Friday, 11 February 2011

RIP Janet (1997-2011)



My cat Janet - my fluffiest cat, my most happy-go-lucky-cat, my cattest cat, my dumbest cat, my gender mix-up cat, the cat I'd known the longest, of all the cats I've known in my adult life - died on Friday morning. It's hard to say how old he was precisely, because my ex, Dee, didn't own him from early kittenhood, and was never great with dates, but I'd estimate that he was coming towards his fourteenth birthday. He'd had a heart condition for the last few years, coupled with an overactive thyroid gland, for which I'd had to dose him with two pills every day. Those who've read my latest book, Talk To The Tail, will know that he was very ill in 2009, to the point where I was worried he wouldn't survive. Nonetheless, his death came as a giant shock of the kind that I can still feel in my chest right now. As shocking, in its own way, as the last cat death I had to confront: that of Brewer, in 2002, who, at the age of only one, was run over by a speeding prison officer outside my house.

I've sat down to try to write this a few times already, then decided I wasn't ready. I'm probably not ready now, but I feel like by doing it, it might help in some small way. Over the last few days, I've done everything I can to not feel utterly desperate and desolate - spent a lot of time with friends, talked to the people closest to me, escaped to a field and sat on a stile for three quarters of an hour, doing nothing but listening to the trickle of a nearby stream - but the ache of knowing the pain Janet must have been in the end, knowing he's not going to be here again, has manifested itself physically.

It feels odd broadcasting something so personal on the Internet, but it would feel odd not to broadcast it too. I know that I've felt close to characters in books before, and, from the messages I've received from readers about Janet, a lot of you felt you knew him too, even though you hadn't had the privilege of being batted by one of his flailing paws. I also know, from the support I've received already via Twitter and email, that for many, he was the most entertaining feline character in Under The Paw and Talk To The Tail. That shouldn't surprise me - he constantly entertained me, from the early days when he would skate across the laminate floors of my and Dee's London flat in pursuit of loose polystyrene beads, right to the end - but in a way it does, just because Janet was the one of my cats who seemed most casually... there. That's not to say he was characterless - on the contrary - nor that he wasn't often the first cat to make friends with a house guest; just to say he had more uncomplicated approach to life than my other cats, and seemed less keen to impress his eccentricities and hang-ups on you. His was a ubiquity and steadfastness without too many dramatic ups and downs.

Regular readers of this blog will know the difficulty I've had pilling Janet, and the psychological games I've had to play in order to do so successfully. Sometimes, I'd think I'd got him to swallow the pills successfully, then a few minutes later find one of them stuck to my leg or a kitchen kickboard. I'd wrap them in ham and butter, secrete them inside a chunk of cat food, drop them into his mouth manually. Once, frustrated to see him spit them out for the fourth time in a row - and I can't believe I'm admitting this - I even spat into his mouth, in a (triumphant) attempt to get him to swallow. Each method would work for a while until he got wise to it, and then I would wish, as I so often have done with my cats, but perhaps now more so than ever, that I had the gift of being able to speak their language, and explain I was doing this for his own welfare, not out of spite.

My most recent method had been to push the pills into the centre of half a dog treat from a bag of them, kindly given to me by my vet in exchange for the sum of approximately seven hundred and twelve thousand pounds. This had been working quite well, but, even so, food time had become a stressful time for Janet, so when I saw him hanging back, at the bottom of the stairs on Friday morning, not coming to my call, while I fed the other cats, I didn't see it as too unusual. He'd done this a few times recently, so I thought nothing of it, other than that I would feed him separately a short while later. Thinking of ways I could make mealtimes more pleasant for him, a couple of days previously I'd been to the pet shop down the road and bought some Applaws - a cat food so upmarket it's a surprise it doesn't come with its own croutons and pre-grated parmesan. He'd wolfed this down the day before, and indulged in a subsequent celebratory padding session next to me on my bed, his purr so loud it almost seemed like an intimidation tactic. In other words, I wasn't worried, but now I wish that I'd been less distracted: that I hadn't been sidetracked by the Internet, or the TV I was reviewing, and had checked his heartbeat. He'd been to the vet over a week previously for his regular blood test, and had lost weight. The vet didn't seemed overly concerned, but I'd been trying to keep a closer eye on Janet than usual.

It was about an hour after I'd fed the cats, coming out of the bathroom, that I heard the noise. I would compare it to the sound of a too long-unoiled door being ripped from its hinges, yet it was too animal, too visceral, for that. I walked into the living room and saw Shipley standing up, alert, from his perch on a beanbag and looking in the direction of the staircase. I think, even then, I knew, because I approached the stairs in a wide, cautious circle: it might have looked, to a bystander, like I was preparing for the world's most apprehensive high jump. I wasn't thinking - perhaps there was part of me that wondered if the noise had come from an animal brought in by the cats, but Ralph and Shipley were in sleeping mode, and those are the cats who bring in other, less fortunate creatures - but I was afraid of what I might find. I turned the corner on the stairs and found Janet slumped awkwardly across two of them. He looked deflated and as I ran to him and held him I think I saw the last bit of life fading from his eye. I lifted his paw, with the thought that he might be in some kind of temporary paralysis, but I knew - even though I'd never been with one of my pets at its moment of death before - that he had gone. I assume he had a heart attack and the best thing I can say about it is that he clearly did not suffer whatever terrible pain had wrenched that noise from him for long.

When my second childhood cat, Tabs, was run over, when I was 11, my dad sprung into action and played protector to me: making sure I was locked inside the house as he took her body from the side of the road, then buried her in the garden. In a sense, as adults, when one of our animals dies, vets play a minor version of the role my dad played that day: they're a small parent, just for a few minutes. But when a cat dies at home, we're alone - even more so when we live alone, as I do, and have no life partner, as I do not. I can honestly say that in the next two hours I felt more isolated than I've ever done in my life. "Should I call the vet?" I thought. No. There would be no point. Vets don't employ paramedics. Should I call my mum? Yes, and I did, but she lives over a hundred miles away. Should I call Dee to tell her that the cat that had originally been hers had passed away? Yes, and I did, but she was on voicemail, unavailable, for several hours. Should I call my friends or my neighbour Deborah? No. They would be at work.

