The day my cat died

A little memorial to the little soul who was Yasmin.
The sweetest-tempered cat I have ever known.

29 November 2001 to 14 July 2015

The day my cat died I had not made plans.
I hadn’t warned work I would not be in and
I didn’t think my day was unusual.
It started with a cat half-sticking out from underneath the bed
At a most peculiar angle.
I had never seen that before and
I’m still not sure why she chose to lie there.
It was as close to me as she could get,
without having the puff to jump onto the mattress.
That is all I can think.

I bent down and stroked her gently
My fingers barely brushing her fine silky fur.
I kissed her on the top of the head and heard her laboured breathing.
I went downstairs for bowl of water and brought it up to her.
She wasn’t interested and even when I anointed her nose with a little drop
Her pretty pink tongue did not curve out to lick it away.
I panicked. I phoned Graham and then my boss and then the vet.
We have a slot at 9.30, the receptionist said. Can you do earlier? I replied.
The usual blood-letting tangle of legs that results on sight of the cat basket
Was replaced by a listless windmill of newly-clipped claws
As I laid her gently down. She had seen the vet only a week before
For the pedicure and her towel was still inside.

I drove gently as my panicked fingers had been
Too thick to secure the seat belt around the basket.
We arrived 10 minutes early and
I explained her plight and asked if it was fur-balls.
No, it’s more serious than that I think, the vet replied in his German tones.
He handed me a tissue and I realised that my cheek was tickling with tears.
I left her for tests, my fingers leaving a damp trail in her pretty fur as
I said goodbye with a light stroke along her spine.
Yasmin didn’t react.

An hour later my phone rang and I recognised the clipped foreign accent.
Her shadowy lungs would need to be drained,
At her age it is very risky. But so is not breathing.
Is thirteen old? I wondered and hung up and wrung my hands.
The phone again, I snatched it up.
Half a pint of nastiness removed from her lungs.
The worst case of infection seen for years. In a housecat, most unusual.
A little improved, for she is blinking – but still 50:50.
Call at 4 for an update.

The worst is over I told myself.
I didn’t believe me.

At 3 the phone rang again. Too early for the news to be good,
And it wasn’t. Her heart had not withstood the struggle and
She had slipped away. Peacefully, I was told.
Is drowning ever really peaceful? I wondered.
Her brother Yogi meowed, indifferent to my tears,
Requesting a late breakfast.


6 thoughts on “The day my cat died

    • Thank you so much Claire. I don’t like to think of making others cry, but I am so touched that the poem spoke to you too.

  1. Beautifully written, Tim. So sorry to hear about your loss. They are our permanent children, aren’t they? It’s so hard to let go. I’m not looking forward to the day our 11-year-old cat reaches the end.

    • Thanks so much, James. Well, she was an indoor cat and we don’t have children so we did dote on her.

  2. Oh Tim! I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m not a pet person, but your poem reflects so vividly what you went through that it brought a tear to my eyes. Warm hugs for you and Graham.

    • Thank you Gaby. It was so quick that I still can’t quite believe it. I hope she suffered less for that, though.

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