My Cat
Jan 28, 2009 General Nonsense |
Soon after I started cartooning, about 19 years ago, I got my first pet, a kitten. I named her Sarah, after an editor who gave me my big break in cartooning.

I found the kitten from an ad in the paper. A local woman's cat had a small litter in need of homes. They were little tuxedo cats, mostly black with white paws and mixed faces. The woman put them on her sofa as sort of a line up from which I could choose. Three of the cats ignored me, walking to one end and playing amongst themselves. The fourth stared me straight in the eyes and approached. She selected me. Or at least that is how it felt. She made me feel special from the first second I knew her, and I hoped to return the favor.

Sarah bonded with me immediately. When I whistled, she would come running, climb on my chest in the Sphynx position and begin purring. She was a one-human cat. Rarely could another touch her without risking bloodshed.

Other cats came and went as my living situation changed. Sarah didn't care for any of them. She loved me intensely, and in her view no cat or human could compete. In time she became my office cat, to better avoid all creatures that were not me.

Every day since 1990 she competed with my work. When I picked up a pen, or lately a stylus, she would come running, yelling in cat language that I should pick her up and give her my full attention. She was my forced work break, and there were many. She was my only company for most of my day. Cartooning is a lonely art, but I was never alone.

Recently her tiny body started to shut down. But it never stopped her enthusiasm in seeing me. She dragged her arthritic body over to me every time I entered the room, even if I had only been gone for a second. She never failed to purr. I loved her intensely.

In the past month she had been letting me know the end was approaching. Maybe it was the way she moved or just some sort of animal ESP. I just knew. And so I spent as much time as I could with her, extra petting, in just the ways she trained me. Recent visits to the vet confirmed that there was no cure for old. We tried to enjoy the time we had.

Yesterday all of her systems reached their limits. The vet explained the options to my wife and me. I asked the vet what she would do in this situation if it were her cat. She wisely refused to say. I asked my wife. She wisely refused to say. This was my decision, and Sarah's. That is how it had to be. I looked at Sarah and asked her if she was ready. Her eyes told me she was, but the pain of uncertainty was unbearable.

Sarah had a history with the vet. Her chart had a big warning: She's a biter, and she has all of her claws. No one touched this cat safely but me. She was a vet's nightmare. And so the vet explained how this would come down. If Sarah allowed her leg to be shaved, and the injection to go in, without fighting, this would be the best alternative. Otherwise they would have to use some sort of cat gas chamber. That option seemed unthinkable. But it would be worse to try one method, fail, and go to the second. Again, it was my decision. And I was in no frame of mind to make decisions.

I opted for the injection, and hoped for the best. Sarah still had some fight left in her, as we learned minutes ago while the vet checked her vitals. But somehow she knew this was different. She knew it was time. After 19 years of fighting veterinarians, she let the vet shave her leg without the least resistance. And in so doing, she told me I made the right decision. I looked in her eyes as the life drained out of them. I was devastated.

But today I am happy, even more than usual. I think about how much Sarah enriched my life and I am grateful. I think about how much I learned from my relationship with her, and even from her passing, and I am thankful for it all. Today everyone in my life seems more precious. I'll always carry Sarah with me, and I know I am better for it.

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Jan 30, 2009
I understand your loss completely. I always enjoyed reading about Sarah in your books. There's nothing worse than having to make that decision. I'm glad you and Sarah were at peace with the decision. Thank you for sharing something so personal and meaningful to you.
Jan 30, 2009
Thank you for sharing this.
Jan 30, 2009
It is remarkable how a pet, and I am mostly a cat person, can become so intuned with their human. They are messy and can be troublesome, remarkable and witty, but most of all they become soul mates. Cats especially can be diverse in how they approach a family. I have had some that love anyone that will glance their way and others that like your sweet Sarah is dangerous to any but her chosen attachment.

I send you my sympathies on you loss.
Jan 30, 2009
Yet another comment expressing deep sympathy, and to say that my wife used several paper tissues over the course of three readings.

I've commented in more detail here:


Life won't be the same without her, but as long as you remember her, she'll never truly be gone.
Jan 29, 2009
Dear Mr. Adams,

Please accept my deepest sympathy on the passing of your cat, Sarah. I held my cat, Beau, as he was given that last injection this past September and can empathize with you. we are both richer for having known our small furry friends. My other cats, Nina and Bella, send purrs and head butts your way - perhaps one day you'll love another cat, too.

very truly yours,
Colleen Sheehy
Jan 29, 2009
You are a true cat-person, and I am glad that you and Sarah found each other. I read your comments about her often, and always felt happy for the both of you. My heart goes out to you on your loss, and Rufus, Jake and Dolly all send their sympathy as well [although Dolly is complaining right now that I don't feed her often enough. You know how that goes.]
Jan 29, 2009
There are no words anyone can give you to make you feel any better. Your loss is beyond understanding for anyone who has never had to make the decision to put a pet to sleep. I've had to do it, and it is one of the toughest decisions anyone ever has to make. You always wonder if you were premature, or if you could have given your pet more time, or if you're betraying their trust in you.