I've never been of a particularly melancholy disposition. I know, in fact, I have the potential to drive someone close to me to distraction with my deluded optimism. I get down, like all people, sometimes, particularly in the winter, but I'm never down for long. That said, it would be even more foolishly optimistic of me than ever to claim that this year had been a never-ending party so far: my tax bill has turned out to be far more expensive than I thought, my new book - despite a hugely reassuring reader response - has received zero newspaper coverage and no foreign sales, the next one is far from "in the bag" in any sense, it's never been harder to sell the kind of writing I do best to magazines and papers, I've never had so many close friends ill or out of work, it feels like such a gargantuan aeon since I've been in love I've started to wonder if it'll ever happen again, I've had a filling fall out twice in two weeks, and just the other week, I accidentally burnt a sizeable chunk of my hair off on a candle. However, in my wrapping of Janet's stiffening body in a sheet and moving it, then burying it under the apple tree in the garden, my mind became a piece of Terminator-style metal for those worries to bounce off. Even now, I feel like none of them can touch me. I am not happy - far from it. I have just never felt more conscious of what's important in life. I also feel painfully, tragically, like an adult, in a new way.

It's a cliche to say that bereavement is a time when you find out who your friends are, but it's true. Christina Hendricks, Thora Birch and Kat Dennings haven't called, but, that disappointment aside, I can honestly say that I feel the friends I have right now - those people I talk to most often - are the best I've ever had. They've confirmed that I have become good at something I wasn't very good at for a long long time: surrounding myself with warm, kind people. My ex-lodger, Katia, was particularly sad to hear of Janet's death, and shed a tear with me, as did others. Janet was a true People Cat. He was the cat who brought me back to moggy serfdom, after the one, anomalous, catless period of my life. In Of Mice And Men terms, he was the Lenny to The Bear's George. The other cats don't quite seem the same without their big dumb step-brother, and the house feels like it has a hole in it. I do not feel "relieved" that I no longer have to spend £100 a month on his vet bills, nor that I can now perhaps confidently go on holiday, maybe, for a couple of days, for the first time in what feels like forever. I just want him back, right here, headbutting me with his preternaturally cold nose, rolling over in response to my one note whistle, or mistiming a jump onto the stair-rail, and breaking yet another bit of 60s West German pottery. His pills are still in the cat food cupboard, and I can't bring myself to do anything with them. (They're expensive, and I'd like to give them to the owner of another hyperthyroid cat, but how do you make that offer: "Here - have my dead pet's medication! Fancy a Thorntons praline, too?"?)

Back when I first lived with him, in London, Janet befriended a neighbourhood fox: a fox so mangy, chickens probably barely thought twice before disrespecting it to its face in street patois. As I looked out of the back wind of my Blackheath flat, I'd see them together, sitting on the communal lawn, in companionable silence. One of the thoughts I've tried to focus on in the last few days is that Janet has been reunited with this fox. Another is that there are many, awful, lingering ways for a cat to die, and he did not suffer one of them. I succeed in zoning in on these thoughts for a while. But as I wander around the house, trying and failing to work, showering the other cats with attention - to their increasing annoyance - I keep feeling like I've forgotten something, or, rather, that I've left something behind. I know what it is, and that it's gone, but I can't shake the feeling that if I strain my tired brain enough, there's a way, somehow, I can get it back.


129 comments:

Katnip Lounge said...

My sincere sympathy. There are no words I have, no wisdom, only that I'll grieve with you the loss of a special person in a little Cat suit.
Trish

davaikoshka said...

That was one of the nicest, and saddest, things I've ever read. RIP Janet.

Love to you and the other cats, from a big fan of your books and a fellow lowIQed-cat owner. X

kayrenb2b said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.They leave such a big hole in your world when they sadly pass.It hurts so much.My 3 Milo,Neo and Harlo send you wet nose bumps and purrs
R.I.P Janet x

Liz said...

I just posted on your FB. So sorry to hear this. Am thinking of you here in NZ. Liz xx

Ms Brown Mouse said...

I was so sorry to hear about Janet, he was a lovely, lovely cat. They do leave a hole in the chest area when they leave, it gets smaller, but never goes completely.

Kelly said...

A lovely piece that made me shed a tear. As others have said, I really felt I got to know Janet through your books, and so I to share in your pain of losing him. R.I.P lovely fluffle cat Janet.

Tammy said...

I said goodbye to my own beautiful boy after 18 years three weeks ago. Even now, only a handful of people know. I just haven't been able/willing/ready to tell other people, and perhaps I never will.

But there is struggle, every day; when I slow long enough for the thoughts to catch me--and sometimes they catch me unexpectedly. It's worst when the other 4-leggeds look for him. I mean, I've tears just typing this for you.

I wish I could blog about it; for that I also remain unready and respect you so very much for being able.

I really do know what you are going through, and I'm so very sorry.

He's here if you want to meet him; taken a couple of months ago:

http://10zlaine.tumblr.com/post/2836986166/atticus

Anonymous said...

A brilliant, heartbreaking yet also funny tribute to a wonderful mog. Thank you for introducing us to Janet, and his various antics (litter collecting will never be forgotten!)my thoughts are with you, RIP Janet.
Celia

lemonbella said...

Tom, thank you so much for this. It is one of the only things I've ever read that really puts into words the rawness and reality of grief for a beloved pet.

It made me cry for those who I still miss as well as for Janet, and your loss. Remember that it does get easier, but never quite so easy that you forget the special way they touched your life.


