Sicily Kitty 1996-2010

Sicily KittyMy garden lost a great friend yesterday. I am sorry to be so morose. Many of you come here looking for laughs and this past week I have posted little of that. But this blog is about my life and my garden, and I write about what happens therein.  But while this topic is sad, I hope that I make you smile at least once or twice. My Sicily Kitty deserved that much.

Sicily Kitty is… was my cat of 14 years. How old she really is, I do not know, because she came to me as an adult cat.

I knew she was the cat for me because I found her at a plant nursery. My roommate and I had gone to a plant nursery near my parents’ house to find plants. That was when I was a new, new gardener (who thought vegetables would grow in shade if I just willed them too hard enough). I was buying plants for my very first garden, one that was mine and mine only.

My parents live in the country, which has its own odd set of rules. My roommate was from the city, and they know nothing of the country. The two sides met when my roommate, who was moving a planter to look at it, came face to face with what she (urbanite that she was) thought was a bobcat. She screamed. The 12 year old girl at the counter cheerfully commented that the flat faced, round eyed, short tailed stray cat would be shot by her father later that afternoon. A geranium, a planter and a flat faced, round eyed, short tailed stray cat went into the box we put in the car to go home. The cat promptly knocked itself silly on the rear window of my hatchback when she attempted to jump through the glass in an effort to escape. Thus, Sicily Kitty became my pet.

Sicily only had 1/3 of a tail. How she lost the other 2/3s is a mystery. Frost bite as a kitten was one theory, slamming doors was another, human cruelty was yet a third (though I hope not). Regardless, her short tail represented the quality of her life before I adopted her.   It was not an easy one and I imagine that, once she shook off the effects of concussion gained through attempted escape, she must have felt she had fallen into paradise. She never failed to show that she appreciated that. In fact, many people commented that she seemed more dog than cat in her devotion to me.

In my garden, she was an ever present fixture. She often lounged in sunny and shady spots, depending on her mood. But she was not a good for nothing slouch either. She was a keen vole hunter (and never a bird hunter). So skilled she was at vole hunting that it was not uncommon to see her snacking on 2-3 a day in the summer. We then began to worry where all these rodents were hiding and what kind of rodent problem we had because, as far as we could tell, she never left the yard. But as long as she was on the job, we figured she took care of decreasing the surplus vole population.

So talented and skilled a vole hunter she was, that I kid you not, she would occasionally try to entertain us with “vole juggling”. You can imagine the shock (and horror) of dinner guests one summer evening when Sicily started to juggle for us at the outdoor dinner table for a full 15 minutes. She tossed the small, black rodent up into the air and then would catch it in her mouth again and again. They say that cats will play with their food, but Sicily took it to a whole new level.

Sicily took ill a year and 1 month ago. I know that because my husband left for 7 months of training a year and 3 weeks ago.  The vet had told me there was not much that could be done for her and the end would be soon. I held her and cried and told her she could not leave me now. Not when I needed her the most. She pulled a 10th life out of the deck just for me and made a miraculous recovery.

But when you live on borrowed time, you still have to pay the interest. Sicily was not the same cat. Her heart was there, but her body was failing her. She had slowed down and spent more time in sunny garden spots than hunting voles. She had difficulty jumping and even walking sometimes. But she was not in pain and she was there for me. She kept me company when I was most lonely.

So, when I found her lying listlessly on the steps yesterday, I knew the loan finally needed to be paid. I knew that it would be selfish and cruel to ask for another extension and besides, Death rarely makes that loan twice. She is, after all, an old cat and she deserved her final rest. She was still in no pain, but the strength was simply pouring out of her body.

She could still stumble forward a few steps at a time, and she wanted to go out. I love my garden too, I understood.   So I let her out into the garden where she disappeared into the shadows and sun among the spring flowers for a few hours. She came back in when a late afternoon thundercloud broke into pieces over the garden. She no sooner made it into the house when she collapsed, unable to walk any further. A few hours later, she was gone.

She will be laid to rest in a sunny spot in the garden.   It will be a place of vole legend, I am sure. One that vole parents will warn their vole children to avoid because a great vole hunter’s spirit still resides there, lying in the sun until an unwary vole happens by.

41 thoughts on “Sicily Kitty 1996-2010
  1. Jack on

    I’m so sorry you lost such a special family member.


    Barbara Lowell Reply:

    Thank you for sharing her with us. I just lost my 18 year old kitty, some dogs got to him and I don’t know the details except finding his ravaged little body. Animals are family and soulmates, and every bit as much of a loss as a human. The interspecies bond runs very deep and has yet to be recognized as a significant trauma that most of us have to face, since we outlive them. Precious, fragile and friendly, it amazes me my Buddha-cat lived as long as he did as an indoor/outdoor. My heart goes out to all people suffering all kinds of losses. It hurts.


