How my dead cat helped me propose to my boyfriend

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by AJisaokay
"Be my smitten kitten" from Minted.com
My cat died about a year ago. She was the best cat. Her name was Jade. My family always had cats when I was growing up and we had three die throughout my childhood. I loved those cats very much and I was very sad when they died, but I didn't still miss them and think about them frequently a year later. Jade was the first cat I adopted as an adult, who was my cat, my responsibility. She loved everyone and everyone who met her loved her (even people who were allergic).

Jade had some medical issues from the time I adopted her. She was a Manx, and it's not uncommon for that breed to have some bladder control issues. To put it bluntly, she peed on my bed somewhat frequently. That's gross and I honestly can't believe I put up with it, but I loved her that much, and I knew if I didn't take care of her no one else would.

I often joke that I knew my partner Eric was a keeper because one of the first times he spent the night at my house Jade peed ON him in his sleep (she never did that to me, only on the foot of the bed). Yet Eric didn't get grossed out, or stop talking me to. He loved Jade just as much as I did.

The truth is, I knew I wanted to marry Eric when I saw how kind, patient, and loving he was when Jade got very sick.

Eric was there for both of us more than I ever could have imagined. It started with some weird behavior. Jade seemed a little disoriented, she stopped wanting to jump on furniture, she would cry out at night for no reason, she bumped into walls and walked in circles. I knew something was wrong but I didn't want to face it. Finally I didn't have a choice anymore and we went to the vet where they told me the symptoms she was exhibiting were similar to symptoms of brain cancer.

The day that Jade and I were supposed to start moving in with Eric, Jade fell off my third story balcony. She fell into the fenced yard of my downstairs neighbors. Eric climbed over the fence to get her out. He found a vet with an emergency room and called them. He drove us there with me panicking and sobbing the whole way. I have no idea what I would've done if he hadn't been there… probably completely fallen apart and been unable to act in any way. And he didn't bat an eye or say a word at me shelling out many hundreds of dollars for an emergency vet stay for my already terminally ill cat.

Remarkably, Jade didn't appear to have any lasting damage from the fall. Once we took her home, though, she started to go down hill very quickly. She wouldn't eat and I had to force feed her. Eric took her to vet appointments for me, when I couldn't get off work, and gave her all of her pills. Eventually we got her on a steroid and she showed marked improvement. Thanks to the steroid we got another good month with her, and I am so thankful that we did.

Eventually though, we started noticing she was having trouble breathing. Once again, I wanted to sweep it under the rug and pretend nothing was wrong for as long as possible. Eric wouldn't let me. I went to work one day and he called to say he was really worried about Jade and was taking her to the vet. He took her in, had her x-rayed, and they found masses in her lungs. I immediately left work to come and be with her while she was put to sleep.

I began to see that he would always be there for me, always be willing to help, even when it wasn't his problem. …If he has this much patience and concern for a cat that isn't even his responsibility, imagine how dedicated and loving he will be to our family.

Eric stayed with me the whole time, supporting me, but making sure that I was in control of all the decisions. He even paid the bill because I was still a little broke after paying for her hospital stay. Afterwards, I didn't want to go home and see all of her stuff knowing she wouldn't be around to use it anymore. I went back to work, and Eric went home and gathered up and donated all of her things so I wouldn't have to deal with it.

He did so much for both of us during those months of her illness, but that is one of the things I am most grateful for. It was just a little thing, but it was something I completely couldn't handle at the time and he just took care of it without me even asking.

The whole ordeal with Jade made me see Eric in a new light. He was so gentle and caring towards her. He never complained about being burdened by this sick cat he hadn't ever taken responsibility for. I honestly believe Eric loved Jade almost as much as I did, even though she peed on him almost immediately after meeting him, and caused him no shortage of inconvenience. I began to see that he would always be there for me, always be willing to help, even when it wasn't his problem. More than that, I began to think if he has this much patience and concern for a cat that isn't even his responsibility to take care of, imagine how dedicated and loving he will be to our family.

When Eric and I started dating I told him I didn't think much of marriage and I didn't know if I wanted to have kids. I felt like marriage ends in divorce about half the time, and kids infringe on your freedom. Why willingly subject yourself to that stuff? But seeing how much he was there for me during one of the harder times of my life made me trust him so completely (although I still don't trust him anytime there is any chance he might tickle me, and that's never going to fade away). I began to see that it might be worth it to make some sacrifices in order to see the amazing little dude or dudette that he and I could raise together.

And less than six months after we had to put Jade to sleep, I proposed and he accepted. I still don't know whether we will make the choice to have children, but I am so excited to walk down that path with him either way. I know it will be amazing.

