In July 2004, I was walking in NYC. I noticed cages of cats. I realized that they were from the pet store located right across the street. What drew me to Sugar was the sign above her cage: "I love to cuddle!" The shelter had named her "Sugar" because she was so sweet. One of the shelter workers stretched Sugar out and said to me, "Look, this is your baby!" And on Sugar's tummy I saw a skin pattern that made her look like a tiger. Her paws looked like black leather. These made me fall in love with her. A shelter worker who boxed her up said, "Don't worry, Mommy's taking you home." Wow, I was a "mommy"? I thought.
Sugar was very, very small and this always struck me. But Sugar's most significant feature was her EYES. They seemed to "talk" to me. Especially when it came to cuddling with me. They often said, "Is this a good time?" or "No, we can't cuddle?" Sugar indeed loved to cuddle. She was all over me virtually all the time. She'd knead at me and give me and other people who were willing "headbutts." I'd watch my guests meet her and she'd be all over them. I'd hear, "Oh my God, your cat is so sweet!!" Sugar's purr was so loud you could hear her in the next room. I got so used to Sugar being on my lap every time I sat that often, when I'd spent several hours on the computer, I might finally look down on my lap and see that Sugar had been sleeping on my lap for hours. Because she was so tiny and I was so used to it, I often hadn't noticed she'd even climbed on my lap. It just became natural over time, didn't even think about it.
The first time she met my future husband, whom I'd just begun to date, she gave him what we called "the glare of death." She'd come between us when he and I cuddled and we'd laugh. She quickly changed her mind about my boyfriend though a few dates later and in fact she would be extra affectionate with him. So now our joke was that she was out to steal him from me. :)
When I moved in with my boyfriend to our first lovely apartment, my other cat freaked out during the moving process. Sugar on the other hand, sat quietly in her carrying case as though it was nothing at all. My boyfriend compared the two cats' behavior and said Sugar was so calm and blase that you could give her a newspaper in there to read.
We called Sugar "the chicken monster." She would always jump up as soon as she saw i was eating chicken. She'd paw at my hand until i gave her a piece. Like a sucker I always gave in. Then she learned that all she had to do was tap my hand and she'd get chicken. So if i got a plate of chicken in front of me she'd come over, i'd get a tap-tap-tap on my hand.
Sugar had a very loud meow and she'd meow very, very, very loud at 4 or 5 a.m. to wake me up for the day. Once when I looked tired a co-worker joked, "Cat again?"
Sugar would either scratch at or lie around on my favorite items that I handled or wore. I had to carry with me lint-rollers that would get her hair off my clothes. I literally had to carry it in my bag and use it from time to time so that my clothes looked decent for work. :)
I found this website on the same night (seven years ago today) that we had no choice but to put her to sleep after a month and a half of illness that took away her eyesight and her lovable, social personality. I was so grateful to find it. I read the Rainbow Bridge poem. And I tried as hard as I could to convince myself that it was true. That she was there. And not just dead and gone. I believe it now. Though my husband and I joke that being older than me, he'll probably die first and will visit Sugar at Rainbow Bridge, but she won't be going with him. She'll be going with me. :)
I knew losing a pet would be difficult but I had no idea just how terrible the experience of putting her to sleep would be. I made sure to grieve her actively and hold back no feelings. When my husband and I did a "memorial" for her, we put in front of us a photo that best showed Sugar's real personality and joy that we had missed so much during the month and a half while she was sick. And that is the photo you see on her "gravestone." Those eyes. They talked to you.
As you members well know, some might say or imply to you during your grieving process, "It's just an animal." Well, it's NOT. Pets are like family. I don't have children but once when questioning why my pain and emotions around her dying were so strong a colleague responded, "The emotions mean something about you. It's about being a mommy."