Losing Our Boy

We lost our boy.

It happened just over a week ago.  He didn’t come home on Saturday night.  He always comes home.  He’s never stayed out all night.  Ever.

The very first photo I ever took of Pumpkin, on the day we brought him home from the Cats Protection League

I wasn’t too worried at first – my Mum was visiting for the weekend and I was showing her all of my photos from Colorado and Florida.  I went out looking for him at 11pm, wanting to bring him in for the night before I went to bed.  Normally he comes running up to me – all eager eyes and fluffy tail – when I call him but this time he didn’t.  I texted my husband, who was working the late shift, and asked him to look for him when he got home.  I woke up to him saying “sorry” over and over and telling me he’d spent two hours searching for him but hadn’t been able to find him.

The cutest kitten I ever did see

I tried not to be too outwardly concerned.  Inwardly I deliberately ignored the little dark hole in my tummy that was trying to tell me something was wrong and convinced myself he’d accidentally got locked in a garage somewhere nearby and couldn’t get out.  We searched again.

Nothing.

My slight concern immediately escalated into frantic panic. I called round our local vet surgeries, desperately hoping that maybe someone had found him and taken him in.  Then I called the RSPCA.

Still nothing.

He was such a tiny little ball of fluff

We went out searching again, my Mum and the girls accompanying us.  We looked under bushes and by roadsides, we scoured all the places we knew he liked to hide, and we called him until our voices were hoarse.  A passer-by, who I recognised as one of the parents from the girls’ school, saw us searching and calling for him and pulled me to one side.  She told me she’d seen a cat in the road yesterday afternoon outside her mother’s house, and she described our boy – a small, ginger, tom cat.  My stomach dropped and my heart rose into my mouth and I knew.  I just knew.

We took the girls home and gave them lunch, trying to keep some semblance of normality, feeling numb whilst a battle raged inside me – my heart telling me that he’d gone and my head trying to convince me that he was just hurt and that we’d find him and he’d be ok.

I took so many photos of him sleeping like this

The husband and I reluctantly headed over to the mother’s house, taking Pumpkin’s blanket with us.  As soon as she saw us she knew why we were there.  I took one look at her face, etched with sympathy, and I crumpled.  She kept talking, apologising, saying she and her husband hadn’t known what to do.  “He was in a bad way”, she kept saying, “we didn’t want any of the children to see him”.

He’d been hit by a car.  He didn’t stand a chance.

My heart squeezed tighter and tighter.  They’d put him in a bag and placed him in the bin.  Part of me was (and still is) utterly horrified.  How could anyone do that – just throw away someone’s much-loved pet?!  But a bigger part of me knows that their hearts were in the right place, they were trying to help, trying to protect the children who live nearby and they simply hadn’t thought to take him to a vet to find out who owned him.

My husband and I retrieved him from the indignity of where he lay and it was indeed our boy.  Our poor, poor boy.

He’s so handsome – this is one of my favourite photos of him

 

We all cried all afternoon.   And all of the next day.  Even my husband, who I have only ever seen cry once (and those were happy tears when Liverpool won the Champions League back in 2005).  He didn’t cry when we got married, he didn’t cry at the birth of our babies and he hasn’t cried at any of the funerals we’ve attended in over thirteen years of us being together.  But losing our boy has been the undoing of him.  Pumpkin evened out the male/female balance slightly, and he loved my husband as much as Neil loved him, curling up on his lap as often as he did on mine.

We’re all utterly devastated and missing him terribly.

He used to take it in turns to sleep on each of the girls beds as well as having his favourite spot on the end of our bed

I’m never going to hear him greet me in the morning when I’m the first one down to the kitchen, where he sleeps.  We’re never going to hear him miaowing to go out or come in.  I’m never going to have him curl up on my lap, or feel him purring in my arms again.  We’re never going to see him come bounding down the stairs when we walk in the front door; never going to see him padding on the soft blanket at the end of our bed; never going to see him trying to sneak off with the body puff out of our shower (which he had a bit of a fetish for).  We’re never going to see his ridiculous fluffy tail when he gets excited or someone startles him.  He had so many quirks and individual traits that made him who he was and I’m trying to remember every single one of them, to store them away in my memory to I can always bring him to mind.  I don’t want the memory of him to fade away.

Look at those gorgeous eyes

He had such a big personality for such a little cat.  Such a huge heart.  He loved us all so much and we loved him.  We had him for two short years and he went through an awful lot in that time – numerous operations on his wonky leg, various vet visits for scrapes he’d got himself into.  He thought he was invincible.  And yet those two years were filled with so much joy.  He brought us all an incredible amount of happiness.  If one of the girls was feeling sad he’d go and comfort them – he just knew they needed him.  They thought of him as their brother.

The house feels empty.  I keep expecting to see him curled up in his favourite spot at the end of our bed or on the back of the armchair.  I keep catching glimpses of him our of the corner of my eye.  I keep checking to make sure he’s not going to come racing past me on the stairs and trip me up.  I swear I keep hearing him calling us at the front door.

Patiently waiting to be let out

We’ve all been subdued this last week.  Quiet.  There is an air of sadness permeating the very walls of our home.  I took him to the vet the next morning, wrapped up in an old towel inside a cardboard box.  We didn’t let the girls see him – it would have been too traumatic.  The husband and I can’t get the images of him out of our heads – it’s all we see as we’re trying to get to sleep at night – and I couldn’t do that to the girls.  Instead they all hugged the box and said goodbye, their sad little faces nearly breaking my heart.  They went to school and Neil and I worked as normal, but there was (and still is) very definitely a piece of the jigsaw puzzle of our family missing.  A piece of our hearts.

