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Miss Maddie

maddie-sweet-pea

Over the last several days, your kindness was, and still is, overwhelming. After a medical emergency for our Maddie girl, we had to make the heartbreaking, yet compassionate, decision to allow her go to a pain-free place on Saturday. She was thirteen. It was the absolute worst, but we know it was the right choice, something I’m only able to admit days later (although still struggling with all at once). She was the queen of our entire household and deserves a million tributes in her name; I’ll do my best to start right now.

I adopted Maddie when I was in college. Growing up in a full pet household, this felt momentous, as she was the first pet I brought home on my own as an adult. I bargained with my landlord – who had a no pet policy – that I would clean the common hallway and move the building’s trash to the curb every week if he could make just one exception on his strict rule. I’m sure he thought he had struck gold with my proposition, but really, I felt like I’d won that game. The shelter told me that they estimated her to be around 9 or 10 weeks old, and I was drawn to her low-key mellow attitude. She fell asleep in my hand, I paid the $60 adoption fee (draining my entire college-day checking account!), and together with my roommate, we brought her right to the pet supply store where we picked up the essentials – toys, a tiny bed, cat nip, and oh yeah, food and litter.

maddie-polaroid

Almost immediately, she fell ill. She was already scheduled for her first post-adoption check up, and when I brought her in, the veterinarian told me I had a barely 3-week-old little lady on my hands! She was weak and needed nutritious, fatty food. For a month, I stirred high protein wet sludge with dry kitty kibble, adding drops of water and nuking it all in the microwave to keep it extra soft and manageable. I fed her from my finger, and I used a syringe to shoot water into her mouth. She made a full and fast recovery, and as a result, she became fiercely loyal to me.

During the course of her younger years, she saw several roommates come and go, but she took to me, her mom, more than anyone. Whereas I could scoop her up, rub her belly and stroke the top of her head whenever, wherever, she loved Scott on her terms only. She chirped when he came near, and she put on airs as he pet her, despite her loud telltale purrs. Maddie was just this way, not only with Scott, but with most. She was sassy, but she kept my head warm (and my hair tangled) during the night. She could mean mug like no other, but she smiled and kneaded all the biscuits while she slept. She protected her kitty sister, Libby, from the pups, but if she suspected we saw her being sweet, she’d flip up her tail and sashay away.

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We’ve been watching Libby to make sure she’s okay with the loss, too. She appears to be… fine. Jack forces himself into her cat bed, which besides not being physically possible, is both hilarious and gut wrenching. We find ourselves annoyed that the toilet paper has been staying perfectly raveled on its roll, and all of these deep window sills we’ve built – just for her! – are irritatingly bare.

Our house is six pounds lighter, although it feels like a thousand. In our minds, she’s curled up next to TP mountain, with all the window sills and all the sun. We can’t thank you enough for your generous and comforting comments, texts and emails. On a daily basis, it fills my heart to know that I’ve painted the pets that have left lasting impressions on your lives, too. Losing a pet is immensely difficult, and we know we’re not in this alone. We want to tell you, you’ve made us smile with the warmth you’ve sent our way.

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  • Steph M.4.26.16 - 3:43 PM

    I’m at workeystone holding back tears. It is so hard losing them, but she, obviously, had a fantastic life and was so well loved. Sending you all the good thoughts I can!

    Also, Spanky shredded his first toilet paper roll last night in his entire life. So maybe she’s passing on this sassiness from kitty heaven. ?ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.26.16 - 3:56 PM

      Oh my goodness, that is amazing. Enjoy those shreds, lady!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy4.26.16 - 3:44 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. :(ReplyCancel

  • Hannah H4.26.16 - 3:45 PM

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss and my heart is going out to all of you. We have two cats and debated before getting a dog (all rescues). I pulled up your site before we pulled the trigger on the dog and showed my husband Maddy and Libby and how you all manage together. Life has changed since getting a dog because they offer so much more quick, immediate feedback. We have our sweet Sadie (our first fur baby) who is 10 and very much the queen as well in so many subtle ways. We’ve tried to make sure to still leave time for the sometimes finicky, but so worth the wait, love of our kitties. Dog and cat relationships are so different, and it can be easy to overlook all the silly, funny and loving things that cats do on a regular basis. But you miss them so much when they are gone.

    I admire you all so much for all the work you do for animals and the love you give them. It’s so sad that part of the love is the loss. But I know they stay with us forever. Hugs to you.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.26.16 - 3:58 PM

      Hannah, so kind, thank you. The dynamic of our once two-cat / two-dog household was really entertaining, that’s for sure! We always said that the pups and the cats agree to disagree, but it’s been tough seeing how much it is affecting Jack.ReplyCancel

  • Jeannie4.26.16 - 3:47 PM

    Ohhh soo, so sorry. Sending you lots of warm thoughts and love. I’m fighting back the urge to tear up at work!! Aren’t we all better for having these furry friends in our lives? If only they could stay longer…Maddie sounded fiercely loved, and I bet she knew it!!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel4.26.16 - 3:57 PM