  2. Sorry for your loss. A good garden cat is more of a friend than a pet.

    All the best,


  3. Patricia Boyle on

    I am so sorry for your loss. Personally, I find losing a pet to be a very traumatic experience. Over time, happy memories surface but there are always sad moments too. Such is the cost of loving a living creature/person.


  4. Julie on

    That brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my amazing cat that passed a few years ago. He was a lot like your Sicily kitty. I’m so to hear of your loss.


  5. Mary on

    Oh Hanna I’m so sorry for your loss. You brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful kitty to have had in your life.


  6. luneray on

    I’m sorry for your loss. She was obviously a special cat and deeply loved.

    May her legend live in vole culture forever…


  7. I’m so sorry to hear. We make such friends with our cats, when we lose them it hurts so much. I’m sure her burial ground will be feared by voles for vole-eternity.


  8. how beautiful and how touching. It was lovely – it made me laugh as well as made me tear up. My deepest sympathies for you.


  9. Oh Hanna, I’m sad for you, with you. I’ve been where you are, a couple of times. What a beautiful tribute to Sicily. She had a wonderful life with you and rewarded you with her devotion and antics. I know you’ll miss her terribly, but her spirit will live on in your heart and in your garden. Those who have never had such a cat as a companion just don’t know how wonderful cats can be as pets. They’re unlike any other and have that unique, haughty, endearing way of wrapping us around their paws. *hugs to you, dear*


  10. Jolynn on

    I am so sorry for your loss. As a cat person who lost 3 friends this year I know how it hurts. Can you post a picture? I’d love to see her. You are special for rescuing such a wonderful soul.


  11. Hanna on

    Thank you to all who commented and for all your sweet thoughts. I really appreciate it. I will find a picture of her and post it here shortly.


  12. I’m so sorry to read you lost your sweet friend. :( I laughed at the thought of her juggling — I can just see it!


  13. patty in Cleveland on

    Please accept my condolence. I lost my little dog just before Christmas (who was also an amazing vole hunter) and I miss him terribly. Amazing how they weave their way into your life.


  14. blondie on

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    What a pretty kitty with her big eyes. I’m sorry about your little love. Just over the weekend I was thinking how nice it is to have a garden cat. I have one right now by accident. (My other cats are indoor-only but he won’t stay inside, or rather, he expresses his displeasure on my rugs, so he has a place in the garage and visits indoors.) He was a hungry kitten and he found me, as so many of the good ones do. I neutered him and made him my cat.

    He follows me around the garden and “helps” with the chores. (He needs to get on the voles, though!) This past weekend he curled up next to the pampas grass in the sun while I weeded and planted a bed. My grandmother always had black male garden cats and I’d like to think I’m carrying on the tradition.

    It’s so awful to lose them. Nothings helps but I can assure you there is another one out there somewhere who needs you when you are ready. He or she cannot replace Sicily but the need for good homes is overwhelming. So many of them have wretched and miserable lives. Bless you for making one life wonderful.

    I hope she’s across the Bridge with all the other kitties I’ve had to say goodbye to and they are all playing together in the sunshine.


  15. Jeremy on

    I’m sorry to here of your loss. I have a wonderful cat who loves he rpeople dearly. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose her.


  16. I know your sorry over the loss of a cherished companion. You were most certainly blessed with her for the many wonderful years that she lived in your live. You life and now your garden are for ever changed for the better.

    Sicily Kitty may you seek out my dear Acacia and Blessing they will show you the ropes.


  17. I’m so sorry to hear about Sicily Kitty. I’ve never had a cat for that long, but I know I would be very upset if our housecat of 2 years passed.


  18. Mark on

    I’m sorry to read about your loss. I have two adopted dogs, one is getting up in his years, and I don’t know what I will do when one of them passes on.

    Thanks for giving her a good life.


  19. I am so sorry for your loss, I hope this might bring some comfort!

    Poem For Cats

    And God asked the feline spirit
    Are you ready to come home?
    Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul
    And, as a cat, you know I am most able
    To decide anything for myself.

    Are you coming then? asked God.
    Soon, replied the whiskered angel
    But I must come slowly
    For my human friends are troubled
    For you see, they need me, quite certainly.

    But don’t they understand? asked God
    That you’ll never leave them?
    That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity?
    That nothing is created or destroyed?
    It just is….forever and ever and ever.

    Eventually they will understand,
    Replied the glorious cat
    For I will whisper into their hearts
    That I am always with them
    I just am….forever and ever and ever.

    Author Unknown


  20. Hanna on

    Thank you all again for your thoughts and sharing.
    @Katharyn – that is a very sweet poem.


  21. How wonderful you had your companion for so long. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. Find peace in the fond, tender memories you have of your dear Sicily.


  22. Aw, what a great kitty.

    I’m sorrowed for you loss, but heartened by such a lovely story you had together.


  23. Our pets are our family, and when they are gone, they leave a deep sadness within us.

    May Sicily Cat rest in peace, and wait for you at the Rainbow Bridge.



  24. Ola on

    My condolences – She looks gorgeous, absolutely amazing friend she was. Rest in peace Sicily Kitty.


