It’s Not You, Zee, Not This Time, But I Wish It Was

Our precious Maine Coon, Zee, has been gone nearly two months, yet somehow the world did not stop. Not for my pain, nor for his significance. There was no parade. No national holiday created. No indication from passersby I’d come upon in stores, restaurants, or wherever,  who cared to wonder how I was, or how I was coping, as surely they could see my heart had nearly stopped beating from a mile away, the pain of loss so deeply embedded in me. But no, none of that happened. Notwithstanding the kindness of friends, family, and my beloved cat community who have supported me with cards, gifts, comments, and more, life moves on without the courtesy of stopping, thus requiring me to manage my pain and emptiness within the frame of daily existence as I mourn an extraordinary cat.

Zee’s urn is front and center and one day will have his picture on it, too.

I’m still in a fog of denial. We have his wooden urn sitting on the shelf of our armoire, residing among our other angels – Bailey, Kit, Bandit, Jazz, and Harley. There is a lovely card from the vet’s office – Zee’s beautiful paw print emblazoned on it, with touching and heartfelt signed messages from the office staff. After all, Zee had become like family to them, too. One day I will get a frame for it – something appropriately kitty-related so as to acknowledge the beauty, and one day I will put a picture of Zee on his resting container like I did for Jazz and Harley.

But right now, that’s just too big a burden. I scroll through the hundreds of images I have of him, looking for the right one, but my brain glosses over them as if that’s not even my cat, despite him being in my life for nearly sixteen years, because if I really focus on the pictures, then I must truly acknowledge he’s gone. I can’t do that right now. I can’t put an angel halo over his head on this blog’s banner, or Zee & Zoey’s Facebook page, and I still acknowledge having eight cats in emails and conversations, when I actually have seven now.

And sometimes when I feed the others, I automatically bring out his special bowl, too. Then I remember. Oh yeah, he’s not here anymore. And then there’s the constant battle I have with the behavioral and territorial challenges of a multicat home, where somewhere along the way, things changed with the dynamic, a dynamic I’d always previously been able to manage with little problems. But lately, spraying has become a habit with them, leaving me with the unpleasant task of having to deal with wherever they leave their mark. I pick up a paper towel to clean and pause. It’s not you, Zee. Not this time.

And lest you wonder, I can assure you I’ve done it all. Bring the cats to the vet for an exam – check. Spayed and neutered – check. Feliway calming spray – check. Change the diet – check. Engage in more playtime and exercise – check. Invest in more cat toys, cat condos, and cat-enriching items – check. Buy every odor-eliminating, and or spray/deterrent product on the market to detract from spraying again – check. I could go on, but it’s become a book that I would never want to publish because I want to see all cats adopted into loving, forever homes and this story is not one that would necessarily get glowing reviews from potential guardians.  

That said, it’s my furry gang, and I love them. You just get used to it and strategize with an arsenal of items and solutions – aluminum foil and plastic mats with detractor spikes to stop them from going on certain places and shut doors to rooms with carpet, for example. And honestly, I would give anything just to have Zee lift his quivering tail one more time. That little face of his, looking at me when I’d clean up his mark, wondering with his wide eyes, why I seemed frazzled. Yes, I’d gladly pick up a paper towel again.

I just miss him so much and I’m having a hard time settling into how to reconcile he is no longer here and I think this post was my attempt to get some of my feelings out. I had not planned on writing it at all – typically my posts have a rhyme or reason – but the thoughts came to me, almost rendering me helpless, other than to let the words flow. Between losing him, work demands, and everyday life,  I’m just so tired. And stressed. And overwhelmed. I’m crying now, too. But I think I needed the cry to help me cope. It’s not healthy to keep grief bottled up, so writing it is. One day at a time, Zee. One day at a time.

This was February 2020. Just a couple of seniors hanging out together!


Thank you all again for your love and support and if you missed Zee’s tribute post, “Saying Goodbyes to Zee – The Legacy of an Extraordinary Cat,” you can read it here.


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  1. Ingrid King says:

    Losing a soul cat like Zee is so devastating, and the grief can be overwhelming. There’s nothing anyone can do or say to make this easier. You’re in my thoughts as you navigate this world with your Zee in it.

  2. Sue Brandes says:

    Sending hugs and purrs. I so understand how you feel right now.

