A Tribute to Two Cats

Cats and humans may have been living together for as long as 10,000 years. In 2004, researchers found the remains of a cat and a human buried together in a 9,500 year-old gravesite in Cyprus.

By that timescale, the dozen years my family and our two cats lived together are microscopic, almost undetectable. But those twelve and a half years were, as it turned out, feline lifetimes. Our cats died this month, two weeks apart, and today I’m finding it hard to remember life before Pudding and Leia.

Born in an East Dallas warehouse in the relentless heat of a Texas summer, the kittens were taken in by a rescuer who cared for them, along with two other feral litters, until they were old enough to be adopted. We were the lucky ones who took them home.

To the uninitiated, the cats resembled each other,

Leia on the left, Pudding on right with half-moustache.

but they couldn’t have been more different.

Pudding was a big lug of a cat, sweet-tempered and laid-back, the kind of guy you might find in the corner bar, buying a pitcher of beer for his buds.

Big lug.

All his life, Pudding adored my son, hustling to the door when he got home from school and hanging out in his room, like a pal.

Leia, on the other hand, was the runt. Until her last years, she spent an inordinate amount of time hiding in closets, avoiding contact with people. Except for me. Leia was crazy about me.  Head over heels.  Smitten. Gaga. She’d gaze at me as I worked with a slightly demented intensity, like an over-needy lover desperate for an opening.

I loved her dearly, but I avoided looking in her direction, since even inadvertent eye contact could unleash a feline litany of demands, reproaches and yearnings. One night, as my husband tried to read, my son filmed Leia and me.

The apartment has grown suddenly larger with the loss of these two creatures. Small in body, and large in spirit, they gave us joy. We miss them.

Rest in peace, Pudding and Leia.

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32 Comments on “A Tribute to Two Cats”

  1. Just had to put my beloved cat down two weeks ago and it’s awful the hole she left here. I have two other cats and two dogs but she was her own character. I love your description of him buying beers. They do have personalities, don’t they?

  2. Aimee Says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry! It hurts so much to lose them and it definitely does leave a big hole in your life when they leave us. As a fellow cat-lover, I’m glad these two beauties were lucky enough to have found their way to you, from such a rough beginning. How wonderful they were able to have a good, loving home. They were lucky to have you and you to have them, I’m sure.

    • Thank you Aimee. I miss both, but am happy to have had them in my life. I just checked out your blog and read about the feral cat colony you inherited when you moved into your apartment. What a great post. You certainly make a strong case for Trap-Neuter-Release – and for adoption, when possible. Those cats are also very lucky to be so well cared for. In some areas, feral cats have a devastating effect on local and migrating wildlife, so it’s a complex issue (ah, aren’t they all?). In the concrete jungle, outside the parks, perhaps the situation is different. I recently researched & wrote about feral cats, after encountering them repeatedly throughout the city – Randall’s Island, Riverside Park, Morningside Park, East Harlem, East Village, etc. Glad you found Out Walking the Dog, and I look forward to reading more about your city garden.

  3. It’s amazing how these little beings adapt to is and make adapting to them so seamless that we do not realize how essential they became until they have passed on. They needed each other in this world and the next and so they are gone. I write through eyes blurred with tears for you.
    Cherish the memories they have left you

  4. Kelly Rypkema Says:

    What a lovely tribute Melissa. Your video of Leia and that top photo of Pudding with a snaggle tooth brought a smile to my face. (I love that you named your boy Pudding!) Thank you for sharing your tender memories of your furry loved ones with us. I really like how John stated it – how the “motion of their bodies in our peripheral vision is a part of being home.” So true. And how we miss that when they’re gone!

  5. Jenny Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Melissa. Thanks for sharing the video and photos – they all made me smile, as did your descriptions. They seem to have enjoyed a very good life with you.

  6. Sorry to hear this! They were obviously delightful, and much loved, cats. My sympathies… been there too…

  7. Johna Till Johnson Says:

    So sorry for your loss!

    Those little bundles of fur can generate an emotional presence all out of proportion to their size. And when they go away, the silence is bigger still…

    But they live on in our hearts.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    I hope the time will come when new cats find you–nothing ever replaces a cat, but there’s an almost infinite variety of feline joy.

    Thinking of you.

  8. Mr. Mantooth Says:


  9. margot truini Says:

    Hi Melissa, I am sorry for your loss….they seemed like real characters…a wonderful tribute with so much love….with love, Margot

  10. CGJ Says:

    We lost our gray tabby about a year ago. He had been with us for 13 years. These guys certainly have a knack for finding their way into your heart. So sorry to hear about your loss.

  11. p hoey Says:

    What a marvelous post! You gave us those two characters–
    and their love for one another as well as the family–rather than
    just your feelings for them. Thanks for the terrific photos, as well
    as the hilarious celebration of Leila the Talker.

  12. John Says:

    Lovely tribute, Melissa. Your Pudding looked very much like our Luigi, with the same grey “toupee.” If only Luigi were a big lug like Pudding instead of the wall-climbing teenage rascal he is right now. Yes, losing the company of a cat is so profound. You suddenly realize how much the motion of their bodies in your peripheral vision was a part of “being home.” Like little moons orbiting. Happy you got to belong to each other for many years.

    • You’ve captured it beautifully, John – little moons orbiting. I agree about the toupee – I always thought Pudding had gotten a really cheap rug, like one of those minor mobsters in a Scorcese movie. And don’t worry: Luigi will quit climbing the walls one day, and instead you’ll find him in the corner bar buying beers for the gang, just like Pudding. I hope that will be an improvement.

  13. Tricia Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s one of the hardest things to lose beloved cats. The photos and video are a lovely tribute

  14. Charlotte Says:

    Thanks for letting us see what life was like on the inside with this very moving tribute. That last picture of Pudding and Leia is how I’ll always remember them—intertwined, together, in their little basket.

  15. WildBill Says:

    Beautiful photos and wonderful memories. You were lucky to have lived and loved these two.

  16. judy levitow Says:

    i’m so sorry for your loss! how bonded they must have been to go together. they are so sweet. happy i got to meet one of them guess it must have been pudding. thank you for sharing the pics and hilarious video.

  17. xrisfg Says:

    So sorry for your losses.

  18. Barbara Says:

    Wonderful post Melissa, how you must miss those two – do I ever know about how suddenly spaces enlarge when one or more members are missing. RIP Pudding and Leia. And deep and sincere sympathy to you all – their family. Great photos of two lucky and delightful cats.

    Loved the video – too funny!

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