A year ago today I said goodbye to my beloved cat, Magnolia. I miss Maggie’s companionship and her sweet, gentle spirit, and I think about her nearly every day. Spending 20 years with any living being is a very long time. So, yes, this is a post about my cat and a post about pets in general, and the ways they change our lives and us.
Maggie, at 20
I know all my readers aren’t cat lovers, or maybe even pet lovers–pet ownership is not for everyone. But for those of us who’ve let a pet into our home and heart, there is nothing in this world like the love we give to them and get back in return. And some of them, like my Maggie, make an imprint on our souls that remains with us for life. I’m not saying people in our lives don’t fill a deeper, more significant role because for most of us (though not all of us), they do. Yet there is something completely unique and irreplaceable about the bond between pets and the people who love them.
This is why animals are often used to heal and help, why people train dogs to guide those with sight or mobility challenges, or bring cats and dogs to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for people to caress and hold. Studies have even proven our stress melts away and our heart rates slow (as do our pets!), when our pets are near.
I think pets bind families together too–their care, their antics are often a major topic of conversation. They give family members something to rally around. I’m sure I’ve spent more hours of my life talking about my cats than almost any other topic and I don’t feel the least bit embarrassed to say it out loud. I read the news, try to stay up-to-date on current events, take an interest in my husband and daughter’s daily doings, make time for friends and have many interests I’m passionate about, but those cats…they are a force in my life to be reckoned with!
Maggie (and Madison who passed away 5 years before her) was with me through several major surgeries, when I was housebound for a couple weeks. She was my companion through many years lived alone and a few break-ups that really threw me. She didn’t seem to mind when I soaked her fur with my tears. Maggie slept in my bed every night, and then the bed I shared with my husband. She joined us at the dinner table most evenings and her constant chirps, mewps and brrrps, back and forth with us, felt like a conversation. She was with me from the day I met my husband, through ten years of our relationship, our failed and then successful adoption, the death of my father, my sister and two of my closest friends. Honestly, she was my right-hand gal for most of the significant events in my life.
So when Magnolia died, I was bereft. Our house felt eerily empty and for days I was sure I would see her out of the corner of my eye, making her way across the kitchen or sitting out in the garden she loved so much. I made it almost a month without a cat in our house and then when I didn’t think I could stand it anymore, I went out and brought home two kittens. These two are nothing like Maggie. They are more crazy, destructive and much less tolerant than she was, even as a kitten. Sometimes that makes me miss her all the more. Mischievous behavior aside, I am happy to have them around, and they are only one-year-old, so if they make it to 20 like she did, I’ll probably have a different tale to tell.
If you have a senior pet at home, give them an extra hug and a treat for me today. Even when they miss the litter box, chew up your favorite shoes and wake you up in the middle of the night, our pets bring immense joy to our lives. And here’s to you Maggie Moose–I was 20 years lucky to have you by my side.
In memory–Maggie–forever in my heart
It’s all about the journey,