Thank you also for sharing Janet with us all.

Renae said...

These animals... they get to be closer than humans, don't they? Some people think it's weird... but they are your companions; they are your family.
This is really weird... but I have felt more grief after losing some of my 4-legged friends than I have for some humans. And the worst part is, you know that someday you are going to lose them. With cats you can hope that you might get about 15 years at least (and it really REALLY sucks when one has to go early).

Don't feel silly, or stupid because you feel like your cats really are your kids, and your really DO love them like kids. You are definitely not the only one.

Janet will live forever in the hearts of all of your readers who fell in love with him through your stories. <3

Kirsty said...

I'm a longtime lurker, but felt I had to comment and say how sorry I am for your loss. RIP Janet.

Jeanne said...

My deepest condolences. My five cats range in age from coming 7 to 16, and I've lost cats, horses and parents.

To me, there is no difference in the loss; there is no such thing as "just" a ____. Loss is loss, animal or human. It hurts. My heart goes out to you.

LondonBlondie said...

My heart is breaking for you. I am so, so sorry for your loss. Janet was lucky to have had you, too x

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, it really does feel as though something is missing and you look up expecting to see him. I lost my big black cat just over a year ago, aged 17. In July we rescued a 3 year old black and white cat which had been a stray for about two years, and she needed a big operation on her shoulder. She is fine now and very playful, making up for when she couldn't do more than survive the cold.

Marie said...

Very moving, made me cry. A Dr Seuss quote comes to mind: Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. Much love to you and the rest of the 'family'. X

T said...

Tom I am so very sorry for your loss. Sadly I don't even know Janet's story yet but I know he was and will always be a very important character in your life. He was fortunate to have his daddy with him when he passed. I'm going to cry writing this to you so I cannot even imagine how you are feeling.
A very beautiful tribute to Janet you've written. What a loved kitty he was. Comforting to know you have people who can sit with you and remember Janet and celebrate his life and antics!
Best,
Tamar

Mary said...

Over the years we have lost three of our four wonderful cats - the last one last year, everyone branded on our hearts. The last one is our wonderful dumb, thick as a brick, large ginger cat who still thinks he is a baby. He is 14 this year and I cant imagine life without him. He has recently found a new interest in life - beating up our foster kitty - and chasing him round the house. I am so sorry for your loss, RIP Janet be a little cat angel in the sky.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for your loss. Your words express a lot of what I've felt with my pets that have passed. Your Janet was very special and his footprints are on your heart and those of your readers forever. I think their spirits are with us and the memories of our time together helps us move forward. Take care.

Jeannette said...

Janet couldn't have asked for a better tribute Tom. I'm so sad and sorry for thye loss of your beautiful boy, he really wasw a character and I enjoyed getting to know him through your books. It's hard when they die, they leave such a void in your life. RIP dear Janet. Jeannette xx

Kat said...

Dear Tom~ With tears blurring the keyboard, and nothing new to say, still, I offer you my deepest sympathy... They leave a hole in your heart that is impossible to ignore... I still miss my friend Puck even after 15 years. I will the cats I have now when it is their turn to go. It feels so .. cliche to say "I know how you feel", but I do... and I know the only thing which has ever made me feel any better was knowing that THEY knew just how much we love them.. and the thought that I shall see them again over the Rainbow Bridge.. Have you heard that story?
http://www.ruppertnurseries.com/trees/evergreen.html
If you haven't, I hope it helps. If you have, I really like this version. May God Bless and Keep you in the palm of His hand.

>^,,^<

Tom said...

Thanks everyone. I'm absolutely overwhelmed by the response. It really helps right now.

Julia said...

Tom, such a wonderful and moving tribute to a very fine feline. I haven't read Talk to the Tail yet, but in Under the Paw he leapt off the page. It was wonderful to know Janet via Facebook.

Sparkle said...

My human and I were unspeakably sad to hear the news about Janet. Even though we kitties and humans often never meet in person, we are so familiar with each other through the internet, or via books, that I don't think the ache would be any less if we HAD met. You and your kitties are in our thoughts today.

Heia said...

Oh MrTom, so so sorry to read this. Big lump in my throat. I hope the "rest" of the bunch are ok and take care of you a little bit. R.I.P. Janet, you deserve it.

LAD said...

dear tom, i read this with tears in my eyes... in the past eighteen months i have wrapped two of my feline friends, bessie and bora, in linen and buried them in the garden - 18 and 18.5 years old - and i know the emptiness, feel it still - even though i have dozy, poppy and polly (recently joined by ting) to take care of me still...
take care and thank you for letting us all share in janet - to the end xx

Mimi and Tilly said...

Hello Tom, I am so sad to hear of your loss of Janet. I have grown so fond of him, knowing him a little bit through your writing. I know there aren't any words that make your loss easier, but I wanted to let you know you are in my thoughts. Emma

Fotogruppa said...

So brave of you to write so openly about such a heart-wrenching experience. From the books, blog and on Facebook, Janet sounds like a wonderful, affable and cheerful character and I'm sure he will live on in your heart forever.

Trixi said...

So sorry to see that Janet has passed.

Linz said...

Oh Tom, I am truly sorry to hear such sad news. Janet was such charismatic cat, his tail dusting and wombling adventures had me smiling every time I read and re-read them. He will be hugely missed by all who came to read about him. I hope you get some comfort in knowing he brought so much happiness to all of us who came to know him through you. Thank you for letting us get to know Janet. RIP Janet x

Professoryard said...

What a wonderful post and fitting tribute. Cats aren't simply pets, they are part of the family.

If you need anything just shout.

Stephen

Anonymous said...

Oh, Tom, what a magnificent, heartbreaking tribute to a fabulous cat whose personality and adventures you shared so wonderfully with readers.
RIP Janet; what an outstanding kitty you were. You'll never be forgotten.
-Natalie

Laura Schwartz said...

