loss of a cat

All posts tagged loss of a cat

Popp, Bennie, and Burns: Sunday Will Never Be the Same

Published March 1, 2019 by Maryanne

sdc13108Sunday at the beach (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Do you love Sundays?

I used to love Sundays.

Sundays were always special for me and my husband. When we first started dating, we’d spend many Sundays down the shore. On our drive down, we listened to our favorite radio show, The Glen Jones Radio Program, Featuring X-Ray Burns. (http://www.wfmu.org/Playlists/GJ/archives.html)

Jones has eclectic tastes in music. You could hear both Frank Sinatra and The Psychedelic Furs in the same set. Then there was the talk segment where Jones and Burns would muse about New Jersey subculture like our local drinking joints and pork roll (or Taylor Ham)? In fact, one time at one of their lives shows, Jones chased me trying to feed me a pork roll (or Taylor Ham) sandwich. (And I’m a vegetarian). That’s the kind of fun this freeform radio show offered. No wonder it was part of our Sunday routine.

Once we got down the shore, on a Sunday, we’d often pay a surprise visit to our dear friends Daniel and Patty Popp. Very special friends; they were our witnesses when we eloped. At the Popp’s home, they couldn’t do enough for you. With Daniel being both a cook and a musician, there was always plenty of food and music in their home—a great place to be on a Sunday.

In more recent years, my husband and I started spending more of our Sundays at home, relaxing in the backyard. Last summer, a beautiful feral cat started showing up in our backyard. We named him Bennie. He was so friendly, we fell in love with him. According to the vet, Bennie had FIV, a feline auto-immune disorder, which meant if he got sick, it would be tougher for him to get over it. But we took him in anyway and gave him a happy home. He was only 3-years-old. He was a ginger cat, sunny and bright; our Sunday cat.

They say death comes in threes. Beginning on February 1, our Sunday memories were taken from us, one by one.

Daniel Popp was in his kitchen and just finished cooking food for the homeless, something he did each month. His wife Patty found him lying on the kitchen floor unconscious. He was taken to the hospital and passed. Daniel was a genuine, good-hearted person, who was so talented and so much fun. We were shocked. Absolutely shocked. Not a dry eye at his funeral. And miss him terribly. RIP Daniel Popp.

Sunday will never be the same.

The day after Daniel’s funeral, our kitty Bennie’s health declined rapidly. We had been treating him for an eye infection—or so we thought. He was eating, but not processing the food. He was losing weight quickly and also started having tremors. An emergency trip to the animal hospital and two vet visits later, we learned he had a brain tumor and didn’t stand a chance. Even though Bennie was a little fighter, we still had to put him down—the day after Valentine’s Day, ironically because Bennie was a saint, the best cat I ever had. After we put him down, my legs buckled, and I collapsed into my husband’s arms. We loved him so much. RIP Bennie.

Sunday will never be the same.

The following Sunday, my husband and I were done. Spent. No ambition or desire to do a damn thing. But I had to get groceries. I hopped in the car and as I always do on Sunday, turned on the radio. Glen Jones was playing very sad music. During the first break, X-Ray Burns wasn’t with him to banter. Jones made an announcement that X-Ray Burns was struggling with lung cancer.

Tears started pouring down my eyes.

Jones played some more sad songs, then he came back on to say that X-Ray’s wife called him. X-Ray Burns had passed—and it wasn’t a joke.

My husband and I were already zombies to begin with, and now shared more tears together. Rest in Peace X-Ray Burns.

Sunday will never be the same.

Three lives taken from us, way too soon. Daniel Popp and X-Ray Burns were in their 50s. And Bennie was only 3.

But I’ve learned something from all of them. Daniel taught me to reach out to others. Bennie taught me to keep fighting no matter what life’s circumstances. And X-Ray taught me to stay fun and crazy because life is way too short. And with a blink of an eye, it will never be the same.

That’s it.

SAM_3017.JPGDaniel Popp, Rest in Peace (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

52905284_2210313879190578_8382678320906502144_nBennie Cat, Rest in Peace

Glen JonesX-Ray Burns, Rest in Peace

(Left to right, X-Ray Burns, Glen Jones, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Sunday will never be the same. 

Rest in Peace, Dear Bennie Cat

Published February 15, 2019 by Maryanne

BennieBennie Grover Hemmingway

Earlier today we had to put down our sweet Bennie cat.

