Joy the Cat inspecting alien technology.
Joy will never read this, because she skipped school all of her 18 years and the authorities never caught her for truancy. SHE WAS TOO FAST. But I wanted to write it, to have something about her that lasts, even if it’s simply floating on the interwebs.
Joy was always different.
When our son was born, the other two cats fled in terror and stayed in the basement for a month.
Joy stood guard, like a dog, and hissed at people who got too close while he was sleeping. She’d patrol outside his bedroom door, even when it was closed.
Strangers also made our other cats hide. But they were catnip to Joy, who’d walk right up to meow hello and meet everybody.
She was a good a noble cat, always playful, happy to cuddle, and only a smidge bitey if you tried to give her a bath.
I’ve had dogs, cats, salamanders, a snapping turtle and a spider as pets. Joy is one of my favorites.
So we have to put her down today, since she’s got pancreatic cancer. It’s time. She can’t walk much or take care of herself anymore.
There’s an old saying that every kid should have a dog or a cat. That pets are good for kids. They don’t judge you. If you’ve had an epically bad day, and open the front door to see a dog who’s insanely happy to see you, it can’t help to make you feel better.
Put a dog in every office and stress levels would drop like a rock. Joy was the same way.
Pets are good for kids for another reason: they teach you about life. How to take care of a kitten or puppy, how to train them, clean up their accidents, feed them regularly, take them on walks and to the vet. It’s almost training to be a mom or dad.
And finally, having pets teaches you how to let a loved one go when they die.
That’s an important part. Everybody needs to learn how to handle death, how to grieve. I’ve buried a lot of pets and lost a lot of grandparents and relatives. It’s never easy. But you learn to treasure each hour of every day, even it’s just sitting on a couch discovering fun new BBC shows with a cat purring on your tummy.
Thank you, Joy—you mattered, and you’ll be missed.