My human has been sad as of late because her companion of 17 years (a full decade before I made the scene) is slipping away. It’s her senior cat, whom she found dumped in the woods with his litter-mates many years ago. It was winter and she saw four little puffs of black fur scatter in different directions in the woods. They had been abandoned there in a cardboard box which lay nearby. So, she, with the help of some friends, was able to capture and save all of them. She then adopted one of those precious souls and he’s been with her ever since.

She told me that cats are different than dogs in that they hide their pain. We dogs on the other paw, let our humans know when we’re hurting. Sometimes I’m even dramatic for an extra effect. Like when my human put a sock on my leg to keep me from licking a skin abrasion so it could heal. Once that sock went on, I limped and hopped around the house like it was just too much to bear. It was completely ridiculous, but hey, it was worth a try for some sympathy biscuits. Anyway, I love that senior cat. He’s my buddy. Sometimes I even pretend that he’s my kitty! We often hang together, cat-to-dog and enjoy each other’s company. He’s a cool and wise fellow and being solid black makes him appear to be a mini panther, or at least that’s what my human claims.

While I understand how hard it is to say goodbye to a long-term friend whom you love, I don’t understand why it’s sometimes even more difficult to say goodbye to an animal than it is to a human. I asked about this and my human tried her best to explain.

“Benny, it can be harder for lots of reasons. For instance, there is no formal service to say goodbye, no respected time to mourn, and not everyone understands how painful it is.”

I didn’t like hearing that since why wouldn’t people understand? Even “non-animal” people? Love is love and so if you love an animal, they still have a piece of your heart and that breaks when they pass away. She also told me another difficulty is that you cannot tell them (in anything other than human words) how very much they mean to you. And also, you cannot know how bad they are feeling and if they want to stay here or say goodbye. She said that is the hardest part of all. She really was too upset to say much more and so shared with me what an animal surgeon named Nick Trout had said. This is what he wrote:

“It may be a cat, a bird, a ferret, or a guinea pig, but the chances are high that when someone close to you dies, a pet will be there to pick up the slack. Pets devour the loneliness. They give us purpose, responsibility, a reason for getting up in the morning, and a reason to look to the future. They ground us, help us escape the grief, make us laugh and take full advantage of our weakness by exploiting our furniture, our beds, and our refrigerator. We wouldn't have it any other way. Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life–they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.”

Do you like what he wrote? I like it very much, even if he didn’t mention dogs specifically. So, my dear readers, I hope that if you ever have an older pet that is sickly, that this column helps you. I know it’s hard to say goodbye, but I am so grateful that people like you open their hearts to sweet souls like me and my kitty cat.

With love,

Benny H.