In memory of my best friend, Leo the Cat.

17 Jun

I cry at pet food commercials.  They are sappy, overly sentimental, and obvious emotional manipulation- but that doesn’t matter.  I still cry.  At work, when a pet food commercial comes on, I mute the TV so I’m not that weird person crying alone in their office.  They make me cry because pets are better than people, and everything in those damn commercials is true.  I’m heavily attached to my cats.  I see them as my babies since I’m not having any more kids.  I tell them my secrets because a cat really knows how to keep a secret.  When I’m crying I will usually have all 5 of them piled up around me.  They will never yell at me or tell me that I’m not good enough.  They know my weaknesses, but will never use them against me- no matter how mad they are.  They will never lie to me, betray me, manipulate me, use me, or make me question them or myself.  They are always happy to see me when I come home.  They will always love me no matter what.  And they’re always there.  Try finding a person who fits that bill completely and fully… you can’t?  It’s because they don’t exist.

When I was about 20, my older brother had 2 cats that he could no longer keep- Oscar and Leo.  Leo was 2 or 3 years old, and Oscar was about a year younger.  Me, Oscar and Leo because quickest and best of friends.  When I had Sully, my (ex)husband and I spent a week at my parents house because I was too scared to be left alone with a newborn baby.  My parents had this funny little bouncy dog that kept wanting to jump up on the bed and see the baby- but Oscar and Leo sat on either side of the bed, like watchmen, guarding baby Sully so the hyper puppy didn’t hurt him.  And from then on, that was Leo’s permanent position- the watchman over Sully.  For the past 12 years, he has gone to bed with Sully at night until Sully went to sleep, then went about his nightly business (periodically checking in on Sully throughout the night to make sure he was ok).

Leo is how we taught Sully about homosexuality.  We nicknamed Leo “The Sleep Bandit” because as soon as Oscar or Sluggo would go to sleep, Leo would sneak up behind them, quietly mount them and try to get busy.  When Sully was old enough to realize that Leo was doing “funny” things to the other boy cats, he asked what was going on.  I told him that Leo was trying to make babies with the boy cats, but since Leo was a boy and the other cats were boys, that made Leo gay… which is totally natural for people or animals to be gay.  Sully has never questioned the sanctity of a homosexual relationship because of Leo and his “Sleep Bandit” behaviors.

Leo is the most tolerant cat on the planet.  I used to make him dance nightly to TV show theme songs or Neil Diamond.  He didn’t necessarily like dancing, and would sometimes make little annoyed meows during his dance routines- but as soon as his performance was over, he would go back to purring and sleeping on my lap- forever forgiving of my juvenile antics.

Leo has been with me through a baby, marriage, a divorce, a second marriage-  the hardest times in my life and the best times in my life.  He’s been by my side and purring through my entire adult life to this point.  Him and I have been together longer than most marriages last.  I took for granted that he wouldn’t always be there.  But as I type this, my sweet old man is sleeping on my lap dying of stomach cancer, and my broken heart is pouring down around him.  The vet yesterday told us that he would be surprised if he lasted a month- and I think that in Leo’s 16+ years of life, he’s learned our language.  Just hours after we got home from the vet, he stopped eating or drinking water.  It’s as if that verbal confirmation was all he needed, and now he has given up.  If he survives through the night, we will be taking him to the vet tomorrow to say good bye to him forever.  I had to explain to Sully that this is the only bad thing about having pets- they will unquestioningly adore you until the end, but there is an end that we have to endure.  And the end is an upsetting, unfair, and cruel thing to go through.  It makes me sincerely want to vomit to have my best friend dying in my lap, reduced to a mere 4 pounds, and so weak that he can’t walk across a room.  To have to give him water from an eyedropper so he doesn’t dehydrate before we can get him to the vet tomorrow.  To have him try to rub up against me, and fall over.  The vet assured me he isn’t in pain- but today he began suffering.  To watch him suffer like this is all the proof I need that there is no God, because no God who is any good would allow for his creatures (human or not) to go through this.  And if there is a God, and he has allowed this- then he is more sick and fucked up than any human could ever be, and I’ll be cheering on the frontlines of Satan’s team when the Apocalypse goes down.

