t go back in until Saturday. He got two shots, vitamin B-12 and an opiate.

By late last week, Blake was eating much less than usual and barely leaving my bed. He was so brave about his condition. Just yesterday, he went to the bathroom to get water. He had trained me many years ago to give him water from the tap. First he jumped into bathtub to drink drops from the faucet, then by hopping into the tub and licking the spout he would ask me to turn it on, then by transferring that behavior to the bathroom sink, which has a swan neck faucet. By now, he just had sit on the bathroom counter and look at the faucet to get me to do his bidding.

I turned the spigot on and went into the shower. I also put a small glass of water near the sink, since he also preferred drinking from a glass to drinking from a bowl. He’d always liked just looking at the stream, the way people enjoy watching the play of fountains. But I could see him hesitate with his neck stretched out a long time before drinking, as if he didn’t want to but knew he needed to. Then he’d drink a little bit, first from the sink and then the little glass, with long intervals in between. After I got out of the shower, he walked some difficulty over to the other end of the counter and gazed at the bathtub spout. I opened the sliding door wider to make it easier for him to get in and turned on a thin stream. Later, I saw him lying in the tub, near the spout, watching the water run.

Similarly, over the last few days, I was having to feed him in bed. He’d refuse most food, even treat food like cream and salmon and novelties like kitten milk, but when I’d bring him something he’d want to eat, he would take a few bites, then turn his head away. I kept praising him when he ate and pleaded with him when he stopped. I’d wait a minute or two and put the food again under his nose, and he’d usually eat a bit more. We’d repeat until he’d move away to let me know he really was done. It was pretty clear he was eating more than he wanted to to please me.

That was one of the things that makes it so hard to lose him. He was an exceptionally considerate, if also sometimes willful, cat. When I petted him, he’d always insist on reciprocating by washing my hand or face, usually out of proportion to how much he had been petted. Even last week, when he was failing, he’d often try to get a few swipes in. He’d also head-butt, very hard, in the morning, when he wanted me to pet him. I’d pull the sheets over my head and yell at him but that did not deter him. When I first got him, he’d sleep in the bed but only briefly next to me, usually then under my armpit, and if I moved at all, he’d leave. But over the years he’d sleep more regularly next to me, and would even crawl under the sheets.

Similarly, unlike most cats, he would not stoop to the “insert cat between human and work to get attention” ruse. When I had a black and white NeXT monitor, he’d hang out on top until he got too big to do that, he’d come by and visit and sometimes sit on my lap or next to me in the desk chair. The last time he came into the living room was to lie on my lap.

I got Blake from a recently divorced woman in Staten Island who was breeding Abyssinians on behalf of an established breeder. He was 5 months old and had been kept beyond the usual age for selling kittens because the breeder thought he could be a show cat. Even though he was particularly handsome, he apparently was growing up to look just like his father, so they didn’t need him for breeding purposes. When I came, they also had a new litter of five kittens. The kittens romped and Blake, the lone older cat, sat aside and watched them. Even though he seemed unusually quiet, he was plenty playful when I got to see him by himself and pulled out a dangle toy I’d brought. A friend who had come with me to look at the cats me said he reminded her of one she’d had, a very soulful cat who’d lived to be 18, and urged me to take him home. The woman’s two children had become very attached to him and cried when we drove to the ferry. They had given the cats Disney-type names. His mother was Lady and he was Lover Boy. I had trouble settling on a name for him, particularly since he initially seemed to be very sad for having left his old home. I called him Blake after the poet.

When I got serious about going to Australia, I thought about taking him, but he would have had to fly 22 hours in cargo, in his own urine, and then go into quarantine for 5 weeks. That seemed cruel, even though the alternative of leaving him behind was painful. He had admirers and one took him, but Blake hissed at the roommate after the first week or so, and it was the roommate who held the lease, so Blake was out. He lived for the better part of a year in a large dot-com office where people were there 9 AM till after midnight routinely. He would get out and eventually explored every office of the full-city-block, 3 story high building in the meatpackng district. He was not only a good mouser but a good guard cat. Two men came in from the neighboring office one weekend through a back door that was pretty much never used to borrow some cable. He chased them out.

I didn’t think I’d get him see him again after I came back to the US, but a fellow who worked in that office adopted him, but later got engaged, and as he put it, “My fiance is not a cat person.” So Blake came back, after I’d gotten a new kitten who thought that because he was here first from his perspective, he was the alpha. And even though Blake was the much stronger of the two cats and could easily have beaten up the young cat, he never did. He would usually run rather than fight and defer in most matters, except food, where he’d shoulder the young cat away from his bowl. If I saw the move, the young cat would sometimes give me a “What just happened?” look before going to the other bowl.