    I got all teary reading this. So sorry for your loss. Losing a pet, no matter the circumstances, is always hard. They are your babies and important, memorable members of a family.ReplyCancel

  • Cait4.26.16 - 3:58 PM

    Beautiful post, Kim. So many hugs to you, Scott, Jack, CC and Libby.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn4.26.16 - 4:04 PM

    Kim and Scott,
    Our hearts go out to you. Maddie was a beautiful fluff and you got an amazing run! Which makes it all the harder. We lost our Lilly bug, also top in the pecking order, last summer, and it was rough on the girls, but especially our dog who she protected from the other cats! The best help advice anyone gave was to allow myself to grieve her loss and not be constrained by the idea of her as a “pet” – ignore what non-animal people might think and just take time for yourself when you feel it welling up.
    Jenn & AlexReplyCancel

    • Kim4.26.16 - 4:14 PM

      Lots of time and lots of welling up over here! Thank you. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah4.26.16 - 4:09 PM

    Feeling all the feels over here. Kitties are the best. <3 to all of you.ReplyCancel

  • Christine4.26.16 - 4:29 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. We just lost a precious lab to cancer almost a month ago now. It’s so sad and a hard decision to make. I know we made the right decision for our precious Callie girl but the sadness and loss is so hard. Animals make a special place in our hearts that never go away. My little Maltese is still struggling with the loss of her life long best friend. We have to keep her busy and an eye on her when she is sad. Make extra time for the other sweet fur babies. You just never know if and when it’s their last days. Know your sweet kitty is not in pain. I look at it like I wouldn’t want to sit there suffering and slowing dieing if I had the choice. To watch Callie dieing of cancer was to saddest thing especially knowing we can’t do anything to help her. We tried too.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.26.16 - 6:51 PM

      Oh, Christine. I’m so sorry to hear about Callie! Give extra live to your Maltese today, and we’ll do the same with our crew over here.ReplyCancel

  • Anna Kristina4.26.16 - 4:42 PM

    Sending all of you a big virtual hug. It sounds like she had an amazing 13 years, and I’m glad you got to enjoy all of them. My husband and I just adopted a three-year-old cat, Astrid, after years of landlords not budging. I hope we can give her the same sort of love and joy that Maddie had with you! (And if she spoke English, I’m sure Astrid would be sending her condolences as well!)ReplyCancel

  • Emily I4.26.16 - 4:45 PM

    I’m so very sorry. I’ll be thinking of you.ReplyCancel

  • Joanna4.26.16 - 5:54 PM

    Just went full onions while reading this…

    So sorry to hear you lost her after only 13 years, but it sounds like you gave her a wonderful home.ReplyCancel

  • Heather4.26.16 - 6:57 PM

    I’m literally crying over here. It’s a perfect tribute. Aaron, Mojo, Hank and I send all our love your way.ReplyCancel

  • Megan4.26.16 - 7:21 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I had to make that decision five years ago for my dog, Rugby. He was, hands down, the best dog ever and I too adopted him in college with little money of my own but made it work. We’ve since moved on physically after his “sister” showed signs of depression. I think dogs do it differently than cats though, but I’m glad you’re looking out for the pets too.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa4.26.16 - 7:41 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. My cat was around 15 when he crossed the rainbow bridge. It has been close to 7 years now and I still miss playing fetch with the ring from the milk lid. I miss that little booger.ReplyCancel

  • Bernadette4.26.16 - 8:26 PM

    Virtual hugs to all of you. This is never an easy time… I can’t even think of the words.ReplyCancel

  • Lynne4.26.16 - 10:05 PM

    Each leaves an indelible mark on our lives. Like Maddie, I adopted my Bear at a young age. A dog, but still my first as an ‘independent’. When boyfriends came and went, there was Bear. He was the only constant. As he aged, I bought one story homes and made flooring choices based on his needs. When his hips gave out, we walked with a sling. Because as a lab, he couldn’t bear being shut out from the world. When he left me at 19, my world momentarily ceased to exist. I believe we end as better people when we recognize the impact sentient being have on our lives. Having seen your ‘pack’ in all your pics, the two of you are amazing people.ReplyCancel

  • Cassie4.26.16 - 10:27 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss :( I’ve read your blog for years and it’s been a constant source of joy and imagination, and a huge influence in my own blog creation as well. Consequently, my fiancé and I also just had to put down our pet, the world’s most lovable dog, Lola, a few days ago. I kept telling myself that this was the last kind act we could do for her, but it was still the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through these emotions as well, but in my opinion, heaven is specifically reserved for the pets who have given all the love for all their lives, and the very few people who measure up to them. Hang in there.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.27.16 - 12:32 PM

      I’m so sorry, Cassie! Your words are perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Karen4.26.16 - 10:53 PM

    So sorry about your kitty :(. I had to put my 13 year old down as well. She was only companion for years. It’s been about seven years ago and I still miss her.ReplyCancel

  • Kim B.4.27.16 - 12:29 AM

    I”m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute you’ve written to her here. It’s wonderful to think of the lifetime of love that you and she shared. I’m so sorry she’s gone.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel4.27.16 - 9:48 AM

