Saying goodbye to a friend

This morning we had to make the impossible decision – to say goodbye to our cat Sarah Jane.  Yesterday she fell and broke her leg, and with her age, diabetes, and kidney problems, we felt that it was time to let her go rather than force her to endure surgery and a long re-cooperation.

A friend of ours found Sarah Jane five years ago, digging through trash in her neighborhood.  She had obviously been someone’s pet, now abandoned (she had no claws at all.)  She weighed only 5 pounds then, and she was mostly blind from untreated diabetes.   I thought we could give her a comfortable home for a few months, but she lived far beyond our expectations.

Along the way she became a valued member of our family, especially for my husband.  She slept on him every night and waited by the door for his appearance.  Last night he slept with her on the floor of the dining room, as she couldn’t go up stairs any longer, and I think that made her happy.  This is so hard on him that it breaks my heart – I loved her, but she was his special cat.  I know how hard it was for him to let her go, but we were with her to the end, which was peaceful.

She was cranky beyond all belief, and we loved her for it.  I’d like to encourage anyone with the resources to consider taking in a special needs or elderly cat.  It’s true that she wasn’t with us for that long, but I know how happy she was in those five years.  There are many abandoned animals who need homes, and I know someday we will open our hearts to another.  We are making a donation to the Shamrock Foundation in her name.  They are a local organization that does good work with abandoned, stray, and abused animals.

If you have a pet, give them a hug for me.  I think it can be hard for some people to understand, but we don’t have (and likely won’t have) children, so our pets are really our family.  Regular me-made posts will resume soon, but today I’m taking time to be with my husband and other cats (Leon and Dionne).

Sarah Jane – 19?? – 2012.  Always cranky, always loved.


55 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to a friend

  1. I’m a long-time lurker on your site, but wanted to pop out of the woodwork to offer my condolences. Saying goodbye to a much loved pet is never easy: my family had to put down my childhood dog almost 5 years ago, and I *still* have days where I cry about it. Pets make an indelible print on us, but obviously Sarah Jane knew how much you and your husband loved her and your lives were all the richer for having her in it.

  2. Oh, my heart goes out to you and your husband, you sound so much like us- recently we lost our senior cat and the toll on my husband was more than expected. Thank you for opening your home to a lost cat.

  3. So, so, sorry. I love my kitties and have gone through the painful process you just did with Sarah Jane. She was a cutie!

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. I had my own cranky old lady cat, and we also had to make the decision to let her go at the age of 19. I wouldn’t trade my time with her for the world, and I’m touched that you’re encouraging people to adopt older animals. They are so in need of love. I’ll snuggle my kitties a little extra for Sarah Jane today. Hugs to you.

  5. Last year my parents put down my childhood cat, who was 17 and also had diabetes and my husband went with his parents to put down their 17 year old beagle. Both were the best pets anyone could ask for and we both still think about them regularly and our parents’ miss them terribly. Sorry for your pet, my dad said the morning they took Patches to the vet for the last time was one of the worst days he ever had.

  6. I am so, so sorry for your loss. My dog had been abused/abaondened before I took him in 7 years ago… he’s really starting to show his age and is having a harder time getting around. I try not to think about it but I know he won’t around forever. So I can really relate to the love you have for Sarah Jane and echo your sentiments about how wonderful and rewarding it to to take in an older or abanonded animal.

  7. Another lurker, but I have lost several pets in the last year, and it doesn’t get any easier, so I’m sorry. It was especially hard because these were all pets that I had had since childhood and now they are all gone. I think it was worse seeing how upset my dad and my boyfriend were after the passing of our dog. And it’s not even that I don’t want them to die, I just feel so strongly that I want them to know I loved them.

  8. Oh, I am so, so sorry about this. I feel for you. Five years ago, we had to have my husband’s cat put down. It was hard to see him hurt so much. He loved that cat.

  9. What a sad but wonderfull story! Especially since we had similar news today. We’ve had our cat Muts for 6 years now, we adopted her after her former owner moved and left her.
    She is about 18 now and has always been our laizy, ‘cubby’ and a little unfriendly to strangers. But to day we heard she’s got a brain tumor and won’t live much longer. So I can imagine how you feel. My husband is also more of a pall to her than I, but still it’s not easy.

