A Tribute to Mr. Jazz – The Dignity of Life and Death and Finding the Beauty in Letting Go


The thing with inevitability is that no matter how many wishes upon a star, you cannot stop what is meant to be and I now find myself, a born writer, in stunned silence with no words to adequately convey both the crushing loss, yet the sobering relief of letting my beloved Mr. Jazz finally pass to his place on the Rainbow Bridge this past Wednesday. 

On the surface you might not even know it, but upon closer inspection, every nook and cranny looks like a cat infirmary. Pill bottles, syringes, pee pads, disinfecting wash, special cat foods, pain medication, blankets in every corner, and more. But, the fact is, after a litany of blood tests, x-rays and endless examinations with no conclusive evidence in sight, and despite the mountains of cat paraphernalia dedicated to prolonging the life of our beautiful 15 year old boy, Mr. Jazz, he was dying.

We, of course, did not immediately know this and made it our mission, as if somehow our love and perseverance could will him back to his original healthy body weight and his younger days of life. We ran the gamut to assist  – regular injections of fluids in his body, pills to stimulate his appetite, and, of course, my desperate and obsessive effort to find something to entice him to eat such as baby food, chicken broth, liver, cheese, specialty cat milks, turkey breast, tuna, and every and any brand of cat food on the market. He wanted none of it, to the point he was losing weight at such alarming levels that we were forced to bring him back to the vet to be taught how to force feed him with a syringe to bulk up his weight.


This photo was taken several years ago and even in his younger days, Jazz always had a dignified air about him.

You would think that one frail cat versus one very stubborn and determined human would be an easy victory for the human, but that was hardly the case. Jazz became completely angry, depressed, and so desperate to get away from me that he would run and hide every time he saw me. I remained diligent and did my best to nourish him, but the eating victories were few and far between. This battle went on for weeks until one morning when I was getting ready for work and noticed a big bubble protruding from his throat. I woke Dan up in a complete panic, certain my time with Jazz would be reduced to minutes and we rushed him to the vet. She calmly drained the protrusion and broke the news to Dan and I, “You will need to make a decision very soon, as we don’t want to see a cat needlessly suffering.”

Dan and I brought Jazz home and made a promise to one another  – above all else, and despite how hard the decision would be, Jazz deserved his dignity and we were not going to subject him to further tests, tubes, pills, syringes, or anything else. We were going love him as much as we could and enjoy whatever time with him we would be blessed to have. That being said, it was like a mini-miracle was given to us. Jazz seemed to intuitively know it was up to him and he began to eat on his own to the point he was asking for “snacks” all day and night long which we happily obliged and let’s just say that I was “cautiously overjoyed.”


While always beautiful to me, you can see the effects of age and illness on Jazz in this picture that was taken last month.

We were given three more glorious months with Jazz who also seemed to sense the finality of time. He would drape his body on mine like days of old when we were on the couch and give me a bear hug as if to reassure me that he knew every day he had with us was a precious gift on loan. Dan and I lavished him with kind words, love, and extra petting and for a brief moment, time just stood still for us all. That was, until last week when everything began to change and we knew it was over. Jazz became incontinent and would take to slumbering for extended periods of time in very odd places. He was having trouble walking and took what would be his last bite of solid food and no amount of pleading, begging, crying, or cajoling would get him to eat. He began to nest and I knew he was trying to find a final resting place.

I put comfortable blankets all over the house for him to lie on – jumping on the couch or bed was no longer an option and I spent the entire week by his side at night, petting him for hours, until I knew he wanted me to leave so he could wander off without me watching him find a place to sleep through the night. He sensed that our time together at night was important and so did Harley. One night was especially difficult. I knew Jazz was laboring and she came to lie on the blanket next to us. I tried to shoo her away, but she got vocally agitated with me and pressed the warm girth of her body into his. I realized she was offering him her comfort and I let her stay with us. She never once moved and I remain in awe of her compassion towards him. Actually, all of the cats have been extraordinarily in tune with the emotion of the house and I don’t know what I would have done without all of their support.

On Tuesday night, I went to bed paralyzed with fear as to what I would find in the morning. Jazz was more restless than usual and he did not want me by his side for long. While it pained me immensely, I allowed myself to leave him be and respected his instinct to be alone. When I got up to go to bed, Harley was again by his side. When I woke up early Wednesday morning, I instantly looked for him and could not find him. I searched for over an hour and finally woke Dan to help me. He found Jazz under the TV stand and he hugged me and with a heavy heart told me Jazz was no longer in pain and was gone.

As Dan and I held one another, Peanut was on the floor, looking at the spot where Jazz was, imploring Dan to look again. He then told me, “Deb, Jazz is still with us.” He was barely breathing and could not lift his head. We had prayed he would pass peacefully in the night, but for whatever reason, we were given the precious gift of being able to share his final moments with us. Dan picked Jazz up and put him on a towel and brought him into the guest bedroom where I laid down next to him on the bed. I grabbed a blanket and wrapped myself around him to offer soothing words of love and comfort and pet his head as gently as I could. Kizmet and Harley lay at my feet and all of us spent the entire morning with Jazz. We did not move an inch until it was time to go. Dan had made the appointment for the afternoon – we knew the final gift we had to give Jazz was finding the grace, beauty, and dignity of letting him go.


