My Jesse, my cat, died on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, and I’m broken-hearted. I was in Branson, Colorado, doing ranch business, but Lin took wonderful care of him in his last days.
When I first rescued him in 2009, my Jesse kept his distance. In fact, when Lin first saw him, Jesse crawled up in my bed and hid under the sheets. Lin didn’t see him for several visits. At first, his distance didn’t bother me—I didn’t know better. He continued his far-off stance until I had shoulder surgery in December 2011. His loving instinct knew I needed him, comforting me, and he found my lap. Ever since, he loved sitting in my lap.
My Jesse, this twenty-year-old amazing cat, had struggled for several weeks. He had been in hospital two nights at the end of August. In fact, I worried he would die while we were in Germany from September 12-26, so much I took several photos of Jesse and me the morning we left. But he flourished with the care of his two pet sitters, Kathleen and Sandy. When he saw his vet on September 28 when we returned, she gently reminded me he was in “hospice care” now! That shocked both Lin and me.
After that vet visit, I started using pill pockets to give Jesse an anti-nausea pill in the mornings before his food. One of our pet sitters suggested it, but I wondered if it would bother his feline diabetes. His vet said, “No, use them.” That relieved me because I had wrestled with him each morning, using techniques I had learned over the years. But it was not a pleasant experience for him or me. The pill pockets solved the struggle.
Then the morning I left for Branson on Wednesday, October 4, he had no interest in the pill pocket. I added some dried salmon treats, and he ate it. From then on, Lin struggled with Jesse and him taking the pill pocket. One day he called me, and we Facetimed with Jesse. I talked with him, and he ate it. Both of us felt we had found the answer.
Then Jesse stopped eating everything. We continued to Facetime and I talked to him. He meowed in response to my voice, looking for me, but he didn’t want to eat. The decline continued Monday night. Lin moved him on a big towel near his food and a nearby litter box. Jesse didn’t move from that towel and died there the next day.
Tuesday afternoon, I had thrown a grey hoodie on a chair in the dining room in Branson. The sleeve hung down on a stool. In my side vision from the breakfast bar, I looked and thought it was Jesse laying there. It startled me. I wonder if that’s when he died.
When Lin called me with the sad news, my brother stayed with me to console me. I posted my loss on Facebook and texted my support system. Within minutes, I had two phone calls from dear friends, supporting my loss, even though it was a pet. And Facebook friends shared their support so much.
Lin had already dug a grave for Jesse in his beautiful garden in case he died while we were in Germany. Jesse loved Lin’s garden. Lin buried him, made a cross and wrote “Jesse” on the cross. I just spent a quiet time sitting at his grave this afternoon.
When I came home on Thursday of this week, Lin had lawn chairs set up by Jesse’s grave and we sat and cried and ate the Dairy Queen Blizzards I bought. We cried and reminisced about our precious Jesse.
Coming into the house for the first time, Jesse’s absence overwhelmed me. I’ve shed lots of tears the last couple of days.
I want to end this with some special lessons I’ve learned, thanks to Jesse:
- God can drop an angel, disguised as a cat, into your life and bless you in ways you have no way of knowing.
- Any pet I’ve had has shown me unconditional love, and Jesse constantly did that. The light in his eyes when he looked at me conveyed his deep undying love. His kind of love shows me what my God’s love looks and feels like.
- Before Jesse came into my life, I was a dog-person. I have become a cat-person, too!
- Taking care of a sick cat—Jesse had feline diabetes, and I gave him insulin twice daily for seven years—taught me about how important routine is. It also taught me I could give him a shot. It also gave me compassion for all those who suffer with diabetes!
- Jesse became the heart and soul of our home, welcoming us with his wide-eye stare and a meow anytime we returned. He loved our established routines, especially watching TV. He parked himself on the arm of the loveseat where I sit, then he’d move under my left arm, peeking his head out to sniff the food I had. Routine, routine, routine have their place in life! How much I love routines, too!
- As Jesse aged in the last few years, I saw the inevitable coming, but I watched and made note in my mind of the changes. I realized I could learn about aging by watching Jesse and his process. Lin and I both became much more tolerant of my Jesse as an old man. We need to do that for all the elder we know—tolerance!
- This year, Jesse vomited regularly, and I did everything I could to manage it. Ultimately, we found out that his pancreas had rejuvenated itself and he needed a smaller dose only once a day. I found out older cats change; therefore, older people’s health can change, too, so I need to be aware.
- Jesse loved Lin’s garden, so over the last few years, I took him out there every morning during the summer. He parked himself at the back door, waiting for his “nature fix.” I need to spend more time in nature, wondering around, sniffing my favorite flowers and lounging on a favorite spot, content with my life!
- Jesse chased sunbeams. A couple of days before he died, Lin hadn’t opened the solarium up for Jesse to relax in his favorite spot. Lin missed Jesse and found him upstairs (he hadn’t climbed the stairs in months) in our bathroom, laying in a sunbeam. No matter what, I must chase after whatever comforts me, no matter how old I am!
- Recently, Jesse needed to snuggle A LOT! Every evening, I held him against my heart, petting him. His purring increased with my touch. If I tried to play on my iPad, he’d grab my hand with his paws and put it on his head. Cats are smart! Elderly people need touch, need to be snuggled! We need to listen to their physical needs.
Finally, my Jesse was twenty-years-old when he died. He was six when he came to live with me—fourteen years he shared my life! What a privilege it was to have those years with him.
Relish any person, any pet in your life—snuggle with them often and think about the relationship as the years rapidly pass by!
Over the years, I loved to write about Jesse. Here’s all the blog posts I wrote about him:
- Two Updates: My Miracle Cat & My New Book! September 24, 2023
- International Cat Day Tomorrow! August 7, 2022
- Jesse, My Geriatric Cat: How We Love Him! March 27, 2022
- Unconditional Love: My Pets Know How! November 27, 2021
- Jesse’s Old But Playful November 18, 2020
- How About a Cat for a Pet? October 25, 2020
- Do You Own a Pet? December 18, 2019
- An Angel Cat—Really? March 17, 2019
I will get back to our Germany trip next week, like I promised!
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