Catfish, 1991-2008

I wanted to let you all know that Catfish, my beloved cat, died today at about 4pm, at the age of almost seventeen years. She was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago; we gave her some treatment, appropriate to her age and her prognosis, but she faded very quickly and was obviously suffering, and we had her euthanized at home this afternoon.

I am, of course, extremely sad and grieving about this. Catfish was a good friend and a dear companion for close to half my life, and letting her go is extremely hard. But I also know that I — and for the last few years, Ingrid and I — gave her a good, long, happy life. And I am very glad that we were able to give her a good death, safe and comfortable and peaceful with us at home.

If I haven’t been my usual cheerful and prolific bloggy self for the last couple weeks, and have been focusing on death and grief in my writing to an unusual degree — and if I’m not my usual cheerful and prolific bloggy self for the coming days and weeks, and focus on death and grief in my writing to an unusual degree — this is why. In addition to all the other reasons this is hard, this was the first death of someone I was very close to since I became an atheist and let go of any belief or hope in an afterlife. But I want to thank all my friends, family, colleagues, and increasingly beloved total strangers, for being part of the meaning of my life and reminding me every day that life is no less precious and amazing for being temporary. I’ll talk to you all again soon.
















  1. Nancy says

    As I sit here w/ both my dogs…..I imagine your pain. I am sorry for your loss. Seventeen years is a long time…’s obvious to me she had a good life with you….what more can we ask for those we love? Namaste

  2. Cyn says

    my condolences for your loss. as a former ‘cat mom’ to 2 furbabies for over 15 yrs…i can empathize w/ your loss. take it easy. it will become easier to cope w/ over time. i know from experience.
    i wish you well.

  3. Mary O says

    My warmest thoughts to you both. I had my cat Molly for almost 20 years, from 22 to 41. I still look for her now and again, but I know she had a great life. I still miss her often.
    Your blog is always a bright spot in my day – Thank you.

  4. says

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend.
    I’m pretty sure she made your life better and that you made hers better too.

  5. says

    I lost my Bijou last February; she was 18-1/2. Her ashes, photos & a tribute MySpace page (!) brought me lost of consolation. I feel your loss, but you gotta know she had a good life because she lived with those who loved her.

  6. says

    It sounds like Catfish had a long, happy life, and I hope your Comforting Thoughts on Death will bring you comfort now. This strikes home for me right now as I’ve just learned that my fourteen-year-old cat now living with my parents has a malignant tumor. It’s always hard to make the final decision for a pet you’ve loved all its life, but I believe it’s the right choice to help them die happy, safe, and comfortable.

  7. Ian Lazdeck says

    Greta, I’m really sorry to hear about your loss. Catfish was very lucky to have you, as are your readers. Hang in there.

  8. says

    I was worried when your blog went several days without a real post, and I’m sorry to hear that the worries were justified. Like other people above, I’ve lost a cat before, and I just want you to know that we’re here with you through this time. Feel free to express what you need. ((((Greta))))

  9. Graham says

    I’m just a passing Atheist who stayed reading after being touched by the honesty and clarity of your blog a few weeks ago.
    But I’m sitting here with my cat on my lap and a tear in my eye now. I know how special they are, the companions, and all the more so for being rooted in the common cause of all life.
    Thank you for blogging. My thoughts are with you.

  10. freakingdork says

    I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my dog of 16+ years two summers ago. I still mess up and call our new puppy by his name some times.
    *sending you comforting thoughts*

  11. says

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my beloved Kibben when she was 21, and I was only 26. Cats are wonderful creatures and you were lucky to have had each other. Thanks for posting the pix!

  12. says

    I too am so sorry for your loss. I had to put an old Schipperke down several years ago and it still brings tears to my eyes to think of him. He was a great dog and a wonderful friend. My heart breaks for you.

  13. newbie atheist says

    My favorite cat quote
    “Another cat? Perhaps. For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown. But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.”
    Irving Townsend
    Catfish reminds me of a tabby who owned us and died at 15 yrs old a few years back. (We now have 3 others; all different, all a delight)

  14. Laura says

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I hope memories of happier times with your precious kitty will carry you through your grief.

  15. says

    Greta, I am so terribly sorry to read this. Cats are family, and the grief when they die is just as difficult.
    *hugs* and thinking of you,
    xx Dee

  16. Eric says

    Sorry to hear of your friend and companion passing. I won’t give you the typical platitudes, just that I empathize and understand.
    Hang tough Greta!

  17. says

    Greta Christina, I am so sorry to hear about Catfish. I lost my Junior that I had since he was born through college, heartbreak, divorce, and happiness. He was always there for me. For weeks I was sure he was right around the corner.
    The only positive thing is that my other cat, Billy, and I became much closer afterwards. I guess he has some notion that he should be the only cat.

  18. bob says

    My dog Ginger was born in 1990. She is showing her age, deaf, near blind, gets confused at times. Me and my girlfriend had to put down a stray cat we adopted last year. We had Bootsy for less than a year. He was such a loving cat. I had to put down my other dog, Sandy, a couple months ago. She was 15. In both these cases, I wept so hard. 50 year old man and I wept so hard.
    I am sure I will weep for Ginger some day soon. Oh well. I don’t like it at all, so I try not to think about it.
    So sorry Greta

  19. says

    I am very sorry to hear about Catfish–hugs to you and Ingrid both.
    Newbie Atheist, thanks for the quote. It’s a keeper… I’m passing it on to my brother, whose best buddy cat was killed by a car last week.

  20. Michael Beedon, Block 2, room with the poster on the door ;) ;), Lenton & Wortley Hall, University P says

    Sorry to hear about Catfish :(. Losing a cat is awful. Love the pics! By the way, I’m reading ‘Are we having sex now or what?’ at the moment for my Philosophy of Sex module at Nottingham Uni. Exhilarating stuff ;).

  21. says

    Aww, Greta!
    Your catfish was so adorable. She was clearly well-loved. I bet the last thing she thought about was being curled up on your lap like in those pictures.
    If only we could all live and die like that.

  22. David D.G. says

    You have my sympathies, Greta. Seventeen years is a long time and a lot of history together. I had to let go of my late companion’s cat last year — the last living link I had to her. Take care, and be whatever “bloggy self” you need to be.
    ~David D.G.

  23. Layne Winklebleck says

    Sad to hear that you have lost your beloved Catfish. I hope you can take comfort in having given her a good life for many years and a good death at the end as well.

  24. David Harmon says

    I am sorry for you. I just fed my Gremlin an extra bit of chicken salad in Catfish’s memory. (She’s 13 or so now, definitely slowing down.)

  25. terrence says

    I like to think the last thing our beloved retriever Molly did for us was to lay her head on my wife’s lap and breathe her last, relieving me of the dreaded trip to the vet. At that very moment, somebody pulled up outside with their radio on too loud, filling the apartment with Linda Ronstadt’s version of “What’ll I Do?” Now I can’t tolerate anybody’s version of that great tune. Condolences and sympathy.

  26. Valhar2000 says

    I’m sorry to hear this, Greta. I lost a dog myself several years ago, and now I have another dog whose death will be just as painful… but I try not to think of that.
    Still, you have my condolences.

  27. David says

    You have my sympathies. Just last week my folks had to put our dog to sleep. He’s been in the family 14 years, and it was hard, so I know how you feel.

  28. Jan says

    Lurker here. I enjoy your blog and have especially enjoyed Friday cat blogging. I’m sorry to read this news. I know what it’s like. It’s so hard. You have my sympathy.

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