From the Editor’s Desk: For Max the cat
I really don’t want to be a pet owner again.
Of course, with my wife and son, it’s inevitable.
I just dread when a dog or cat’s time comes and you have to deal with sadness and loss. I thought it would get easier as I got older, but I was wrong.
Late last month, we had to have our cat Max put to sleep. It was somewhat sudden. We knew he was getting up there in age, and there were some signs of declining health. However, he was still very cuddly, playful and ate and slept as usual. Then things took a turn for the worse really quick. And then he was gone.
It’s heartbreaking. Especially when I had just reassured my wife Ashley, weeks prior, that Max probably had a few good years left. What’s more heartbreaking is seeing how much his loss affected her and my son Jaxson. That kills me inside the most.
I’ve always taken the loss of a pet hard. When my siblings and I were kids, I seemed to cry the most at the loss of a pet. We grew up on a farm, so there were always tons of cats and dogs around. I’ve always been partial to cats, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soft spot for dogs. I took their losses hard as well.
I’ve always appreciated how low-key and mellow cats are. A cat’s purr is so soothing to me. No loud barking. No drooling everywhere. No jumping up and hitting you in the privates. Cats are just chill, just like Max was. He moved to New Mexico, putting up with the long seven-hour road trip and quickly adjusted to the two different homes we lived in while there.
A very affectionate cat, Max loved cuddling in bed. Whether it was on my chest or nuzzled up to my wife. He’d lay his head down on your hand as if it were a pillow. We were then without Max for a few years as we moved back and couldn’t have him live with us. After hearing he was outgrowing his home and not enjoying the company of other animals much at our friends’ house, we brought Max home. After not being in our townhome for five years, it was like he had never left. And it was all too brief that we got to enjoy him being back with us.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with the loss of a pet. It made me think about all the cats that have been in/out of my life through the years. Way too many to remember. But I recall my first cat, a gray furry cat named Frisky. Right around that time we also had a black cat named China, a tabby named Tigger, a Siamese named Napoleon, a gray/white cat named Sasha, that survived getting trampled by a cow.
The cat kingdom quickly expanded and then came Josephine, a little seal point Siamese we named Karl Mecklenburg, a cross-eyed Siamese named Bernie, a black/white-spotted furry cat we named Chubs. There were so many kittens at one point, that my siblings and I made little football jerseys for them and would line the cats up in football formations. There were a ton more cats from my childhood.
Then adulthood brought Tanqueray, a gray tabby that once skidded across the side of my head as I slept on the floor, leaving a lightning bolt-looking scratch. Later there was Han Solo, an ornery Siamese who loved playing with a stuffed teddy bear. Sadly, after he had apparently been hit by a car, I buried his toys with him. Later came adopted brothers Loco and Diesel. Then there was an orange tabby I named Steel, who used to prop himself up on my bed and meow in my ear to wake me up. He also used to fetch rolled up paper napkins I’d toss across the room. I had to move and couldn’t have cats. I had a friend come adopt him. I thought I’d be ok. As soon as my friend left, I exploded in tears. Later, came Frank, a hefty, furry guy who used to crowd me in bed.
Whether it’s cats or dogs, or snakes, lizards, pigs, chickens. Animals become family. Things are not the same when you lose one. The love and comfort they bring are unmeasurable.
On the subject of cats, we’ve added a new cat advice column – the Ask Miss Kitty Helpline. You can check it out on page 19.
Our cover story is on author/musician Mark Lee Gardner, who has enjoyed researching and writing out the old west. His story is on page 4.
This month’s travel section takes you on a fall journey to Breckenridge.
And it’s a craze that’s been sweeping the nation for some years now, but read about some local pickleball players and their passion for the sport on page 8.
Thank you for reading Life After 50!
First, thank you for putting our Ask Miss Kitty column in your paper. The loss of a pet, no matter if you had them for a few days or weeks or for 20 years or more, is never easy.
I work here at Happy Cats Haven and specialize in fostering the tiniest of kittens of which the loss rate is over 75%. I mourn each one no matter the time I had them.
This is even after working as a foster for more than 20 years and working in vet hospitals for 15. While there are no words that can ease the pain of loss, the thing I always told owners who asked if they were doing the right thing was that at least we have the ability to ease the pain they are suffering. I have seen so many that endured more than they should have because we, like their owners, sometimes can’t let go. I understand that and have done that.
It is a kindness that we can give them. They hide their pain for so long that we often don’t know anything is wrong until it is beyond our ability to make them feel better again.
While you feel today, that another furry friend in your life is something you are not wanting, in time you will find that although it pains us to say goodbye, they add so much to our lives that we feel bereft when we don’t have one.
Hang in there.
Happy Cats Haven
I could relate to your column “For Max the cat”. I too am a huge cat fan and when my 11 yr. old orange male Tabby(George) suddenly dropped over dead in my living room last Dec. the pain was severe!! How would I tell my daughter as she lay in bed sleeping? I was always the one driving our elderly cats to be euthanized (for humane reasons) and on that day, it was just over so suddenly. Either way, losing your feline family member is incredibly hard!! I thought we’d wait a while before we’d acquire another cat(or two), but the “higher power” saw that we needed that hole in our hearts filled again-pronto! So 4 days later, my husband just happened to walk into Bijou Animal Hospital inquiring about adopting a kitten. They looked at him sadly and said, “no sir, we are an animal hospital”. But just then, a Vet Tech poked her head out and stated that she was fostering 2 male kittens and she had brought them into the hospital that day for some tummy issues but would he be interested in looking at them? Of course we had our criteria to fill when it came to choosing new kittens. At least one of them HAD to be orange and male. They are the sweetest, most lovable of all the cats I’ve ever owned. Wouldn’t you know it, when she brought the kittens in for my husband to see, they were both males(litter mates) and one was orange. His brother is a blk/white tabby. SOLD!! Of course we took them both and it has been a match made in heaven, literally. They just turned one year old last weekend. We adore them! Of course we miss the big orange guy, but what a difference these two little kittens have made in our lives and hearts.
So you too, will have your match made in heaven when it’s right for you. You know what they say, “you don’t choose your pets, they choose you”. Best wishes to you and your family.
Thank you so much Carolyn for sharing that story and for the kind words. – Anthony