Good bye, sweet Isabelle

Our cat died today. Not Hermione, my writing companion but Isabelle. She was the darling of the whole house, especially my youngest son, who is heartbroken. She was a sweet cat who would come when called, always responded to a pet or scratch, was never demanding, and was always happy to see us. She used to sleep in my son’s top bunk and leap on to the secretary, probably to keep away from Hermione who is often cranky and can’t make the jump.

This morning, after I feed the boys breakfast, I was checking work email when my youngest son rushed downstairs. “I think something’s wrong with Isabelle.”

He’s dramatic at times. I figured it was nothing but I went up with him to check on her. She was atop the secretary, out of sight.

“I’m worried about her,” he said. “She gasped and then was breathing very hard.”

I heard her sneeze. Sounded like a nice, healthy sneeze.

I reached up to pet her, found her soft, warm fur. No response. She always pressed back to the touch, she was eager for it. I went for a chair. She was limp. I brought her to the carpet.

“What’s wrong?” my sons asked. They must have seen the worry on my face.

No pulse. No breath. No blinks. I tried chest compressions. No response.

“I think she’s dead.”

I really miss Isabelle. I have a lump in my throat as I write this. But the worst part was seeing my children wail. Especially my youngest. My wife ran to comfort him but he was inconsolable. If Hermione is my cat, Isabelle was his. “I’m lonely,” he said before bed tonight.

We let him stay home from school and his classmates all wrote him very thoughtful cards. He set them out in the secretary below where she died.

We’ve had many pets over the years  but this passing was the first sudden one. She was about seven, as far as we know. She was one of the nicest cats we ever shared a house with. This is the hardest pet loss. All but one of the others lived to old age and the other one, the second sweetest cat we ever had, had cancer so his passing was expected.

None of us can remember anything unusual in her behavior the night before. I think it was a heart attack but we decided not to do the autopsy so we will never know. We’ll get some paw prints and keep her ashes with a book of our memories of her.

We’ll miss you Isabelle.