I share your sorrow. Thanks to you, Janet will live forever, immortalized in literature.

I am dealing with the pending loss of one of my dear friends; Rufus is fading and I know it's coming and it's hard to face. No matter how long or short a time you've had a cat, the pain is always the same.

My only solace is that they no longer suffer; that's our job now.

sarah said...

im so sorry tom. i understand so much of what you said. i lost my eddie just before christmas. it was a pleasure to have been at his birth and a privilige to be at his death. i miss him so very much. eddie and janet shared the same illness. i wish i could write something that would comfort you but i dont have those words. there are a lot of us thinking about you and janet tonight. sarahx

Colleen said...

My heart aches for you. I know how it feels to loose a pet. I had to put my own furry pal Charlie down on October 18, 2010. He had just turned 19 on the 1st, but we knew that his time was coming to an end and we did the right thing. Janet is in a better place now and she will chase butterflies and critters forever more over the Rainbow Bridge.
My new cat Stormy sends his purrs and mews in sympathy

**hugs**

Anonymous said...

I'm so so sorry. Janet couldn't have had a better life, though. No doubt about it, Tom.

Monica

Sal Smith said...

I had to say something, if only so you would know that (yet) another person shares your love of cats and understands your desolation at losing Janet. What you wrote touched me and summed up exactly how it feels to lose a beloved feline friend. 2010 was my worst year yet as I lost two, one to chronic renal failure and the other to the shocking cold weather pre-Christmas. All I can offer is the experience that you need to grieve, you need to remember and speak about Janet, and eventually you will realise that you can do this with more of a wry smile than with tears in your eyes.

It is obvious from the comments here that there are some lovely, caring people in the world, and I add my condolences and thoughts to theirs.

Sal, Ollie and Goldie xxx

Maureen said...

Tom, my sincerest sympathies on your loss. I know those are small words to write since I know how the loss of beloved fur person feels; how deep the feelings of grief go and how lonely you feel right now. I've always had a cat (most of the time, cats) in my life and when one passes on, it leaves a hole that nothing and no-one can fill. However, I do know that Janet is waiting for you on the other side of the Rainbow and while she waits, she will always have a bright beam of sun to lay in; birds & squirrels to watch & friends to keep her company. Bastet bless you.

Maggie said...

Heartbreaking for you to lose your special boy. Reading your blog brought a tear to my eye. He will live on in your books. RIP Janet.

Barb said...

Tom: Sorry to hear of Janet's passing. He was one of my first cat friends on facebook and brought so many other friends to me, especially when I lost my tortie, Katie who was 18 when she died 1/2/2009 from kidney failure. They are a part of us, our family and our heart and will always remain there! HUGS to you my dear friend and I will miss the upside-down kitty. I will become friends with Ralph, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Sunlight streams through window paneonto a spot on the floor...then I remember,it's where you used to lie,but now you are no more.

Our feet walk down a hall of carpetand muted echoes sound....then I remember,It's where your paws would joyously abound.

A voice is heard along the road,and up beyond the hill, then I remember it can't be yours....your golden voice is still.

But I'll take that vacant spot of floor and empty muted hall and lay them with the absent voice and unused dish along the wall.

I'll wrap these treasured memorials in a blanket of my love
and keep them for my best friend until we meet above.

Eli said...

Sad to hear about Janet - a new convert (via The Works!) - read whilst I was on a visit to Belgium.

No words of wisdom - I am still haunted by my lost cats!

Bizzzzzzzzzz

Eli
x

Your Daily Cute said...

I'm so sorry, Tom. Thank you for sharing Janet with us. You two were so lucky to have each other for so long.

Gentle {{hugs}} from the whole Cute family.

Susan Duckett said...

Tom I am so sorry for your loss. I held my 15 year old cat Indy as he breathed his last. He to had a heart condition and fluid built up around his lungs. Seeing his panting in his last days just broke my heart. Janet is healthy and frisky now. The hole will fade but never go away. Good luck in all your endeavors. I'll be praying for you!

portraitsofanimals said...

Tom, the hole in your life never fills with another cat, but it does fill with all the loving memories you stored away, it just takes a while. Now we can all share Janet. (You have no idea who I am, but I read the link on Tamar's blog.)

pvox said...

I am so sorry for your loss. May Janet being running healthy and free at the rainbow bridge.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom

thanks for writing this beautiful tribute and telling us of the circumstances.

I felt quite down last year having to put down my uncle's dog. She wasn't even mine, but made her way to my heart. I stayed with her while it happened and watching a pet die is a very shocking experience and something that is not easy to forget or forget the feelings you experienced at that time.

we may not be close friends you can talk to in real life, but we all think of you across the miles.

Myriam

Jane said...

Dear Tom, he was a beautiful, dear fella, and we all loved what we knew of him along with you.

No-one writes as well as you do about cats. You nail all the very individual highlights that go to make up a particular cat, and your appreciation skills are much appreciated.

As for love, it can't be too far away. I mean really, a multiple cat loving man with wit and a sense of the ridiculous...

Keep annoying those other kitties, they probably need it too, or will when they stop licking their bums long enough to feel some of what you're feeling.

Know that someone in the south-east corner of Australia will be reading about your little bloke tonight and will no doubt be feeling a bit sooky.

Nice thoughts to you and the cats.

quiltcat said...

Hello Tom. I'm so very sorry to read about the passing of Janet. Thank you for sharing his life with us in your writings...and thank you for sharing his death as well. You did the right thing to tell us. The only thing more heartbreaking than the death of a beloved pet is not being able to be comforted by others who feel as you do. I hope you know how much we, your readers, have come to care about you and your cats. RIP Janet.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

We all care, and know the sadness that surrounds you now. But I am not sure most of us could have put into words, the love story you and Janet shared. I, for one, am grateful that you found the strength to share with us...I finished reading it and went and hugged all my cats...they mean the world to me.

