Yesterday, on Friday, December 17th, just before 3 p.m., my cat Pebbles died. She was 20 years old.
To add some context, I am 24 years old. For nearly 80% of my life, she has been here. I don’t recall any instance of my life when she wasn’t alive. To say I am sad, or devastated, would be a gigantic understatement. It hasn’t been 24 hours yet, and I just feel lost. I feel like a part of me is missing.
I don’t think I need to discuss or explain why it is so sad to lose a pet. We all know about the affection, loving nature, and innocence of animals; and especially ones that become our pets. I just want to tell you my story about Pebbles.
I don’t remember much from my infant years, or early childhood years, if anything at all. Anything before six years old is a blur. However, I remember, as clear as anything, the day we brought Pebbles home.
A friend of my mother had a cat who gave birth to many kittens. She asked us if we would like one of them, since she didn’t have the time to care for them all. We had never had a family cat before this.
I remember my dad and brother returning home with Pebbles. I remember my entire family sitting in the living room, and I was sitting on the left side of my couch, to the right of my dad, watching Pebbles prowl around the room for the very first time, exploring her new home. I remember turning to my dad and expressing how excited I was. I just couldn’t believe that this little creature was now our pet, and that she would be here all of the time.
I remember that day as if it was yesterday.
You know how pets will sometimes single out one of its owners, and will form a special connection with them? That was me with Pebbles.
She followed me everywhere. As a child, whenever I was curled up reading a book, she was lying next to me. When I was sitting down and watching a movie, she was next to me. When I was sitting at the computer, she was on my lap. Every night, before I went to sleep, I regretfully had to kick her out of my room. Given the nocturnal nature of cats, I knew she would keep me up all night. So I always had to pick her up, bring her to the end of the hall, and hustle quickly back to my room. She would always follow me right back, and I had to close the door before she could get back in. It broke my heart every time.
And when I woke up the next morning, Pebbles was right outside my door, waiting for me.
Ironically, I have an allergy to cat hair. But Pebbles was so prevalent in my life that I grew accustomed to my constant nose-blowing and sniffling. I didn’t mind it. Pebbles’ love was more than worth the extra money I spent on tissue boxes.
I know all cat owners will say this, but I mean it when I say that Pebbles was a special cat. She was warm and affectionate. She never shied away from anyone. Whenever somebody new stepped into our house, Pebbles would run to greet them, and would begin rubbing against their legs. All she wanted was to be around people. That’s what she loved.
Additionally, Pebbles was a smart cat. I really mean that. Whenever she looked me in the eye, I could see that she understood everything. She understood how much I loved her. She knew what was expected of her, she knew what to do when she wanted food, and she was extremely well-behaved and obedient.
Until yesterday, Pebbles had been one of the few constants in my life. I’ve been through a lot of different stages in my life, and through all of them, she was always there.
She was there for me as a child, when I was still young and oblivious to the world. Her and I were oblivious together.
She was there for me as a tween, when I couldn’t wait to come home from school and play with her.
She was there for me as a teenager, especially when I went through a phase in my life, during high school, when I thought I had lost a lot of my friends, and in result I went through a mini bout of depression. Regardless, I still had her.
She was also there when I developed a severe case of acne towards the end of high school. It wasn’t a long stretch, but It was so bad that I was embarrassed to go out in public and look at people. But Pebbles didn’t care, she loved me all the same.
When I went to college, I remember missing her so much. My parents would send me pictures of her, and that made me even more upset. But I got used to the separation. During this time, Pebbles formed a closer connection with my mother, since I was no longer there for her around the clock like I used to be.
I was always so excited to return home for breaks, just so I could see her. And conversely, it was always painful to say goodbye again. But the time away made me realize how lucky I was to have her in my life.
When I graduated college, and returned home, it was like I never left. She was older now, about 17, but she didn’t look it. She still was perfectly healthy, she still had energy (albeit not as much as she used to), and she still had that gleam in her eye that told me that she was still the same old cat she always was. Honestly, I even started to believe that there was something magical about her.