I suppose I’m just nattering. I’m recounting stories I’ve regularly told about Blake, so it’s not as if I’ll forget them. But I’m so desperate to hold on to all the little things he’d do that made him special, like the way he’d jump up to high counters, by grabbing with his front paws and using his back legs to push off the flat surface to get the last bit of the way up. That unusual way of jumping allowed him to do some things that would be hard for most cats, like get up to the top of the bottom pane of the large casement windows in the living room and perch there. Another trick was that he’d sometimes hop into far end of the bathtub when I was showering, risking getting sprayed if I turned the wrong way. He seemed to like the steam and getting his feet wet.

I don’t cry easily and I find it very difficult to cry for myself. But I’ve spent most of last week in tears, particularly when I’d come and tell Blake that I loved him and how terribly I was going to miss him and how sorry I was that I couldn’t help him feel better. If I were him, I probably would have thought, “I’m the one who’s dying, what do you have to be upset about?” But one of those times I came to pet him and started sobbing, he purred loudly. I’d like to believe he was saying goodbye in the only way he could.

When I went to the vet yesterday, he made clear what I already knew, that the Blake was a goner, to the point he recommended against wasting money on new Xrays. But he also said, “He’s has a good long life, he’s going on 19.” I told that Blake was only 16. But this was the vet Blake had gone to right after I’d taken him from Staten Island. And there it was, in my own handwriting, that his date of birth was 11/16/97. Because I’d given him away when I went to Oz in 2002, and never thought I’d get him back, I’d somehow gotten it in my head that he was only three years old then, since I would be loath to take an adult cat much older than that. And that said I’d gotten what I had wanted. I had wanted Blake to live to be 18. But I had managed to fool myself that that meant I would have a couple of more years with him.

I also am trying to persuade myself I was not selfish in not putting him down. Most Abys don’t like being handled, and when he saw the vet yesterday, Blake worked up the energy to hiss when he got his shots. I wasn’t reconciled yet to putting him down. I recoiled at the idea of being the one to kill a being I cared so much about.

Since he was still eating although so little that he would clearly eventually starve. I planned to bring him to be euthanized early this week, and I thought it was OK to be keeping him alive since did seem to perk up a bit last night after the last vet visit. He ate some kitten food four times over the evening in tiny bursts of enthusiasm and did purr a little bit when I petted him later that night.

But this morning, I brought him some water. Even with him knowing I wanted him to drink it, he gave only two or three licks, which I knew was a bad sign. About a half hour later, he started gasping for air and then made a loud, heart-wrenching moan. I picked him up and moaned again. I put him down in a panic, ran to the phone to call the vet, and ran back to pick him up again. He’d gone limp. I carried him to the phone. As I sat down, he gasped once more and then he was gone.

I had wanted to brush him today, since that was something he particularly enjoyed. But like so many of the things you wish you could have done for someone at the end, there wasn’t enough time.

Screen shot 2016-01-17 at 4.59.29 PM

Print Friendly
Tweet about this on Twitter0Digg thisShare on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Facebook0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Google+0Buffer this pageEmail this to someone

173 comments

  1. Holly

    My deepest empathy. Those pesty little buggers do weasel their way into one’s heart. Blake sounds especially enchanting. Condolences.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I’m really sorry to hear this – I’m not a cat person, but Blake sounds a wonderful and loveable character so I can understand your loss. I’m sure you gave him a great life.

  3. aka

    He was an exceptionally considerate, … Yves Smith

    “What is desired in a man is his kindness …” and I’m sure that applies to animals too.

    You’ll see Blake again or know the reason why not.

    My condolences.

  4. Jeff N

    oh this is all so sad, and bringing back memories of how my last two cats who passed away. my eyes are welling up with tears. RIP Blake, we all love you.

  5. nycTerrierist

    Sincere condolences for your loss.

    Blake sounds like a capital fellow and he was lucky to have such a devoted purrson.
    He knew that, I have no doubt.

  6. aka

    Another consolation: Though you intended, in your kindness, to put Blake down, he lived every last second of his natural life and then passed more peacefully than you feared?

  7. different clue

    People don’t generally want to be put down at the end of life. They use those last days to replay memories, think last summing-up thoughts, see other people for the last time.
    Why would it necessarily be different with cats? It sounds like your cat had a full fair last chance to re-think all memories and last thoughts and see its people for a final time.