…Now I just have to figure out if there is a way to talk about my dead cat in my vows without it sounding very creepy and weird.

  1. i loved this story. when my boyfriend accepted my life based around my epileptic dog's schedule and when my dog loved him, i knew he was the one. sadly, my beautiful boy passed away two weeks before our wedding. to this day, i still can't talk without crying about him. anyway, i know exactly how you feel. our whole wedding was dog themed and poems read about how the bonds animals create have strengthened our bond as a couple. so, we made the whole thing about our love for each other and our dogs and honored our baby boy and know he was with us. 🙂

  2. Oh my god. I am almost on the verge of tears after reading this story. And I don't think it would be creepy at all if you mentioned Jade in your vows. She is the main reason why you two have stayed together to this day.

  3. Gosh. This is so close to the experience I had with my boyfriend, too, less than a year into dating. A beloved cat with increasing medical problems, a long road of uncertainty, guilt, cat urine, medical bills, all made smoother with the support of a truly caring partner. I just wanted to say, I am so glad you had that, too. I don't know what I would have done in my situation without him. Congratulations and enjoy your marriage! xo

  4. SO for a minute I didn't know if I was on Catster or on OBB. 🙂 My cats picked Chew Toy too. One of them is how he got his name (she love bites everyone). And I know when the time comes we'll make the kinds of decisions you had to make with Jade in her illness for Molly Mo and it'll make us stronger because we'll share the burden of her loss across two hearts.

  5. I just cried all over my lunch. Of course I am a fellow cat lover with an ill cat, so this would touch me anyway, but it was so beautifully expressed. When someone we love steps in and helps care for and about the things/animals/people that we treasure, that is "true love." I am also grateful that you are open to say, "hey, we don't have all the answers but we are going to ask the questions together." I also love that OBB features stories about real life. All the best to you AJisaokay!

  6. Totally spent the entire post fighting back tears, then they exploded out of my face with laughter in response to the last line.

  7. I believe this is the only site that could appreciate how an ill cat could connect two people and lead them to marriage – marriage being the whole point of the wedding!

    sorry you had to endure so much, AJISAOKAY, but glad that you found the right partner to endure it with you. it seems you truly found the yang to the yin of losing a beloved family member.
    thanks for sharing your story – best of everything with your wedding & marriage!

    ps: if you choose that path, I would bet the two of you would be fantastic parents!

  8. Beautiful, and hit close to home for me. My now-husband was never a cat person, but he started dating me and I came with a cat. We had been married for a few months before we lost her to illness and old age, but the way he handled all the things about that experience that I couldn't made me even more sure that I'd married a true partner for life.

    One thing I'll never forget is the first time I caught him talking to our cat. I came into the room and asked, did you say something? He said he was talking to the cat, in a way that made it clear that he hadn't been pretending to talk to the cat but actually saying something funny for my benefit. He was just having a conversation with her like that's a totally normal thing to do (which it is, if you're a cat person). I knew he was a keeper.

  9. Yeah, he's a keeper. I'm so sorry for your loss. Our babies are so dear to us, aren't they? I'm glad you manged to find the good in your horrible situation, and I'm so glad you weren't alone while you watched you furdaughter pass.

  10. I'm so sorry you lost your kitty, but so glad you were able to have such a positive epiphany from that experience. Not gonna lie, I cried a little. My partner and I have five animals together and watching him be sweet with our furbabies definitely makes me love him even more. Your fiance sounds so sweet and I wish you guys all the best!

  11. Thank you everyone for your kind words and sympathy! It really means a lot. I am glad (yet sad) that so many of you could relate and were moved by our story!

  12. I can absolutely and completely relate!!

    My sweet, beautiful, beloved Noire was already old when I started dating my fiance. She passed on December 13, 2012 – the day after my last deadline of the semester. We had been through many late night vet visits, weird loud caterwauling all night, and puking….lord…the puking. She was unable to keep food down because of tumors in her liver that were slowly filling up her abdomen, and I kept saying that I wasn't ready….I wasn't ready…but when she was ready, I knew. My fiance (still boyfriend at the time) drove us to the vet and made all the arrangements.

    10 days later, we left for a 3 week research trip in Europe. I saw black cats *everywhere* we went. I bought tons of black cat postcards. And we got engaged on nye in paris.

    I will never forget her. Ever. She was my heart and soul. We have two 6 month old kittens now, both black, and I tell them stories of their big sister. Noire was well known among all my friends, and we all grieved for her. But my fiance was the strength that helped me keep it together when I had to make the final decision.

