Wednesday, March 24, 2021

They Say Cats Have Nine Lives

I’m (gratefully) convinced our cat has many more than nine.

closeup of a person and a cat

Today is our cat's 18th birthday and his age is catching up with him.

His skeleton feels bony when I pet him. Sometimes he just sits and stares into place, or lets out pitiful yowls for no apparent reason. His whiskers are often coated with particles of food and his backside with who-knows-what. When he uses his litter box, more often than not anymore, he misses it and body waste and fluids flow down the side. He swings his back hips strangely when he walks, and his gait has become timid from arthritis. He has a funky smell and his fur is rough and patchy.

This feline member of our family has always been ornery and destructive. The veterinarian's office attached a label on his chart, warning all their employees that our cat is “very fractious.” He’s unfriendly (actually quite ferocious) to everyone except my family, and he is a lot of work. 

BUT ––He loves me unconditionally, possibly more than any living creature ever has. I can't imagine life without him.

Our beloved cat turned 18 today, and he’s been a member of our family since he was just 6-weeks old. We adopted him to satisfy my daughter's intense longing for a cat, but it was he and I who formed the strongest bond. Perhaps that's because he became ours on Mother's day. The amount of days and months and years this cat has lived in our house now equals or exceeds that of either of our now-grown children. 

I worry it will soon be time to say goodbye. Will he tell me when he’s ready to go, or will he just slip silently away? 

In the past year or two, I’ve said farewell to this treasured cat multitude of times. I’ve held him and I’ve cried, convinced he wouldn’t make it through the night. On each of those occasions, he proved to me the saying that cats all have nine lives. In his case, we could probably adjust that number upwards to 15, or so.

For years, our kitty’s been on a slew of meds for irritable bowel syndrome and decreased renal function. So far, the prescription food, pills, gels, and injections have been working. We’ve had a few diabetic scares, only to find out diabetes did not cause his problems; instead he suffered from severe urinary tract infections which cleared up with antibiotics. 

Eighteen years seems like a long life for a cat, but it doesn’t feel like enough time to spend with this one. This sentiment seems mutual; though old and frail, our cranky cat still appears to be enjoying life with us. Just when I’m convinced his arthritis badly threatens his mobility, I spy him nimbly getting onto a kitchen counter or teasing our big dog. He seems as happy as he’s ever been, especially when he’s nestled in my lap or stretched out in a ray of sunshine, puddling on the floor.

Our elderly cat’s end-of-life is probably not too far away. But today he’ll get some happy birthday treats as we reminisce and celebrate his life. 

Who knows, if we are lucky enough, perhaps this time next year we’ll be celebrating his birthday when he turns 19. That would be so nice.

headshot of a grey striped cat with green eyes.

An old cat lying on a bed.

Please keep social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, get vaccinated, and stay healthy! 😷 This post contains affiliate links. The opinions expressed, however, are entirely my own.


  1. Happy Birthday Beautiful Boy!! Susan, your article brought tears of love to my eyes. I hope we can say Happy Twentieth Birthday to him! 💕

  2. I hear you. One of Jazz's names in the family is psycho cat from hell. He is much loved despite being demanding and difficult. He also has healthy issues and I have braced myself to say goodbye several times - and have been grateful to be wrong.

    1. I hope both our "ferocious" felines defy their diagnoses and live much longer.


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