  8. steelhead

    My condolences. My cats Rocky and Simba died @ 15 and 16 years old. I have pictures over my desk so I remember. I still have one cat(Kit-Kat 8 years old) so take some time and adopt a shelter cat. It will make a difference.

  9. Reader

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful kitty. It’s so hard when they go. He sounds like he was a really special guy. I hope you’re getting lots of hugs from people who understand what a huge loss it is.

  10. Peter Schitt

    That cat had a better life than billions of humans. Says it all really about how fucked up we are as a species.

  11. PatrickW

    So sorry to hear this. Blake knew you were with him to the natural end and I’m sure he loved you for it. May you find peace and, in time, another special companion. You still have much love to give.

  12. Inverness

    A moving tribute worthy of that striking animal. Let yourself feel the pain, don’t push it away, it just makes it worse.

        1. ambrit

          Thanks. I learned it from my wife, Phyllis, when she suggested I read Thomas Moore. Then I went back and reread Buber…

  13. MojaveWolf

    A beautifully written elegy for a beautiful cat. This made me cry.

    He had a long, full happy life and knew he was loved. Can’t ask for much more out of this world. And fwiw It sounds like he was better off passing at home and that’s where he wanted to be at the end..

    Sincere condolences.

  14. Hobbs

    He was a beautiful boy and had an exceptionally kind group of people in his world. Kitties DO get under our skin. What a joy that you had such a sweet creature for so long.

  15. Dave

    We’ve put several beloved cats down over the years, I had one moan and pass in my arms. It’s never easy, there’s no perfect way to get through it, you look and listen and love and do the best you can. You and Blake did it as perfect as it can be done. He lived and loved and crossed the rainbow bridge on his own terms and is beyond pain. Your pain must be outweighed by your love and memories of many happy years together and a bond that will last a lifetime. Blake is beautiful.

  16. run75441

    Yves:

    I know the feeling to loose a close furry friend. They do tug at your feelings. Pretty cat. Sorry to hear of your loss.

  17. John

    My older sister was an animal rescuer so I’ve have stream of these wonderful beings run through my life. I know the tears. There’s a reason the Buddhists consider all sentients in the mix. May you and all sentients find the causes and conditions of happiness. May you and all sentients achieve Liberation!

  18. Dave

    We lost our cat Jack in 2015 due to kidney failure at the age of 15. Towards to end he refused to eat or drink. Like your cat, he had us trained and we had our routines. Family smothered him with love and he gave it back. Devastating doesn’t begin to describe his passing. My condolences Yves.

  19. Bernard

    so sorry to hear about Blake. thank you for telling us a little about him. My condolences on your loss.

  20. rjs

    you’ll find a part of you also died with him; they’ll be an empty space near you for a long time…

  21. Juneau

    My condolences for your loss. He was a beautiful sweet boy. It is so hard. I hope you find comfort. You obviously love him very much.

  22. sd

    My sincere condolences to you Yves. What an absolutely handsome and wise looking fellow. Cats never really leave. There’s something about them that makes the memories last forever. Which is a good thing.

  23. dk

    My condolences on your loss of a dear friend and companion. I think Blake was lucky to have you with him at the end. He had a graceful death, as such things go, due in no small part to your love and care.

  24. SufferinSuccotash

    Heartfelt condolences. We’re getting braced for our 19-year old tabby named Sam to head for Kitteh Heaven. It ain’t easy.

  25. Brooklin Bridge

    It is good that Blake died at home. Your feelings about putting down a being that you love are spot on. It’s not selfish – but that fact doesn’t make it any easier and you were both spared that.

    1. ambrit

      “It’s good that Blake died at home.” We should all die at home. No nursing home for me or Phyl. Those places are now just little death factories. I suspect that Yves will feel better about this in the long run because she showed Blake how much she cared about him. As someone above said, “A pride of two, (actually three.)”

  26. Willbur

    My sincerest condolences. We recently lost our boy Ebony, at the age of 17. They become members of our family, and their loss strikes us as hard as that label implies.

  27. Michael Hudson

    Your post reminds me of how unhappy I was when I had to give away my cat, as I had asthma from his fur. Cats are wonderful and as you point out, reciprocating with love and licks.

  28. Jpalmer

    Beautiful memories of a much loved fur person; thank you for sharing. Deepest sympathy on your loss.

  29. Tim

    So very sorry for your loss Yves.

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy
    He who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sunrise

    Wishing you the best memories of Blake.

  30. John Zelnicker

    What a wonderful friend he was to you. My deepest sympathies for your loss. I’m glad you could avoid the additional pain of putting him down.

