Routines and Lives may Change but With Cats the Love Remains the Same…


This picture was taken in September of 2010 as the debut image for Zee & Zoey’s blog. I was surrounded by my beloved furry family with Jazz front and center. As I reflect back, I realize I am never alone… the circumstances might change, but my cats always adapt to be by my side.

There is no doubt my cats are an integral part of my life and I have always lavished them with attention, both consciously and subconsciously. The conscious became especially evident the past few months as I spent nearly every waking moment taking care of the special needs that Mr. Jazz had to ensure his final time with us as comfortable as possible.  Now that he has passed on, I find my mind frequently wandering and I wondered if I had inadvertently given the other cats less attention than they needed or did they not even notice the difference at all?

I came to the conclusion despite the general preference cats have for routine, they are also far more intuitive and flexible than what appears on the surface. What happened, I now realize, is that they adjusted around my needs with Jazz to suit their own. It was an implied, “we know you love us, but you need to take care of Jazz so we’ll figure out our own unique ways to spend time with you when we need it.” And mind you, it’s not as if I was ignoring them – far from it, but I just wasn’t myself, yet there they were, right by my side all along.

The past couple of months, my mornings began with me opening a special can of moist food just for Jazz – it was imperative I get something into his vanishing body and I would make the other interested cats, i.e., Zee, Peanut, and Harley, wait patiently for Jazz to eat however much or little he wanted before I would let them lick the remains of the feeding dish. Peanut was the most insistent she partake in this ritual and even though I no longer open up that special can of food, she remains ever hopeful I will. Rather than disappoint her, I give her extra loving, hugs, and kisses – she enjoys the exclusive attention and I somehow feel more connected to the memory of Jazz this way.


Maybe this will be the morning, thinks Peanut, I will get some of that special food. No? That’s okay… extra loving and kisses from human Mom is pretty special too!

Jazz would also get a small handful of dry kibble anytime he would wander into the kitchen. Normally we don’t feed the cats on demand, but if Jazz was willing to eat, he was going to get food – end of story. He would stand next to the pantry and howl a meow he was hungry and that was our signal to drop whatever we were doing to oblige his needs. Rolz keyed into this change of routine pretty quickly because it turns out, after an endless list of tries, the only food Jazz would eat was probably akin to buying your kid a McDonald’s Happy Meal and Rolz thought he had won the kitty lottery with that find. We still have some of that food left and Rolz is treated to a few pieces at night as a “snack.” It’s our special little secret and since it makes him happy, it makes me happy.


“Hey snack lady, ” says Rolz. “I don’t have all day – this is our special little moment, so if you could speed things up and get me my snack, I’d really appreciate it. Oh, and don’t get all emotional and start petting me or anything like that. Yeah, I love you, but that doesn’t mean you can go and get all mushy-kissy on me like you do with Peanut.”

Mia has made the most interesting evolution. She is slowly emerging from a shy, don’t pet me kind of kitty, to a very vocal and loving cat. Her special time for me – when I get out to the shower. I can’t dry myself quick enough for her – she hears the water shut off in the morning and will meow and chirp incessantly that I must pet her. The catch? We have a hamper in the corner of the bathroom with a flat cover she jumps onto. That’s where our bonding must occur and despite that it’s a tad inconvenient, as I’m trying to get ready for work, this ritual means the world to both of us. Now I just get up a few minutes earlier so I can spend more time with her. She will arch her back high up in the air as I pet her and purr her appreciation in chain saw decibels. Rarely am I am  allowed this special bonding anywhere else and I find it to be wonderfully awkward and charming – kind of like a teenager who wants to be loved as long as it’s not in front of anyone else!

Deb and Mia

Awful picture, but I think you get the idea. This is Mia sitting on top of my head.

Zoey continues to find me when she wants me, so it’s not uncommon to find her on my lap when I am on the computer and she religiously sits on my stretched out legs on the couch every single night when I settle to watch TV. What’s new, however, is how Kizmet has become a part of this. It used to be me, Dan, Zoey on my legs, Jazz on my chest, Harley on my stomach and Zee behind all of us on the couch. Without Jazz, Kizmet seems to understand there is a void and it’s his role to fill. Ker-plunk. As if dropped from a parachute, he lands next to my legs, settles to my LEFT side and snuggles in as close as he can to Zoey where he proceeds to groom her with an unbridled vigor. She happens to love the attention and will groom him back, but eventually he will push it too far, causing her to leave in a huff, but it is quite endearing until that moment.