  10. I hope the four of you can take some comfort together today. You already know that you gave your kitty the best kind of life, full of love and care and attention. You made the right decision; I know from experience that when the time comes, it never feels “clear cut”, but you had your kitty’s best interests in your heart when you let her go.

    When we lost our cranky 15-year-old kitty last summer to cancer, I took a little time and painted a portrait of her arriving on the shores of Elysium, which were overflowing with catnip and balls of red yarn. It helped me a lot, plus it’s kind of fun to think of her ‘nippin it up and jumping at strings for eternity. If you have something you can do to create a remembrance, it might help in the process of grieving your loss. And please don’t ever feel that it’s silly to mourn a pet; it’s a real love in our lives.

  11. I’m so sorry to hear that. How wonderful for all of you that she could live out her last years happily with you, at least.

  12. So very sorry for your loss. I have 2 little scottie dogs myself and completely understand how you feel abour your animals.

  13. I’m also a long time lurker but had to express my condolences. Several years ago, I took in a friend’s 12 and 13 year old father-and-son cats. It broke my heart when one then the other had to go. I loved them dearly and feel your loss. So sorry for you and your husband! Sarah Jane was very lucky to have you both.

  14. I’m so sorry that you lost Sarah Jane. I always enjoyed seeing her in your posts. I will give my kitties extra love tonight!

  15. I’ve been a lurker for a while, too, but having been here far too many times, I had to stop in and say I’m so sorry. It’s always hard to let our pets go, whether you’ve had them for 20 years or 20 months, but it’s clear that you made the right decision for her. She obviously had a very happy life in the time she was with you. Give Leon and Dionne some extra snugs, and I’ll give my dogs some extra ones, too (we haven’t had a cat for 10 years). It’s called fuzz therapy, and it really helps. Hugs to you and your husband, too, poor guy.

  16. I’m so sorry. It’s terribly hard to let our precious family go. You are strong for making the decision to really be selfless and take care of her when you adopted her and now. Licks from our dogs- just what the doctor ordered;)

  17. Oh this is so sad, really sorry to hear that. My cat is 13 and I adopted her at 9 with an overactive thyroid which is now thankfully treated, it’s definitely worth the heartache for the love they give you. I’m dreading the day she goes, off to give her a fuss. x

  18. I usually just lurk, but seeing as how I know how painful it is to lose a pet, I just wanted to stop and say that I am sorry for you and your husband’s loss. She was just as lucky to find you guys as it was for you to find her. I will make sure to give my kitties a hug in honor of Sarah Jane. 🙂

  19. My heart really goes out to you and your husband. Sometimes we just have to let go. As you said she was happy whilst she was with you and it’s the happy memories you need, to get you through this sad time. (((hugs)))
    I also don’t have and unlikely to have any children, I call my dog my son and I would be heartbroken if anything happened to him.

  20. What a wonderful story of how you, your husband and Sarah Jane were part of a family together. There is no more loving thing to do than to make the hardest decision so our animal companions aren’t in pain. I think Sarah Jane in Doctor Who could be a bit curmudgeonly, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m glad you have Leon and Dionne to give you cat cuddles. Peri Naughty and Lorelai Gilmore (Labradors) send wiggly waggly tails.

  21. So sorry to hear of your loss. Your pets are your family only better because they love you no matter what. Please extend my sympathy to the mister as well.

  22. I am so sorry for your loss. My dog is my child, my best friend and my sewing assistant. I can’t imagine what you and your husband are going through. I will keep you in my prayers tonight.

  23. aww I am sorry for you and your husband, Gosh he sounds like a keeper, sleeping on the floor with her 😦

  24. Oh man, she was a lucky cat to have found you. And now, I’m going to go sob about this post because I’m a cat lover who sympathizes. I’m sorry for your loss.

