Grieving My Little Feline Family [en]

I am so unbelievably sad to be left without my beautiful Quintus. I don’t want my life to be without him. I miss him, physically. I loved holding him in my arms, feeling him rub his head against mine, even licking my cheek, though his tongue was very rough, it was a mark of affection that I understood and welcomed. He slept on my pillow or next to it every night, give or take a few, for over eight years. I would bury my head in his tummy to fall asleep, wake up to his soft fur next to my face and a gentle purr. All that is gone, forever. It hurts so much that I’ve been setting it aside these last weeks, as I tried to get back on my feet after the ten terrible last days of his life, where I agonised over whether it was indeed time or if he could still make it for a bit that would be worth living.

And now, when I try to sleep, when I manage to stop work-related stress from spinning in my head and finally relax, grief come roaring in, all the more I guess because this is the time where I would most need him, companion of my evenings, of my nights, of my coming-back-to-consciousness when morning arrives. If only he hadn’t had to grow so old and die. I’m grateful for the time we had, and I know that it was time to let him go, but still, I wish there was a way to not have had to. I wish I could still have him near me, trying to crawl into my lap, pushing the computer away to squeeze in, stealing my pillow during the night. I wish I could still spot his graceful feline form in my flat, go to him for comfort when I need it, watch him enjoy a cat’s life.

But no, he’s gone. Gone forever. Forever. I want more time to say goodbye. More time before he has to go. But it’s too late, too late, all I’m left with are memories and pain and en empty spot at the corner of my bed where he spent most of his last months. I know it’s inevitable, I know he’s gone, but I don’t want to have to deal with this. I really don’t.

There is a little box with his remains and his paw print on my night-stand. It comforts me a bit that “he” is there, just next to his spot. It’s not him of course, but a symbol of his presence, and it makes me feel like he’s still somewhat there. Which he is not. I’m not in a hurry to spread his ashes. I will wait until the time feels right. I know already it will be months rather than weeks.

I hate being sad. I guess nobody likes being sad. But I feel like I particularly hate it. In these moments of deep sadness, I stop caring about anything, myself included. I just want to escape, stop feeling. Lose myself in something else, even if I pay for it in some way later.

I still have the box that contained Tounsi’s ashes, even if they have now long since gone back to the earth in the garden he liked to patrol. I put Tounsi’s box next to Quintus’s. I really loved these two cats so much. I loved how they were together, and with me. They were my little feline family. Something broke when Tounsi died. I wasn’t ready at all. And after that it was long years of fear that I’d lose Quintus too, his health slowly declining, each year bringing a new scare, each year thinking it would be the last, that he wouldn’t reach his next birthday. It was so hard the first year or two. I had prepared myself to long years with Tounsi once Quintus would be gone, but that’s not at all how it went. Things don’t go to plan.

I still miss Tounsi. He was a really special cat. I guess all cats are special, but he was particularly special to me. Because he was weird and astonishing, but I “got” him. Bagha and Quintus were wonderful and extraordinary cats, and I’ll never thank Aleika enough for bringing them into my life. They were “real cats”. Tounsi was different. Less feline, more like something of a puppy trapped in a cat’s body. Maybe not too sure about how to be a cat, at times. Losing him was devastating. And losing Quintus now feels like it’s not only the end of his own chapter, but also Tounsi’s.

Quintus and Tounsi were close. It didn’t come immediately, and I worked with them for it, but they slept together, groomed each other, play-fought. Quintus followed Tounsi when they were outside and he was starting to lose his eyesight. I’d always find them in the same room. Where one went, the other followed not long after. It was the little feline family I’d imagined when I decided I would adopt two cats.

I miss my old Quintus. Right now I’d like to scoop him up in my arms and hold him close and pet him while he purrs and headbutts my chin. But I can’t, because he died three weeks ago. I miss him so much.

Also published on Medium.

3 thoughts on “Grieving My Little Feline Family [en]

  1. I was so sorry to hear about Quintus. They become such a large part of our lives don’t they? I had always thought of myself as a dog person and didn’t really “get” cats until we got Alby. He is such a delight and good companion and I can begin to imagine how you feel.

    Hang in there…

  2. So, so sorry for your loss, Stephanie. You always write beautiful tributes to your beloved companions and the pain of losing them is so palpable. May you find solace in the virtual embrace of our thoughts and memories of Quintus ~ and Tousi ~ never forgotten, always cherished. Thank you for sharing your raw grief with us.

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