Goodbye, my dear sweet friend, Leo.  Thank you for being my sidekick for almost 15 years.  I hope you felt loved, safe and well-cared for- because that’s how you made me feel.  My heart is quite literally shattered to see you go.


Leo did make it through the night- somehow.  By the time we went to bed, he could no longer hold his own head up.  Brad and I put him on a pillow between us, but somehow Leo managed to crawl off the pillow and curl up next to me, sleeping with his head on my shoulder.  I woke up this morning nose-to-nose with him, and his paw on my face.

This morning, since today was Sully’s first day of summer vacation I took him to work with me while Brad took Leo to the vet to be put out of his suffering.  Sully and I sobbed in my office while I got repeated emotionally hysterical calls from Brad letting me know exactly what was going on.  Brad held him and petted him until his last little breath.  His ashes will forever live in the sunniest spot of our home.

I know that people lose family members and friends every day, and there are people reading this saying “it’s just a cat”… but pets aren’t just “pets”.  And a heartbreak is a heartbreak.  Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful words of love and caring on here and on my FB page.  If I don’t respond to all of it, it’s because every time I attempt it I start crying again.  I love you all.  xooxoxox


34 Responses to “In memory of my best friend, Leo the Cat.”

  1. whitney June 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    Kristen, i’m very sorry about your BFF. really, i am… Leo’s lived a long happy life with you and that’s really all a cat can ask for. ❤ lots of love and hugs for you.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

      Thank you so much, sweetheart. I was very lucky to have my guy for so long- but it’s almost a curse at the same time. My wonderful neighbors checked up on me last night because they knew I was spending the evening with my dying friend, and we talked about how it’s wonderful to have so much love for so long- but it makes it that much harder when it’s taken away. And I’ve had Leo and Oscar by my side through every step from growing out of being a surly post-teen into being an adult… so they’re attached to all those memories. There’s an empty space in our house where Leo is supposed to be, and I don’t like it.

  2. Candice June 17, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    I love you Leo! I love you Kristen! That’s just honest. I’m not sure what else to say. XO.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

      Thank you, lady. I hope you can feel my hugs through the computer. xoxoox

  3. Kat June 17, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    You’re a good cat-mom, Kristen, and you and Leo were lucky to have each other. There’s no bit of wisdom or anything to say that can make you suddenly feel better about the loss of him in your life. I wish there was, so I could say it. But whenever you need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to empathize that hasn’t got a raw, fresh loss of their own, I’m here. And I’ll always be willing to hear Leo stories.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

      Thanks lady!! There was much bawling from all the members of our house today. I hate that mourning nauseous empty feeling, and I’d very much to hear some miracle words right now to get rid of them. The rest of the cats are acting so odd right now. Last night they knew he was dying. Sluggo and Oscar took turns grooming him and sitting by his side, and the girl cats didn’t try to kick him off the bed like they usually do. And now Lila and Oscar (who have always HATED each other) are curled up together on the couch, Daisy is walking around the house howling and Sluggo is hiding. We’re all a little broken.

  4. hayley g June 18, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    my heart is with you, and i’m quite sure leo will go knowing how much you loved him.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 11:51 am #

      I hope so. I truly hope that he understands our language and understood every time I said “I love you” to him, all the way until the end. Thank you, Hayley. xoxoxo

      • hayley g June 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

        your update about him curling up to you his last night was so heart-wrenching yet beautiful in a way that fully explains that cats are better than (most) people.

        • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

          Sluggo spent the entire evening sitting in Leo’s favorite spot by the sink, and now he’s walking around the house crying (which Sluggo NEVER meows- so this is totally out of character for him). The other kids miss Leo. We miss Leo. This sucks.