Our handsome Zee assuming his position on the couch…

Zee has made the most compelling adjustment and the dear boy is such a darling it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Somehow he has taken it upon himself that he is responsible for the safety and emotional well-being of Dan and I and has made it his mission to care for us. He’s never not within eye sight of either one of us and when we go to bed, his job really begins. He is so torn with love for both of us that at various times he will take turns snuggling next to us. I will wake up to find him curled up at my side with my arm around him. Or sometimes he is on top of my head. But, Dan will also tell the same story, so I know he goes back and forth all night, making sure we are protected.  Ironically, years ago he was never a lap cat, yet now, he seems lost if he’s not with one of us.


A typical nightly offering from Zee…

He will also leave throughout the night to bring gifts to us. We will wake up in the morning to a bedroom floor covered with his prized plush toys and I’m certain he does it as homage to his love for us. He also talks constantly, almost as if he has to check in with us to make sure we are okay. Poor little guy – I fear we are going to wear him out taking care of us but his intentions are just so precious and I know this is his way of acknowledging the painful and emotional journey we went through with Jazz and he is reassuring us everything will be okay.

All I know is that the love and appreciation that I have always had for my cats, has now reached a level that takes my breath away. My senses have taken on a life of their own and I feel like everything they do, I am seeing for the first time. I am quietly reveling in this rediscovery and unconditional love they feel for me is returned to them a thousandfold. I miss Jazz every single day, but I also realize that he lives on through the others and I am forever grateful for that…


I have shared this picture of Rolz and Kizmet before, but it just seems so fitting to share it again, as it so exquisitely showcases the unconditional love that animals have the capability to express.

What about your cats? Has something in your life triggered a different bond or relationship you have with them? Please feel free to share your stories on this reflective Caturday.


To read my tribute to Mr. Jazz please visit this post:

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

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  1. Ingrid King says:

    What a powerful post. I absolutely love this part: “My senses have taken on a life of their own and I feel like everything they do, I am seeing for the first time.” As you know, I’m all about learning from our cats, and I’ve always felt that the most important lesson they teach us is to live in the moment, and to be mindful. Your experience with watching your household adjust after losing Mr. Jazz is such a wonderful example of what happens when we embrace change, even when it’s painful, and discover the gifts our cats bring into our lives, even in the middle of profound grief.

  2. What an incredibly touching story. Right from the heart and beautiful.

  3. Brian says:

    Us kitties really do know what you need, likely better than you do and it is so wonderful that your family is showing you the love.

  4. Kitties Blue says:

    Everyone of these photos is so wonderful, but the one of Peanut on the counter is the one I cannot stop looking at. We all know how intuitive cats are, and you have proved it, Deb, sharing how everyone has reacted since Mr. Jazz’s death. This is truly a heartwarming tale of what you and each of your fur babies mean to each other. Thanks for sharing. Janet

  5. Animals know when there is a sadness and a loss of one’s family member. It is wonderful to see how they have all stepped up to help you heal and to get through these tough times. The special attention that Zee has given you both is precious. Not every kitty would give you the gifts of their toys to comfort you.

  6. Wow…Deb, this is so….well it’s just purr-fect. And I totally agree with Ingrid’s summary of your post. I too think we humans could and should take a lesson from our furry family…starting with being in tuned to others feelings and needs. Thanks so much for being so open with your feelings and so eloquently putting them in writing…and for allowing me to feel like I’m a part of your wonderful family!

  7. Bernadette says:

    Deb, well do I remember that bittersweet time of healing, and change. Memories wander through, even as habits and personalities and relationships evolve. Of course they are there for you, after all, they came into your life for a reason, and this time of comforting you is one of those reasons. And during this time, there is nothing like the soft rounded warmth of a cat under your hand, that extra fervent purr to fill your body, and the slow blink of love as they do their magic for you.

    All my cats have always been involved in the care of our older or ill fur siblings, and even in their actual passing, so they experience it all right along with me. Just like your multiple family, they each had their special time and method of comforting me individually as if each one of them took a part of me to love, and when I thought about all they’d done I realized I was completely cared for. No human can comfort in that way.

    I’m glad to see you are moving out of that most painful part of grief. I think Zee will be bearing gifts to your bedside for a while though. A smile lights up the face, and laughter is healing.

  8. Marg says:

    It is very true that cats and any animals will adjust to changes and they are so forgiving for everything. Also they are so very supportive in everything that we do. I had to put one of my ponies down, a couple of years ago, and one of my cats, MewMew sat with me for two hours. She absolutely knew how upset I was.
    Great post and I sure understand.

  9. Cheysuli says:

    We changed after Georgia died and it took us months to find our new habits (only to have them interrupted by Ichiro). I knew that Georgia needed attention and I usually paid more attention to her than to the woman so that left me at loose ends when she left us.

