Rest in Peace, Harrykins

Today we took Harry to the vet to have him put to sleep. Last night it was evident that he was having a hard time walking, not eating a thing, and not grooming himself. He seemed almost unable to climb onto the bed. He had lost a lot of weight and still had an eye infection.

This morning we found him lying behind the toilet, which certainly confirmed for us that he was ready.

We had prepared the kids last night, telling them that we didn’t want Harry to suffer any more, and that he was not going to get better. We told them that the vet would give him an injection that would make him fall right to sleep, and then he would die peacefully. We pointed out that he had had a very good life, and that 14 was quite old for a cat.

SillyBilly was quite upset and cried stormily for a while. Both kids went into our bedroom to pet Harry and wish him well, and then they both drew pictures of themselves playing with him. We talked about what kitty heaven might be like: lots of soft beds, bowls of kibble (make that liverwurst and small flightless birds!), fun toys, and angels to pet them and scratch behind their ears. This part of the conversation helped Napoleona feel much better. Both kids agreed that they wanted a framed photo of Harry in their room to remember him by.

Anthropapa and I agreed that it felt important to be relatively up front with the kids about this event, and to give them time to process it and have a chance to say goodbye to Harry. We didn’t go into detail — SillyBilly asked me what would happen to Harry’s body, and I told him a little white lie that I wasn’t sure. I thought talking about cremation would be a bit over the top. We also talked about how what we most would have liked would have been for Harry to die at home, and for us to be able to bury him on our property. When we finally own a home, I’m sure that’s how we’ll handle these things in the future.


Harry came to us as a 5- or 6-week-old kitten in 1994, about 6 months before Anthropapa and I got married. He was half-starved and had been found in the middle of the street inside a plastic bag. My coworker could not keep him due to allergies, so we took him home to meet our other two cats.

Harry was always a big cuddler. He overcame his initial starved state and never looked back, becoming rather portly. His tail never seemed to stop moving, and he had a big purr. Harry wanted you to think he was a panther-like black, but really he was deep, chocolate brown, with the barest hint of kittenish stripes on his chest. He was the softest cat ever.

We will miss him very much.



Filed under Family, life, Napoleona, papa, Parenting, Pets, SillyBilly

23 responses to “Rest in Peace, Harrykins

  1. I’m so very sorry for this loss. Harry sounded like a wonderful cat.

  2. Sweet Harry couldn’t have had a better home. And I think you handled it in exactly the right way, for him and for your family.

    *purrs to you*

  3. Mon

    I’m so sad for the kids, and for poor Harry behind the loo. In tears of course due to my own vulnerable state. Gawd! lol
    I think you handled it really well. I would also have been upfront. Kids can handle a LOT more than we give them credit for. I also think cremation might have been a bit much.
    You guys have done right by Harry, from the first day to the last.

  4. I’m crying too. Poor Harry. This is so sad. I hope you’re all OK XXXX

  5. I’m glad it became a clear decision for you and well done with the kids! I haven’t been in your position before–Nels dreads what will happen as our dog ages.

  6. You’ve done everything right through a difficult time for the kids and for Harry. Our thoughts and love are with you.

  7. Oh, poor kitty. I am sorry for all of you, as I know how we would feel losing any of our pets. They are so beloved. I think you did a wonderful job talking about it to the kids in advance.

    I feel bad to say this after this post, but I really have to remark on your comment on my blog. Because–I’m from St. Cloud too! And I wonder who you met in California. Was it at the Steiner school? I know Carolina, Veronica and Susan Rose have all been there. Any of them? It is too much of a coincidence to let slide there…

  8. mominmadison

    Oh, sweet kitty. I’m sorry for your loss. We have lost 2 cats to cancer in the past 4 years – the last one in July this year. She was euthanized when she could no longer eat or move around and the boys went with us to take her in. It is tough. But to know they are not suffering anymore can be a relief. Hugs.

  9. Thanks everyone, we are all doing fine. It will take me a while to stop looking for him when I walk in the door, though.

  10. Alida

    Sending you a warm hug on this snowy day.

  11. May Harry be running in the greenest fields and the bright sunshine until you meet again.

  12. Penny in VT

    I’m sorry for your loss, I hope Harry is playing with our Chester that we had to do the same thing with this past summer solstice. I hope they can be good buds.

    I miss Chester everyday – and I hope you can find some joy and peace in the memories…

  13. I’d wish for you that Harry is playing with Mike, but I suspect that if they meet in kitty heaven Mike will be sitting in a high place looking down his very long very black nose. . . he was not a very sociable cat.

    I still miss him so much, and I’m sure you are missing Harry too.

    It sounds like you prepared the kids well, and I know you made the right choice.

  14. I am so sorry to hear about Harrykins. I think you handled the situation with the children very well. Lots of love to you and your family.

  15. Eicart

    ::hugs:: I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I’m glad you had the chance to give the kids time to come to terms with the situation.

  16. Sorry to hear of your pets passing. I hope you and the children find comfort in memories and the warmth of his soul.

  17. Thank you again, everyone, and welcome, Darla.

  18. What a lucky kitty he was to have been so loved.



  19. Well, if there is a special kitty heaven, Harry is surely enjoying it right now. Your conversation about what happens to him reminded me of the Judith Viorst story. I am not sure if I remember the title correctly, it ‘s something like “The tenth good thing about Barney.”

  20. Nana

    Special for my brilliant, beautiful Grandchildren:

    Nana is thinking about how sad you are with Harry gone.
    Nana knows you will miss him very much.

    Harry is very happy to have been part of your family, but since he was old and sick, he is also happy to have returned to be with God and his kitty angel. Harry is now a kitty angel, too, and has lots of other kitty angels to play with and give him hugs.

  21. I think you handled it quite beautifully (and gracefully). I know we may well face the same decisions soon and I hope we can deal with it half as well…

  22. My tho’t are with your family. We have experienced kitty loss and, no matter what anyone says about it only being an animal, it is the loss of a member of the family. The good that has come of it, three years later, is that his story has helped us discuss death and memory of a lost loved one in a warm and fuzzy way. Harry is now chasing many wee butterflies!

  23. Eve

    I’m sorry about Harry, my friend. And sorry that I’m just now reading about it, almost two weeks later.

    I loved how you handled this with your children, and it was touching to read about how they drew pictures of themselves with the cat. Also moving to read about how he came to you in the first place.

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