Pebbles outlived some of my other cats. When I was in third grade, we learned of a family who had a cat, but could no longer take care of it since they just had a baby. We volunteered to take it. His name was Yo-Yo.
Unfortunately, upon having the baby, the family kept the cat in their old, dusty basement, and as a result, Yo-Yo developed a breathing problem. He had bad stretches regularly where his breathing was strained, and we had to take him to the vet many times. But we loved him all the same. He was mistreated by his prior owners, but we got three years out of him to show him proper love and affection before he died. I was 10 years old, and it was the first loss of a major pet that I ever experienced. I was incredibly upset.
A year later, to replace Yo-Yo as our additional cat, we purchased two twin tabby kittens, Rusty and Snoopy. They looked identical, except for the fact that one was black and one was orange.
These two cats were not nearly as friendly as Pebbles, but they were wonderful additions to our home, and they loved to play together.
Things went smoothly for several years. Pebbles, Rusty and Snoopy were part of the family. Then, in 2008, Rusty stopped eating one day. He was clearly in pain, and spent a lot of time crouched on all fours and off to himself. He had kidney failure. We kept him alive for a month, until we realized that he could no longer live like this. We had to put him to sleep at nine years old. Snoopy had lost his brother.
About four months ago, Pebbles, after 19-and-a-half years of great health, became ill. She was having trouble walking, and had no appetite. I thought for sure she had kidney failure, and that we’d have to put her down.
However, according to the vet, her kidneys were fine. He believed she either had a tumor or internal bleeding. He said there is nothing that can be done, but that she can get better, but she could also get worse. We didn’t know what to expect.
It was probably one of the saddest days of my life. For the first time ever, the imminent mortality of my beloved cat was upon me. I always knew the day would come, but I refused to believe it. But it was here.
Miraculously, after about a week, Pebbles recovered. She was her old self again. She had energy, was eating a lot, and was just as affectionate as ever. This incident was really a wake-up call. It made me accept the fact that Pebbles would not be around much longer and it gave me a new-found appreciation for her. I made sure to spend time with her every day to show how much I loved her.
Yesterday, I went downstairs at about 3:00. My dad came out of the bathroom, and he said, in a broken voice, “Pebbles is dead.” I looked on the couch, and sure enough, he was right. Her eyes were open, her mouth was open, and she was not breathing. I couldn’t believe it. Pebbles was dead.
I helped my dad put her in a box, and we decided to bury her in the backyard. Without a doubt, I knew I had to help bury her. I had to.
I joined my dad, and silently, we dug. I can’t remember the last time I saw him cry, but he was crying then. After digging a couple of feet, we came across another box. The remains of Rusty. We had buried him in the same spot we wished to bury Pebbles.
So we moved over a few feet, and dug a new hole, and put the remains of Pebbles there. We have two cat statues in the backyard, and we placed one over Pebbles, and one over Rusty. They are viewable from my window, and even now as I write this, I can see them. It is horribly upsetting and joyful at the same time. I know that together, the two of them, with Yo-Yo, are playing together in kitty Heaven.
Like I said before, it still hasn’t hit me. I still look around my house, expecting to see Pebbles lying there. I truly can’t believe she is gone.
I’m a young guy, and going to be alive for a long time, and even if I live to be 100, I know that not a day will go by when I won’t think of Pebbles.
She wasn’t just my pet. She was everything to me. I know that people will say “You took care of her and made her life great,” but, the truth is, she made my life great. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for her. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world that I got to have a cat that was so special. It’s terrible that she couldn’t make it until Christmas, or New Years, or long enough to one day meet my future wife and kids. However, through me, Pebbles will live on forever. She will be the light that burns inside me and keeps me going every day. Her physical presence may be gone, but her spirit and her impact on this world will remain alive through me. I vow to live each day and cherish life to the fullest, and it’s all because of her. It’s the least that I can do after all she has done for me.
Snoopy is about twelve years old now, and shows no signs of slowing down. He is my only cat left, and I will love him to the end, just like Pebbles, just like Rusty and just like Yo-Yo.
Rest in peace Pebbles. I will always love you.