And an Adieu

Hilly 1999-2010

We have been having a rather miserable week of it here. One of our cats, Hilly, fell seriously ill, and after a great deal of agonising, we accepted that the kindest thing would be to let her go.  We said our goodbyes this morning.

When we got her, our son was just starting pre-school. We drove in the car to pick two cats out of a litter of about six, and we chose the ones who came forward to greet us.  We were rather under-equipped in the early stages and having no proper cat carrier to hand, I’d sellotaped a cardboard lid to the top of our laundry basket. This turned out to be insufficient restraint, and before we were half way home, I had two kittens loose in the car and exploring, to my son’s delight.  This early adventurousness was misleading in Hilly’s case. She turned out to be the nerviest of nervy cats, little more than a black and white streak making for one of her hiding places. We knew of her existence only by the vast quantities of fluff she left in her wake, and the occasional spectacular vomit.

In the latter half of her life, however, she began to calm down and gain courage.  Because I spent a lot of time sitting around being quiet and still, she started to come and pester me for affection. She had a backlog of five years to make up and was almost comic in her neediness. She liked best of all to run back and forth underneath an outstretched hand, as if saying, don’t bother stroking me, I’ll take care of that myself! If I sat in an armchair she would run circuits around me. But eventually she would settle down, her compact body stretched out against the length of my thigh. In the past couple of years while I’ve been writing, we’ve been together a great deal like that, both of us pretending that I’m Colette.  Her newfound visibility made her no less nervous; it just meant that we got the fun of watching her run away from spiders, and take off like a helicopter when someone sneezed. Just a couple of months ago, she was having a good old scratch at the rough doormat inside the front door when I saw the bus go past that was bringing my son home from school. This should be interesting, I thought. When my son ran up to the door and pounded on the knocker, in his usual fashion, she managed to make it clear to the first landing in one single bound.

I know she had to go, because it was unbearable to see her wobbly on her legs, completely without vitality and constantly, unhappily hungry. But it’s been unbearable knowing that moment would come. Last night, I wondered what I could do to give her a good send off. And it occurred to me that one of her favourite things is to scavenge. Inevitably if we have visitors, she roams the kitchen, pausing to lick or chomp at some scrap she’s found on the floor (just to show us up, as all dependents are wont to do). So as I prepared our chicken dinner, I dropped scraps of meat down to her and she pounced on them with something resembling her old glee. I took my dinner and sat on the sofa with her, and to save her the trouble of making herself surreptitiously longer and longer in the direction of my plate, I put tiny pieces on a tea towel on my lap and she ate them off it, purring like an idling sports car.  All strictly forbidden, but why worry about precedents at this stage? Condemned kittens need a good last meal.

We are going on holiday next week, which is a relief, as being around the house without my little companion in it feels awful. She was a darling of a cat, dainty and delicate with the cutest white paws that she tripped about on as if they were Jimmy Choos. She would lie on her back revealing her fluffy white tummy in a shameless tease as she never had any intention of allowing you to stroke it. Then she would headbut my elbow with some ferocity and whisk back and forth on the spot, determined to dunk her tail in my mug of tea. ‘We have the silliest cats on the planet!’ I would cry.

We loved her very much and we will miss her terribly.


49 thoughts on “And an Adieu

  1. I am terribly sorry for your loss-I have been a cat person all my life-We have one Siamese that will be 18 on saturday-still doing ok-we are having a birthday party for him-his brother passed away about 1.5 years ago and he has been very very clinging ever since then-

  2. Farewell to Hilly. Your post brought tears to my eyes. It’s amazing how much joy a darling animal can bring. I’ve just read Marley and Me, the book on which the movie was based, and it is a delightful and ultimately very sad book about a family’s love for their dog.

    I wish I wasn’t allergic to cats – I do love them so and it would alleviate my family’s present pet issues.

  3. I cried a little bit when I read this. I’m so very, very sorry for y’all’s loss. I still miss my own cat terribly – we got her when I was seven years old, and she died in my second year at university. I developed allergies shortly after that so I won’t be able to have another.

  4. Oh Litlove, I’m having a little weep too. I’m so sorry. Hilly sounds a lovely cat who had a very happy life with you.

  5. I cried too. It’s so monumentally unfair that the beasties we live have lives so much shorter than our own. She was very lucky to have you love her for the scaredy cat with ninja tendencies she was. HUGS.

  6. That’s very sad — I had a similar situation a few years ago with a very old (17) and much loved cat, so I know just how you felt. I love what you did for her on her last evening.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. I had to say goodbye to my dog Gypsy, who was a couple of years older than Hilly, about 6 months ago, and I still miss her every day.

  8. Poor Hilly, what a pretty cat. So sorry to hear this–it’s so hard as they become part of the family. I love the comparison to Colette, and I bet she did, too.

  9. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your life with Hilly, she sounds like she was a grand cat. Good luck with the healing.

