There are some people in this world who have no concept of grieving over the death of a pet. “What’s the big deal?” they ask. “It was just a cat/dog/bird/hamster.”
On some level, these people do have a point. They are “just” animals. Animals do not experience emotions the way humans do. Every reaction you see from an animal is conditioned, instinctual, or in-bred. A cat does not love. A dog does not love. Yet their domesticated behavior may, to our own emotions, look like expressions of love, and for that, we love them in return. We know in the back of our minds that when the cat plops itself down on our chest when we’re trying to go to sleep, purring contentedly, it’s not really saying, “I loooooooove you”, but then we don’t really care. We smile, give the cat a little rub on the head, maybe on the nose, and some long body strokes, and the purring only gets louder. It’s a great way to fall asleep. We love the cat for this. (Especially when you’re the only one in the house the cat does this with.)
People who ask “What’s the big deal?” when a pet like that dies will never get it.
I’m so happy that Tom and Tiff are not among those people. I never had the opportunity to meet Guinness, though Tom and I shared many a conversation about him, and our other cats.
Of all the photos of Guinness Tom has shared with me, and the rest of the world, this one is among my favorites:
There is something so very cat about it, and Guinness was a cat’s cat.
Kelly and I lost our first pet, our Pembroke Welch Corgi, Linus, in April 2002, having had our little pup for ten wonderful years. We know the heartbreak the Bridges are going through, because while Guinness was not a human, he was not a baby, a child, he was also not “just” a cat. He was a member of the family.