Goodbye to a Good Friend

By , July 29, 2009 9:58 am

DSC01375Not everything about this trip is easy. Not everything about this trip is fun. Two weeks ago we had a particularly hard week. Tuesday July 21st, Christine and I had to put much loved and spoiled cat Chelsea down. Though it wasn’t an easy decision to make, it had been one that I’d been expecting and dreading for a long time.

Chelsea, or as I called her “Princess Chelsea” ruled my world. Chelsea was a shelter cat. Part of a litter that a family couldn’t keep, or didn’t want to keep. A long haired tabby with golden eyes, Chelsea came into my life in the early 1990’s. She had a littermate Jake who was adopted with her so she could grow up with a playmate and they were always together, either in play or sleep. A few years later, they got a “big” little brother when I came home with a 16 week old Great Pyrenees named Foster (General Lafayette Foster Gumbo Jackson to be respectfully specific, but that’s for another time). When I say “big” little brother, I may be understating it just a touch. I mean mean gargantuan! As a full grown dog Foster had weighed over 160lbs. That didn’t concern Chelsea in the least. She treated him like he was just another cat, albeit, a very big cat.

When I used to take Foster for a walk, Chelsea often came with us. I had a specific one block walk that Chelsea would participate in before Foster and I would head off to the park. Moving from bush to fence to car to porch, Chelsea would race by us then find a new secret spot in which to wait for us to pass her by. As if playing a game or living out a genetic character trait passed down from her ancestors. She would try to hide on a freshly manicured front lawn in the summer or behind a bare and leafless bush in the winter. Acting as if she were a lioness on the African plain, she would attentively and patiently wait for us. Then she would jump out with excitement and follow us down the sidewalk a few feet, only to disappear and begin her game again. Once around the block (we always went the same way) she would run up the front steps of the house and sit on the porch while we continued on. I liked to think she would fill her head with dreams of being a predator in the wild, and carry it with her in her afternoon nap or late night dreams. Another successful outing hunting prey.

DSC01455Chelsea was a left handed cat. She could neither write her name nor swing a bat, so one would wonder how I could know this. Well, I’m left handed and over the years she learned to come to the left side of me. She didn’t like to be held – she’d squirm out of your hold within 20 seconds or so – but she loved to be next to you. If you were under a blanket she had to be on you, like you were a summit that needed to be conquered. She slept to my left every night, either next to my pillow or between my arm and body. There was a wonderful comfort in that. It let me know that no matter how bad my day was, she would be there to let me know that everything would be alright.

As many of you know, Christine and I met online. Chelsea was such an important part of my life that I even included a photo of her in my profile. Maybe it was creepy, but I wanted to make sure that whoever came into my life knew what they were getting into. It didn’t take long and Christine was smitten with her too, although she thought it was a bit creepy that I spoiled Chelsea so much.

I didn’t know Chelsea’s birth date, so I made one up for her. August 1st. A week after mine. That way she could be a Leo like me. Whenever people would ask how old she was I would say that she was around sixteen. Well that went on for a few years. She always seemed to be around sixteen years old. I guess I didn’t want her to get older. But she did.

Our current apartment is in a house and the owners of the house have several cats. One cat in particular is Prince. A beautiful big black and white cat. A perfect name for a cat who would come to have a crush on Chelsea. Unfortunately, she never warmed up to him. Chelsea just didn’t like going outside much anymore. The winters were too cold, the summers were too hot. I’d send her outside sometimes she would curiously walk around, but mostly after 30 seconds or so she would just sit at the door, waiting to be let in. Prince would come around often and I would put Chelsea out so they could get to know each other and be friends. He tried to be so nice to her. He would show up, roll on his back in the sun and meow to her. She would just lay her ears back and hiss at him. He never gave up trying to win her over, but she just didn’t warm up to him. We called her a cranky old lady.

As she got older she went from dry food, to wet food, then to only Fancy Feast Savory Salmon Feast wet food. Go figure, she liked the expensive stuff. I didn’t mind though, she could’ve had whatever she wanted. With every sixteenth birthday her health gradually declined. Her teeth went bad so she could only eat wet food once it was diluted with water, her kidneys began to slow down and she began to lose weight.

I held out as long as possible, but after talking to her vet, I knew the best thing for her was to treat her like a princess and make sure that I’d given her the best life I could, since it would soon come to an end. Like most people, I’ve had my share of hard times and for over a quarter of my life Chelsea was there to make sure that I was going to be OK. For that, I am truly grateful.

Our house is a lot quieter now. No bell that jingled from her collar when she walked through the apartment, no purrs that lulled you to sleep, no loud (I mean very loud) meows at 3am as she would occasionally summon a late night snack while sitting in the kitchen by her empty food dish. When she was sleeping, even when in different room, it felt good knowing that she was there, and if Christine or I were in the house by ourselves, we still weren’t alone.

Chelsea’s boyfriend Prince comes around now, and meows for her. He knows she’s gone but he doesn’t know where. We hear him out the window. Meow. Meow. Meow. He sounds concerned, maybe even worried for his friend he doesn’t see anymore. A friend who never really warmed up to him. He is a such sweet cat.

There is said to be a cliche that dogs may have owners but cats have staff. I can attest that it is not a cliche, but it is indeed a fact. I was Chelsea’s staff. I was her butler, her maid, her chef and her groomer.

She looked to me to take care of her and in exchange she made sure to take good care of me too. I was the center of her world I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Happy Birthday Chelsea, I miss you.

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4 Responses to “Goodbye to a Good Friend”

  1. For anyone who has had to say goodbye to a beloved pet, this post is very touching

  2. Mike Small says:

    RT @CareerBreakHQs: For anyone who has had to say goodbye to a beloved pet, this post is very touching

  3. dRk says:

    dude. do you have to make me cry?

  4. Tina says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Chelsea’s passing…I just saw this. She was quite the character, and I can certainly attest to her LOUD meows. Your Princess is now in kitty heaven with my Prince (Little) and maybe she’ll like him better than her earthly Prince. Here’s to Chelsea!

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