Mark Levin wrote a book called "Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish." Mark adopted a dog from a shelter. While he was going through his own health problems, his dog Sprite got sick, and he ended up having to put him to sleep. That decision almost killed him, literally. It's a worthy read for anyone who has gone through what you have had to do.

You have adjusted well. I'm glad you understand that you needed to let Sarah go - it was her time. I can also tell you that the best thing you can do to fill the hole in your heart from Sarah's passing is to get another kitten. There's something about having a new kitten in the house that is both life-reaffirming and uplifting to your soul. It will never replace Sarah, but it will help you respect her memory.
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Jan 29, 2009
I'm not a cat person, prefer dogs. However losing any beloved pet that has always been a FRIEND is tough.

I've been through it too and feel for your loss.
Jan 29, 2009

May I add my condolences with everyone else. I also cried for your loss. My selfish hope is that I get 19 years with my little girls.

Thank you for sharing with your virtual family.
Jan 29, 2009
Dear Mr. Adams,

Thank you for the touching comments regarding your cat Sarah. My cat passed away in early 2002, after 18 years, and that particular trip to the vet for the injection was the most trouble-free visit we ever had. She was very calm, even exploring about the office a bit, and raised no objections when handled. While horribly saddening, I was grateful to witness her last moments, a peaceful transition to a forever sleep.

Thanks for reminding me how precious that was.

Jeff Daugherty
Jan 29, 2009
Scott, as heartily as your funny posts make me laugh, this one made me cry.

Your love for Sarah is so evident in the tenderness of your words. I am so sorry for your loss; but I am glad that you are at peace with your decision.
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Jan 29, 2009
We can certainly empathize with what you went through. We lost our little girl kitty a year ago, just one month short of 21 years and weighing 4 feisty pounds. She had been 7 pounds most of her life. It wasn't too bad to let her go and it was time. But Scooter, our big boy was much harder. We let him go two days after Christmas. He became such a good friend and companion, especially after losing Ginger. The last few months he was very different, always wanting to be close and be held - in fact he demanded it! When we came home from an early Christmas visit on Tuesday, he was in the middle of a seizure. From the moment on for the next five days, we were almost inseparable. I slept with him cradled in my arm. We tried hard to hang on, but the kidneys would not cooperate. He was just short of l9 years.

Deepest sympathy,

Jan 29, 2009
I had a 16 year old beloved cat pass away in 2005. It was devastating. His best cat-friend followed a year and a half later. As with Sarah, I believe that both my cats "chose" me. Not long after my Fritz died, I was "chosen" by another cat. I was not interested but he did not care. He moved in and took over and I can't imagine my house without him now. You will be chosen again someday.
Jan 29, 2009
Your story brings tears to my eyes as I recall the cats we've lost a similar way. Inevitable, though, as their lifespans are so much shorter than ours.

Bless you and Bless Sarah!
Jan 29, 2009
You have my sympathy for your loss, Scott. Our old cat Corbett (we used to call him Corbett the Impaler, but he mellowed out as he got older), chose me when we went to the pound to pick him up. He was only a few weeks old, but immediately jumped on my finger when I stuck it in his cage, and I immediately fell in love with him. He was our best friend and companion for 15 years, and survived three moves, one to New York City, a shattered leg, an animal attack that almost killed him, and two other major infections from combat. But eventually he contracted lung disease and passed away - one of the saddest days of our lives.

Here's our page in memory of him:

Jan 29, 2009
I was nearly in tears reading this. I too have a black and white who is my baby. He is almost 7, but his kidneys have started declining. I dread the day we have to let him go. But I hope he lets me know when the time has come as sarah did for you. I am so sorry for your loss, they are such dear companions and bring such joy to our lives. Thank you for sharing.
Jan 29, 2009
Jan 29, 2009
I'm very sorry for your loss.
Jan 29, 2009
Dear Scott,

My utter sympathies at the loss of your friend and companion.

Back in 98 when I was going through a horrid divorce I finished reading one of you books. The epiloge mentioned one of your cats and how much you missed her, and how much you would have liked to have a little more time with her. You and I shared a short email conversation as I thanked you for reminding me about the wonderful animal in my life. He got sick last year and I put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing I have done in my life and I miss him every day, and yet every day I laugh at remembering what a wonderful cat he was and what a great help he was to me throught the years. He was my friend.

Thank you for sharing.

James Rose
Jan 29, 2009
Thank goodness for my new, taller cubicle walls, because with them I can have a good cry without the coworkers wondering what is wrong with me. My Simon loves to get a good scratch from anyone and everyone, but in the end he and I are perfect for each other, and he's never been apprehensive to jump on my chest for some demanded attention. It truly drives my wife crazy that she can pet him for an hour with no responce from him, but as soon as he sees me enter the room, he'll begin purring. At only 7 years old, hopefully he has a long, loving life such as Sarah did, and this entry just makes me want to cherish every day even more.
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