Do Cats Mourn?

When after 17 years, my two cats had to be put down within the same month, my husband and I were pretty devastated.
Those of you who love animals know how they become a special part of your heart and family.  We grieved their loss, thanking God for their unique personalities and unflinching friendship through both happy and tumultuous seasons in our lives.

Ready for More Fuzz Faces
When we felt ready to fill our home again with more “fuzz faces,” as we affectionately call them, we visited several shelters.  I found one stunning white female, but the shelter…couldn’t find her paperwork. While I sat waiting, I spotted this elegant Fred Astaire of a cat, his front paws sticking out of the cage, quietly observing the busy office.  Picking him up, he melted into my arms and guess who we took home that day.

A Joyful Dance
We named him Sundance.  Joyful, he would play wildly, leaping high into the air for his
toys and then fall asleep draped around our necks like a purring necklace. He also loved to droop over things, so his nickname became Noodles. We adored him.  Being quite the extrovert, we soon got him a companion– the white female that I’d originally spotted at the shelter — and we named her Duchess.  Upon her arrival home, Sundance pounced on her in total delight and within a week the two were inseparable friends.

Never Imagined
Although pint sized for a male tabby, Sundance ate like a horse and yet was constantly hungry.  We’d owned cats for over 20 years, and we were clueless and unprepared for what was about to unfold.

Heart Wrenching Months
It turned out that Sundance had FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, an incurable fatal disease that strikes young and older cats.  We had never even heard of it.  For months, he bravely cooperated with our every attempt to save his life, but the disease turns the immune system against itself and he grew more debilitated each day.  One morning at 2 a.m., he began having seizures.  It was March 11, 2011 when, weeping, we carried him into the emergency cat hospital.  Images of the Japanese tsunami filled the waiting room TV screen.  It was a cold morning of death and devastation.

A Dark Chapter
Without Sundance, Duchess was inconsolable.  We slowly adopted three other sweet young cats to keep her company, but she remained morose, distant and combative.  She fussed over her food and hardly ate.  This went on for a whole year.

The Cloud Lifts
Then, suddenly, almost to the day of losing Sundance, Duchess snapped out of it.  She began to play and interact with her brothers.  She now cuddles with Lancelot, a loving white male, and vigorously joins in the playtime around the house.  She’s recovered her appetite and seems happy and energetic. Was she mourning this whole time? Nobody can know for sure, but my husband and I believe that’s very possible.

The Happy Quartet
Today, our home is a lively household of four cats — we call them “The Happy Quartet.”  Not a day that goes by that they don’t make us laugh and we’re grateful we our home again is filled with these sensitive, marvelous creatures God has made for our sheer enjoyment and companionship.  We understand that in a fallen world, death and disease are an inevitable part of life, but we pray our current troupe will be with us healthy and happy for many years to come.

(To learn more about FIP, click here: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/fip.html)

Do you have a favorite pet story you’d like to share? Please do so below.

4 Comments

  1. A lovely story about your cats. It’s truly amazing they all get along because cats tend to be territorial. Whenever I brought a new cat into the house, the older cat would move out for a while. Out of spite, no doubt. She was happy being the lone feline in the family and basking in our undivided attention. So much like children!

    • My observation has been that the females are the most territorial– and definitely the “watchdogs” of the home. Always alert to anything out of the ordinary. My three males get along like a band of brothers– maybe because I got them all when they were young. They’re all very affectionate with each other and us. And each one so unique! Thanks for your comment.

  2. One of my favorite cat memories was with my cat Rusty. He reminded me of Absolan, King David’s son. He had a huge orange tail and was very friendly with all the visitors at our house. Except one day a new guy in our home group shared that he was struggling with loneliness. Rusty entered the room and made a Berliner for his lap. Instead of his usual habit of visiting everyone, my cat chose to stay put on his lap for the entire evening. God brought this man a little furry friend.

    • My husband bought me a big desk so I could comfortably spread out all my papers and books when I write. The cats also thought the desk was a great idea! So now, amidst my stuff are two cat beds and they take turns keeping me company even while I’m making phone calls and pounding away on the keyboard!

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