On Friday March 1, 2019, when I arrived in Nashville after that taxing drive through the northwest Georgia mountains I noticed that our golden cat Cody had not been eating his wet cat food. The cat sitter had come the day before and his food was still there. Our other cat, the grey Mitsouko, only eats dry cat food. Seeing that Cody barely ate or moved I took him to the veterinarian for tests. The tests showed that he was going through acute kidney failure with poor prognostic. Unfortunately he died on Wednesday 6 March, 2019. We loved that cat very much. At the end of my husband's illness he would sit for hours with Cody on his laps. After my husband's death 5 months ago having Cody also leave has been very hard.
People who do not have pets may not appreciate how particularly difficult it is to lose a cherished pet. A pet is an integral part of the family, someone we see every day - and for Cody it had been every day for fifteen years. My husband and I adopted Cody from the Cobb County animal shelter in Georgia in 2004 when he was 2 years old; he passed at 17 years old (about 84 years in human life.) He was a special and beautiful cat with soft fur and limpid green eyes. He was very affectionate and would purr constantly. The first few days after his passing I did not do much, could not do much, did not want to do much but feel sad at the loss of my furry friend. I have no friends in Nashville yet and after my husband's death my two cats brought me emotional support. I know Mitsouko misses Cody as well because she meows more and keeps looking for him. Not long ago there were four of us, two humans and two cats - now there is just Mitsouko and me and the house feels so empty.
Cody has been shown in my posts often. I even wrote a post about him in 2009 "Cody: my post helper.
" Every morning he would meow loudly for his food - I shall miss that. The bond between Cody and me was deep - he was my little friend. Last Friday, March 15, it was time again to drive to Georgia. This time I brought Mitsouko with me. I was afraid she would be too lonely without Cody in Nashville. Here I have many old print photos still. I decided to ease the pain by looking at all the little friends I have had among the years - a way to celebrate them. As far as I can remember there always was at least a pet close by. When I was a little girl growing up in Paris, France, we had a dog - here with me when I was four years old, shown below. Then it was our boxer, who went with me for walks in the forest, below with me when I was eleven years old. In San Francisco in the apartment I could not have dogs or cats, so I had pet birds. My parakeet, Dimitri, could talk and flew freely in the rooms. After I married we had a cockatiel, Diego, seen below on the shoulder of my yellow outfit. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
When we moved near Philadelphia, in Ardmore, for my husband to study for his master's degree in environmental planning at the University of Pennsylvania, we adopted our first cat, Pearl. She was a chocolate point Siamese. Our little girl dotted on her.
We also had dogs. Our first was a Kuvasz, a white sheep style breed from Hungary. He was not well socialized and bit our youngest daughter, so we gave him away. We then had a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a hound from South Africa. He was a sweet dog but destructive. He tore up all the linoleum floor in our kitchen, the draperies in our den, our daughters coats, shoes and stuffed toys. He was sent to a farm in Hiawassee in the North Georgia mountains for more open spaces. Then a Doberman Pinscher adopted us. She came to our door one winter and did not want to leave. We tried to find her owners, but no one claimed her. We kept her for many years and called her Sheba, she is on the bottom right, with our youngest daughter.
When we moved to Cobb County, Georgia, the house had a little barn with chickens - the results of a 4H program worked on by the son of the previous owner. We knew nothing about chicken and borrowed a book from the library on chicken rearing and breeds. We added to the flock with some special breed chickens, like bantams. They became the pets of our daughters. I had to watch the girls because in winter they would try to sneak the little chickens into their bedrooms so they would not be cold ... We kept the chickens for a long time and distributed surplus eggs to many of our neighbors.
After Pearl we had several other cats. I don't have all of their photographs. We had a Manx, a Maine Coon and others. Our daughter Celine adopted a Himalayan cat, Alphie. He was offered for sale at a cat show we attended in Montgomery, Alabama, and Celine fell in love with the little ball of fur. He is below on the roof of my Fuego Renault, then with our youngest in the black dress, and its owner, our eldest daughter in the blue top.
When I flew back home to Paris to visit my mother I also would see her pet cat Minou. Mother suffered from Parkinson's disease and Minou was a great companion for her. Although I had to be careful as she was always trying to hide into my suitcase...
Celine adopted a grey Persian, Caj, and our youngest daughter adopted a stray kitten, Miles. At the time we also had a cat I had rescued from outside a bookstore as a tiny kitten, Miska, then a Burmese, Khali and a Somali, Puma. I scanned the old print photos but they are not very clear.
Our family loves animals. On trips my husband and I would often stop to pet animals we would have enjoyed as pets, but could not take home, such as those below. My late husband is below at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina and at the Berry College farm of Rome, Georgia. My pictures were taken in Taman Buaya, Indonesia, with a wild little friend.
Our daughters took their pets with them when they moved into an apartment. Our youngest daughter is more of a dog person though and has had many dogs. A couple of years ago she sheltered several puppies for a while. We visited her at the time and my husband was overjoyed to play with the puppies. My daughter kept the little white puppy, shown in the center bottom photo below.
In 1997 I adopted a little Korat - a breed from Thailand. They are a living symbol of luck and prosperity there, often given as a wedding present. I named her Mitsou. She was a sweetheart. Here she is as a kitten below with my husband's Somali, Puma and also with me.
The Somali are long haired Abyssinian cats. Puma came from Baltimore. His family moved to Atlanta and could not keep him so we adopted him, as an adult. He formed a special bond with my husband. When Puma died my husband was grief stricken. Several months later we visited the Cobb County animal shelter where we saw Cody. Cody had the same coat color as Puma so my husband was keen on taking him home. We did so and he lived happily with us for fifteen years until early this month. When Mitsou died I was also heartbroken and a year later I adopted another Korat from a breeder in Atlanta, who I called Mitsouko after my original Mitsou. She is six years old now and is here with me in Georgia. (Below Cody and Mitsouko in the Georgia house last year.)
Pets have been great companions for me all those years. They have added a lot of happiness and love to our family. Even with the pain of losing them I can't imagine living without a cat - they love you unconditionally. Each one has its own individuality and is a joy to watch. My life would have been empty without my cats, such great little friends bringing so much joy. Here are three quotations on cats -
à petit, les chats deviennent l'âme de la maison"
- Jean Cocteau, French poet, artist, writer, film maker, 1889-1963/ "Little by little cats become the soul of the house." Below Le Chat, 1959, by Jean Cocteau
temps passé avec un chat n'est jamais perdu"
- Colette, French author, 1873-1954 / "Time spent with a cat is never wasted."
"When I am feeling low, all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns
." - Charles Bukowski, German-born American poet and novelist, 1920-1994.