It’s been a rough 24 hours in our house, as we returned home from vacation to find our beloved Smokey had passed away. It feels like just a few short months ago we were mourning the death of her sister Pearl, so I wonder if the loss of her only feline companion shortened Smokey’s life by a few years.

This is the last photo we took of the two sisters together

I’m finding this loss significantly more difficult than I did Pearl’s, simply because Smokey was ‘my’ cat, she chose me as her favourite a few months after getting her, probably because I was the main source of food in the house. Always a little huskier, mainly due to her enormous amount of fur, Smokey was the more aggressive of the two. She would headbut people for attention, jump onto laps when she felt comfortable, and tuck herself into my arm at bedtime. My husband would complain because she’d push her face into our hands on the rare occasion we would sit down to watch television, and her nose was always shockingly cold and damp. After inserting herself into our personal space for a few minutes she would eventually settle onto my lap so I could brush her.

Photo Credit: Monique de St Croix

Her death is extra difficult for me because I carry some guilt about the last few years of her life. Before we had children, our lives felt like they revolved around Pearl and Smokey; we even took them on roadtrips with us, getting more than a few funny looks and questions when we’d cross the border into the United States. I was so diligent about brushing Smokey every day because her coat was thick and oily. But when we had our daughter, and then our son, brushing Smokey became an afterthought, and we stopped taking them on trips with us (which they were probably relieved about, quite honestly) but I never felt like I was giving Smokey enough of my attention. I joke that I’m a crazy cat lady-can I even call myself that now that we don’t have any cats left? I realize this post is veering into melodramatic territory here but I just can’t help myself…I’m heartbroken.

Smokey always knew that our kids were precious; she tolerated them well, never swatting or hissing at them, even when they were bugging her

I’ve always equated the idea of reading with cats; Smokey would frequently sit with me while I read. Especially after we had children, it was one of the few but consistent opportunities she had to cuddle with me while I was awake, and I always found it reassuring and comfortable. I will most definitely continue on with my blog, but how do I do this without Smokey as a book model? Her participation in my photos and youtube videos are integral to what I do here, and I’m not sure what my posts will look like going forward without her. For the next few book reviews I have pictures of Smokey stored up on my phone, but those will soon run out. I’m thankful that I have such an extensive online cache of Smokey photos to enjoy, but it feels like a piece of me is now missing when I look back on them. As a few friends have pointed out, it’s nice to think that Smokey and Pearl are now reunited again, and I’ve tried to focus on that when I feel the tears coming. I know so many people can relate to how I’m feeling right now; it’s a special kind of pain when one loses a pet. Thank you to everyone who always made time to comment on Smokey’s photos, I know she held a special place in many people’s hearts, not just my own. I’m hoping that wherever she is now, there’s an endless supply of cat treats and warm laps to curl up in.