He was a feral who started showing up at our doorstep last August. My husband and I fed him. He was enticed by the food, but more so, the pets we’d give him. It seemed he was more starved for love than for food! He’d take a few bites, but then put his head up to be pet. Of course we fell in love.

One day he wasn’t around. I called, “Bennie!” He knew his name and ran through the grass like a gazelle! He had such a personality.

Before we took him in, we got him checked out by a vet and learned he had FIV, a feline auto-immune disorder. We wanted him anyway. We knew with FIV, he’d come with health problems, but we didn’t realize it would be so soon. He was only 3-years-old.

When he was officially inside, he loved it! He did this cute thing we called “Happy Paws.” He’d purr very loud and wiggle his paws. Sometimes he’d lie on his back with his happy paws up in the air. And he was so cute when he cocked his head to the side, like a puppy would do!

Bennie was a lazy cat. He loved to lay around and be pet constantly. He really liked butt rubs. And he loved music. I’m not a singer, but I’d sing to him and he’d stand up and look right at me, as if he was giving me a standing ovation! Even if I had a punk rock band, like The Dickies on the CD player, he’d sit right in front of the speaker and listen.

We only had him five months. He had brain cancer. And he was a little fighter too. He was determined to make a go of it, but unfortunately worse came to worse and the sad day had come. I collapsed in my husband’s arms. We were both devastated.

Our vet said Bennie knew he was sick and he came to us to give him a good home  before he passed. I know we did! And I’ll miss those purrs and that beautiful face.

Godspeed Bennie.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” –Anatole France

SAM_3260 (1)SAM_13251

Rest in Peace, Derick “Mommy’s Little Heart” 6-24-96 to 4-29-16

Published April 30, 2016 by Maryanne

DerickBeautiful Derick

Last night my husband and I had to make that awful decision of putting down my 19-year-old cat, Derick. He had kidney failure and it was the humane thing to do, as he stopped eating over a week ago and was losing weight rapidly. Worst of all, he was lethargic … spacing out. And he had his last epileptic spell yesterday. We did everything we could, even left him at the vets a few nights hoping he’d have an amazing comeback. But that didn’t happen. The vet suggested taking him home to live out his life comfortably. Yet, he was anything but comfortable, and just hanging on — as the survivor. The last straw was that he could no longer stand to drink his weather — or walk. May he rest in peace, my beautiful little boy, Mommy’s little heart.

This cat gave me so much joy for 19-years. Back in the 1990s my friend Janet had a beautiful gray cat. When I learned this cat was pregnant, I just had to have one of the kittens. One was a beautiful orange and white cat. I choose that one, but Janet said, “That one is for my niece. She’ll kill me if I give her away.”

So Derick was my second choice. Janet said, “That’s a great choice. He does funny things.”

And for 19 years he continued to do funny things. Derick was my heart and soul. From the time he was a kitten, he slept with me every night, putting his paw around my arm, as if to say, “This is my chick!”

Derick was much more than a cat. He was very smart, as if a little person was inside him. And he played my husband like a steel guitar. Derick truly knew how to “work the cute.”

There were many legendary moments, but these are my top three favorite.

#1. There’s a movie about The Turtles called “My Dinner with Jimi.” Derick really seemed to take to the Turtles music and the first time we watched the movie, he watched it with us — from the opening song, to the ending credits. He’d sit with us and watch the entire movie. We watched it again, and he did the same thing. Even a third and fourth time. He just loved that movie. If we couldn’t find Derick in the house, all we had to do was put on “My Dinner with Jimi” and he’d come running into the room.

#2. Derick always picked on my other cat Billy. Derick was extremely jealous of Billy and would get into these terrible fights with him and we’d have to separate them. One time I caught him in the act — about to take a swat at Billy with his paw. Really loud, I scolded, “No, no, no!” Derick just froze, paw in mid-air, then in very slow motion brought his paw down and walked away, slowly, with his head down.

#3. The time my father-in-law was over watching baseball and Derick tried to hit the ball on the television with his paw.

#4. Derick adored my husband. The week before Derick passed, my husband came home a little later than usual. Derick heard the door and sprang off the couch and ran to him. Both of my cats did that. When my husband came home, they’d run to the door like dogs. And when I went out, my husband said, Derick would stand by the door and cry for me.