May your sadness be softened by those precious memories...Janet was loved, and that is the gift he shared with you, too.

Ocala Mike said...

My wife came in and caught me teary-eyed at the keyboard. Had to go in the other room with her and make sure our two rescued strays were all right. Such a shame, in a way, that we outlive them. You outlived Janet, but nobody could have outloved her.

trancer1092 said...

I am so very sorry that you had to experience this terrible loss. I know firsthand that there is no other pain like the loss of a beloved pet.

Liz Tynan said...

I couldn't read your tribute all the way through first go - it was too sad for me to deal with. I have just read it now and the tears are flowing. I also experienced the death of a beloved cat while I was home alone. In my case, she was bitten by a snake (in Australia). I went looking for her when she didn't come to breakfast and there she was. I couldn't breath. Her playmate, Monty (who is now aged 20 and ailing, to my fear and despair), grieved and fretted. It was the death of a family member. I understand what you are going through and I wish I could hug you. There are no words that take away the pain, but know that others are feeling it with you.

Kate said...

I know there is nothing I can say that will ease the pain of what you're going through, Tom. I can only echo what others have said already and say that I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Please know though, that even though I'm just another voice in the ether of the internet, that I'm thinking about you and have shed a few tears for Janet.

K x

Ayoe said...

I am so sorry for you!! And thank you for writing so honestly and beautifully about loosing Janet. Being an owner of two old cats I know the moment is approaching and I also know I will go back and read this again when the day comes. Someone wrote that the loss of a pet is the worst because we dare to love them unconditionally. RIP Janet and all the best to you!

Laura M├Ąder said...

Sweet Janet...:(
I don`t know the exact words in english, but I want you to know, that I feel with you. He was a part of your family and he will ever stay in your hearts. And in ours, of course. Immortal in thousands of books. Janet has had a wunderful and exciting time here on earth between all his siblings. He was certainly a happy cat! I am sure about this.
Accept my deep sympathy...
Laura

Anonymous said...

So sorry to read about Janet. I've followed his adventures online and in your books and he was always such a loveable character. My beautiful cat Dave was hit by a car and the pain is just awful. They are members of the family, your constant companions and, as truely cliche as it sounds, they do leave pawprints on your heart.

Be strong and think of the wonderful life you gave him, and in turn, he gave you.

xxx

Tamara said...

Dear Tom, I'm so very very sad to hear about Janet. What a beautifully written tribute you have posted; anyone who has loved an animal will empathise with you and feel the gap that he is leaving... Tamara

Nic's Notebook said...

Oh no - I am sitting here in tears. I am so so sorry, Janet sounded like a fabulous cat. xxx

Wendy said...

My thoughts are with you during this sad time. I always looked forward to Under the Paw messages via facebook from Janet Cox - he will be sadly missed. You describe, so eloquently, what it is like to lose someone special. I lost my beloved companion, Albert, last year and the pain never seems to go away. I've nearly finished Talk to the Tail and am enjoying it so much. You are such a talented writer. Kindest Regards, Wendy x

Granny on the Web said...

A wonderfull epitaph to your lovely friend.

Granny on the Web said...

A wonderful epitaph to your lovely friend.

Peter said...

So very sorry for your loss, I can't count the amount of times I've read something about Janet and it has brightened up my day, he was lucky to have had you in his life.
RIP Janet

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this, your writing made me feel like I knew Janet. He was a truly great cat and a real character. Purrs to Janet x

Maxine Most said...

So,so sorry Tom to hear of Janets passing-draw those around you closer,and know that our thoughts-worldwide-are with you.xx Max, Curtis, Peri, Elvis. xx

Anonymous said...

I'm moved beyond anything I can express. I lost my Maxi on 26/12/10 after a long, lingering illness due to CRF. She wasn't going to give up, but her body could take no more and we had her put to sleep. The quivering tail is gone and in it's place a little box of ashes, to join the 3 other boxes. Other than that, there is just a huge gaping void left by the most in-your-face cat you could ever meet and severe loneliness for Indigo, the last remaining furcoat. My heart goes out to you and all I can say is when you feel the brush of a soft body against your leg, or the faint jingle of a bell, know that Janet is where he's always been, right by your side and forever in your heart.

Christina Gye Aagaard said...

Dear Tom
I have read your book, followed you on Facebook, but never left a message either places.
But this made me want to write to you and express my deepest sympathy.
I have a cat myself here in Denmark, and I can´t imagine ever losing him.
Janet was one of my absolute favorites, and I´m sure he is running around with his fox in kitty heaven.
Sincerly
Christina

The Girl said...

I was worried when I came to leave this comment because I'm eternally crap at leaving convincingly sympathetic condolences and instead have the terrible habit of reaching for the nearest inappropriate comment I can find in my stash.

But luckily I see that 64 people have got here before me and left the nice comments for me.


Thanks for making me cry at work. That's awkward.
"Why are you sat at your desk crying?"
"Oh this cat I've never met has passed away and it feels horrendous because the owner went through it alone and he was a really awesome cat and I'd convinced myself that I actually knew the cat (and the author) because I've read some books about them so it's made me feel really sad."
".......so do you reckon you'll get that report finished today?"

I'm really sorry.

Leanne said...

Thank you for your books and your blog, sharing your humour and heartache. Has made a tough time in my three cats lives a little less lonely. I sincerely hope your loss eases with time x

Clare Axton said...

I'm so sorry to read of your loss,I know no words can make it better but you have a written a beautiful tribute to a wonderful cat.

Clare Axton said...

I'm so sorry to read of your loss,I know no words can make it better but you have a written a beautiful tribute to a wonderful cat.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about Janet. Reading about him made me smile and remember a much-loved male cat called Jemina. Thinking of you.

Electricwitch said...

As a reader of your wonderful books I felt as though I knew Janet throughnyour beautiful words Janet will live on.