    May his memory be for a blessing.

  31. savedbyirony

    Animals are beautiful creatures and pets are dear family. I am sorry to hear about your loss. Time heals, but until then, please take a little extra good care of yourself.

  32. Sissy

    Typing through tears, and recalling a couple of lines from Donne:

    Death be not proud, for some have called thee

    Mighty and dreadful for thou art not so . . .

    Godspeed, Blake. Deepest condolences, Yves.

  33. Mary

    I know how painful it is to lose a beloved companion. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing about Blake. He was a beautiful animal.

  34. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Oh, what a genius cat Blake must have been, to wend his way into your life so fully that he even trained you to turn on the tap. Given that he was smart enough to spend several years mousing at a dot-com, he was evidently quite a guy. Felines are such a strange mix of contrariness, independence, and soft purring… what an honor that such a handsome rascal decided you were his favorite person. Clearly, his trust was warranted up to his final gasp.
    Deepest condolences.

  35. tinman

    You and Blake, a pride of two. Its obvious both cherished the companionship. He left this world with typical feline grace.

  36. Waking Up

    Our “companions”, whether cat or dog, supply emotional support and unconditional love. That’s a very special relationship. So I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

  37. 3.14e-9

    A friend of mine once said that animals incarnate with their own journeys, and that being with a certain person is part of their journey. Blake and you walked with each other. And from reading your story, I believe he wanted to walk to with you until he was sure he could go no further.

    It is a huge loss. I join with others in empathy.

  38. jo6pac

    Sorry for your lost and the other kitties. I guess this why i live in a cave with no friends or pets it’s so heart breaking to lose one;(

  39. Renee

    So sorry to hear about Blake. I’m glad you shared all these stories about Blake, who sounds like a fine cat indeed! I had a cat, Parfait, who also outlived her diagnosis of kidney disease by quite a bit too. It’s so hard to lose a beloved fur companion, who we spend so much time with. Grief is necessary and very hard. Be well, be kind to yourself.

  40. Eileen Appelbaum

    A beautiful remembrance, Yves. It’s clear that you and Blake meant a lot to each other. I hope your memories of Blake will see you through this difficult period.

  41. John

    ..you did all the things I did with my cats, Wally and The Beaver…….you are special….

    We now have Cupcake and Muffin and they are even held in higher esteem than Wally and The Beav

    Who knew?

    Best to you, Yves and Happy Trails to Blake……………

  42. kristin

    very sorry for your loss. i am sure he was glad to have you with him at the end. they always know

  43. Pavel

    RIP Blake.

    Yves, thank you for the post… it reminded me of our dear cat Chairman Meow (the name pinched from William Gaddis’s wonderful JR, though it was really Chairwoman Meow).

    As someone said, if you want a friend “get a dog”… or a cat.

  44. JTMcPhee

    Thank you for your insight and empathy. And I bet Blake’s eternal essence wraps around you now. We all face loss, you give it meaning.

  45. optimader

    A regal looking companion.
    You’ll be absentmindedly expecting him to turn the corner into the room for a while :o/

    “Those who do not weep, do not see.”
    ~Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

  46. redleg

    My condolences – losing a furry friend is hard. Your eulegy for Blake is a beautiful testimony to what he meant to you.

  47. Adam Noel

    So sorry to hear about your loss.

    One thing I do wonder – due to the gap in our understanding of how our animal companions truly feel – is how much they truly do suffer in their last few days. I talked to someone once who saw an animal dying and, as he was about to put the animal out of it’s misery, he found himself paralyzed at the sense of peace he saw in the animal. He said he used to advocate the ending of an animal’s suffering before then – but he’s not so sure now. In many ways I think that there is freedom in dying on one’s own terms – in letting life play out within the confines of one’s will. I can imagine it being the same for animals – but we’ll never know.

  48. Oregoncharles

    How very sad, but of course you did give him a good, long life, and it sounds like he appreciated it.

    You never really know the right time, but he did. And they never live long enough.

    Brought tears to my eyes.

  49. Elizabeth

    Yves, I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your beloved Blake. It is so hard to lose someone you love and who is part of your family. Take comfort In knowing that he had a loving home with you and know that he’ll always be with you. You gave him much happiness and he, you. Love does not end. Blake had such beautiful eyes!

  50. skylark

    I love how you described Blake as ‘soulful’. My Aunt always had Abyssinians and that is the perfect word for them. You were so lucky to have each other. Peace.

  51. Ping

    I’ve appreciated NC links in support of animals and obviously you appreciate the deep connections with them.

