The death of a pet (and how it relates to religion)

July 2, 2009 at 4:17 pm 16 comments

07/02/09  [A draft written in some haste, so bear with me if it’s not polished.]

Why is the death of a pet so hard on us animal lovers?

Today, in my home, we are facing the death of my daughter’s much beloved, 8-year-old calico cat Chip. She was my daughter’s 8th birthday present. Of course she’s much too young to die. We expected many more years with her sweet, purry, nature. Now this beautiful creature will pass from our lives before sunset. For whatever reason her kidneys have failed, and there is nothing that can be done. It quite took us by surprise. We have a photo of her walking about in the yard less than a week ago and she seemed OK then.

The pretty calico above is Chip

The pretty calico above is Chip

Today Chip is here. She’s so lethargic. We’ll take her to be put down once the summer school day is over and everyone is home. Right now we are so quiet. At various times we sit down and pet the little sweetheart and tell her how sorry we are for this, and tell her how much she is loved and always has been. We think how shocked we feel that one who so recently was wrestling with her fellow cat could now be so obviously ill and dying.

How and why does all this hurt so?

I think it’s in part because good pets are always decent and good. Oh sure, they have their quirks. They may chew on things, and knock things over, and not always come when you call.

But when you’ve had a lousy day, they’re there. You can just pet them and talk at them, and they just let you. Maybe they nuzzle you, or purr, or lay in your lap or at your feet. They don’t care if you had a bad day, or if your ugly, or anything. They accept you. They ask only food, shelter, and a little attention and kindness.

Like few things in this world, you can count on a good pet like few other things in the world.

That’s part of the pain of losing I guess. You’ve always known you could pet, cuddle, and enjoy this loving creature. And now he or she is gone.

Never to see that beautiful, mostly white, calico coat. Never to hear her loud purrs. Never again to touch her sort fur. Never to have her nuzzle a face or hand. Never to look into those big, yellow/green eyes.

And it’s one more thing that reminds you that nothing on earth lasts forever. When your beloved pet goes, you miss them so and at the same time there’s an awareness that everything else will go too. You can’t count on wrapping yourself in your job, or friends, or family, or house, or sports club, or anything; because by and by bits of pieces of it will all pass away.

Losing that precious little beastie hurts because you’ve lost something lovely and lovable, and you can’t help but know that everything else is impermanent too.

That explains a lot of religion. A desire for something permanent that you can rely on, no matter what happens in this life. It’s part of why religions have always been, and always will be, part of human life. We’re all justifiably insecure. We want an anchor.

Wish there really was one.

Meanwhile, we are going to mourn and miss Chip. Poor, little, loveable sweetheart.

– LeoPardus

Entry filed under: LeoPardus. Tags: , , .

A Silent Departure (my de-Converstion story) Hot-For-Jesus Former Fundie de-Conversion Story… abridged

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DUG853  |  July 2, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Sorry for Your loss.

  • 2. MiykaelPoly  |  July 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I am a cat lover, so it is sad to hear about your cat passing away. Some time ago I stumbled upon this.

    A Cat’s Prayer to Bast

    As I lay me down to sleep
    I pray to Bast my soul to keep,
    I pray to Bast my soul to take,
    And transport it to the sandy lands
    Where my forbears worshipped were,
    Where my ancient kin were much revered
    And where the cat first learned to purr.

    As I pad on velvet feet
    I pray Bast will give me mice to eat,
    And as I use my litter tray
    I ask that she will find me play,
    In her bright heaven where all cats,
    Are stroked by Bast’s most blessed hands,
    And bask and gambol in her care,
    Remembering Egypt’s ancient sands.

    As I knead upon your knees,
    I hope that Bast is greatly pleased
    To see her child at rest and play,
    Fed and cared for every day,
    And when I reach that glorious place
    And gaze upon her feline face,
    I’ll ask that Bast will grant you grace
    To join me in eternal play.

    Author Unknown

  • 3. Mike  |  July 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. As I sit reading your text, my 16yr old orange tabby sits curled up on my lap, purring. Such a special member of the family he is. He has always been the most lovable, affectionate little friend.

    When his time comes, like Chip, he will be sorely missed too.

    Here’s to the many happy memories of Chip!!


  • 4. Quester  |  July 2, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Every loss hurts. I sympathize with your pain. Take care, and thanks for sharing.

  • 5. sleepymom  |  July 2, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. We just buried the kids dog last night after it was hit by a car 2 nights ago. It is so quiet here without our dear Jasper.

  • 6. Eve's Apple  |  July 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I too know what you are going through, I had to put my 17-year-old tabby Jennyanydots to sleep this January. It is never easy, but I think the ones that are hardest are the ones that are unexpected. I lost a cat to FiV (the feline version of HIV) several years ago; he was so full of life one day and then the next . . . I don’t even want to think about it. I think that was the hardest euthanasia I have ever done on a pet. Most of them knew it was their time to go and they were ready (like Jenny) but Baby was not ready to go, he wanted to live even though there was no hope. (it turned out he was riddled with tumors), Even the vet was crying and said she had never had an experience like that, No you don’t forget them, and each one is different. I now have a new set of cats, all young, all rescues, and I know some day my heart will be broken again, but still life goes on . . .

