Sunday, August 7, 2011


I remember the day I first saw her.  It was May 29, 1994 and I was 27 years old.  I had been driving for almost 22 hours straight, on route from the city of my birth back to the city I had called my home for the past two years.  An animal lover and occasional animal rescuer, I always stopped at this country animal shelter when I had a chance.  I had, not that long before, said good-bye to my first ever pet, my cat Cardigan, who had died unexpectedly at the age of nine and who had left a big hole in my day-to-day world.  I was so grief-stricken over his loss that I vowed never to bring another animal into my home or heart.  When I stopped at the animal shelter this time, it was more out of habit and a longing to hold some of the little animals than it was about a desire to bring home another pet.  I wasn't ready yet.

Then I saw Frodo and her feline sister.  They were seven weeks old, born on April 08.  Frodo was a little ball of fluff all curled up with her mother and siblings.  She caught my eye immediately because she was squawking so loudly against her mother's belly.  She was dark grey in colour with peachy-coloured bits all over her tiny body.  I picked her up and held her to me, and all I can say was that she was mine.  I was still mourning the loss of Cardi, but somehow in that one second, Frodo won another piece of my heart.  After thinking about it overnight and talking with my then-fiance, Geoff, I went back the next day and brought Frodo home.  I also brought home one of her sisters, whom I named Sam, as a companion.  Sam was beautiful, too, a light grey and peach cat, but it was always more Frodo who clutched at my heart strings.  I named them Frodo and Sam after my favourite characters from The Hobbit; probably everyone in the universe would be able to tell me now where those names came from, but back then, virtually no one knew.

Frodo was impish and full of character from the beginning and the heart that I'd been protecting from loving another animal gradually melted.   I remember distinctly thinking, though, even in those early days of her life, that I needed to prepare myself because she would eventually die and I would be heart-broken again...I have truly dreaded yesterday for many years.

Anyway, Geoff and I married later in the year that I brought Frodo and Sam home, and he then learned what it was like to live with cats.  Kindly, he took on the not-so-pleasant task of changing cat litter for the next seventeen years, even when he didn't want to!  Frodo and Sam eventually moved to Vancouver with us, where we lived for eight years and where Sam died.  Though I was sad that Sam died, I have to say that her death did not impact me overly much - she was a lovely cat, but it was always Frodo who claimed my heart.  Eventually, Frodo made another move with us, back here to the city of my birth, where we've been living for the past six years.

When Matthew came into our lives over seven years ago, Frodo couldn't stand him!  She was used to being the only needy one around, and his presence was not welcome.  It took about four years for him to win her over, and only after Matthew and I worked on this for almost a year.  We were deliberate in our strategy:  for months, Matthew was the one who usually fed her; he left treats for her at the door of his bedroom so that she would stop there for a moment before heading to Geoff's and my bedroom for the night; he laid trails of treats from her favourite hiding spots to wherever he was in a given moment; etc etc.  And when she finally started allowing him to touch her without me holding her, he was a very, very happy boy.  He loved her and learned with her how to talk to animals and how to be gentle with and kind to them.  In the last couple of years, he could often be found cuddling her, or lugging her around the house, whispering "you're such a beautiful girl, Frodo, oh yes you are, oh yes you are...."  He carried her around the house, and plopped her on his lap to watch tv, and she just went along with it, to my amazement.  They became very attached.

But she was always my baby.  She would come to the sound of a click of my tongue, play fetch only with me, 'talk' to me, and respond mostly to me.  For over seventeen years, she has slept by my side pretty much every night - if ever there was a night when she wasn't in bed with me for a time, I felt a keen absence by my side until she returned.  She grumbled when I rolled over but was quick to readjust herself and settle back in to my back or chest.  And often during the night, I would wake momentarily and find my hand on her - she was always open to a midnight cuddle, that one!

It's this that will be the hardest for me...not having her sleep beside me.  In the past few weeks, as her liver disease progressed and as I have known the end was coming, I have been sleepless many an hour just cuddling her and crying, and whispering to her about what an amazing cat she has been in my life.  I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to say good-bye.  She lost a lot of weight in these past weeks, and I could increasingly feel the outline of her bones as I stroked her.  I was so sad, and already mourned her.  The night before she died, the night of my birthday, I was conscious when I woke once during the night that it was likely one of the last times that I would feel her rolling over against my back.  I cried again, but also savoured that moment and tucked away how those little movements felt and what she has meant to me.  This past night, my first without her, I woke twice with tears on my cheeks, somehow knowing even in my sleep that something was missing.  Geoff vacated the bed last night so that Matthew and I could cuddle up together and spend our first night together without our little friend.  He and I were with her right to the end, and this is hard for him, too.

I know that it must be hard for some people to understand the depth of attachment that can develop between person and pet.  But for me, it's a big thing in my life.  I have a hard time saying good-bye at the best of times.  I've gone through a lot in the past seventeen+ years and Frodo was with me through all of it; the good times and the really bad times.  She absorbed so many of my tears, especially those that I couldn't shed with anyone else.  She heard my secrets and my most deeply held prayers.  Her presence was a joy and a comfort, but most importantly a constant in my life.  She was one of life's blessings, and I will miss her greatly.

(below - 2 pictures)
Matthew and Frodo just a few months ago...she was already sick by this point.

Matthew and me with Frodo, just a few days ago.  She was so sick already.

But this is how I will always remember her...


  1. Oh, that made me cry! What a nice tribute to your sweet kitty.

  2. My heart goes out to you three, Ruth! Frodo sounds like a wonderful companion.
    Wow, to have a pet for that long of a time. It is such a blessing but it would be so hard now that Frodo's gone. I have lost two beloved dogs, Ollie and Casey after 13 years for each. It is such a loss. I look at my Dex and can't begin to think of losing him.

    Take care,

  3. So sorry for the loss of your beautiful Frodo!!! what a beautiful post!!!

  4. Ruth,
    I'm deeply sorry for your loss. While it's true some people don't understand the impact an animal can have on your life, I do. There is love and friendship that they bring to your life that just cannot be compared to any other. I don't see my pets as pets. I truly feel like they are part of the family. Furbabies. I hope that the sweet memories you have of Frodo can bring you comfort in these sad days ahead. Rest in peace Frodo.

  5. Oh Ruth- I'm so sorry for your loss.

  6. I'm so sorry for the loss of your Frodo. I too have a grey & peach tortoiseshell kitty (named Pippin, also from Lord of the Rings), and I can attest that her personality is very unique, and sounds very similar to Frodo's. The loss of a pet is terrible, it leaves such a hole in your heart. Rest in peace, Frodo.

  7. Ruth, this was a beautiful tribute to Frodo. I am so sorry for your loss and sorry that it comes at a time in your life that is full of so many other changes as well. So hard. Prayers are with you...I'm sure you are still struggling some days.