  3. Leah says:

    Sympathy and purrs from the kitties and me, I understand how hard it is to lose a kitty.

  4. Jo Singer says:

    Deb, you did it again..your writing touched me so deeply this morning that I can’t stop weeping.. hard to write with tears falling on my ipad keyboard.
    Oh, my dear friend, I know this pain was so deep…when we lost Dr. Hush Puppy and Sir Hubble Pinkerton, and as the years flew by, the ache- that endless ache in m heart disappeared and what was left was missing them.. but my heart had healed.. DID it?

    Your beautifully touching writing, the love you share and the pain you feel shared so vulnerably flows through electronic paper.. and it touched me so deeply this morning that my heart opened up and there it was.. that wrenching grief i thought had left me forever reminded me that grief has no timetable.Your precious post struck me in the heart..reminding me that although our house is filled with photos, that I have written so much about the boys that I can “google” for them and they appear. And I weep this morning because they aren’t sitting on my kitchen table looking at me with those “feed me, I’m starving “ expression in their eyes. I love you Deb.. I may not spend time talking with you on the phone, or visiting you (my loss) but you have this uncanny way of opening me to my truths. Much love and gentle kitty hugs my friend.

    • Deb says:

      Oh, Jo. I’m so sorry to have made you cry and to bring up pain from the past. But, we seem to share a kindred spirit and soul, so I’m really not surprised how deeply this piece moved you. Much love and hugs back to you as well.

      • Jo Singer says:

        Deb-no-no need to apologize.I needed to be reminded that it’s always ok to feel our feelings .. and yes, you were so right in writing that we need to express our feelings-not to stuff them in and be “strong”. It was perfect for me..I tend to “stuff” and that isn’t healthy. So thank you !

  5. Stephanie Piro says:

    I understand what you are going through, Deb. Such a huge loss. Each of our cats is a unique presence in our lives and each loss is so painful, I can still cry over them, even years later. Love and hugs out to you.

  6. Marlene St. Amand says:

    So sorry, My little girl passed away last year, I cried so much, I miss her dearly. <3

    • Deb says:

      I’m so sorry, Marlene. My heart goes out to you.

      • Mary McNeil says:

        I must add that I still have six – all about the same age (10 +-) two with chronic health problems…just purraying to keep them together for awhile longer – as I know you are doing with yours. Hope you can get the spraying solved – that adds even more pain.

      • Deb says:

        That’s a lot to deal with, Mary, and I do hope they will be together for a long while together, too.

  7. I’m glad you did decide to share where you are right now. This is the purrfect place to do that. We’ve all experienced this and understand, and each of us can share a little piece of it for you. Do it again when you need to.

    I’ve painted portraits of nearly all the cats who’ve joined the memories as part of my grieving process, but the most consequential cat, the one who saved my life, who changed my life, had to wait 10 years until I chanced on an envelope of photos from film tucked away for safe keeping until I had space to take them out and review, and I found the series I’d taken of him rolling on the floor in the sun, trying to make me laugh when I was having a bad day. It was worth the wait, and perhaps it took 10 years for me to be ready for it. It will come to you, when it’s time, when seeing that image and experiencing that memory won’t bring you pain, but joy.. Sending love and purrs.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Bernadette. I know you, and others, understand, so I did feel safe sharing my feelings here. And your story is so sweet – yes, maybe it took 10 years, but it really was worth the wait and meant to be.

  8. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    writing becomes a catharsis for the mind, heart and soul ~~~~~~~~~

    I stood in my front yard two weeks ago, looking at the cherry tree in
    full bloom and bawled like a baby…not even sure Tuna liked that tree
    ….and I know you understand what I’m saying ♥♥

    all things in time Deb, in YOUR time

    hugs and loves ♥♥

    • Deb says:

      Oh goodness, Laura. I can so picture you standing and looking at the cherry tree in your yard, not even sure that Tuna liked the tree! The last couple of days of Zee’s life, he didn’t even like his “special” bowl, rather eating from the other’s dishes. Naturally, I let him do whatever he wanted…

  9. jmuhj says:

    Our beloved angel Tarifa left us very unexpectedly, almost 1 1/2 years ago. Her leaving was traumatic for me and it still is. Her picture is still my sign-in and welcome screen, and she is still one of “my three” on a sigtag I use every day. Every morning before I start work, I touch each one of the eight little urns here in my office, say their names, and tell them, and so many others, in my heart how much I love them.