  25. Sheila on

    I’m so sorry about your beautiful Sicily. I have four such friends living in my home now. The most recent looks very much like the child in yoiur previous post. She only weighed 4 pounds, had eye and ear infections, and has kidney failure. She’s old and she purrs all the time. After a great deal of expense and time, I came to find she belongs to the neighbor next door. Never mind, she came back the following week and now only leaves the house to do her cat business. She weighs more since starting to eat 3 cans of food a day and get enough water, but she is old and it looks like she won’t recover from her kidney issues. I have three others who came to me in better condition, but in dire need of someone who cares. Each is different in looks and personality, but they are all interesting and worth my time and attention. Your name, like mine, is probably known amongst the cats of the world as someone who will lovlingly whisk them from harms way.


  26. Greetings! Can I, use images from your website for my PC wallpapper??


    Hanna Reply:

    Yes, you may. Thank you for asking before you used them. I appreciate it. :)


  27. “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France


  28. JeananaMO on

    You write such a beautiful story. What a tremendous way to convey your love for Sicily. Not everyone truly “gets” the tremendous love I have for my pets. But,… you do!

    I especially love the commenter above who says “Your name, like mine, is probably known amongst the cats of the world as someone who will lovlingly whisk them from harms way.”

    Our third cat was rescued as a tiny baby from the middle of the highway in the pouring down rain. Too small for any veterinary treatment for the 100 or so ticks we removed with tweasers, he is now a happy, bossy man cat who has a “crush” on his “sister” our lab/australian shephard mix.

    Truly, these lost souls are surely seeking us out, and finding “home.”

    And I am happy to ablige for they provide me with way more than I could begin to pay in return.


  29. I’m sorry you lost your friend. We had a cat die last fall. Basically when we brought home our first baby in June the cat stopped eating, it was a psychological issue with the baby we figure. I had to hand feed her for months, the vets kept giving us hope, but in retrospect, there probably was none. She had bad liver failure and died in October.

    I took it rather hard, but was overall stressed from lots of things, including lack of sleep with the newborn. My wife got me a plaque like this

    Which I’ve placed over her grave in my garden, beneath my apple tree.


  30. Dear Hanna,

    What a nice tribute to a special cat. May the Queen of the Vole hunters reign in Heaven! Many of the readers have lost a pet companion as I have, too (Snow E. Smith). Thank you for sharing, I believe it helps many of us. You are a special person for rescuing her. My Snow E. loved her garden also.

    Marne Jameson


    Marne Reply:

    Snow E. Smith was a most special cat. She saved us from a fire and lived through another one. Then too terribly short years later her little kidneys failed.

    I went to toss her little kitty ashes at Point Meyers on Highway 50. A friend suggested I keep a little of the ashes. That was creepy I thought and was not going to do it. Just as I tossed Snow’s little crushed bones, God whipped up the wind and cat ‘ashes’ landed where inhaled. Guess, Snow’s DNA will forever be imbedded in my lungs.


  31. Navy Wife on

    I found your blog by lucky chance, and this was the second post I read.
    I agree with a previous commenter: you write a beautiful story, despite it being an obviously difficult subject.
    It sounds as if your remarkable Sicily Kitty had a terrific life: really, a preview of heaven with a vole-filled yard and sunny spots and a lovely mistress to call her own.
    We have always laid pets to rest in our garden, particularly near ivy with its allusion to immortality and sometimes at the foot of a tree, so that when things bloom we can remember them.
    Thank you for sharing with us, Hanna.

    PS- On a lighter note, as a Canadian, I apologize for the Canada thistle that plagues you!


  32. That was a sweet story. I’m a mommy to an elder cat myself, Prudy, raised from a stray kitten who took shelter in our garage during a hurricane’s storm. We became her family shortly before one of my daughter’s entered kindergarten and that daughter is now in the middle of her first year of college. I’ve had a couple of scares when my darling Prudy seems to go through a personality change or stays away unusually long and then becomes so physically attached to my side that her needs equate to that of an infant for its mother. I do not look forward to that time at all…but I desire as long as possible for her to pass away at home in surroundings of love and familiarity.


  33. Wonderful sweet story. I really enjoy reading your blog, your writing style is very entertaining.
    I LOVE your “Before Posting, ask yourself these questions:”
    I have added you to My Favorites.


  34. Thank you for sharing your story. As you know, I just lost my beloved Feline on June 25th. “Tiger Lilly” is resting in a box my husband made for her. She even has her own little pillow, to rest her head as she always did in our home…whether it was a sock, a shirt, a towel, her head had to be on something soft. She is buried on our garden hill, where I can see her spot. I have ordered a custom-made headstone/memorial and I plan on planting Tiger Lilly’s. One day, her Litter mate will join her. My heart grieves for her lovely personality. She was my “other dog”. Sicily Kitty was very fortunate that you were there to save her, and give her a wonderful life. My condolences for her loss.


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