Why having a soft heart sucks sometimes

*Warning – obviously there is a lot of past tense in this story, and for anyone like me who gets blubbery with sad endings, you might want to skip this one. And no, this is not for one of the Meowers of Death, FYI. I wouldn’t be able to write if it was.*

I’ve lived in my current house about 11 years. I live on a corner lot next to some fields, so most of my neighbors are across the street. We haven’t been super chatty with each other. But I’ve gotten to know two sets of neighbors well as they’ve been here longer than I have. It’s good to get to know at least a few of your neighbors.

One constant though, even with neighbors coming and going, was Katie. I panicked the first time I saw her because she looked almost exactly like my recent rescue, Winry. I eventually realized she belonged to one of my neighbors across the street and that her name was Katie And she was pretty much the best neighborhood cat ever. She ruled our little section of yards and fields like a queen.

She was a little shy at first, but warmed up to me throughout the years and would come visit for a little bit of petting here and there (mostly I think she needed a break from the kids lol). She became a fixture of the neighborhood and once I got to know her owners a little better, we joked that we were sharing custody of her. I liked having her around and she always looked well taken care of.

I noticed the last few years she had started to lose some weight and was getting a little slower. I started setting out some food and water for her when she did come over as she always looked tired but determined to make the trip. The last few months, she stopped wanting to eat as much. I noticed her panting and drinking a lot of water. After some time thinking about it, I mentioned it to my neighbors so they wouldn’t think she was just eating well over here. They had noticed it as well, and had planned to take her to the vet as it looked like she didn’t have a lot of time left.

Yesterday she had to stop in the middle of the road and rest. I knew it wasn’t a good sign and managed to coax her off the road before she got hit. She then walked a bit and had to stop and rest in my driveway. I petted her some and talked to her before carrying her back to their yard. They said they were going to take her in on Tuesday unless she got worse (per a call with a vet). I was fine until I started walking back to  my house. Then the waterworks started. Because I knew.

Today they found her passed away, peacefully in a shady spot in their yard, right where she wanted to be (she apparently did not like being inside). My neighbor came to tell me and we shared a few tears and a hug over it. Katie had lived to be 15, which is amazing for a mostly outdoor cat (the average is 5-7).

I tell this story because I know when I go out later, it’s going to feel like there is something missing. I have felt so silly crying over a cat that’s not even mine. But like my neighbor said, in a way she was kind of my cat as well. She adopted me and my property over the years and became part of our routine. She was one of the reasons I decided to talk to my neighbors, and I’m glad I did because they are awesome people.

So I felt like I needed to say some words for her. Because even with my own herd, I managed to carve out a little piece of my heart for her and her stubbornness. I hated to see her decline, but I’m grateful she passed away in a place she loved to be.

These are the times when it really sucks to have a soft heart, especially for animals. Because you know you will likely outlive them, no matter how well you take care of them. But you can’t help but get attached.

People who say cats aren’t affectionate must not really be around many. Because most of mine at least want a kiss or to be petted every single day. They are there through thick and thin, good days and bad days, whether you are crying your eyes out and looking a mess or made up and looking great.

They can be annoying when you are trying to work or bring groceries in (Katie always wanted attention when I had groceries) and you just want them to go away so you can focus on what you are doing. But don’t ignore them. It’s not going to matter in the grand scheme of things if you take 5 minutes to play with your pet or just give it a hug. Stop and take a few minutes to be grateful that you have the unconditional love of an animal. Cherish the time you do have with them. Because before you know it, they won’t be there to be underfoot when you want them to be.

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