I am dealing with something similar so I know exactly how Raw you feel at the moment.Thankyou for sharing Janets life with us.

Karen said...

Hey Tom, I have yet to get to know your cats properly from reading your books (like many of your friends I am ill and out of work so have a cashflow problem), but I have come to know them a little through your posts on Twitter.

This post had just the right balance of sadness and humour and had me laughing through my tears. It brought back memories of the deaths of 2 of my cats. I still miss the last one, Anonymous, as I got him when I was 5 and he lived for 18 years. Even now when I go back to my parents' house I expect him to be on the driveway squeaking, recognising the sound of the car's engine, and seeming to say "you bastards locked me out!" and he's been dead 4 years.

I also had to run off and hug my current feline companion, Marwood, much to his dissatisfaction as he was curled up asleep on my bed.

Hmm this comment has ended up being almost as long as the post, sorry! Much love, Karen x

The Curious Cat said...

Oh! I'm so sorry...I know exactly how you feel...we had to go through it with our little Boris...and many others before. So many people can relate. It will take a while but always know Janet had a better life than some cats out there and that you loved him well. Thinking of you...xxx

Julie said...

I've just cried for the loss of Janet, a cat I've never met but like many others I felt I knew. It's a tribute to his personality and the way you shared it with us that I know I'm far from being the only one wha has cried at this news.
I look at my cats and know one day my heart will be broken with each of them. But it's still worth it.
RIP Janet.

Anonymous said...

Just read your post for the second time. I think of my cat Toby (female - didn't know until she went for "the op") every day even though she's been gone for 2 1/2 years. Still miss her and always will. Janet was lucky to have such a thoughtful owner and as a reader of your books and blogs I know you loved him very much. Thinking of you at this sad time. RIP Janet

Sarah said...

Tom, I'm so very sorry for your loss :(
The hole they leave is so huge it feels at the time that life will never be okay again.
It's worse when you lose them suddenly, as with Janet.
I lost my cat Buster aged 12 without warning to a poison and I felt his loss far more than anything I've ever experienced.

They purr their way into our hearts and leave a deep scar when they leave us.

Thinking of you and your other furries.

RIP Janet.

Daisy said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Janet.

MedusaJ said...

Thinking of Janet befriending the fox made me smile despite the sadness I feel at his death.
The hole they leave in your heart is unbelievable....I'm so very sorry.

Nick said...

I am so sorry to hear about Janet. I can't bear to think what I'd be like if it was one of my elderly girls. I like to think of Janet and his foxy chum being together again, it's a nice thought. Hang in there...

Becky said...

Tom, I am so sorry to hear about Janet. It's amazing how a small cat can leave such a large hole in our hearts and lives when they pass. Thank you for sharing Janet with everyone in your books, I enjoyed meeting Janet and the rest of your cats in your 1st book.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you're so sad and that Janet has gone. I can't say anything that hasn't already been said. There will always be that Janet sized hole in your heart, but as readers, we will be eternally grateful to you for sharing him (and the others) with us. This experience may make you stronger - but please don't think you didn't love him enough. He knew better.

Tina said...

I'm crying. I probably understand how you're feeling.

My 'Janet' is called Tikka & was born in 1996. I dread the day.

Much love
Tina

louise said...

Even thought we are more owned by them than owners, the loss is just to huge to bear, I hope you find offhanded comfort from your other little criminals, my heart goes out to you and your furry little tribe xxx

Daniel Maier said...

Sorry to hear this, Tom. Beautifully written. Reminded me of Fatima's twilight days. RIP Janet.

Anonymous said...

I've started to write this note three times - but words truly fail. The pain when a friend leaves is awful but a small price for having them in our lives. I know Janet was a lucky cat to share his life with you (from reading your elegy to him). Finding another cat to share your life would be a fine tribute to him. RIP, sweet Janet. From Janet, who lives with Louis Bingo andd Jack Black

Bogpony said...

I was so sorry to hear about Janet, Tom. I think that non-pet-owners often fail to understand how deeply the death of a cat can affect your world, but we your readers most certainly do. Janet was lucky in that he led a life full of love (if not brains...) and I hope that in time you will find it easier to think of him and the joy you both brought to us all.

Shirlie said...

Thank you for sharing, Tom.
Janet will surely be forever remembered through your fabulous books and blogs.
It's especially hard when you have no-one close to share the grief.
I cried all weekend. Still am.
There are some caring and throughtful comments here. I hope they bring you some comfort in the days ahead

Hugs
Shirlie

Brenda said...

Losing a much loved animal is so very hard to cope with...but time does help to ease the pain - a cliche but true. Those little paw prints are always firmly on your heart though.
Thinking of you at this very sad time.
Play well at the Bridge Janet.

JP said...

Sincerest sympathy of Janet's passing, thanx for sharing this very personal blog with fellow cat lovers - most of us have been there at one time or another and know how hard it is to face a friend's passing so soon and actually articulate what they meant to you.
JP

YY said...

Tom - this made me cry too. I really feel for you. And for Janet. I hope you can take heart from the fact that you clearly have so many well-wishers out there. We all have our own coping mechanisms - mine was to write down the everyday happy memories, the ones you might not usually record. It didn't take away the pain but it did help somehow. I hope you find something which helps you. With best wishes.

Arabel said...

Tom, I've read your piece three times, and three times I have cried like a small child. So sorry about Janet, he was a cat of great character.

Worth noting that Janet had the sort of exit that most humans would envy: swift, and at home - perhaps take some comfort from that.

Sabbath, Alfredo and Rouble each send purrs. xx

KathyB58 said...

I am so sorry for your loss - it is never easy. Janet was a beautiful cat and your'blog' was the sweetest yet saddest thing I have ever read - thanks so much for writing it and sending hugs your way!!!!

Red said...

