Two nights ago, we lost our pet cat Ivy of 10 years quite suddenly.

TW: Pet death

My partner and I were watching TV downstairs when all of a sudden we heard Ivy yelling upstairs. She was clearly having trouble breathing, and we rushed out to the car and raced up the street to a vet clinic. While we got from here to there in a few minutes, she succumbed to her seizure.

Picture of Ivy

We’ve had pets die before, but never in my/my partner’s arms while trying to save them. I’m struggling to confront or rationalize our actions as we tried to save her, but even discussing it afterwards, there’s nothing that we could have been done.

I’d like to tell you more about Ivy.

My partner and I had just moved into a place together, a drafty old house on the ass-side of Inverness that used to serve as a Boy Scout lodge in the 1930s. Shortly after moving, we first met Ivy and her sister Holly at a family barbeque in 2010. A family friend brought two six-week-old kittens to the shindig, with the hope some attendee would take them. My partner’s heart kind of melted at that, so she knew she was taking them!

Of course, to add to the drama, the family friend let the kittens out into the backyard to let them take care of their business. The backyard was untamed forest, and the tiny black kitten quickly disappeared into the ivy lining the forest floor. After 20 minutes of attendees frantically combing through the ivy, my partner hooked the kitten around her torso and called for help to extract the cat from the jumbled mess of ivy.

Naturally, the kitten’s name became “Ivy,” and her sister’s name became “Holly.” A temporary crate later, and we were the proud owner of two kittens from a barbeque.

The kittens were super excited to get to explore this great big house, quickly jumping up onto the exposed rafters. Ivy in particular was the dare-devil, always trying to get as high as possible. Ivy’s claim to fame in that house was that one time we turned on the ceiling fan 12 feet up in the air — she took one look up at that spinning monstrosity and ran down the hallway peeing! Ceiling fans are terrifying.

Ivy + Holly gazing at rafters

The cats moved with us between five Seattle residences, two Madison, Wisconsin residences, eventually getting used to the necessary ceiling fans in Wisconsin. They became professionals at enduring the 2,000 mile drive between Seattle and Madison, making the roadtrip four times. At every house, they found places to lay their heads on one another and some prized spot that they would fight over.

Some cuddly image

In our current house, the cats were ecstatic to have stairs once again, after something like 7 years of single-floor residences. They clawed the crap out of the carpeted stairs, and raced each other up and down them. This past summer, we cleaned up the backyard enough to let these indoor kittens roam around freely in the fenced backyard. Holly quickly found that hot, sun-bleached concrete pads were her favorite, whereas Ivy took a more conservative position on the deck, gazing up at the sky.

We knew that there would likely come some point at which they wouldn’t have each other, but didn’t expect it to come so soon. We hope that Holly finds my partner and me acceptable cuddle-substitutes.