When the Last Pet Leaves

The last picture of him.
The final picture of him.

We said goodbye to our cat this summer, the last of five pets who came with us when we moved from the country back to the suburbs 13 years ago. With his departure, our 30-year streak of caring for a dependent (pet and/or child) ended, as well. We are truly empty nesters now.

I won’t lie to you — it feels strange. I’m having a hard time adjusting. No more trips down the grocery pet aisle, no more lugging cat litter up two flights of stairs, no more fur in the dryer vent. Okay, maybe I don’t miss those. But on the other hand, I do miss his greeting at the door after a long trip, his purring for no particular reason, his warm body hogging most of our bed on cold winter nights.

This particular cat was MY cat, my familiar. In early years outside, he left me half-dead gifts by the backdoor; in later years indoors he brought me tiny trinkets carefully placed on the floor by my side of the bed — buttons, toe nail clippings and plastic bits, choking hazards that a lesser being would ingest and end up at the emergency clinic. But not him. He caught elusive flies and terrorized the house spiders, leaving their gigantic crumpled carcasses in full view as evidence of his love for me.

He was a sickly, flea-infested stray who showed up at our door 14 years ago, and pushed the limits of my husband’s patience when I called to tell him that “we had a situation” with a stray kitten. “You didn’t feed him, did you?” he asked warily. And of course I had.

I must admit, this was always the plan. Child off living her own life, pets gently ushered out. But the empty rooms devoid of hairy tumbleweeds seem sterile now, and the silence that greets me when I turn to say we’ll be back soon is hard to bear.

Life goes on, however. Every day I notice more spiders moving in, rejoicing in corners free of feline tormentors, still alive.

5 thoughts on “When the Last Pet Leaves

  1. What a graphic (“gigantic crumpled carcasses”?? eeuuw) and touching commentary on a profound life experience. As life goes on, the loss of the living — on so many levels — becomes more encompassing. Scary. Beautifully recorded here. And what a perfect portrait.

    1. What’s really scary about those giant crumpled carcasses was that they were already diminished from what they were alive. Eek! Hard to write this, but easier than a few weeks ago. Thanks Maureen.

  2. It’s funny how much pets change our lives 🙂 At first my husband was 100% against getting any animals and now it seems like a new rescue or stray comes through our home every month or so until they find a new home (as well as having multiple pets ourselves) As aggravating as it is to have things pee’d on and chewed up, the endless barking at passing strangers outside the window, the endless layer of fur on the furniture, my husband couldn’t help but develop a soft spot for our babies and other pets he meets. Only a furry creature can touch our hearts with endless devotion and love as a dog or cat ❤

    1. Thanks for visiting and your lovely comment. It’s been strange being pet-less for over half a year now. I can get a fix when I visit my daughter’s cat but it’s not quite the same. Hopefully there will be a new furry bundle of joy in the future.

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