Perhaps one of the most poignant, bittersweet, and meaningful pictures I will ever have. This is me in my final moments with Jazz as I am surrounded by Kizmet and Harley who seem to intuitively sense the passing of life.

At Dan’s suggestion, we placed Jazz in a beautiful wicker basket to carry him to the vet. It fit his body perfectly and he looked so peaceful resting in it. Once we got there, our vet talked to us for a few minutes and then she dimmed the lights. It was actually quite beautiful and serene. Dan and I held one another as we comforted Jazz in his final minutes and we left with the knowledge that he was so very loved and cherished and that he did not have to suffer any more. It obviously hurts deeply that we had to make that choice, but we knew it was the right one because when it comes to a pet, despite the wish to never have to let them physically go, one has to be gently reminded it is about the quality of their life, not the quantity of years that it needs to be measured by.

And even with the remaining gang of seven – Zee, Zoey, Mia, Peanut, Harley, Rolz, and Kizmet – there is still the loneliness of not having the eight. I will miss him so much – he was a part of my life for as long as I can remember and was one of the kindest, sweet tempered and docile cats I have ever known. Never once did he start a fight with the other cats or cause any trouble. He was not a cat prone to jumping on the counter, nor did he break things. He did not play with DaBird or laser pens. He was a lover, pure and simple, and the greatest joy he ever got was those blessed moments when he could drape his body over mine and give me a big ole bear hug with his beautiful, fluffy paws.

Rest in peace my darling boy… we love you so much…

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  1. Melissa says:

    What a heartwrenchingly beautiful post and a photo you will cherish forever. When my Tara passed last month I was blessed to have been laying beside her as she went in her sleep. I will forever be thankful for that because many mornings I woke up dreading what I would find after not wanting to leave her for the night. And I know exactly what you mean by living in a cat infirmary…my home looked the same those last months. Mr. Jazz was so lucky to have had you. We are keeping you all in our thoughts.

    Melissa & Truffles

    • Deb says:

      Melissa – I am so sorry to hear of Tara’s passing, but how wonderful that you were there to comfort her to the Bridge. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.

  2. Oh Deb my heart aches for you. You were given the chance to say goodbye. My first loss, Pepe Francois was sudden, at the age of 5, and while I left him at the vet, he passed away. It was the most painful loss of my life.

    Pets like Jazz are part of the family who give so much more than we imagine. And we continue to remember. Writing, actually blogging was my outlet. http://www.pepefrancois.blogspot.com

    But one day will arrive when your heart will sing with joy in reliving memories with Jazz.

    Sending you and Dan and your 7 kitties a big hug.


    • Deb says:

      Christine – I can only imagine the excruciating pain you must have felt upon learning of Pepe’s passing at the vet. While it was extremely difficult to let Jazz go, there was an enormous comfort in knowing that Dan and I (and the kitties) were able to be with him during his last moments. I so appreciate your love and friendship and thank you for the hugs of support.

  3. Sherry says:

    Such a poignantly beautiful story you have of your life and loss of your precious boy. I adopted my Susie from a shelter when she was 10. She was a talkative, long-haired tortie with THE BEST personality. My parents fell in love with her and she often accompanied me on my trips home to see my parents on the weekend. We moved into our house in 1997. Shortly afterward, I noticed she was having trouble seeing. But Susie was a gracious girl. She used the cabinets to navigate the kitchen. She meowed and talked and acted like life was just fine. One night, she came to me in a panic. She was frantically meowing – so scared. My beloved Susie was dying. We sat on the bathroom floor and she talked and talked to me while I cried and comforted her. She passed away in my arms. Such a beautiful, beautiful girl she was. I volunteer at our shelter every Saturday cleaning the “cat rooms”. We have several older ones. I often tell people about Susie and sometimes, sometimes they do choose an older cat. Such beautiful creatures.
    I am so sorry for your loss, but I am so happy you had the opportunity to have him in your life.

    • Deb says:

      Oh Sherry, my heart aches to hear Susie’s story. But how blessed you were to be able to comfort her while she passed in your arms. And even more wonderful that she is an angel ambassador to others adopting older cats. Such a touching story – thank you for sharing and thank you for your condolences.

  4. What a beautiful post. The love that you had for Jazz shows through the post and that picture made us leaky eyed. We’re so glad you were able to be with Jazz in his last moments to help his body leave this world. His spirit lives on forever in your hearts.

    (((Hugs))), purrs and prayers,
    The Florida Furkids and Mom Sharon

  5. Sally Bahner says:

    We have a collection of canisters on our mantle. After 40+ years of having cats, it never gets any easier. They all live on forever in your heart.

  6. Bernie says:

    It is very heart breaking to hear the pain in your writing of losing Jazz. You and he were so intuned to each other. My heart breaks for your. Sending may kitten purrs and hugs, filled with love to you all.