    When we lost our truck of a Corgi Penny of 18 years, my husband said he could not go thru that loss again and didn’t want to get another dog. After two years I couldn’t stand being without a dog and we now have dainty Speck, a part Chinese Crested rescue. Completely different personality than Penny but no less endearing.

    We’ve already steeled ourselves for when she goes on her etherial journey by remembering that sharing our lives outweighed the loss.

    We were just reminicing about Penny today and still miss her.

    We appreciate what you are feeling with deepest condolences.
    Sincerely, Ping

  52. homeroid

    Beautiful kitty. Sorry for the loss. Makes me think about my three mid teens kitties. Time to go to the animal shelter and get a couple kittens. ;) Bob.

  53. Steven

    It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all. That goes for cats like Blake as well as people. I hope you can love again real soon.

    My condolences,

    Steven

    P.S. As I write this I am looking across the room at Eddie, our 20 – 23 year old cat. Eddie has a brain tumor and will not be with us much longer. But right now, life is pretty good for him. He is on my wife’s lap, snoozing on an afghan beneath the book she is reading. We got Eddie 12 years ago from the Humane Society through their ‘Snuggles for Seniors’ program. For a few years after we got him at the advertised age of 8 (our vet had his doubts), Eddie was still able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. I would have named Eddie FDR. He still believes the whole world loves him, everyone who comes through the front door and even the big black cat with whom during his one of his great escapes he briefly shared the wall of our community pool (when it was not terrorizing other neighborhood cats) . We would gladly pay whatever price we will have to pay – the price you are paying now – when we lose him to have our time together with him again. But, as with Blake, I guess that’s not the way life works.

    And now for something different…

  54. inode_buddha

    Oh that just sucks. As a cat person I am saddened to hear of this. It is obvious that you gave Blake very good care during his stay here on Earth. I do believe the two of you will be reunited eventually.

  55. Mark Hoffman

    Yves, your eulogy for Blake is just so beautiful and deep. As Wallace Stevens wrote, “Death is the mother of beauty.” In your sadness, remember this: Blake was one hell of a lucky cat to have you as the human companion who loved him.

  56. kj1313

    My sincere condolences. Losing a loved one is extremely tough but always take heart that while he made your life better, you made his better with your care and love.

  57. Eleanor Rigby

    I am sooooooo sorry. This is so touching, so heartfelt. I am so glad you shared it with us. May you rest easily in your grief.

  58. Linda

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Cats are incredible creatures, and your beautiful Blake looks like he is an Abyssinian – they are truly special. An Abby/Tabby mix owned me for 8 years before we had to put him down from progressive jaw cancer – I used to call him “little man dressed in a cat suit” because he had so much presence and personality.

  59. OIFVet

    Please accept my deepest condolences, Yves. It is never easy to lose a family member, but the important thing is that you will always have the memories of the times you’ve shared, and cherish them.

  60. EmilianoZ

    He was a beautiful cat. You had a beautiful story together. I’m sure he also relished the last moments you had together.

    I think of Camus who could never accept the absurdity of life and death. Why do we have to lose those we love?

  61. Ruben

    Two months ago I lost a ferret to cancer after just 4 years with me and it happened when I was away on a business trip. You at least saw your friend till he took his last breath. I could only visit the grave she was buried in on the side of a cliff looking out to the sea. I wish I shared her last moments.

  62. planetebleue

    Deep condolences, Yves. But your post just brought him to elegant and soulful life for all of us! And it is a feline text: meandering yet full of purpose. So he is still with you. My beautiful and wise Pipa died from here more than eleven years ago but –although uber rational, a natural skeptic — I speak to her every day. The loss is all enveloping but it will fade and he will be, somehow, with you.

  63. ScottB

    Yves, sorry for your loss. There’s nothing like a good cat, and sounds like Blake was quite a character.

  64. Titus Pullo

    I’m really sorry for your loss. I’m glad you shared your stories of Blake with us on the internets. It sounds like he was a good cat and one of those one of a kind pets (or maybe you were his one of a kind human as Montaigne might suggest).

  65. Jerry Denim

    I’m so sorry for your loss Yves. It must be very hard to say good bye to such a long time friend who was so special. I’ve always had a harder time saying good bye to the pets in my life than people, but I think lots of people secretly feel the same way. After 40 years of being a ‘dog person’ and despite rather severe cat allergies, I’ve been won over by a little Siamese Rag-doll I rescued from a storm drain almost a year ago. I am already dreading the day when I will need to say goodbye to her, but in truth who knows which of us will check out first. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow and certainly not a long life like Blake’s. It sounds like he lived well and made the most his time here. I’m certain you were the best of companions and guardians and he was lucky to have had you as his cat mom. I would have made the exact same call on euthanasia, so please don’t feel bad about your decision, there’s never a right or wrong answer in situations like Blake’s.

