Saying a Sad Goodbye to One of Our Very Best Cat Friends in the World

 Our Sweet Buddy Dylan – June,  1999 to July 8th, 2019

A Tribute to a Friend  by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted Monday, July 8th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

As I write this, I am feeling empty. And I’m feeling a little afraid that I am going to key in some words that are way too maudlin and trite for a cat who seemed so wise and who composed himself with such quiet dignity.

I woke up at about 7 a.m. this Monday (July 8th) morning and there was Dylan’s head, resting in the usual place, on the pillow right next to me with one difference. This time, he did not make a move to get up as he also always did when he saw me stir, to lead me to the place where I would fill his bowl with food.

One of Dylan’s favourite poses on one of his favourite places. (yes, one eye was blue and the other was green.)

Dylan had just turned 20 this June and he was getting pretty slow, as old guys do, and this Monday morning that beautiful heart of his just decided to give out.

I have been through this dreaded experience before with beloved cats in our home. Woody was about 13 or 14 years old when he died more than a decade ago and his sister, Jessica, lived a few years longer.

It probably sounds a little selfish to say something I have found myself saying when my wife and daughter and I lose a beloved cat or one of our friends loses a much loved cat or dog – that the only problem with these wonderful characters is that they don’t live long enough, as if they should always be there for us.

Yet here I was this morning, saying it again even though we were fortunate to have Dylan make it to 20, roughly five years longer than the life expectancy of the average domestic cat.

At the window, watching the world go by

The extra few years doesn’t offer much in the way of consolation though, at least not right now while Dylan’s passing is so raw.

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to have a cat in their lives knows how attached they become (the “aloof” business only counts when you are a stranger) and how smart they are when it comes to understanding so much of what the significant humans around them do and say.

There are studies that show that with time, a domestic cat can come to understand at least a few hundred words in the vocabulary of whatever language their humans are speaking, and can comprehend whole sentences if they hear them long enough.

Well before Dylan turned 20, I am sure that “the white guy,” as we sometimes fondly called him, understood just about every word and sentence we spoke that mattered. And in my case, since I am the one he became most glued to during the last half of his life, he got to know my movements so well that I am almost certain that he knew what I was going to do next before I decided to do it.

Dylan was one cat who believed in meeting you right in the eyes and when you looked at him, he always looked so interested and wise. So much so that if I were thinking out loud while working on a story or a column, I might look over at him and say; “So what do you think, buddy? Do you think that will work?”

Our daughter Sarah, now in her late 20s, was still in grade school when she decided we should have another cat and adopted Dylan from a young woman with some kittens to give away in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Dylan with one of our other best friends, Dexter, giving us one of his upside down looks and, thankfully, still with us.

So we have been through so much in our lives with Dylan in our home, job-wise, school-wise and otherwise, and through all the ups and downs, he was always there with his unqualified love and friendship.

And now, suddenly, everything but the warm feelings and memories is gone, and I get back to the feeling of emptiness I woke up to this Monday before I started writing this.

An hour or so after I got up this morning and things began to sink in, I walked on the patio and looked up at the sky through the branches of a maple tree in our backyard.

This may sound a little trite, but there was an old wooden bird feeder hanging from one of the branches in that tree and Dylan, who was mostly an indoor cat who never was a trained hunter, would sometimes sit on the green grass right under that feeder waiting for birds.

Being as white as he was, he would shine down on the ground like a beacon, and my father, who died a few years ago, would chuckle at this while it looked like Dylan was trying to figure out what happened to the birds he could always see flocking to the feeder when he was inside the house, watching through a window.

“Maybe he is hoping a bird will fly right down into his mouth,” my father would say.

Of course, the birds were perched in higher branches of the trees, waiting for Dylan to go away.

The birds won’t have to wait for Dylan to leave any longer.

Goodbye buddy. We sure are going to miss you.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

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12 responses to “Saying a Sad Goodbye to One of Our Very Best Cat Friends in the World

  1. Pat Winstanley

    So sad to read about your Dylan. I’ve been there so many times and still fondly remember many little furballs who’ve come into and then left my life. There will always be a little cat-sized space of happy memories for you.

    Like

  2. Gail Benjafield

    Commiserations, Doug. Well understood by those of us who have loved our feline friends.

    Like

  3. So sad to read about your loss, Doug. We all love our animal families and dread the day they leave us. Please take some solace in the knowledge you gave him a wonderful home for a remarkable number of years.

    Like

  4. I’m so sorry, Doug, for your loss. Your buddy, Dylan, had a long and rich life, and was surrounded by humans who loved him. He was a fortunate kitty. Remember the good life you gave Dylan as you grieve him.

    Like

  5. Dylan was obviously loved very much…that is the greatest gift of all, others might never experience…he was blessed and left beautiful memories as a gift for you.
    I am sorry for your loss.

    PS: Wouldn`t it be perfect to fall asleep in your comfy bed next to your best friend – and not to wake up anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda McKellar

    It breaks our hearts to lose our fur babies. They make our lives whole.

    He fell asleep beside someone who loved him. He knew that. You know that too.

    Like

  7. Michael Coakley

    Reflecting on how blessed we are to have had such a little spirit in our life for all those years is how Dylan’s memory lives on. What is obvious is you and yours that provided a wonderful forever home, a forever home where Dylan shall never be forgotten.
    Cherish the beautiful memories and the many happy times spent. Sorry for your loss.

    Like

  8. Sorry to hear Doug – it’s a difficult time but, they are not gone who live on in the hearts of those they leave behind…. I wish for all animals of every species the kind of understanding, love, compassion that you shared with Dylan.

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  9. Gary Screaton Page

    Sorry for your loss. We never know when they come into our lives just how impacting our pets can be. They become family. That humans and animals can bond so powerfully is a tribute to how we can care for each other. Dylan’s passing is a very real loss. Thank you for letting us in on this moment in your life. Friends come in all shapes and sizes and not all have two legs. Some have more and Dylan is well up the friendship scale.

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  10. That’s very beautiful, Doug — it captures what all of us feel about our feline family members. Dylan sounds very special — no wonder you feel bereft. My condolences to you and the family.

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  11. Sorry, Doug. I do know the whimsical, mischievous and playful moments, the love, the one-of-a-kind friendship, that “knowing” when little is left of the sand in the hour glass and, finally, the deep down heartache of loss. I had the unfortunate experience of having to put my Eddy down on Dec 22. Just seeing his name typed here brings him close to me again as dormant memories spring to life. Gone but never ever forgotten. Thank you for sharing the story of your cat-friend connection.

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  12. My deepest condolences Doug. Our pets mean more to us than we are ever comfortable expressing…thank you for doing such a wonderful job of putting your feelings here to remind us as sometimes we take them for granted.

    Like

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