Words by Zoe Bartholomeusz

Art by Olivia Tait


The litter tray is still in my bathroom, the water bowl is still in my bedroom, the food is still downstairs. There are biscuits on my carpet, and bags of treats on the bench. Leaving them there is a painful reminder, but taking them away feels like erasure. 

She was the best cat, loved by family, friends, and vets. Even the non-cat people loved her. She was gentle, curious, and cuddly. Aloof, yes, but always keen for a head scratch or belly rub. 

A lot of my memories involving her place her in the periphery. She was on the table when I was doing maths homework, on the couch when we were watching our favourite shows, on my bed while I was out of the house. I remember choosing her in the pet shop because she licked my finger. I wish I remembered how small she was, but I don’t because I was also small. It was the year I turned five, my mum didn’t even ask my dad if we could get a cat; we just got one. My dad’s always turned his nose up at pets, but when we’d feed the cats on cold winter mornings he’d heat their food in the microwave so it wasn’t too cold for them (showing his love, as always, through feeding). 

All of this has happened quite quickly. I first noticed her breathing loudly in early April, and from there she got worse and worse. Even then I thought they’d be able to find out what was wrong with her and fix it. I’d always thought she was going to be one of those cats who just won’t die, one of those cats who lives to be 20 or 25 and has a perpetually peeved look on their face. And even though she lived for a solid 17 and a half years, it still feels too soon. 

It’s been a week now since we had her put down. I thought I was going to be absolutely useless for weeks, but I’m mostly okay. It catches you off guard, though. Sometimes you’ll be having a normal, idle train of thought and then, bam, no more cat. No more head scratches or belly rubs or forehead kisses. No more soft fur or jelly paws. No more meow, no more purr, no more snoring. That image of her being put to sleep, with her little head resting on her paw, as if she was just having a nap. The memory of rubbing my face in her fur and kissing her head and crying and feeling excavated and spent. Knowing it’s for the better but selfishly wanting her to live through the pain and discontent. 

The weekend that we found out she’d have to be put down was a lot of things. It was deeply, inconsolably sad, but it was grateful, and peaceful, and, though it felt oddly selfish, very relieving. 

I hesitate to call him our rebound cat, but we got a kitten less than two months after the passing of Katty McFatty. My mum started looking on adoption websites not even a week after. The first kitten she showed me she thought we were destined to have. After many weeks my mum and I met two kittens, siblings, who seemed promising. We’d expected to buy them on the spot, but by some miracle the fosterer said her son would drop them over to our house the next evening. Of course, on our drive back from that meeting, we received a message about our destiny cat. We bought him two days later. 

I have little videos of the last 48 hours we spent with Katty. I look at myself holding her and I remember what she felt like but the memory of her as a physical being doesn’t seem to be my own. I used to think she was the archetypal cat, but now having had a black cat for three months, her white paws look wrong somehow. It’s like using a different pen because your favourite type is out of stock, and then you get used to it, and then going back to your favourite feels foreign. But I remember always thinking she was, aesthetically, the perfect cat, and in a way she always will be. She gave us 18 perfect, peripheral years, and we could not have asked for anything more. 


She was content to be anywhere as long as it was warm. This is how we will remember her.

Zoe Bartholomeusz

The author Zoe Bartholomeusz

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