  25. I am so sorry! Losing a pet is difficult. Just think, though, how lucky she was to have found you and to have those good five years. My house inadvertently became the neighborhood cat rescue, between feral kittens born in the back yard and abandoned kitties showing up. We’ve kept many because of behavioral or medical issues, and while they’re work, I adore them all. Bless you for loving a “difficult” cat.

  26. I am so sorry for your loss. I know some people don’t understand, but I think those are people who have never experienced the love and happiness a furry family member brings. My thoughts are with you and your husband.

  27. I am so sorry for your loss. Having several varities of furkids myself, I completely understand how you feel. It never gets any easier to say goodbye to them. The only thing that can help is knowing that they’re no longer suffering and how much richer your life was for having them in it.

  28. Sorry to hear – but what a great gift you gave her of those 5 years. We said goodbye to our sweet, demanding elderly female cat 2 months ago, so I know how hard it is.

  29. I’m so sorry for you and your husband! My husband and I also only have a cat and won’t have children, so I absolutely understand how hard this must be for you and him (my husband is also the real cat whisperer of the two of us). You were so generous to take in a kitty who would have probably gone unloved, and you gave her a wonderful home! She’ll always be in your hearts, and, you know, I’ll bet a little of her hair will always be inside a lining of something you’ve sewn too…

  30. Jessica, I’m so sorry to hear about Sarah Jane! It’s always so hard to let a pet go. I’m glad you and your husband were able to get to know her and spend the time with her that you did.

  31. I know how this feels. How great it was that you loved her & cared for her in her twilight years. It’s truly amazing the connections we can make with animals – so special. Sending my condolences to all of you.

  32. So so sorry for you, that must have been a very difficult decision… I have a cranky and crazy cat who loves you if you cuddle her outside the house but hates to be touched when indoors (weird, I know) and she has a similar story…she came from a breeding farm but had a genetic defect (her tail is crooked) so they abbandoned her…I got her from a vet, she lived in cages all her life before we got her…she’s so cranky and adorable.
    I’m sure you will get better and the memory of her will go from being painful to just nostalgic and sweet…wishing you the best!

  33. Yet another lurker. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is one of the most heartbreaking things to go through. We, too, cannot have children, so our furry creatures are our “children” as well. I prayed for you last night after reading this and will continue to do so. Though this is hearbreaking…well, the joy they bring us is so great, it does overcome the pain again someday. Pets are marvellous gifts.

  34. So sad to hear your news. People and animals come and go through our lives for a reason and your lovely pet obviously came to you at the right time. Enjoy your memories of her.

  35. My condolences to you and your husband for the loss of your dear cat. I pray that you will be comforted with love and support from your family and friends for your loss.

  36. I’m so sorry for your loss. We had to put my kitty, Flower, down in January. He was 8; he’d just been sick again from eating yarn (he wasn’t a SMART cat…) when his back legs suddenly stopped working. We’d been through a lot with him in the previous few weeks, and it was finally time to let him go. I miss him every day, and can only imagine how your hubby must feel- Flower was *my* cat like Sarah Jane was his. Thoughts and happy memories to you. Take care.

  37. Oh no! I have a cat myself, and I can only imagine how awful it would be to lose a companion and a friend.

  38. Please accept my sympathy and condolences. I know how hard it to make this decision. You gave her a good home and good care. And to those who don’t understand – well, they have never felt love of a furry creature.

  39. I am so sorry for your loss. I have a 10 year old pit bull that has cancer. She has been given 3-6 months to live. As I write this, I am trying to keep the tears from flowing. Pets give so much unconditional love that you can’t help but have a completely open heart to them. I don’t know what I will do once my Missy is gone but you have inspired me to look into fostering animals. My Missy was a rescue and I know her life was extended because of it. Thank you for sharing.

  40. This post really struck a chord with me. Thanks for writing about it. We had to put one our beloved house bunnies Blackie down a few weeks ago and me my boyfriend were totally heart broken. It’s so sad. I hope that you’re all feeling a bit better now and giving your remaining cats lots of cuddles. I think our remaining bunny is getting a bit fed up of all of the extra cuddles now! x

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