Saying Goodbye to Johnny

Chillaxing on the couch.  4/26/2022

A week ago our wonderful, spectacularly goofy, sweetie-pie Johnny cat died.  She had cancer.  It all happened so terribly fast and still feels hard to believe.

No box was too small to try for the John-john.  7/10/2019
Less than a month ago I was writing about how the spunky broad would steal Matt's chair.  There was no indication then that she'd so soon be gone.  It was such a shock.  The cancer was fast-growing and incurable.  By the time the tumor was apparent, sweet Johnny's esophagus was almost fully obstructed by it.   

Johnny didn't spend much time outside, but in the last few years, she started hanging out on the patio if the rest of us were out back.  She didn't want to be the only one left out of the garden fun.  7/25/2021

The saga started simply enough.  We noticed she had lost weight and booked an appointment for a check-up with the vet.  When I made the appointment I sincerely wasn't worried.  She was 18 years old--no spring chicken for a kitty!  Losing some weight didn't seem that alarming, especially since she's always carried a little extra poundage anyway.  I've certainly seen it happen in human and non-human animals as they age.  She was eating and drinking and moving around, playing, giving Ginger kisses, stealing Matt's chair, and otherwise behaving normally.  Or as normal as she ever did, the goof.

Hanging with her softie ball in one of the cat tunnels.  4/18/2020

And then...her eyes went of the pupils stopped constricting... and I officially grew worried. Beside myself with worry, in fact. 

My sewing table buddy.  1/30/2019

Despite the wonky mismatched pupils, Johnny's initial appointment was fairly optimistic.  Her bloodwork was "nearly perfect" for a feline super senior.  But in a matter of days, she shrank in upon herself.  A second appointment was scheduled--and then moved up a week because she seemed to be fading before our very eyes.  The vigor and curiosity with which she approached life simply vanished in the span of two days.  The light in her usually radiant eyes dimmed.  She didn't want to play.  She struggled to eat.  She ignored Ginger's attempts at interaction.  Her purring nearly ceased.  She grew silent and withdrawn.  She drooled like a St. Bernard.  She slept and slept and slept and wouldn't come up from the basement.  

Johnny, packed and ready to go.  4/26/2019

We took her home from the vet the second time--Valentine's Day--so we could have one last night together.  Her original human companion, Michelle, came over and we all sat on the floor showering Johnny with our love and praise--reminding her over and over again what a good kitty she was.  Michelle told us stories about Johnny being small enough to fit into her palm.  She shared photos from when Johnny lived with her and did a spot-on impression of Johnny working herself up to a jump that made us laugh despite our sorrow.  It was a good last night.

As with boxes, Johnny was a sucker for the shoe pile.  It drew her in like a magnet.  Sandals especially.  6/26/2020

The next morning started lovely.  Johnny even got a solid purr going for some head scratches.  Mid-morning though she had a very alarming fit and then completely withdrew from us, retreating under the bed to die in privacy.  We knew it was time to let her go.  Our vet, bless her, thanked us for recognizing this as she gave Johnny the compassionate care that eased her exit from this mortal plane.  "You wouldn't believe the things I've seen people put their pets through because they can't say goodbye."  The clinic also sent us a lovely rose and a sympathy note the day after Johnny died.

"My precious."  Holding on to both of her favorite toys at once--the cardboard tube and the catnip fish!  She had that fish under her head like a pillow as she passed.  2/8/2020

So, we're a one-cat household again.  It feels strange after more than seven years with the pair.  It took Ginger a good while to become pals with Johnny. She was not initially impressed by the addition.  I think she misses Johnny now though.  She has certainly noticed the changes as we remove the second food bowl, litter box, Johnny's toys, etc.  Ginger wants extra cuddles and all the lap time we can give her this week.  Of course, it didn't help that I left for a sewing retreat the day after Johnny died.  She's been my little shadow since I got home again.  

Playing with some Christmas paper chains.  12/6/2020

I worried about how Matt would cope.  This is his first time mourning a pet like this.  And, oh, it is so hard.  All the more so since Johnny and Matt were best pals, too.  She claimed him as her favorite human from the moment she came into the house.  Within an hour they were cuddling on the couch together.  Their love was on another level.  Matt was so sweet and attentive to her special needs--getting a lower litter box so she could get in and out more easily, adding little pet stairs and risers to help her climb up to her favorite chairs because it was hard for her to jump.  It goes without saying that he took losing his buddy quite hard.