    Condolences, Yves, and thanks for sharing. I wish you and Blake all the best.

  66. ewmayer

    Yves, thanks for sharing the memories, even though the occasion is a very sad one for you.

    Tiger, tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare rub thy fuzzy cat-belly?

  67. James Levy

    Was busy all yesterday and away from my computer, and so am very saddened to type in nakedcapitalism this morning and see this awful news. I’m so sorry.

  68. night-Train

    I am truly saddened for your loss. We really do share our lives with these little “beasties”. And I believe we are better for it. May your broken heart heal quickly.

  69. Bunk McNulty

    When our two died within 6 months of each other, and we knew we’d be moving in another four, we bravely told ourselves we’d wait until after the move to get new ones. Besides, we thought, what cats could compare to stately Miles and scatterbrained Wynton? Four days later we were at the local Humane Society picking out two new kitties…seems we can’t live without them. You’ll find another to love, we’re sure.

  70. DorothyT

    Blake was aptly named. What a beauty. William Blake thought so too.
    I join all who appreciate you so very much in sending my condolences for this irreplaceable loss.

    Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

    In the forests of the night;

    What immortal hand or eye,

    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

  71. petal

    I am sitting here crying. That was so beautifully put. I ‘m so, so sorry for your loss, Yves. It’s so hard. Sending you good thoughts from me and my pups.

  72. Clive

    I can never mourn people but I get heart wrenching pain if I lose an animal that I know (it doesn’t even need to be mine). RIP little fella. Sending peace and contentment energy across the water…

  73. abynormal

    the other day i couldn’t bring myself to share the loss, and personal shame of my ‘Kitty’. she ate less and less…stayed by the front door for a few days. a friend visited and offered to take Kitty with me to the vet, but i cried ‘she wouldn’t come back’…i just knew it. to this day (5yrs later) i can’t believe i was so selfish…the shame still lives deep inside me. i let my friend drive us to the vet and they put her down…she was too far gone with leukemia…she was only 5yrs old.
    i was not in good shape for days (scared my daughter). but never being a cat person i was amazed at the love & companionship Kitty and i shared…i adored her and yet i still feel i let her down…suffered.

    days later i received something that i still hold dear today…hope it comforts you, myYves:

    I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the
    Firmament of complete and unbound freedom;
    I am far, far away, my companions, and the clouds are
    Hiding the hills from my eyes.
    The valleys are becoming flooded with an ocean of silence, and the
    Hands of oblivion are engulfing the roads and the houses;
    The prairies and fields are disappearing behind a white specter
    That looks like the spring cloud, yellow as the candlelight
    And red as the twilight.

    The songs of the waves and the hymns of the streams
    Are scattered, and the voices of the throngs reduced to silence;
    And I can hear naught but the music of Eternity
    In exact harmony with the spirit’s desires.
    I am cloaked in full whiteness;
    I am in comfort; I am in peace.

    K.Gibran

  74. oh

    So sorry to hear about your loss. Animals are such wonderful creatures. Human beings need to learn a lot from them.

  75. Carl

    So sorry to hear, but thank you for posting this. I didn’t want to read closely for fear of crying. We feel the same way about our Puddles and Asta, our two terriers.

  76. sjh

    Yves, thank you for sharing your grief and I’m so sorry for your pain. Kitties are such wonderful companions and give us such joy and pleasure. Blake loved you and will be with you in memory forever. May you find peace.

  77. Pat

    There are no words, but like so many others here you have my deepest condolences. Thank you so much for nattering on about Blake sharing wonderful memories and sadder ones.

  78. hemeantwell

    Very sorry you’ve lost your kitty.
    Your description of his having trained you to provide water in the bathtub almost exactly describes what our cat got us into.

  79. susan the other

    I’m sorry to hear about Blake. He was very beautiful and brave. You’ll never get over him, so don’t even try. He’s not going to leave you.

  80. RWood

    Thank you for showing your love of Blake. My condolences on his death, though, through their lives, they deepen us to help us go forward.

  81. PQS

    How sincerely our animal companions walk with us. You captured his personality in a lovely essay. It sounds as though he enjoyed a wonderful city cat life – what more could be asked?