  7. Andrea Dorn says:

    I lived through your experience with Jazz and I admire your ability to keep writing. I’ve not crossed that bridge yet. I’m thankful for your kind words at my loss. Now I am thankful that Jazz had someone(s) so special to understand just what he needed. He was such a beautiful boy.

    • Deb says:

      Andrea – I can assure you writing this was no easy task. The world is different now with computers, but if you could visualize a mountain of crumpled up balls of paper at my feet, that is what the exercise was like. Nothing was adequate and my heart was aching with pain the whole time. However, because I ultimately knew he had lived a long and happy life, it gave me the courage and sense of peace to move on in his honor.

  8. It’s the hardest and bravest service we have to provide for these lovely creatures in our care, and despite our pain we do it for them…willingly taking on the pain so that they don’t have to. Your kitty had a wonderful life with his People who loved him so–would that every kitty could have such a life and such a gentle passage to the Bridge. We are purring and purraying for you. XOXOXO

  9. Carolyn says:

    Deb, I have been putting off reading this because I needed time, as I knew it would be beautiful, heart wrenching and poignant. I can hardly type through the tears, you express the events and your emotions so well! Run free sweet Jazz. Caro and Austin x0x

    • Deb says:

      Oh Caro and Austin – I am so sorry to be the cause of tears, but in this beautiful circle of friendship we have created within the cat blogosphere, they are unfortunately inevitable and all we can do is be grateful that we have such wonderful and understanding friends to share the pain of our loss. Thank you for your kindness… xoxo

  10. Ann says:

    My heartfelt prayers on your loss ~

  11. What a beautiful post for Jazz <3
    Me and my mom-person is glad you were able to be with Jazz in his last moments.
    Sending lot of (((purrs))) and huggies

  12. Nancy says:

    You have beautiful memories filled with so much love. Thank you for sharing that love. Purrs and prayers to all.

  13. That was a beautiful tribute to a very handsome kitty.
    We send you comforting purrs.
    Purrs Tillie and Georgia,
    Treasure,Tiger, JJ and Julie

  14. With ma blubbering like a baby and a tear in my eye, I have to say I know this had to be the most difficult post to write. Saying good bye is so hard. It’s something no pawent ever wants to do. The photo of you on the bed is so touching. When ma had to make the decision with her 1st true heart dog, the last photo she took was him sitting under the tree ,alone. She regrets not getting a photo of them together to this day. That was 13 yrs ago.
    My family’s heart and prayers are with you , Dan and the kitties.

    • Deb says:

      Carma – as you well know, losing a pet under any circumstances is heartbreaking and yes, this really was a difficult post to write, but in my heart, it felt like the right time to do it. He was such a good boy and I am very blessed to have that last picture of us together. Dan, the kitties, and I are so grateful for your friendship and kind words. Thank you… xoxox

  15. Cat's Cats says:

    We are so sorry for the loss of your lovely boy Jazz, please accept our heartfelt condolences.

  16. Miss Deb, Mr. Dan and furry family. We just came home today and heard the sad news. Mom’s eyes got everything soaking wet and she thinks that the last picture and the story of Mr. Jazz has a lot of importance to be shared with other kitty guardians and family members. There is the great beauty of deep, unfaltering love in its sadness, for sometimes we only know the depth of love when we feel it’s loss.

    Our purrs go out to each of you, 2 legs and 4. You are in our hearts.
    Harry, Dexter, Tipp and Willow
    Mom Carolyn and Dad Mark

  17. Kitikata-san says:

    I am sorry Mr Jazz went over to the bridge. Kitikata-san just went to the bridge to. They are play happily together now.

    • Deb says:

      We are so sorry to hear of Kitikata-san’s passing and thank you for your kind words. We are happy Mr. Jazz will have a friend to play with…

  18. Clooney says:

    Oh we are so very sorry to hear this sad news about your precious Mr. Jazz. What a beautiful tribute you have written for him and the time you all spent with him just before his passing is so very special. Having a ragdoll cat myself, I know what a sweet, gentle little spirit and kitty he must have been for sure. Sending you all our thoughts of love and our gentle purrs.

  19. Your tribute to Jazz is a tribute to you all for your love and understanding, acceptance and grace. Beautifully written and I hope healing. Love, hugs and many purrs to you and Dan and rest of the kitties. Jobi and Fisher

  20. Marty (Jo OBrien-Singer's Husband) says:

    We met at Blog Paws. Jazz was not feeling well at the time and you were on the phone with Dan often and you were contemplating whether you were going to return to Florida. When Jo told me Jazz was lost I thougth of you and went to read of your loss.
    Thank you for sharinging your loving compassion for your kitty. I was moved by your words expressing why we love our furry friends. You were blessed with Jazz.. Our furry friends open our hearts and it will be differcult to let go and heal the wounds of separation. I will keep you in my heart.
    Love to you and Dan and the Kitties.

    • Deb says:

      I remember it like it was yesterday, Marty, and it was a very difficult time for me to disengage from Jazz. I knew, however, that I was making his condition worse by hovering around him and he was starting to resent me. By being with Dan for a few days, I think it gave him a different perspective and resolve. I thank God I was able to have several more months with him after I got home and that I could be with him at the end. Thank you so much for your kindness and keeping me in your heart.