Using the "stairs" to get up to her favorite green chairs. 8/3/2020

The love and joy that Johnny brought us are beyond measure.   The absence feels everyplace right now though I know we will adjust.  We keep looking to her favorite spots like we expect to still find her curled up there...   It feels weird not having her around. 

Cat buddies napping in the sun.  4/20/2020

To leave for work without saying goodbye to both cats.  

To come home and not have her greet us at the door.

To not see her eyes light up when a new cardboard box turns up.  

To not have her trot over when she sees a pint of ice cream come out of the freezer.

To directly recycle brown paper grocery bags instead of tossing them out for Johnny to nap on and rip to shreds first.

To not find her curled up with our shoes by the front door. ("Pretending to be a shoe.")

To play board games without her demanding the box lid to sit in.

To not have her sneaking into our luggage as we're packing for a trip.

To take a bath without her busting in on me to sit on the bathmat for some damp, soapy affection.

Huzzah for boxes!  2/11/2022

No more (loud) meowing conversations with us about all her favorite things.

No more sewing with Johnny as my "supurrvisor."

No more snoring from the cat bed under the heat vent.

No more shameless begging for armpit scratches and belly rubs.

No more running into the bathroom when we light up the palo santo.

No more clickity-clack of her nail caps across the kitchen linoleum.

No more "high fives" in the morning.

No more bottle caps in the water bowl.

No more chair stealing at the puzzle table.

No more finding her napping in the laundry basket.

No more hopeful eyes that could talk us into whatever she wanted.

Johnny had the most expressive eyes that I've yet seen on a cat.  She could say so much with them.  8/11/2020

Johnny was a good cat.  We miss her.  I'm grateful for the life she had though.  I wish it could have been longer.  I wish we could have had more time together, but I know that she had a good run.  She was so loved.  Sooooooooooooooooooooooo loved and so loving.

Johnny walking over the rainbow prism cast by a glass piece in our window.  5/2/2020


  1. Beth and Matt I am so very sorry that your dear Johnny has passed over the rainbow bridge 😞. Thank you for sharing so many beautiful memories and gorgeous photos of your precious kitty, she sounded like a real character. I’m glad that she brought you much joy and you in turn provided her with a loving family home ❤️❤️

    1. "A real character," yup, you nailed it, San. I've known a lot of cats and they are all so wonderfully different. Johnny was a real special one. We were lucky to share our days together for as long as we did. Thanks for your kindness.

  2. This is a beautiful tribute. Hugs to you you both.

    1. Thanks again, Kristen. Your kind words (here and elsewhere) really meant a lot to me on a hard day.

  3. I'm so sorry!! God rest her little soul. It was a blessing that it progressed so quickly, but what a shock.

    1. It really *was* a blessing that it all happened so fast. We still got to say goodbye, but Johnny didn't have to suffer too long. She had a long life and was so loved. She was happy right up til that final week. We should all be so lucky, really. I keep reminding myself of that. Thank you for your sympathy. It means even more from other "cat people," somehow.

  4. It's obvious how very special she was to you & Matt. May your memories of Johnny bring you some peace and comfort.

    1. They do! I thought looking at photos would make it feel worse...but it only made it better. She was such a gem and we had so many good times. Thank you, Laurie, for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Johnny is as an amazing girl.I can understand how missed she is.

    We had a girl cat called John too - when we realised that our beautiful ginger boy was in fact a beautiful ginger girl, her name was already so much a part of her that she became John Smith the Lady Cat. She died in 2018. I will miss her forever .
    Just as you will miss your darling John
    Siobhan xxx

    1. Thanks, Siobhan, for sharing about your own girl-called-Johnny cat story! They never go far from our hearts, do they? Oh, what joy they give!

      Once again I send best wishes for you and your family. <3

  6. OMG She sure was a cute one! Hard to say goodbye ... We lost our old dog Lady recently. We miss her everyday. Time does its job... fortunately...

    1. She was so cute and so funny! We miss her antics and the joy they brought us. But, I know she had a good, long life. Thanks, Éphée. And I'm sorry to hear about Lady. You are right though, these things grow easier with time.


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