Trying to see what I'm typing through tears, that expressed so much love and pain! I think we all fell in love with Janet, I'm glad that he lives on in your books.

Please don't get disheartened with the writing, your sense of humour is needed in this world!

I dread the day I have to acknowledge my cats' unfortunate lack of immortality, so sending you plenty of love and sympathy.


RIP Janet.

Rachel said...

So sorry to hear about Janet, I lost one of my furry friends, Ginger Sid, this morning and I still can't believe he's gone. I took great comfort in your words, thank you.

Lots of Love, Rachel and her soon to be increasing furry tribe xxx

Signe Marie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Janet. But thank you for writing about him and letting everybody get to know him. Because it really feels like I did know him...
He was a great cat, and I will miss hearing about his litter fishing....

Anonymous said...

I'm really sad for your heartbreaking loss, but know that you gave him a loving home and he wasn't alone.

It's only when you share your life with a cat that you realise how special they are.

*I say, wiping away tears and remembering losing my own cat*

Elliott

Morris said...

Yeah, so trying to leave a comment while I'm at work maybe wasn't my best idea *surreptitiously wipes eyes*

Tom, your tribute to Janet is beautiful. I've read the books and your tweets and Janet's, well, Janetness just jumped off the page.

My own big, daft, laid-back mog (ginger variety) sends big purry cuddles.
Kirsten x

Anonymous said...

There is no sadder tragedy than loosing a companion, on two legs, on four legs, or on three legs. But here is a cat who is known by thousands, cried for, thought about and read about.

Rip Janet.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss. It's such a terrible wrench and there is no easy way of getting through it. You were wondering whether it was the right thing to bare your soul on the Internet. I think in this case it is because you are honouring Janet. It is a kind of memorial to him. I did a similar thing while coping with my first feline bereavement and wrote about him in a cat newsletter. People seem to think they should not mention cats or the dead cat specifically, but how can you forget! It's a terrible cliche, but time will eventually heal. My thoughts are with you.

Bel, Bebe, Adjuki Bunny Tutu, Mr Zorro Potato & Da Boss said...

Dear Tom,

Please accept our deepest sympathies. We feel deeply for your loss.

Bea said...

What a wonderful tribute to Janet, in a way you are lucky you have the talent to put a glimpse of your feelings about him into words. We all know how horribly painful it is to lose a pet and how we can't help to think over and over about those "what if"s (specially if you have to make the final decision as I had to 3 times in the last 2 years). I'm sure Janet had a fantastic life with you, Dee and the other cats and that's all that matters. RIP gorgeous boy.

Robin said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Janet. He sounds like he was an awesome cat.

Kim said...

I have to admit that I didn't know that Janet ever existed, nor you, until now. But that doesn't mean I don't feel your pain. I've been there and heard that noise quite unexpectedly.

You obviously loved him - your words are a tribute to that love.

Thank you for sharing - my thought are with you.

mariel said...

I've only just discovered your blog and was sorry to hear about Janet on my first visit. I would like to have heard your fond stories of him. Few companions compare to our furry feline friends. My chap (Edmund Blackadder) is approaching 22 and somehow still kicking, though I fear he may not have long. May Janet be forever surrounded by his favourite foods and polystyrene beads. And may you take solace in the other cats in your life.

LCT said...

I am so sorry to hear this - he always sounded like such a happy soul. I think we grieve for our pets so strongly because we have (usually) a highly positive relationship with them.

Jackie Morris said...

I've never been a fan of 'the rainbow bridge' but you know that when you die Janet is going to be waiting somewhere for you, twenty times the size of you, calling you by a girl's name and giving you pills twice a day!
We are so lucky with our cats and they break your heart when they die, but oh how beautiful naughty haughty Janet was.
Lucky to have those years together.
Be of good heart and keep pestering teh ones that are still there.

Kev said...

Tom, I am so sorry to hear that Janet has passed on, he was a fine cat and gave you, and us through your books, so much to laugh about. He will live on in your writing and memories.

Your pain will ease in time but there is always a small ache there when we think of our departed pets I find, but that is a good thing. Grief is the price we must pay for love.

Run free, Janet, you big black fluffy mogster.

Genine said...

Tom - I am sorry. What more can I say. This is the worst part of being a pet owner, and something I have been through too many times already. Their lives are too short. The only thing that makes me feel better is the knowledge that we have given them the best life they could live. Take care, Genine

Anna said...

I've just finished reading Under the Paw and decided to have a quick peek at your blog. I'm so so so sorry about Janet. You gave him the happiest life a cat could ever hope for. He'll be looking down, next to the mangy fox, purring at you fussing over the other five little ones
Anna (and Graffiti)

Tom said...

Thanks Anna. Hope you and Graffiti get chance to have a read of Talk To The Tail as well. And thanks again to everyone else for the very kind comments - they've helped a lot.

Hajnal said...

RIP Janet, and my sincere sympathy to you.

I just lost, two weeks ago, my beloved 16 y-o diabetic cat, Saphir. I knew it would be hard, but this hard... I did not even come close to imagining. The loss is just gut-wrenching. Even with family, friends and boyfriend being as supportive and understanding as they've been with me.


You take care.

Jessica said...

Bless you. If it helps at all to know that a reader who doesn't know you sat here and sobbed in shared grief, well, that's exactly what I did. That was a beautiful tribute to Janet.

Aussie Kat said...

So sad to hear of the passing of your dear Janet...he is so like our Shadow...same goofy look!...I will give our fuzz ball an extra big hug tonight in memory of a wonderful cat who left this world a better place for being here xx

Cari said...

Tom...I am SO sorry. I've been through feline bereavement - twice - alone, and sadly cannot bear the pain of taking in another feline friend.
Your tribute to Janet is heartbreaking, and beautiful. He was a gorgeous cat. Having read both your cat books, I can appreciate what a huge gap he has left in all your lives.
I'm assured by a psychic friend that we will all meet again on the other side - free of pain and illness, and in our prime. I do hope that she's right.

