The Little Things You Miss

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When you lose a cat, there are lot of things you miss about them. It’s the big events and the ways you bonded with them. It may be things you did repeatedly like getting them presents for the holidays or single events like getting professional photographs of them. Zoloft and I moved to a new home almost exactly a year ago today so lately I’ve been thinking a lot about moving with him. I loved watching him curiously explore new places and settle into his new home both of the times we moved together.

The big things aren’t always the things you miss the most about your cat. Often times, it’s the little things that hurt the most to think about never getting to experience again.

Things You Do

There were a lot of things I would do with Zoloft that he probably either had no idea why I did them or he thought I was just a weirdo. Every morning, I would wake up and sing him a song I remember from kindergarten but modified so it was about cats. No, I will not be sharing the song thank you very much. Before bed each night, I’d tell him, “Your daddy is going to bed. You can come and snug if you would like. It’s up to you, but you daddy would like for you to come and snug.” He usually would.

Between then, before I’d feed him, I’d ask him if he’d like for “your daddy to get you a shhhnack? Okay, but just a shhhhnack.” There were little, stupid things like that spread through the day that became part of our routine. I loved doing them, but I didn’t realize exactly how much I loved those silly things until I didn’t have him here to do them for.

When We Were Apart

Being the obsessive cat dad I was, those little things didn’t stop when I had to run errands or head somewhere without him. I’d often sing a song about returning home to see him on my drive home because every single time I was genuinely so excited to see him. When I’d go on vacation, I’d search for something to bring home to him even if it was a toy I could easily buy back home. I wanted to have something for him.

One time, I flew to Vegas for the weekend to see Gwen Stefani when she had her residency there. I obviously stopped to see Siegfried and Roy’s tigers and saw a small, stuffed tiger in the gift shop. I brought it home for him and kept it in his carrier. It traveled around with him whenever we’d go somewhere together. Now, it sits next to him wearing the blue bow tie from the picture on the front of my website.

Zoloft, a lynx point siamese cat, wearing a light blue bow tie looking at the camera with his beautiful light blue eyes.
It matched his eyes so perfectly you’d think it was custom dyed.

I have no idea if he actually found the tiger comforting, but I miss finding things like that for him. I’d think of him wherever I went no matter what.

Nothing Quite Lives Up To It

I love Poutine and Prozac very much. They are very sweet cats and we’re starting our own traditions. Still, nothing quite feels like it did with Zoloft. I tried singing some of the songs I sang for him and I tried saying some of the weird baby talk I did with Zoloft to them and it just falls flat. I haven’t quite found anything that’s the same.

I’ll still grab the occasional extra cat toy at Target or get them something fun, but it just feels like soda that has been sitting out for a while. It’s not flat and there are bubbles, but it’s definitely not as satisfying as freshly opened Diet Coke. With time, I’m sure we’ll find our things. In the meantime, man, I miss those little things.

Things Zoloft Did

Of course, anything I did with Zoloft doesn’t even come close to the little things I miss that Zoloft would do.

The sassy meow he’d give when I resumed giving him pets at the base of his tail after very erroneously stopping too early.

Him sitting on the toilet waiting for me to finish showering.

A lynx point Siamese cat, Zoloft, sits on a closed toilet looking at the camera. His ears are perked up.
He was so silly. And he looked cute even sitting on the toilet.

His love of office furniture. Yes, office furniture. There was a reason he took to his fake cat laptop almost immediately.

Even things that I wasn’t present for I miss. My mom told me when we stayed with them for a few weeks last year that he’d wait by the door for a long time after I’d leave. If there was any noise from the garage, he’d go sit by the door again. As I was writing my guide on getting a good video of your cat, I was reminded of when I set up my security camera for the first time. I quickly discovered he’d begin sitting by the door waiting for me around the time I’d come home most days. If he wasn’t waiting, he’d leap up to come greet me as soon as I walked in.

Little did he know I was just as excited to see him.

Irreplaceable Little Things

The last few weeks, Poutine has started doing some of the same things I loved Zoloft doing. Zoloft would come snuggle with me in bed almost every night for at least part of the night. Poutine tends to come curl up with me in the morning and he usually tries to get me to play with him by nipping at my hands. There are still purrs and head bunts and it’s very sweet, but…

Flat soda. It’s flat soda.

Even similar things that both my dudes do that I genuinely do like don’t ever quite replace the things about Zoloft that I miss. Not that I want to replace what he and I shared, but man… Those things are tough to go without.

Even The Unpleasant Things

Strangely, things I really didn’t like trigger a sense of longing. As a final story, the other night I cleaned out a long box that Zoloft used to lounge in right up until the end of his life because I was searching for an unusual smell I couldn’t quite identify. The smell ended up being from somewhere else, but I figured I should confirm that box wasn’t the culprit.

I hadn’t touched the inside of the box since August. Prozac occasionally steps in there to nap, but Zoloft was the one who really loved it. When I pulled out one of the blankets I keep in there for coziness, I knew the very dried up hairball was his.

Zoloft had a fair amount of hairballs despite being a short haired cat and me brushing him regularly. I’d occasionally find a surprise that appeared while I slept or I’d hear him wretch one up. It wasn’t fun, but I loved him so it wasn’t too much of a chore to clean.

As I tossed the hairball in the trash and got the blanket ready to wash, it stung a bit as I realized that this might be the last hairball of his I cleaned up. I was washing away a bit of him from a blanket for the last time.

I even miss cleaning his hairballs.

But also… what a completely Zoloft thing to do. Even 9 months after he’s been gone he still managed to leave a hairball for me to clean. I could help but laugh at how on brand it was.

I miss when he’d make me smile.

The Power Of Grief (And Love)

It isn’t always the big things that we miss when our cats leave this world. It’s often the little things. Even the gross things we do for our cats can bring up a swirl of mixed emotions. An old hairball that I didn’t realize was waiting for me made me both sad and weirdly happy at the same time.

Ultimately, how much the dull day to day things or the special, private things we do with our cats say a lot about how much we love and care for them. The love we have for them is so strong that we’d give anything to be able to clean up even just one more hairball. We don’t just grieve the big things or even the good things. We grieve those small day to day acts of love we do for them, too.

If you’re deeply missing a special cat like I am my Zoloft, I hope you find whatever your equivalent is of a hairball is. May it bring you a reminder of those little moments that made your life together so magical.

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Joey Lusvardi

Joey Lusvardi CCBC is an IAABC Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and professional cat trainer based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He runs a behavior consultation and cat training service, Class Act Cats, where he helps cat parents address a variety of unwanted behaviors. Joey is available for in home sessions locally or virtual sessions wherever you are located!