  10. Oh, I am sorry for your loss. Hilly was obviously, in her own way, devoted to you; your extra-special treatment for her last evening is deeply touching. It is so difficult to let them go.

  11. Dear blogging friends – we are all so very sad this evening, but your caring and supportive comments are just wonderful to receive. I’ll reply properly to everyone tomorrow, but I just wanted to say a huge thank you and to send out hugs and love to you all. You help.

  12. I’m so sorry to hear about Hilly. She was a beautiful cat and it sounds like you have wonderful memories of her. Losing a pet is always so traumatic as they become part of our families. Here’s wishing you will be able to remember her with a smile. Your post was so touching to read and literally made me cry.

  13. I’ve just come from Lilian’s blog, where her little girl appears all grown up, so from life to death, and yet the contrast is less confronting than one might think, since both of you exude such tenderness and obvious love, and what else is there that matters in the end? Hilly sounds like a treat and a treasure, and how wonderful to have had her so long and with such amusement. I’m so sorry you’re all sad, but Hilly’s farewell had a great deal more affection and dignity than the passing of so many of our own species that I can’t help thinking she was one very lucky cat. A big hug to you, LL – and enjoy the break.

  14. Sorry to hear about Hilly. But this was a lovely tribute to a beloved cat. I did laugh at your descriptions of her scaredy-catness. Reminds me of my dog who used to tremble very easily. Hugs to you all.

  15. Such a lovely tribute to her, litlove. What a much-loved cat. I love her last meal, but it made me very sad to think of you having to give it to her. I’ve lost cats too — and can still remember the day we brought a Siamese kitten home, head sticking out of an airline bag. He got out and all over the car too. Losing a cat was the only time I remember seeing my father cry. They are precious, precious companions.

  16. Oh Litlove, I’m so sorry about Hilly. She is such a pretty cat and very well loved. Lots of hugs to you all. I hope your holiday helps to lessen the grief just a little bit.

  17. So sorry to read this. We had two cats, both gone. They become part of the family and it’s such a wrench to lose one. At present next door’s is our semi-pet, often down the garden and in the greenhouse. Have a good holiday.

  18. I’m so, so sorry for your loss 😦 I lost my dog Zacarias a few months ago and the pain is still so raw. Sending you hugs and warm thoughts.

  19. Mel u – I’m so sorry to hear you lost one of yours recently. I’m not sure how Hilly’s brother will do without her yet. 18 is a wonderful age for a cat to reach – hope you had a fantastic birthday party!

    Charlotte – I don’t dare go near Marley and Me at the moment, although I’ve heard all sorts of good things about it. And I’m so sorry to hear you’re allergic! I feel for all the people who visit us who find themselves inevitably breathing in cat fur. I am behind on reading for you, although my admiration for you as a writer grows. I’ll be in touch when we’re back from holiday.

    SFP – you are so right about missing her. And yes, she was a beautiful cat. Thank you for your kind, kind words.

    Jenny – oh that’s so sad! You must have loved your cat so. Maybe one day the allergy will fade a little? I do hope so.

    Helen – that is so sympathetic of you! We did love her so – thank you for your kind words.

    Colleen – what a gift – a scaredy cat with ninja tendencies describes her perfectly! Bless you for that – I love it.

    Smithereens – thank you for that – she was a dear companion to us all.

    Harriet – Oh I’m so sorry to hear you lost your cat as well. Isn’t it awful? I’m glad I broke the rules, too. It was worth it to hear her purr.

    Florinda – sometimes I wonder if it isn’t worse for people with dogs. Cats are so independent (although Hilly wasn’t quite so much like that). I’m so sorry to hear you had to lose a much loved pet. It’s a dreadful wrench.

    Jean – thank you for being so kind.

    Danielle – that’s it exactly. She was part of the family, almost a quasi-sibling for my only child. We do miss her – her brother for some reason doesn’t make me feel like Colette at all!

    Bookgazing – thank you for your lovely comment. I’m sure we’ll feel better in time. But it has been a rough few days.

    ds – what a lovely comment, also. Hilly was very much ‘my’ cat and you’re so right it was hard to let her go. I feel relieved she didn’t suffer worse, but I do miss her.

    Isabella – oh I’m sorry to hear you lost a cat too. It is hard to adjust to life without them, isn’t it? It was the kindest thing to let her go, but we miss her.

    Rosy – thank you, my friend. I know you know how pets insinuate themselves into your life!

    Ksthleen – thank you for your kind and supportive words. I do laugh whenever I think of her leaping up those stairs! She was a little darling, and we were lucky to enjoy her company while we could.

    iliana – thank you for the hug – gratefully received!

  20. Cam – you’re so right. We were completely blase as our pets were relatively young, or so we thought. Grievous is exactly the word.

    Doctordi – you always find something wonderful to say – thank you! We did love her so, and as she came out of her shell, she returned that love tenfold. So all in all, we were all lucky to be together.