    My life closed twice before its close—
    It yet remains to see
    If Immortality unveil
    A third event to me

    So huge, so hopeless to conceive
    As these that twice befell.
    Parting is all we know of heaven,
    And all we need of hell.
    –Emily Dickinson

  82. Wat

    :-( It takes a little soft one who will not follow or be bullied to remind us of our own real nature. I lost a special little fellow to roommate turfing and I can’t ever forget the way he knowingly nuzzled my fingers through the holes in his cardboard carrier on the way to the no-kill shelter. Glad you had him so long.

  83. Theo

    I am so sorry for your loss, Yves. They do work their way into our hearts and won’t ever let go. Blake was obviously a very special cat.

  84. JimYoung

    My wife and I know how heart wrenching it is to hold them to the very last but wouldn’t have it any other way. Most lived nearly 20 years, with only some of the rescued ones, that so trusted us to to care for them even through months of home care (with great help from our Veterinarian), spending a shorter, but seemingly so much more enriching time with us.

    I don’t think any, even the first ones we took in to finally end their suffering lasted quite long enough to actually be euthanized. The closest was “Spunky” (anything but from her lifelong suffering from injuries suffered before her rescue). I’m convinced, from the look in the emergency hospital vet’s eyes (not our regular one that Sunday), that she passed away as I held her just as he was about to administer the $300 shot. We didn’t question it at all, though, since the needle was already prepared before she passed on her own, as comfortable as we could make her.

    Since then, they have passed at home, in our arms, though our wonderful Veterinarian has volunteered to come to our home to spend the last few minutes with all of us, ready to let it be completely natural or to end the suffering under the best of difficult circumstances we can manage.

    As hard as it is, the love they inspire is passed on to the next cat that we always promise ourselves we never will get so attached to, despite saying the last rescued one would be the last.

    The latest one, “Cheddar,” has been the most irresistible, and forces everyone to make room for him on their laps every chance he gets. He was the most trusting and loving when we first saw him when he was young, and expensive to patch up when severely cut up from other cats, with no one else thinking he was worth rescuing. We love them all, but he is extra special.

  85. Chris

    Dear Yves,
    You gave each other such love and loyalty, I guess that is the best we do. My tears are for your profound loss. Thank you for sharing this beautiful portrait of the life you two shared. Not everyone has that…
    From the other Blake: “we are put on Earth for a little space, That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
    My deepest thoughts to you.

  86. knowbuddhau

    So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing the moving eulogy. I’ve just begun living with a cat for the first time in maybe 30 years. I’ll give her a little extra brushing in memory of Blake. A sad and compassionate bow in your virtual direction.

  87. Rajesh

    Sorry for your loss Yves. It’s not easy for one to share their deepest emotions…you are a brave one

  88. Ramoth

    Oh Yves, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I currently have an 11 year old tabby rescue and I can’t imagine life without her. She is currently the picture of health but I am already dreading her descent into her elder years and then eventual demise. Cats are such amazing little creatures, with as much capacity to love as dogs, and just as smart (if not smarter). Thank you for sharing with us all of those wonderful anecdotes about Blake. Sending supportive thoughts your way and wishing you much peace in the coming months.You gave Blake a good life.

  89. Local to Oakland

    The gift of love from animals is one of life’s true blessings. There aren’t good words for this. Deepest sympathies.

  90. just_kate

    so sorry for your loss, just heartbreaking news even though you’d shared recently what was going on with Blake, deepest sympathies Yves.

  91. Chris M.

    Rainbow Bridge

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to some-
    one here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows
    and hills for all our special friends so they can run and
    play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine
    and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health
    and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong
    again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times
    gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small
    thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be
    left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when
    one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are
    intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he begins to run
    from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him
    faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend
    finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to
    be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your
    hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more
    into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your
    life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…

  92. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Yves how lucky you are to have been next to this kind feline soul, it’s difficult to explain how much love, understanding, compassion, camaraderie, and just plain good company these wonderful creatures can provide us. They teach us how to be loyal, how to move gracefully through life, and when to just lie back, close our eyes, and let someone else stroke our chins. I am sorry for your loss.
    (And how lucky you are to have such a community of people around the web to share your loss with).
    Godspeed, Blake

  93. Tom in Denver

    I’m giving my two cats extra attention now, thanks to your compassion for Blake, Yves. Take care of yourself.

  94. Jess

    Not sure there is anything I can add, other than condolences and shared tears. Pets make us better people, and Blake sounds like he was a super kitty. Going to pet my two now. Maybe it’ll make me feel better.