We’ve had him cremated.  I chose a little silver heart shaped box with two paw prints on for him.  That way we can take him with us if we move house – I couldn’t bear the thought of burying him in our back garden and then having to leave him behind if we decided to move elsewhere.  I collected him from the vet earlier this afternoon, and whilst I’m not quite sure where his final resting place is going to be in our house, I’m glad he’s home.

Sleeping was his favourite thing to do

It might seem silly to some people, to be in such mourning and grief over the loss of a cat.  But he was so much more than a cat.  He was a part of our family.  He was our boy.  Our gorgeous, green eyed, handsome and loving boy.  And we will always love him and miss him.

The photos in this post are a selection of my favourites from the two years we had him.  He arrived in our family at nine weeks old, a cheeky and energetic bundle of ginger fluff.  He purred his way into our hearts within moments, and that’s where he’ll stay forever more.

The last photo I ever took of our beautiful boy, curled up asleep at the end of our bed – his favourite place

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16 Comments

  • Reply November 20, 2017

    Donna

    I’m so sorry. I read until the bit of you getting him out of the bin and I just couldn’t read anymore – I scrolled through the rest. Your poor boy, your poor family. We lost our boy cat 2.5 years ago and this brought it all back. Someone found him, dead, under a car and we think he got hit by a car but we don’t know for sure. We went to the vet to see him and I was a mess. They asked if we wanted him cremated and I didn’t know what I’d do with the ashes, and I didn’t want him buried in the garden as I didn’t want to risk foxes digging him up – all the things you think about when hit with that sudden grief. So they just disposed of him. He lost his collar that day too so I don’t have that to hold onto either. I miss him massively.

    I am so sorry for your loss. Pumpkin was utterly beautiful and I’m sure there will be a gap in your family always where his little ginger shape should be. Thinking of you all x
    Donna recently posted…How to be a Savvy Shopper This Black FridayMy Profile

    • Reply November 24, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Oh Donna now I’m crying again 🙁 I’m so sorry you lost your boy too. Even though you don’t have anything physical to remind you of him I’m sure he’s never far from your heart or mind. Thank you so much for your lovely words about Pumpkin – we’re all missing him terribly x

  • Reply November 21, 2017

    Kerri-Ann

    Oh Chloe this brought a tear to my eye, I am so sorry for your loss. It is such a hard thing to experience especially with the children. A gorgeous kitty as George would say. Love to you and yours x
    Kerri-Ann recently posted…My Sunday Favourites…My Profile

    • Reply November 24, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Kerri-Ann. It’s been so much harder than I ever anticipated. The girls seem to be relatively ok I think, but it’s hit my husband and I really hard. And George is right – Pumpkin was a gorgeous kitty x

  • Reply November 22, 2017

    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries

    Ohhhh Chloe — we’ve been through this a couple of times now too and I wrote a very similar post when we lost our beautiful boy Widge. It’s utterly devastating. Our cats are like our children; Kiri, our eldest, has just turned 18. I’ve had her for practically half my adult life. The cats were my surrogate babies before I had the boys and I poured all the love — and wanting so desperately to be a mother — into Kiri and Widger. He was 10 when he died — three summers ago — and I was beside myself. Particularly as I had that same gnawing sense of foreboding — I knew that it was bad news. I’m so, so sorry for your loss xxxx
    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries recently posted…Home Etc #126My Profile

    • Reply November 24, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Oh Caro, I’m so sorry you lost your boy too. It’s amazed me how many people have been in touch to say that they are heartbroken over losing a beloved pet – they really are like our children as you say x

  • Reply November 23, 2017

    Jenny

    I am so so sorry for your loss Chloe, one of the family. What a beautiful cat he was too. It’s hard losing a pet he will be in your hearts forever and your lovely memories. #wrc
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    • Reply November 24, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Jenny. You’re right – he will always be in our hearts no matter where we end up in the world.

  • Reply November 23, 2017

    Hayley @hayleyfromhome

    Oh I’m so sorry you lost him, especially in that way. We had a lovely ginger cat just like yours, nearly identical actually called Willow and he was knocked down outside our house, it was years and years ago now – I was in sixth form and it still breaks my heart. It’s such a sad post but it’s nice to read a little bit about him and his quirks, I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through it xx
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    • Reply November 24, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Hayley. I’m sorry you lost Willow – it’s such a devastating thing to go through isn’t it? And I don’t think we ever really get over it. Pumpkin was a very unique little cat ad whilst it was incredibly hard writing this post I’m really glad I did as I wanted to capture him as I remembered him before his little quirks faded from memory.

  • Reply November 23, 2017

    Suzanne

    Oh my goodness on so many levels! He was an absolutely beautiful cat and these captures are so stunning. I’m sorry for your loss, you all sound heartbroken, your love for him really comes across in this post. Thinking of you all. So sad. xx

    • Reply November 24, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Suzanne. We are all absolutely heartbroken. Thank you for your kind words x

  • Ah Chloe, I’m beyond sorry for your loss. What an awful time you’ve all had, sending you all a big hug xxx
    Heledd – Running in Lavender recently posted…Behind the Scenes of Our Homebase Christmas Video with MumsnetMy Profile

    • Reply December 17, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Heledd. It’s been pretty awful to be honest. The hug helps x

  • Reply November 30, 2017

    Morgana

    Oh Chloe, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Such a beautiful cat, and I can tell from your words just how much he meant to you all. xxx

    • Reply December 17, 2017

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Morgana. Pumpkin meant the world to us, he really did. And even now, six weeks on, I still get tearful at silly things. x

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