  • 7. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Thanks everyone. Chip is now buried in the back yard. She was buried in a quilt she loved to lie on and with, of all things, a brush she loved to be petted with (it always made her purr). Above her is a new rose bush that should bear white roses when it blooms.

    We shed many tears. The digging was a good thing to do. Somehow the hard work just helps. We also had a nice dinner and some wine with which we drank a toast in her memory.

    My daughter is working on an online album of Chip’s life. Lots of pictures.

    Eve is so right. We know our hearts will be broken again. But death is a part of life and so we go on.

  • 8. paleale  |  July 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    My heart goes out to you, Leo.

  • 9. The Jesting Fool  |  July 3, 2009 at 11:05 am

    I’m not a cat owner myself, but I feel for you. And I think your association of religion with the comforts of owning a pet is completely appropriate.

  • 10. samanthamj  |  July 3, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Aww… Sorry to hear about your kitty. I’m a huge animal lover myself, and know how hard it is to loose a pet. Had to put our dog down this past year, and that was terrible. But, we have a new pup now that we rescued, and the wheel goes round.

    I remember, when I was little and went to church all the time, that there was some debate regarding whether animals went to heaven or not.. if they had “souls” or not. I remember thinking how ridiculous that was. I didn’t think it was fair and wanted my pets to be in heaven too.

    You are right when you wrote:
    “A desire for something permanent that you can rely on, no matter what happens in this life. It’s part of why religions have always been, and always will be, part of human life.”

    I think it IS human nature. We DO want to think we go on… or our loved ones go on…. and that we will see them again. Oddly enough, it was this same sense of “permanence” that led me to not believe in heaven. I couldn’t fathom how anyone who didn’t make the cut, would have to suffer in hell for all eternity.


    PS – 1 of my cats died from Urinary tract blockage – and I heard that was fairly common with male cats especially. Since then, I always buy the cat food that says it “helps maintain urinary tract health by reducing urinary pH.”

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  July 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks again all.

    Samantha. We buy urinary health cat food too. We also found that some wet food is good to feed them. A vet suggested that actually putting water in with their dry food is good too. Basically increase the critter’s water intake. Makes sense.

  • 12. orDover  |  July 13, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Aw, Leo, your post made me cry. I’m very deeply attached to my cat, who is 9 years old and happens to be named Bastet (a variant on the name Bast mentioned in the prayer above). It just hit me a few months ago that’s she’s getting on in years. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without her. She’s been my constant companion since the summer before I started high school.

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2009 at 10:47 am


    Hope you do have your Bastet for years to come.

    Losing them is so hard. I had to put my childhood dog companion to sleep before I went off to the university. Chip made the third cat to die since our marriage. It never gets any easier. But for all that, I’m completely grateful for the love and memories our critters have given us.

  • 14. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I had a really cool little “sheltie” named Raleigh Vaughn that I had to part with after about 5 years. He didn’t die, but my living arrangement made it so I could not have a pet. He was an AKC with all the papers, but there was no way I could bring myself to sell him. So I gave him to a poor family with 3 little kids. I cried off and on though for about two weeks because he was such a great friend.

    Whenever he did something bad (crapping on the floor, chewing on shoes, etc.) he knew it. He would see me coming and literally run outside just out of view of the door and peek around the corner to see my reaction. It was hilarious.

    He also had a habit of running in circles around little kids, and then nipping at their heels. The Vet told me this was a good sign actually, as it was in his blood to “herd” things. He told me I just needed to train him, but not to scold him about his running or nipping as they were hereditary traits.

    I have not had a dog since—but always remember that dog–in many ways he was one of the best friends I have ever had in my life.

  • 15. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    The post I shared above (#114) from a couple of days ago really got me thinking about Raleigh. I know he didn’t die as this thread is referring to, but the loss of him was as if he had died actually.

    It got me to thinking about pets in general. I know this will sound gross, but one “set” of the best pets I ever had were two rats. I just called them “mama” and “baby” as of course, one was the mother and the other a baby. I could take them out of the cage and they would literally follow me around the yard. These two did die though, because I made a huge mistake in buying two other rats and putting them in the same cage. The “mama” killed both of them, and then the next day killed her own baby. She died not too long afterwards.

    I was little at the time (around 8 years old), but I cried for days over the death of two rats! :>)

    I was curious if anyone else had any unusual pets that they grew attached to? This thread is kind of a breath of fresh air in a sense as I think everyone can agree that you can get attached to pets almost as closely as you can to humans.

  • 16. The death of a pet de-conversion | Better Health For Pets  |  October 6, 2009 at 2:37 am

    […] A nice web master placed an observative post today on The death of a pet de-conversionHere’s a quick excerpt […]

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