    I am so glad you two have been able to be together in mourning and celebrating Jade. Maybe you can do a locket in your bouquet to keep her by you? Or have a private moment with her memory after your ceremony?

  13. A great way to incorporate your cat would be to have jade somewhere. Wear a jade necklace or have your colours be jade and white. (Now that I think about it, that would be really pretty)

    I loved your story. So sad but so beautiful.

  14. Damn those onion chopping ninjas!

    Seriously though, your story really resonated with me. I knew my fiance (then boyfriend) was the one when he helped me through saying goodbye to my dog. He actually told me he loved me for the first time in the car on the way to my parents house, as I was sobbing my eyes out. I think it's really important to go through things like this as a couple, because you never know how someone is going to react until it happens. I also had the realization of "oh man, I could actually see myself having kids with this guy." because of how he handled everything. It definitely had a HUGE influence on our relationship and my decision that he was "the one."

    So basically- I'm so very sorry for your loss, but I am so so happy that you found someone to share your life with <3

  15. Our oldest cat isn't ill, but she is a very hard cat to love sometimes. To put it bluntly, she's a bitch. She had a difficult kittenhood before I took her in, and she is still very guarded and will lash out at almost anyone for any reason, even me. I am the only one she seems to trust completely.

    My boyfriend and I started dating at the same time I got Lucy, but because we lived in different cities at the time, he only had to deal with her once or twice a month. When I moved back to my home city, we started living together and suddenly, my baby was dealing with this other, constant presence who wasn't her familiar mommy, and my boyfriend was dealing with a cold, unfriendly feline who used him as a scratching post. There was an adjustment period- many time outs for Lucy, many bandages for J. But with time, she started seeing him as a provider of tuna and head rubs, and he started talking to her in kitty-baby speak. Finally, she seemed to accept him as part of our family. I will never forget the first time we took her to her new vet. Like many cats, she's timid in new places. She clung to J the entire time, he held her with a smile, and I realized that she knew he was her daddy. It was such a relief to have everything come together like that.

    Now, we have another little kitty, and are planning on adopting more little children once we have the space. But Lucy will always hold a special place in my heart for keeping me company in a new city, for teaching him to love cats, and for teaching both of us how to have zen-like patience with a scared animal that just wants to be loved. I will always be grateful to him for giving her a chance, when no one else would.

    • I have a *cough* high spirited, independent feline with emotional baggage too. Named Luci. 😉 My bearded beloved is highly allergic to cats and whines and moans about cat fur and cat smell etc etc…but when he thinks I'm not watching, he seeks her out for a cuddle and a chat, not the other way around! (Sometimes…most times Luce Goose is all stupid for him. Tart.)

  16. AJisaokay, I'm sorry to hear of this loss. Like others, I could relate to this story and was moved by it. It brought back a lot of feelings, but it is good.

    When I started bringing my boyfriend to my parent's house years ago, the attention he gave my Cupid Cat gave him some major points. The other people I had brought over didn't pay nearly as much attention to her. I wondered if it was silly that I cared so much, but Cupid was one of my closest friends. I loved her so much. I thought the person I would choose as my partner should feel similarly. A few years later, this boyfriend–then partner–and I moved in together and eventually brought Cupid over to stay with us. A few more years later, we moved into our first house and of course, Cupid came, too. She was there for so much that occurred around that time. I have very dear memories of burying my face in her fur when my partner brought her to me after bad days. When she was around 17 or 18, Cupid's health started failing. We spent almost a year doing what we could, trying to make her happy. My partner was willing to do everything, anything to make Cupid comfortable. He was so good to her. I try not to think of how much money we spent, but I think we both agree it doesn't matter. Our 13th anniversary was a very sad day. I felt so emotionally, mentally exhausted. I had sat near Cupid for days and barely wanted to talk. We decided to let her go, she was clearly not enjoying life at that point. We took her to the vet the next day. Though it's been a few years since she came back home in an urn, it still seems strange she isn't really here. When I see my partner on the couch, I sometimes expect to see Cupid next to him.

    I'd been comfortable just being as we were for years. I had no emotional need for marriage, but we knew it was practical. Now nearing our 15th anniversary, I proposed to my partner. I know I would like to be with this person forever. He's the kindest person I know, and when I look at photos of Cupid, I am reminded of how good of friends they were. He took care of us in our worst times. I will definitely bring something to my wedding that reminds me of our little friend.

    We don't plan on having children and I have not wanted another pet. But someday, I hope we can find the right furry friend to love together.

  17. I'm totally crying over here. Eric sounds like a great guy and I think it would make perfect sense to describe his patience, love and kindness during that difficult time and not be weird at all.

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