    And the Woman said that she’s been trying in her own posts about Compassion Fatigue to use rescue folks because she thinks that in many ways that also describes bloggers–and often moves into just the connections we feel in the blogosphere, but the article used “shelter workers”. There is a lot of talk about veterinary workers and compassion fatigue but little about those in rescue- and no one probably even thinks of us bloggers as having it!

    I will let you pet me to make you feel better, okay?

  10. Such a beautiful, deeply moving post. Every cat is an individual, so our bonds and special times with them will be unique as well. But honestly, if every person who adopted a pet would take the time to develop relationships like you have (and i as well) with these wonderful souls, the world would be forever changer for the better. Who couldn’t love life with such treasured relationships as these?

  11. Beverly says:

    This is a beautiful post, Deb. I definitely believe that cats know when we are troubled and will try to help us feel better. I love the way Zee brings you gifts in the night to show you her love. How sweet!

  12. So beautiful, Deb. They are amazing aren’t they?! Although we have not experienced loss here, thank God, for some time…I still marvel at the bonds Katie & Waffles forge with each of us. They have their own styles, their own routines. I’m probably more entertained by Waffles’ right now because his are more new to us.

    One of my favorite times with Waffles is when I’m sitting like I am now, on the sofa, computer in my lap. If he’s awake and zipping around the townhouse, all I have to do is call his name and he’ll bolt over to my shoulder, chatting away and lowering his head so he can rub his forehead against my face. I guess this must be a “headbonk” though believe it or not, I’ve never had a cat that did that before. Katie is a chatter and loves to be near me, but she’s not a headbonker.

    They’re so much fun… I still have you to thank for pushing me over the edge to bring Waffles home. : )


  13. Carolyn says:

    Such a beautiful, wonderful post, Deb. The way you describe the journey you are taking with your kitties and how you and they are adapting without Jazz makes my heart very full. Austin is having to adapt to some quite drastic changes in our household (as I am!), but he is teaching us all every day how to live in the moment and not worry about the future! xx

  14. Flynn says:

    Such a beautiful post.
    Since Eric left us Flynn sleeps on top of me at night. He is still there in the morning and I thought he slept there all night. Ivor told me recently that he sometimes wakes in the night and Flynn is on top of him so it appears he moves from one to the other of us throughout the night.

  15. Cheryl says:

    This is an incredibly touching, sweet, amusing post. Cats are definitely affected when one of the clowder goes missing and doesn’t return and/or the usual routines are disrupted/changed, and they mourn the loss the same as we do. It’s so touching how Zee is watching over you and Dan and being protective, and how Kizmet has slipped into Jazz’s place (sort of) when you’re on the sofa. How funny, Mia’s suddenly decided you can give her love on the hamper post-shower in the morning. I get a kick out of how cats are all ‘You can love me, but only when and where *I* say’, like they’re doing us some big honor. Yes, Master; yes, Mistress. ;D Some cats are more flexible about when and where you can love them than others.

    If you ever decide you don’t want Rolz and/or Kizmet anymore, I’ll take them. I’m partial to gorgeous boycats with a sassy ‘tude. 😉

  16. Sue Brandes says:

    Your post really touched my heart. I would feed Squeaky on demand too before he passed. Whatever I could get him to eat. I felt kind of guilty about having to give him more time then the others. And I noticed my kitties were kind of acting different after his passing. Cashew was always a friendly fellow but; now he is always coming up to me. He is a hugger kitty. And Garfield too is always checking on me. It just seems like all 4 come up to me more or talk to me. It has helped ease the emptiness I feel. The past few months all I did was take care of Squeaky and the first week I felt really lost. I tried to have special time with each kitty but; hard when you have a sickly one.

  17. What a beautiful post, Miss Deb. You’re right, us cats are intuitive…and each of us is different in our own ways. We know your other cats are helping you cope with the loss of Mr. Jazz.

  18. I totally think that when one kitty Moves On, sometimes another Steps Up in unexpected ways. When Mr. Teeth went to the Bridge, Clarkie became much more affectionate with me, met me at the door after work, etc., things Mr. Teeth had always done. This is such a sweet story of your tribe 😉 XOXO

  19. Another beautifully sensitive post.
    Texas & Carine

  20. Diana says:

    I have had the misfortune to lose two cats quite suddenly in the past year (it will be a year next month when I woke up and found Stripe had died overnight; my Kismet I found in January). This hasn’t made a significant change in most of the others – except my house-feral Morrigan. I don’t know if it’s just due to sheer reduction of numbers, or if the boys were really bothering her – or if it’s because I closed off the access to the outside cage after finding Kis dead in it (I don’t know if I lost the 2 because of neighbors or illness). At any rate – she is now spending time out in the open – and has started to come up on the bed to be petted – and the day I got Kismet’s paw print, she actually let me hold her – the first time ever since the day I got her and she got scared by a car starting up while I was holding her.