  95. HotFlash

    Oh, my dear Yves, so sorry, so sorry! I have had dozens of critters over the years, as many as thirteen kittehs at once, so many, many, many partings over the decades. I have a kamiza (Japanese for place where the spirits sit) where I keep photos of my old friends. I currently have the truculent Princess Julia, a tuxedo cat, on my lap. She complains if I move, if she doesn’t like the food (which is mostly), if the other cat, Cutie, is in the same room (she thinks other cats are vermin) and basically about everything all the time. I am sitting here typing and tears are dripping off my face and Her Highness is complaining b/c I am dripping on her. I hope she lives forever.

    My dear Yves, thank you for introducing us to Blake. The only thing worse than losing a beloved kitteh would be dying first and leaving them alone.

    Re the euthanasia, you did right. I have learned that they let you know when, and if they don’t, they don’t need the help. Blake gave you the message, and you understood him. Peace.

  96. Olaf Lukk

    Dear Yves,
    Thank you for your wonderful tribute to Blake. I lost my own furry friend of nineteen years, Mr. Mewf, a wonderful Ragdoll tomcat, over the holidays. I took him to the local Humane Society, and a couple of days later, I got a card from them with the following sentiment, which I would like to share with you:
    “May your heart know
    that your pet is at piece”.
    My deepest sympathies.

  97. Jazzbuff

    I am sorry for your loss. There is something special about our animal relationships. Perhaps it’s the extra effort it takes to communicate non-verbally. It is painful to lose a family member.

  98. grayslady

    A touching tribute. How lucky you two were to find each other again after your years in Australia and to share so many years of love and companionship. My condolences for the loneliness you are feeling without Blake.

  99. GoraKoska

    The words cannot convey the empty feeling when a being of such wonder and innocence departs.
    But the quiet soul is still around you and you can speak with him – just need to stay still and listen. He will come and may even offer soothing words. The animals are so far ahead of us… The pain will subside, but he will never really leave you.

  100. neo-realist

    Yves, condolences for the loss of a loved one.

    If you do go looking for another kitty, consider getting one at the shelter if you haven’t considered it or done so already. Many handsome lovable kitties to be found, who in some cases have come from difficult circumstances, that need a loving home and with the right look (and some pawing) from a kitty through the cage, can end up being the start of a long and fruitful relationship.

  101. Serpentine202

    i have been fortunate to love, and be loved by, cats.

    My deepest sympathies are with you.

    You’ll see Blake again.

  102. MikeNY

    I don’t think I’ve ever cried harder than when I lost my pooch of 13 years. My condolences.

    I mourn your Blake by extension, loving as I do his namesake.

  103. weevish

    Heartfelt condolences Yves.

    Been through this more times than I want to think about and no matter how we try, it always seems like they deserve better than we can give them. I’ve no doubt that you gave Blake a great life.

    Take care.

  104. Pespi

    Very sorry to hear that, Yves. My good friend went into debt equal to about 1/4 of his yearly pay to get expensive treatments for his stupid cat, who’s finally recovered and is back to his old dumb self. I don’t know if it was the homo economicus rational decision, but they certainly seem to be happy together.

  105. Winston Smith

    As a room mate of four beautiful kitties, I can only imagine what it would be like to lose one of my furry friends.

    My condolences and rest in peace blake!

  106. perpetualWAR

    Yves, I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    I look over at my elderly dog and begin to cry as I know your saga will become my saga very soon.

    Hugs

  107. SomeCallMeTim

    So sorry for your loss, Yves. Blake sounds like a fine cat, who had a good life and a good friend.

  108. nostromo

    Regarding the first sentence: “…I am telling myself he did not suffer too much.” I’m quite sure that he didn’t suffer. As the saying goes and any medidator knows, “pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” A cat, any cat, lives in the now, and (s)he will not experiment suffering, just the inevitable pain, which is quite endurable.

    As someone who recently lost a cat that had be my most faithful partner for 15 years, I’m really sorry.

  109. Rosewren

    It was difficult for me to read your post about Blake as I just had to put down my 16 year old boy cat due to lung cancer too. He had lost so much weight at the end but when he started gasping for air I rushed him to the vet and put him down for fear I would be at work if he had another attack. He loved to be held tightly like a baby when he did not feel well so I was glad I could be there for him. My vet is a very empathetic man who has been thru this with me for other animals over the 16 years I have been going to him. After it was done, I was able to remain in the room as long as I needed and just hold and rock him. Losing an animal you love is just as painful as losing any human companion you love. I thank you for letting me share a little of my grief with you to let you know how much I understand how you feel.

Comments are closed.