  5. Addycat June 18, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    I think I’m feeling about 10% of your pain as I sit here sobbing for your and Sully’s loss. Thank you for sharing your shared story with Leo.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

      Thank you, Addy! I hope everyone who reads this gives their pet an extra long hug today. They really are our most special friends. xoxoxo

  6. Katrin June 18, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    You made me that weird person crying alone in their office today, sobbing in front of my computer. This is the most touching story I read in a long time, you found the right words why cats are such great companions. Your story made me think of all the cats that had to leave me in the past and all the ones that I maybe have not met yet and will have to bid farewell to eventually.
    My heart goes out to you.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

      I’m so sorry I made you that weird person crying alone in your office!! I was lucky to have Sully with me in my office yesterday so that I had someone to cry in there with. Our pets are our companions. My cats know when I’m upset and will circle around me like wagons and take turns doing what they can to give comfort. When I’m happy and hyper they get hyper too and we chase each other around the house. They do understand us, and are there for us.
      When we were told about Leo having cancer, I sobbed to Brad that I don’t ever want to have any more pets- but it didn’t take long for me to take back those words because the love I got from Leo and the love I was able to give back to him for 15 years is more valuable than anything else on this planet, and we were able to let his leave this life in the arms of people who adored him. The heartbreak is worth it because I was blessed with getting to be around him for so long.
      Thank you for your sweet words, wonderful lady.

  7. KT June 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    I am sending lots of hugs your way. Leo is so lucky to have had such a great friend/family to live with!!

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

      Thank you! But we’re the lucky ones to have been able to have such a funny, loyal, loving friend in our home.

  8. LRA June 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    *long hug with back pat*

  9. Julie June 18, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I held back my tears until the part about Leo curling up next to you. Your story is so touching. I know there’s not much a stranger like me can say to make you feel any better, but I’ve lost best friends like Leo before, you’re not alone. I can’t even imagine how you must feel, but I’m sending you best wishes and strength through these difficult times. If only we could all be taken care of like you took care of Leo.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

      Leo was so weak and out-of-it the day before we took him in that I didn’t know if he even realized that I was there. But when I woke up with him curled up next to me- I knew that he knew I was with him. That made it so much better to know that he did find comfort in me, and used the last of his strength to crawl over to me. But it also made it that much more heartbreaking to see him go because he was dedicated until the end. We should all cherish our funny, furry little friends- because they truly cherish us.
      Thank you so much, Julie!!

  10. Tawni June 19, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    I am holding a handful wet tissues right now, typing through tears. What a good boy Leo was, to watch over and protect Sully like that. What an amazing, wonderful, brave cat. And they are not “just” cats, they are family members. I’m so sorry, Kristen. I’m thinking about you today, my friend. So many big hugs for you, Sully and Brad. xoxoxoxoxoxox.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

      Leo was a wonderful, funny, awkward, prissy, fantastic guy. We have been so so blessed with all our cats being amazing (even angry grumpy Daisy, with all her teeny-tiny venom is still adorably wonderful). I love that Sully has been raised with these furry companions… and even though he’s had to experience this heartbreak, it’s a wonderful lesson for him to never take for granted the love you have in your life- whether it’s from people or from pets.
      Oscar has taken over Leo’s post as the Nocturnal Protector of Sully, and slept in Leo’s spot last night- like the torch has been passed down to the new house elder. Oscar is only a year younger than Leo, so he’s now the ruler of the tribe. Leo and Oscar were together since Oscar was a kitten, so I REALLY hope we don’t have a “Where the Red Fern Grows” situation go down… because I can NOT handle going through this again with my other old man.
      Big love to you, lady. Thank you for your words. xooxoxoxxo

  11. Lori Field June 19, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Oh Kristen, how wonderful to have this blog post of yours to read today. I lost my darling cat Cookie Feigenblatt two weeks ago and I’ve been a weeping mess since then. I have three other kitties who are trying to console me but they are very sad too right now. Also, I was so obsessed with worries and work, work, work when she was sick that I didn’t get her to the vet in time and I blame myself for not saving her. The guilt added to the grief is a toxic cocktail. She was in fragile health most of her life but I’d always pulled her through before…thought I’d be able to do it again. She died in her sleep at the vet’s office after an overnight stay. She died and instead of getting a phone call to come pick her up well and bring her home – I got a call to pick up her little body. I am even thinking about attending a pet loss support group meeting this week. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for your post. I really needed to read someone else’s thought about this kind of loss. Its so much more profound than most people will admit to or realize. Thank you. I’ve lost my best animal friend too. I’m sitting in her chair on the porch right now while I write this – feel the tears coming on again.