How could anyone not love the unconditional love of a pet?! Some say dogs are more lovable, but not in this house. If you provide a cat with a lot of love, he/she will give it back tenfold. They may seem aloof, but they are not really. Cats are just as mushy as dogs, if you let them be.

It’s said that dogs can make about 30 different sounds and cats can make 100. Well, Derick must have discovered all 100 sounds because his vocals were legendary — so much so that my husband and I would randomly pick a sound and mimic him just for a laugh. My favorites were “Mur-ROW” and “Et-OW!”

One night my husband and I were the in the audience of a cable show where his band was going to perform the following week. During the dead silence in between acts, my husband let out an “Et-OW!” in honor of Derick. It was funny to us, of course, but no one else knew what it was about. Our little cat secret.

We have so much love and respect for anyone who treats cats like family. I think both of my cats lived to the age of 19 because that’s exactly how I treated them. They were just there, as part of my life no matter what was going on. In 19 years, the cats were with me in three different homes — my first apartment that I sublet from my grandmother; my second apartment; and finally living in a house with my husband, a house both cats embraced and eventually took over. Our cats home, and we just live here. That’s exactly how it was and every pet owner understands it.

And then they steal our hearts … with the unconditional love, their funny ways, the late night snuggling … as they go from kittenhood, to kitten/cat, to cat, and then old cat. They grow with us and change as the years go on. There’s always something to learn from a cat. While my oldest Billy Cat taught me to slow down and embrace life; Derick taught me to be strong. Derick was always the survivor, the true meaning of a cat having nine lives. While Billy was never sick until his old age, Derick was always in and out of vet’s offices. I still can’t believe he made it to 19. But as one vet said, “Feisty and stubborn.” That was our Derick, and that’s what we love about him.

My God! I will miss that little critter terribly.

Last night a big chunk of our hearts — ripped out and tossed to the curb.

But he is no longer suffering … waiting for us, in greener pastures, out of his suffering and kitten-like again.

Derick, you will always be Mommy’s little heart, and our little kitten in heaven. ❤

MareDerickIn my old apartment in Montclair

SexyeyesDerickShowing off and looking pretty!

Derick hugging DennisHugging my husband — Derick loved his Daddy! ❤

SAM_9982Last photo of us together at animal hospital

Rest in Peace, to a Neighborhood Cat

Published July 4, 2015 by Maryanne


What a rotten night we had.

I went for a bike ride, returning to find out a beautiful gray cat in our neighborhood got hit by a car and killed. The cops were in our street and took him away in a bag. All the neighbors were so upset, as were we.

This cat came in our yard often, just sat around minding his own business. He never went after the birds. He was just a good cat, a beautiful little soul, now gone.

I was sick to my stomach and still am.

These little creatures just steal our hearts. Never hurt anyone. All they want is food and love.

One of the neighbors named the cat “Buttons.”

Rest in peace Buttons. We loved you!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “Love Cats” available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YBGVJQS/

Still Mourning

Published September 6, 2013 by Maryanne

Billy in heavenBilly in Heaven

(This isn’t really Billy, but the cat picture looked so much like him and a friend made this for us).

Three days after the death of my beloved Billy, age 19, my husband and I are still devastated. Even our little Derick, 17 (and still like a kitten) is mourning.

I was talking about Billy on the phone this morning and when Derick heard, “Billy” his face lit up. He looks in his spots, looking for him.

This is a very sad time.

And in three days, so many coincidences relating to Billy.

For instance, the other day I mentioned how Billy seemed to love the song “Papa Gene’s Blues” and that was Billy’s song. That song was written by Mike Nesmith and right after Billy passed, Nesmith wrote on his Face Book page that his dog died.

Whenever I heard the song, “Lying Eyes” by The Eagles, I changed the words to “Lion Eyes” for Billy because he really had that lion look about him. Two days after Billy’s passing, I heard “Lying Eyes” on the radio.

I always called Billy the “Forest Gump of cats” because he was just like Forest Gump — simple but wise. Yesterday my husband and I were in a record store and my husband finds a “Forest Gump” soundtrack.

Then for the first time in almost two weeks I get an assignment from Paterson Press. To cover a tribute to the late Senator Lautenberg, who was an animal lover and did so much for the humane society.

Everything that popped up in the last three days was either related directly to Billy, or related to animals in general.

