A few weeks ago I came home to an empty house and heard strange sounds upstairs.
Alarmed that there was an intruder in my home, my heart raced and I wondered what action to take.
And then I noticed that it was my elderly tuxedo cat, Ariel, slowly making her way down the stairs of our two-story, split level house.
It was all she could do to make it to the food bowl.
Two days later she could not even stand. She did not sleep, ate very little and could not use the litter box.
My husband and I had talked about how this day had come. She was 15 years old, riddled with arthritis and muscle tone loss, but it was still hard.
It felt in a way like losing my parents again who suffered for many years with chronic pain.
We spent a Sunday afternoon taking turns holding her and petting her, watching old videos of her as a kitten.
We reassured her that she had been the best cat ever — she rarely trespassed on countertops or cars. She went outside if possible to relieve herself. She was tolerant with our children; just a gentle, quiet soul.
When my retired neighbor, a dear friend, learned of my plans to euthanize Ariel, she insisted that she drive me to the animal hospital.
She brought a basket for Ariel to rest in during the journey.
Although Ariel had always been afraid of car rides, she barely stirred. When a curious dog tried to say hello in the waiting room, she did not move.
I was hesitant to involve my neighbor but it was a godsend, riding down winding country roads with her to a beautiful hospital in Seagrove decorated with pottery.
We got Ariel when my children were 4 and 1, Ariel was just a kitten.
And while I have had cats all my life, Ariel was the first cat to live mostly indoors.
It’s strange not to see her in her usual spots. She liked to lie at the top of the stairs and watch all the family activity. She also favored several rugs in the home and my seat in the living room.
We buried her in the backyard and I can see her makeshift grave and a recently purchased bright yellow chrysanthemum from the kitchen window while I wash dishes.
Our other cat, Peanut, who was always so good to lie in her pet bed and not the couch, has begun sleeping in one of Ariel’s favorite spots — on the couch beside the bay window.
And every morning when I only see Peanut waiting for food, it’s a punch in the gut.