Just over 3 months ago, I had to say goodbye to my cat. I know that a lot of people can’t seem to understand grieving badly over the loss of a pet, but Simba was my baby and my best friend. I know I probably sound like a crazy cat lady; I don’t care, I already have a mug that claims I am one, so I beat you to it.
I had Simba since I was about 6 years old and we seemed to form a strong bond from the beginning. He was an adopted stray cat who needed a lot of love and after some time with us, he did become an affectionate cat, once he knew that we were his humans.
Simba was attached to me, and I to him. I was so lucky to have had him in my life for so many years (16 in fact). I guess that’s why deciding to let him go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Simba was 22 years old (the same age as me!) and even though he was such an old boy, he always looked so young, my forever kitten.
The day we had to put him to sleep was the worst day of my life. I didn’t ever want to let him go, but I had to do what was best for him. He was poorly and he was progressively becoming more unwell. It wasn’t fair to put him through it anymore. I always put him first, I loved him so much. I still do. I honestly don’t know how I survived it; the whole day was so painful. I have never felt anything close to the pain of that day and I have gone through some other pretty painful periods of my life.
After that day, I couldn’t just go back to work straight away as if nothing had happened, I just don’t deal with pain in that way in the first instance. I took off 2 days from work after we put Simba to sleep and then I just went back to my normal routine. Sure, I still went through the motions of driving and working feeling incredibly sad and a bit numb, but the distraction helped me.
A short while after this, my boyfriend and I finally found a perfect flat and within two weeks of finding it, we were moving in. Having to plan to move to a new house takes up a lot of time before you have even begun physically moving, so I had kept my mind incredibly busy. Even when we moved in and both went on with our working routine, it was all still new, and I was still mentally occupied with lots of home-based stuff.
It is only now that we have been placed under lockdown in the UK, where I am having to face grieving. I am having to work from home, which in itself takes away the chunk of commuting time every day. As many businesses in the UK have had to close for the foreseeable, my area of work has slowed down massively as a lot of my job is communicating with other businesses and organisations. All in all, there is too much time available to think, and I am now really having to face the absence of my companion.
Every day I get up and go about my new work routine; “tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen”. I sit at my make-shift desk at my dining table, my laptop stand consists of a pile of books amongst the cutlery caddy and fruit bowl. I attempt to concentrate on anything but the new silence I face. Even though I am in a new home, I still face the emptiness that Simba has left behind. I am no longer responsible for another being, I don’t have him running in between my legs as I go to the kitchen, excited for his breakfast. I don’t get to pick him up for a cuddle and tell him I love him before I leave the house for the day. My arms feel physically light and empty when I think about picking him up because I know that I will never be able to feel that again.
I have lived the majority of my life with Simba and knowing that he is reliant on me for care. It feels unnatural for me not having to think of him and what he needs every day. Not only that, but I used to love coming home and have him there to greet me. When I was younger and coming home from school, I would be walking down from the very top of the road and from the house he would spot me, and I would just see this little ginger blob running up to me just to catch up with me, then race me back to the house.
He was my whole childhood and has seen me into adulthood, everyone who has come into my life has also met him. My friends and family all knew how much he meant to me; my boyfriend even made jokes saying he knew that the cat came first in importance before him.
Simba passed away on 3rd February 2020, and I am still unable to write this without tearing up. I can barely talk about him without it catching in my throat. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and painfully wade through his absence. Pets indeed leave paw prints on your heart.
Now, three months on, I am starting to accept what has happened and try to remember all the amazing times I shared with him, rather than wallow in the pain. I recently decided that I wanted a framed illustration of him in my home, and thankfully, I found an amazing company called West & Willow that did just that. Now when I get to walk into my front room every day, I am greeted with his beautiful little face on the wall, and I can see him in the home once again.