Much love and thoughts to you all - I do know what you're going through.
R.I.P Janet
Cari xx

Sharon E. Cathcart said...

Dear Tom and Family:

Oddly enough, after reading "Under The Paw," learning about Janet's death makes me feel as though I lost a member of my own family.

I am so very sorry. He was a very special cat.

RIP, Janet.

Della said...

I have spent my whole life working with feral cats. I recently lost my buddy, an old survivor in the wild. Took two years to make him a pet. He loved me dearly and I lost him recently. It was like someone digging my heart out with a dull spoon. It always does. I have two old girl cant's that I don't think will make it another year. I feel your pain! GBU my cat friend. Della

Lyn said...

Tom, I am so sorry to hear of Janet passing away. It brought back so many memories of my baby boy Bob who died in 2008 aged 15. He too had an overactive thyroid and we had fun trying to get tablets down him, he wrecked the stairs carpet and was prone to hairballs at 3am but he was our baby boy and it still hurts and we still miss him, he was cuddly and like Janet a peoples cat. What ever I say will not make it better but I just wanted you to know we are thinking about you.
love
Lyn
xxx

jmuhj said...

Sharing your grief, Tom and family -- Janet was my favorite of your family, for so many reasons including his physical resemblance to two of my beloved boys, one of whom I'm sure has welcomed Janet at the Rainbow Bridge and the other of whom is (I pray) still in sanctuary in Canada (long story). Your thoughts and words could be mine, so many times, most recently since September of last year, the time of our latest loss, of our sweet snowshoe, aged 13, from kidney failure.

I'm sure you know from all the posts that you are far from alone. And I'm sure this is no comfort when it comes to missing that ONE special cat. But do know that thousands of us out here share your loss and your love of that one special cat. And you WILL be together again. For now, he is free! of pain, aging, and health problems, and always right close to you all, loving and watching over you all. <3

liz said...

Sorry for your loss. Your words made me weep I remember my furbabies that are now at Rainbow bridge. They may be gone from our lives but they will always be in our hearts

Liz

Esselhaych said...

Thanks for having the courage to share Janet's last hours and your still raw emotions with us. I hope you've found it helpful and/or cathartic. It's clear from reading through the responses how much love we your readers have for both you and Janet, and how many of us have also been through the experience of losing a beloved cat and feel that solidarity of pain with you. Please let that provide a big warm blanket of comfort for you when you need something to wrap yourself in. The purrings of Bastet on Janet and the rest of your clan. Immense hugs. Susan x

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of Janet's passing.

Just to say I really enjoyed Talk to the Tail.

Best wishes

KarinJ said...

So sad,Tom, but that's the silent bargain we make with our cats - we know that we will outlive them, except perhaps for our last cat, who will outlive us ...

If it weren't for that unspoken understanding, we could not have cats because we would always be aware of time's winged chariot at our heels ...



The thought of my little black cat Potopot, who died of typhus more than 50 years ago, still brings tears to my eyes. He was my first "own" cat (rather than being a family cat), and I will always miss him. There have been many others after him; I miss them all.

In the end, the pain of the loss is worth it for the time the cats and I spent together ...

Esselhaych said...

I've just reread this post after tragically losing my beautiful Bubble last Monday. He became very unexpectedly seriously ill and within the space of a mere 3 hours it was confirmed there was nothing that could be done other than to ease his pain into the everlasting sleep. Probably one of the hardest moments of my life was holding him in my arms for his final moments. I just wanted to say that having read your words about Janet a mere few weeks previously, and all the comments that followed from other cat lovers, made me feel so much less unique and alone in my grief. So thank you all for sharing your thoughts so openly on such a sad subject. Susan

Ingrid said...

Dear Janet,
I've just learned you have crossed the rainbow bridge, I'm sure you will not be mad at me to realise it so many days after your forever travel... I only knew you through your human's book, but I cared about you as much as I care about your brothers and sisters. I am extremely touched and sad by what I've just read in your sweet human's blog. My tears go to you as many shiny bubbles that celebrate your memory. Cats are pure souls, extraordinary companions made of pure love and happiness. Each cat leaving this world is a painful memory for each human who has deeply loved one. You are one of a kind and you will be profoundly missed. I wish we could have a kind human ear to help us when we go through your loss, but it is often really difficult to find someone who will understand our pain and distress. The internet enabled me to be heard when I most needed it. My three cats are by my side while I'm writing those words - even the one who hate being touched or lying next to me! He actually is the closest to me, letting me petting his sweet grey fur!!! You, cats, will always surprise me. I believe that you are part of a whole, each one of you living in every other cats. I believe your atoms surround us every day, you are never gone forever, you are still there. I hope you understand how much I love you and your species even if my English is not perfect. My thoughts go to you from France, and I wish a lot of courage and strength to the human who took such a good care of you.

Purrfect Haven said...

rest in peace dear janet. Most sad news but eased by your beautiful thoughtful writing. Helen

Anonymous said...

*cries*

kathryn evans said...

I can't believe I missed this, I'm so sorry. I adored what I read about Janet and I know how devastating it is to lose a creature so close to you. I still miss my first cat who died 2o years ago...and I still miss this little beggar, who also had over active thyroid and watching her slowly disappear nearly broke my heart: http://mrsbung.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/rosie-the-cat/

tylwyth said...

I just found your blog yesterday, so i hope my commenting on Janet's death so long after the fact isn't too odd. I have sobbed uncontrollably, both after reading it for the first time last night, and again just now, after making my boyfriend read it too. I suppose it is only fair, as we laughed so hard at your instructions for feeding 6 cats we nearly choked on our own tongues. Anyway, it seemed strange to share such an intimate moment in your life without letting you know how moved i have been.
thank you, for such a range of emotions,
x