We received so many kind words and cards from our friends and family members. It’s so sweet to know there are so many animal lovers out there. We loved our Billy Cat so very much. It’s so sad walking around in a dream-like state. Nothing seems real and nothing makes me happy — not a good meal, not a nice haircut, nothing. I am numb and my eyes are puffy from crying.

In church the other day I told an elderly couple. I overheard the wife say, “That is so sad. She’s never sad.”

I told my husband to hide Billy’s toys because they are making me too depressed.

He was just a GOOD animal. Never scratched anything (he wasn’t de-clawed, neither is the other one), never destroyed anything. Both of my cats were just GOOD. And this is a huge loss to us.

For once I have nothing happy to say. But I do know it will get easier down the road and I look forward to that.

Goodnight, Beautiful Angel

Published September 3, 2013 by Maryanne


Billy, as we knew and loved him, a wise old sage.

After a long summer of struggling to keep our 19-year-old baby, Billy Cat, comfortable, we had to make the decision to put him down.

He was our joy, our laughter, our love and our life. Billy was the best cat a person could ever have.

I remember when I got Billy. I was single and living alone. It was 1994 and I named him after Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins because I  loved the band at the time. Billy was from the litter of a shop cat. My uncle told me the colors of the kittens and I said I wanted a gray one. I met my uncle at his shop and he was waiting for me, with Billy, in a box.

Before I took Billy home, I took him to meet my beloved Grandmother. She was the first person to say how cute he was and ever since then everyone was falling in love with Billy. He was a special cat.

When I brought him home as a kitten, he was scared. He cried and hid a lot. It took him a long time to come out of his shell. Two years later, I got Derick as a kitten and the two were comical together. The moved with me when I left one apartment for another. At the second apartment I sneaked them both in because I was only allowed to have ONE cat. What could I do? They were family!

After a year of dating my husband, I moved in with him. Of course Billy and Derick came along. My husband is a wonderful cat dad. He adored my babies to pieces. When we all settled in, it was just adorable how we were all one big family.

Billy did so many cute things over the years but two of them will stand out in my mind forever.

1. The time my husband was playing The Monkees and the song “Papa Gene’s Blues” came on. There’s a lyric that goes, “I love you and I know you love me.” During that part Billy came running down the stairs. It was the sweetest, cutest thing. So from that moment on, we said that was “Billy’s song.” Billy always loved music anyway. He used to sit right by one of the stereo speakers. We said he was like the RCA dog who sat by the old Victrola. Billy would always looked so deep in thought.

RCAReminds us of Billy!

2. I’ll never forget the Christmas my husband surprised me by getting cute collars for the cats. Derick got holly and Billy got a bow tie (see first photo!) My husband planned that both cats were going to come down the stairs together to surprise me. He even rehearsed with them. But Christmas day, Billy was so excited he ran down the stairs ahead of Derick. I wish you could have seen the look on my face when I saw my Billy parading around with his bow tie, looking all proud and cute.

These are just two stories that capture Billy’s personality. He was just a big, old, innocent cat. He never caused me any problems. My cats never destroyed speakers, curtains or anything in the home. They never chewed on wires. The worst they ever did was fight with each other and even that was comical.

Everyone who met Billy fell in love with him. We always heard how beautiful he was, what a pretty cat he was and how good he was. I had Billy for 19 years, and my husband had him for the seven that we’ve all been together — the package deal. There was never a dull moment, but one thing Billy knew how to do was give a lot of love. He was just this big ‘ol stuffed animal.

I would love to share many more pictures, but since Billy was an indoor cat, most photos were taken in our home and we like our privacy.

Earlier this summer we noticed Billy had some problems with his hind legs and lost some weight. We just chalked it up to old age. Until he stopped climbing the stairs to use the litter box. We immediately took him to the vet and turned out he had thyroid issues. We were treating him by going to a regular vet and then a holistic vet, giving him acupuncture (which I blogged about earlier this summer).

Regular treatments kept him going for awhile. Then he took a turn for the worse. Most recent x-rays showed he had bone cancer. He was down to just four pounds and had a body temperature of 93 which meant he was deteriorating. Our mutual decision was to put him out of his suffering. And the last two days, that cat did suffer. You never heard a peep out of him, but he was meowing out of desperation.

Today we, along with my brother-in-law Joe, said our last good-byes to Billy.

Beautiful angel, I’ll never forget you. And I’m positive, neither will a lot of other people.

BillyBilly, our beautiful angel