    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

      I’m so so sorry Lori! You are not alone in your grief. They are truer friends than most people we will ever have in our life. The are not “just animals” because they become in sync with our moods and emotions. They respond to us in a way that helps us through anything we’re going through. They get to know us, and really do become companions. Just because they don’t speak our language doesn’t mean the don’t speak to us. I don’t care if it’s “socially unhealthy”- but my cats are proudly placed in the category of my “best friends”.
      I’m right there with you. Try to let your grief be your heart’s memorial to how much you loved your little friend. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  12. Lori Field June 19, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    I’m a doofas – I forgot to say how sorry I was about Leo. I lost Cookie Feigenblatt suddenly but I lost Dusty Springfield to nasal cancer only a year and a half ago after trying so hard to save her. I know how you must have felt to see Leo suffer. I loved what you said – ‘A heartbreak is a heartbreak’ – so true


    • Kristen Ferrell June 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

      You give your cats such good names. They make me smile.

  13. Celene June 21, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Everyday I dread the day I have to see my pets go. My goodness, I can’t stand it. The mere thought of it makes me sick and afraid inside. I know, hopefully they will live long and happy lives. Your cat Leo surely did, because of your loving environment you and your family made for him. It hurts seeing them pass on, so much. But in the end, just be happy he was in your life at all to make such a wonderful page in your book. I’m crying so much, and I hope this pain I feel doesn’t last long on either of us. Everything will be okay eventually, but you take care of yourself and I know you will never forget him. ♥

  14. savannahshutup June 21, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have a 14 year old and 9 year old. A few years ago we lost our sweetest lady Megan while I was on vacation. We had had her since I was 2. It was the worst feeling. Im one of those “this pet is my family” people, so if you need to chat, I’m here! I hope everyone in your home can recover and remember all the good things

  15. Andrea Jay June 21, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I am also sitting here with a handful of wet kleenexes. im so so sorry for your loss. i was going to write something on your FB too but i figured with the 48 reminders of sadness you didnt need another one. when i was 11 my cat was tragically killed, and even to this day, whith all the people i have lost since then, that was the hardest death i have ever dealt with, and i dont care how callous that makes me. a heartbreak is a heartbreak. my thoughts are with you. xoxoxoxoox

  16. Vero Rebel June 22, 2010 at 3:47 am #

    Hi Kristen I’m really sorry for your loss, i was crying with you as i was reading this post and when i finished i huged my two cats Kurro and Kratos and told them i loved them.
    They really are my best friends, loads of hugs and support to you from Vero, Kurro and Kratos.

  17. nicole September 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    This entry made me ball my eyes out. I have 3 cats and if I ever lost them, I’d be devastated. They’re apart of my family. They’re the sweetest creatures in the whole world, and I cant imagine not having them around.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you hang in there.

  18. sam d December 22, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    I understand and feel what you are saying 100%. I have 3 kittys myself. All 3 I am proud to say I rescued and gave them a chance in life. They are so innocent and wonderful. They are my life. I miss them terribly when I am not home. They are 4, 5, and my old kitty is 6. I am so proud of them. They have never done anything wrong. There is so much to say in words. I hope I pass before they do. I am in my early 30’s. I know some day it will happen. I have to live and enjoy all moments with them. They are so much Fucken fun! they play, they greet you, sleep, and love unconditionally.

    If any asshole harms a cat, I will personally fuck them up! And I agree with ” To watch him suffer like this is all the proof I need that there is no God, because no God who is any good would allow for his creatures (human or not) to go through this. And if there is a God, and he has allowed this- then he is more sick and fucked up than any human could ever be, and I’ll be cheering on the frontlines of Satan’s team when the Apocalypse goes down.

    Love your cats! I have three fucken cat trees..all in the living room! Its there Fucken house too!

    If anyone wants to be a fucken hero, go rescue a pet and give them a good home!

  19. Shari Fulton November 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Your story deeply touched my heart. As I type this the tears are still coming down my cheeks. February 21,2012 I lost my 2 “babies” Kammy and Lil Bit to our house fire. I begged and pleaded with firefighters to go in and get them, but no one would. My daughter and I went back in despite the firefighters telling us not to. The smoke was too much and we couldn’ breathe, so we had to get out. Kammy was hiding behind the washer and Lil Bit was in the doorway. My heart still breaks at the thought of them not being here anymore. I miss them sooooo much. My cats was there for me when NO ONE else was.

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