Prissy was an American Snowshoe cat, a breed based on a cross with a Siamese cat. You see the seal point markings and white feet, both of which are specific to her breed. She had at least two owners who loved her - one advertised to find her a new home, and one gave her a chance to live out her life as a loved pet.
A friend of mine saw an ad in the paper which said, “fourteen-year-old cat, free to good home.” The cat’s original owners were moving and could not keep her. If they couldn’t find someone to take her, she would have to be sent to their local animal shelter.
Now, my friend thought, no one else would call about a cat that old. She had worked with animal shelters and rescue groups; she knew that an adult animal’s chances of being adopted from a shelter are not very good, and an elderly animal’s chances are almost nonexistent. So she did what any extremely tender-hearted, very impractical animal lover might do – she agreed to take the cat, named “Prissy”, even though she already had several cats of her own.
Prissy adapted as well as any fourteen-year-old pet might be expected to do, and settled in for the next few years. But five years later, at age nineteen, her health started to decline. It was clear that her little body’s systems were not functioning very well, and she seemed to be in pain. A veterinarian’s examination confirmed the worst, so my friend did the last kind thing she could for Prissy. She made the very difficult decision to have her put to sleep, then stayed with her to the end.
Even though my friend still had other cats, she missed Prissy very much. That’s the way it is with pets – they leave such a big empty space when they’re gone. It is normal to grieve the loss after a pet dies. Eventually for most of us, our tears dry, and we remember the good times.
It has been eighteen years since I first told this story of Prissy. Today, I am grieving my own loss as I attend the funeral for my friend, the tender-hearted animal lover who would take in an elderly cat and give it a home with lots of attention and affection for five years. She will remain in my heart as the example of true compassion for animals.
So especially today, I'm remembering all my own furry friends, and their two-legged champions who make such a difference, when I’m speaking of pets.