    I know. Believe me, I know. There is no “closure” (how I loathe that word and the callous, thoughtless people who use it!) and there will always be the pain of knowing that, yes, those bowls do not need to be filled. But we will meet again some day.

    Your family and mine, and so many others, will be having big and loving reunions then!

    • Deb says:

      You are so right, jmuhj, closure is not a word that works when it comes to matters of the heart. How sweet that you still touch the urns of your eight beloved angels, too.

  10. Ellen Pilch says:

    I know how you feel. Sometimes I wonder how I am even still breathing without my beloved Sammy. XO

  11. Mary McNeil says:

    Since Feb 1 2020 I have loost seven members of my fur family – all for different reasons. There is no replacing them I am too old to condider adopting any more, and I don’t want another one – I want theones that were here to be back with us. Purrayers.

  12. Like so many others I know how you feel. On May1st it will be 5 years since Flynn had to leave us and the pain is as bad today as it was then. I loved both boys dearly, but when Flynn went part of me died along with him.

  13. oh Deb you KNOW I understand. Cody is gone nearly two years now and I STILL have NOT come to terms with him not being here. I hurt for you. I feel your pain and I understand your pain. There are still times that I think of him and miss him with pain that is just unreal. I always feel that he should still be here (or at least he should have had a good couple years left). His passing was so sudden and horrible, I wish I didn’t have the images in my mind. Sending you (((hugs))) and love, I know how hard it is.

    • Deb says:

      I sure do know that you understand, Caren. I was actually thinking of you when I wrote this post, knowing that you could relate all too well. I still miss Cody, too, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with the darkness.

  14. Brian Frum says:

    Hugs Deb, it sure is tough. It’s almost 2 months since our Dolly left us and we’re all still crushed by her unexpected departure.

  15. So many of us understand, Deb. No matter how many we lose and how much time goes by, it never gets any easier. Truffles has been gone for nearly 7 years now and I still can’t accept how cruelly she was taken from me, even though I know Mudpie wouldn’t be here otherwise and I can’t imagine life without her either.

    • Deb says:

      I completely understand what you’re saying, Melissa. Our Jazmine came as a result of losing Jazz. I still miss Jazz so, so much and would give anything to have him back, but I also can’t imagine life without our precious Jazmine.

  16. Connie Marie Poulson says:

    I am so very sorry and sad that Zee is gone. I am crying too, I balled my eyes out over your last post of him, almost not reading this one. I’m glad I did though. I had wondered how the other cats were taking the loss, especially Zoey.
    I’m going thru with my BooBoo now what you’ve been thru already.
    I realize there’s not anything to say that’s going to ease your pain but my thoughts are with you and your family.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Connie. You’ve known Zee for a long time through this blog and I appreciate your support. Zoey has become quite needy – constantly going from my lap to Dan’s during the day, something she typically didn’t do before. Napping with Zee and her girls was always part of her daily routine. Bless you, and I will keep BooBoo in my thoughts.

  17. A loss like Zee will take a long time to recover from. I’m so sorry you have to go through the pain.
    There are still days I just ache over the loss of Tsunami and it’s been almost two years.
    You remain in my prayers dear Deb.

  18. George Beach says:

    Deb, what a wonderful tribute. You are such a beautiful person with a tremendous heart. You so much for felines you are directly involved with and for those you never see. It was you I had in mind every moment I had the kitten I rescued. He is in a good home now. Thank you for all you do and I am so very sorry for your loss. As we all know, you never truly get over the loss of a beloved pet. We can only hope that time and all the good memories will ease the pain. Love.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for your kindness, George, and for stopping by. The moment I saw the kitten you rescued on your Facebook post, I could not stop thinking about him. Honestly, he immediately reminded me of Zee and I just know this little guy is going to be very special. I’m so glad you found him a home and that you had the compassion to rescue him. xoxo

  19. meowmeowmans says:

    We are so, so sorry, Deb. Please know we are sending gentle purrs your way, and prayers that one day, Zee’s memory will bring more smiles that pain and sorrow. XO