    Booksplease – thank you – it was an awful decision to make, mostly because my son found it hard to accept. But we knew it was the kindest way really. Just, you know, a no win situation.

    apiece – silly was exactly what she was – silly billy Hilly, we often called her. But very sweet and adorable too. Thank you for your lovely comment.

    Kimberly – thank you for your kind words. We are all looking forward to going away! It will help us get used to the fact that she’s not around.

    Pete – thank you, my friend. When we went to the vet, you were the first person I thought of with your dog earlier in the year. These things are ghastly, aren’t they? Hugs gratefully received.

    Ingrid – oh what a wonderful image of the cat in the airline bag! I must say I haven’t seen Mister Litlove cry in a long time – I could have lived without it. We miss her a lot and it’s been a tough couple of weeks. Thank you for your lovely comment. I’ll be in touch when we get back from holiday – would love to catch up.

    Stefanie – I know you’ve been there, too. Sucks, doesn’t it? Still, we had her and we loved her, and we knew she was too poorly to hang on. Thank you for the hugs, and yes, we really need a break! I’ll be straight over to catch up with your blog when we return.

    Gentle Reader – I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been through this too. And recently! I decided to write Hilly’s obituary as soon as the vets was over – I figured I was upset anyway. Hugs to you.

    Grad – and my heart goes out to you. Awful, isn’t it? And yet, having them to love is precious too.

    Bookboxed – I don’t think I’m ready to go through this a second time, although it’s inevitable. I’m so sorry you’ve loved and lost also. Mortality sucks, doesn’t it? We really need a holiday, though, so it will be good to get away. See you when we’re back.

    Teresa – thank you for your kind words, and I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been through this. Isn’t it ghastly? The support of my friends helps enormously, though.

    Nymeth – oh and then hugs right back to you! I’m so sorry to hear that! It is just terrible to lose a much loved pet, and I sometimes think the bond is even greater with a dog. Much love.

  21. We just had our cat of 15 years have to be put to sleep at the beginning of June. It was surprisingly devastating for me. I miss Bandit so much. I didn’t realize how much she had become my companion – despite having a young family now, she was my cat, and very much loved by us all. In the last months of her life, she was allowed to have chicken and salmon whenever we were having it, and catnip in the evenings. YOur post is lovely and heartbreaking, and I thank you for sharing how much you loved Hilly with us. I hope you and your family give each other plenty of hugs in the coming days and weeks. I’m busy getting a photo of Bandit framed now. She – and they, our cats – do become part of our family, don’t they?

  22. Writing this in tears as I lost my beloved Maine Coon Madigan 11 days ago and know just how you feel.
    He had developed feline asthma out of the blue ten days before that and we had almost lost him then but he pulled back and seemed to be back to his usual self, only to have another attack and have to be rushed back to the vets.
    He seemed to be recovering well from that but sadly died in his sleep aged only 8.
    He was the sweetest natured cat imaginable and very beautiful and we all miss him terribly, although I’m not sure that the local birds will as he was as ruthlessly efficient a hunter as he was a loving friend.

  23. Choosing to let a loved pet go is one of the hardest choices in life. Yet sometimes the alternative is worse. Comforting cyberthoughts travelling the longitudes and latitudes between us.

    But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill as day was ending once more.

    And he went on and there was yellow light and fire within and the evening meal was ready and he was expected.

    He drew a deep breath. “Well I’m back” he said.

  24. the loss of a pet is really, truly heartbreaking. I am so sorry you are losing Hilly. She was very lucky to land is such a good, loving home with the three of you as companions. I am so sorry for her loss!

  25. What a lovely memorium to your cat, Litlove. She was indeed very pretty. It was a surprisingly big hole for me when we lost our old dog Vinnie and then our cat Millicent within a year; I still think of them. Our new pets are new members of the family in their own right, but I’ll always miss the distinct personalities of our old pets. You have my sympathy.

  26. When we were kids, my sister and I had to bury a pet bird who died from a mysterious disease. I remember that sad morning vividly. My sympathies for your loss, Litlove.

  27. Pets like Hilly are our constant companions, always there, always in the moment and so attached to us. It is very hard to let them go. She has the most beautiful eyes, and I love knowing that she jumped when she saw spiders. xoxo

  28. Well, I am very late to the party but just want you to know I am so, so sorry about your loss. She sounds like she was a wonderful companion. I love the final meal you gave her: just perfect. oxoxox

  29. I am so, so sorry for your loss. Our creatures do become family, whether we plan on it or not. You made her life wonderful… I am sure she was grateful in her own, kitty way.

  30. Oh bless poor Hilly, she was a treasure.

    As one of those allergic visitors to the LitLove household, I never used to mind a little bit of discomfort as your kitties were always so delightful to watch. Big hug to Harvey and the rest of you (in between sneezes!).

  31. Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Many thanks

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