    What a wonderful tribute. I’m not even that much of a cat person, as they say… but your description of her personality and loyalty to you is making me tear up at my desk. I’m so sorry for your loss and for the hole in your household. Hugs!ReplyCancel

  • Susan @ Jubilee Furniture4.27.16 - 10:17 AM

    Oh Kim! I’m so sorry for your loss!ReplyCancel

  • misie4.27.16 - 10:36 AM

    SO much love being sent your way friend. so much.ReplyCancel

  • Meredith4.27.16 - 11:40 AM

    I adopted an older dog (8); I live alone and work full time and I knew a puppy would require too much attention. As she ages, I love her SO MUCH and know the day will come when I am saying goodbye as you had to. I mourn that I didn’t get to experience all of her years. I told my vet how hard it was to live in fear, and he said, “Embrace the fear, and the pain when it comes, because it means you had something great in your life.” Which certainly doesn’t alleviate the pain, but I found it to be helpful. I’m glad you had something great, and I’m sorry she’s gone now.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.27.16 - 12:02 PM

      Thank you for adopting a ‘senior’ dog! Hold that girl tight.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie4.27.16 - 12:47 PM

    I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am to hear this…What a devastating loss, and I’m sending every SINGLE good feeling that I can possibly muster to you guys…Thanks for sharing her sweet story!ReplyCancel

  • julie4.27.16 - 12:49 PM

    Oh Kim, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that in the times when you find yourself missing her, you can still feel her presence with you and that the thought of her getting tangled up or being her sassy self can instead bring you a smile.ReplyCancel

  • Monica4.27.16 - 1:29 PM

    what a lucky and lovely little one. I’m sorry for the ache her physical absence brings. Ah, and Jack carrying a torch for her… so sweet! Long may he and C. and L. remember her and snuggle with you to give comfort.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy4.27.16 - 2:04 PM

    Thank you for sharing the story of sweet Maddie. We have a similar story of our 13 year old cat, Luna. She was found abandoned by friends and was only maybe 6 weeks old at most when we took her in. Our thoughts are with you guys in this tough time. Much love to you and Scott, as well as Libby, Jack, and CC.ReplyCancel

  • Meghan4.27.16 - 2:59 PM

    Awwww Kim, so so sad for you, Scott, Libby, Jack and CC! We feel for you so much in your pain of loss. Sweet Maddie was so very loved by all of you! Kim, I remember with gratitude your loving reply when we shared our loss of Ndugu two years ago (his portrait brings us continued joy, thanks so much!).. You told us how Ndugu must be hanging out with Tigers, and no doubt they were fast friends! Love to think Maddie will likewise be embraced by many furry friends in the beyond.. Much love to you guys as you heal.. You’re in our thoughts.. xoxoReplyCancel

    • Kim4.27.16 - 3:18 PM

      Meghan, I remember Ndugu well, and I am so touched that you remembered Tigers! We’re so honored that you reached out. Just after Maddie passed, I told Scott that she looked so calm. Quite a contrast to how we must have looked in the moment. He told me, she just met Tigers.

      I really like to think of all the pets having a BALL (literally and figuratively?) and doing whatever they want to do, 24 hours a day. I can only imagine the happiness and cuteness up there.ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design4.27.16 - 4:28 PM

    I’m so sorry Kim. I know how it feels and I recently lost my youngest cat which is still raw and your post bright me to tears again. You gave her such a wonderful life. Thinking of you guys :(ReplyCancel

  • Victoria4.27.16 - 5:41 PM

    This broke my heart, especially when I got the part about the bare window sills. I can’t imagine losing my sweet senior pug, Tyson, just thinking about it… ugh. So I know you must be torn up inside. I don’t even know how you managed to write this beautiful tribute…

    My heart goes out to you.

    <3 Victoria (& Tyson)ReplyCancel

  • Liz4.28.16 - 11:37 AM

    Best. Cat-mom. Ever. <3ReplyCancel

  • Sierra4.28.16 - 4:05 PM

    So sorry for your loss! You can tell through your blog that Maddie was well loved and had a great life! Sending prayers and good vibes your way.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer I.4.29.16 - 12:11 PM

    This post broke my heart. I’ve been following your blog for several years now and can tell that like myself, your pets are your kids. I’m so very sorry for your loss and you gave her a wonderful life.ReplyCancel

  • sandy tompkins5.1.16 - 12:36 PM

    I know how you fee. I lost a beautiful tabby about two years ago. He lived to be twenty. I went down to the local animal shelter and brought home a beautiful short haired kitty. She is the love of my life. There are so many beautiful animals at the shelter I want them all.ReplyCancel

  • Kara5.4.16 - 11:28 PM

    I feel for you. What a great story, and great cat. Clearly a member of the family that will be missed greatly.ReplyCancel

  • Lavues5.15.16 - 5:11 AM

    She’s such a lovely cat, I am so sorry for the loss, but I am sure she is happy that she met you :’)ReplyCancel

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