Bonnie and me

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Those that follow my blog will know that my cat, Bonnie, passed away earlier in the year. I found the days surrounding this event incredibly difficult but the pain was eased slightly by writing about it.

I wrote up a blog post, an article for the local paper and another for the Cats Protection magazine, The Cat.

The Cat magazine goes out quarterly so my article was published in the most recent Autumn edition. It was great to read it back and see the illustration that had been created of myself and Bonnie.

I still have to question if it’s normal when I find myself still getting upset if a memory pops into my head or a photograph resurfaces that I’d forgotten about.

I received an email from the Editor of The Cat magazine to say they’d been asked by a senior lecturer at UWE University if they could use my article in a lecture. They wanted their students to ‘understand the impacts cats make and how their lives are and should be grieve-able.’

To know that my article has touched at least one person means an incredible amount and the message that grieving for a pet is not something to be ashamed of.

You can read the article below:

The love Owen Wilson’s character had for the dog Marley in the film, Marley & Me is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the love I had for my cat.

My cat Bonnie passed away on 12 February 2015 from cancer of the throat. She was 14 going on 15 years old, a relatively good age for a cat. But that didn’t make the pain of losing her any easier.

When we take in an animal, to begin with they are a pet, but eventually they become a firm member of the family. They have their own personalities that we grow to love.

Mum rehomed Bonnie and her brother Bertie from Cats Protection when I was 11. I remember telling new friends at secondary school that we had just got two kittens. They were the cutest little balls of fluff I’d ever seen.

That shy, weary Bertie soon became an explorer. He would hop over the fence and nose into other people’s gardens. When he was only three years old he managed to get around to the front of the house and sadly got run over. It was devastating but the light at the end of the tunnel was that we still had Bonnie.

Bon grew into the most beautiful and friendliest cat you could ever wish to meet. People who assumed they weren’t cat people, loved her and commented on her elegant looks. She was so gentle, not a mean bone in her body.

The evening we said goodbye to Bonnie and the days following were incredibly hard. I got upset at work and had to work from home, even leaving early a couple of the days. I felt guilty over how much it had affected me. I had to ask myself: was it normal to grieve this much over a pet?

My mum did some research online and found others asking the same question. People had admitted to being more upset when they had lost their pet compared to the loss of a mother or a father.

Pets can be workers on farms, companions, guides to the disabled or they’ve been there with you through a significant time. When they go it can make a noticeable difference to someone’s life. You call a pet’s name and they are by your side – you can’t say that about many humans. They can simply be part of a routine. Every morning Bonnie would wait patiently outside my bedroom to walk down to breakfast with me.

I can’t change this routine so I just have to live with the fact she won’t be there anymore. Looking at photographs of Bonnie is upsetting but I think the earlier you do this the easier it gets. Writing things down has helped too – making a list of all the things you loved about them. My dad coped by drinking a lot of red wine and putting Slade on really loud.

I would talk to Bonnie as though she was able to talk back. I’d be doing my make-up or cooking dinner and she would just sit and watch. Sometimes I’d scoop her up in my arms, take her to a mirror and tell her how beautiful she was.

They aren’t human, they can’t talk but you still feel as though you understand them. You have a connection with them that no one can relate to. You feel as though you are their guardian, that like a child, you wouldn’t let anything happen to them.

Those who have never had pets probably can’t completely understand how an animal can have such a profound impact on your life but that doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of grieving for them. At the moment to get another cat would feel like a betrayal or as though I’m replacing Bonnie. I know one day I will open my heart to another cat, give them the love I gave Bonnie and hopefully be a little more prepared when I have to go back through this process.

There are a million and one things I will miss about you Bonnie but most of all I will miss knowing you’ll be there when I get home and I can scoop you up in my arms, and in that moment nothing else matters. You received a lot of love, but you returned it tenfold.

The amazing illustration was done by Rus Hudda. You can see more of his work here.

And if you want to donate to Cats Protection, you can do that here.

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