Princess Dolly 2003–2018

Dolores was more than a pet. She was capable of profound love (or burning hatred), and that loyalty made her feel more like a little person than a companion. With the ability to recognize people through windows, I’d often find her sitting on the sill at the front of the house, waiting to greet me with a chorus of raspy meows when I came home from work; a ritual only special guests may be privy to, if they’ve presented the princess with enough presents.

I adopted her in university, and she was a constant presence through many residences, housemates, girlfriends — we even shared our space with other cats for years at a time. When finding me after a few moments apart, she’d come lean against me with an arched back, inviting me to scoop her up, and I’d make a point of spending a bit of time to cradling her like a baby, even if I was just passing through. Sometimes we’d lie in the blankets and stare into each other’s eyes; there was as much comfort to be found in her purring as my warmth and attention.

I could tell our bond was special from the start, and being fearful that I’d never share anything like it with another cat again, always made sure to cherish every second.

a flatso catso

She started off as Fatso Catso, then I called her Fatty McBoops for a while, until ____ overheard and said it was too mean, giving her the new nickname Pretty McCurvesALot. She finally ended up as a Flatso Catso.

Her portly shape was part of her personality, until she grew thin and frail in recent years, with ribs protruding prominently from her back1. By the end of her life, she became an old lady who lost much of her spark and didn’t adjust well to being shacked up with a rowdy teenager.

Then one day, I woke up to find her wobbling uncontrollably, with eyes constantly darting from side to side as if watching passing scenery, even if in the middle of an empty room. With the suddenness of the symptoms, Heather and I were almost certain she had a stroke. We knew it was time to put her down, and didn’t want to prolong her life just to avoid the pain of such a decision. By that point, she was already suffering daily digestive problems, and too weak to defend herself from Byron’s antics. Just landing safely on short surfaces became a struggle.

Dolly with Heather

Heather offered to go through the process as a way of saving me the anguish, but I knew that if I could make Dolly’s final moments any easier, it was a small price to pay. So I did my best to temper my quavering voice, calm my gasping breaths, and repeat her name reassuringly. She was purring until the first shot sedated her, and almost immediately after the second shot, the drooping of her tiny ear told me she was gone forever2.

cat in my hoodie

In the last year, she started burrowing into open shirts and blankets. I have to wonder if she had a mini stroke earlier that went unnoticed, and dark spaces without objects to focus on was the only thing that didn’t make her nauseous.

It’s been a few weeks, and the house feels empty and still without my little honey garlic pork chop. At least having Heather through the whole experience has made it more bearable; I needed someone to understand exactly how hard the loss has been, and for a while we took turns crying and holding each other.

It’s impossible to say what I cherished most about my relationship with Dolly, but being part of her routine is something I started to miss right away. No matter her changing habits through the years, she always made sure I was involved, most often to claim some part of my body while she groomed herself. I can only hope to be so important to other cats, or even people, in my life.

cat in bed by the window

Dolly’s favourite bed was a cotton cushion from the pet store; something I could carry around the house with me to transplant her while she was sleeping. We’ll likely end up burying it, along with her red tutu.

cat trying to steal sandwich

Stalking the elusive pulled-pork sandwich.

Princess Dolly in Guild Wars 2

I’m fortunate Heather had a few years with Dolly before she passed. Heather imparts so much personality into animals, even going so far as do impressions of their “cat voices” and creating social media accounts for them. Here she is playing as Dolly in Guild Wars 2, dressed in her fancy winter outfit. Mesmer class, of course, so Dolly can admire all the clones of herself.

Dolly on Heather

A couple winters ago, Dolly was very pleased to have Heather rocking the bear onesie.

Dolly on Julie

cat waiting by the kitchen

Byron has no problem being an obnoxious brat who constantly gets underfoot when you’re cooking. Dolly, on the other hand, sits patiently while doing her best pretty kitty impression to guilt you into giving her something. After all, royalty doesn’t serve itself.

Dolly on Rob

One of the things that endears me to Rob is how he’d always ask how Dolly is when we’re catching up, cause he knows how important she is to me.

Dolly on Heather 2

  1. After his surgery, Byron ended up gaining a ton of weight, so for a while they were wearing each others costumes. []
  2. In the moment between, when the nurse briefly took her out of the room to insert the catheter, I had the clarity to know that the experience I was going through was agonizing, but I’d survive it. And knowing that the pain wouldn’t stop me from meeting more cats and falling in love again felt like an important step towards maturity. []

8 comments

  1. Oh Dolly <3 In our hearts forever.

  2. So sorry for your loss. Pets (but they are so much more than that) see into our souls more than any human can. They speak volumes without uttering a word. My wife and I lost our 14 years old pup almost 2 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her dearly. Decisions like your’s are always hard but know that you did the right thing for Dolly and that being there for her was the best thing you could have done.

    You never really heal from losing a furry friend, you just learn to cope without that bright spot in your life anymore. You hold onto the memories, the fun, the love…and the fur. That’s the beauty. Their fur literally gets everywhere and it still makes me smile when I catch a stray hair from our Roxi, even in places she never was to begin with. Unconditional love is their lasting gift.

  3. I can still remember waking up at night to find Dolly’s face right in front of mine. When we came home she would be waiting for us at the door. She was so human. I wonder if Byron also does those things.

  4. Oh no :-( I’m so sorry, Jeff. Connections matter and loss hurts, regardless of the species. I can relate very much. Dolly and you have had a wonderful time together and I’m sure she’ll always remember you from the place she is right now.

  5. So sorry to hear about Dolly, Jeff. Appreciate you sharing the photos and how much she was loved.

  6. Thanks to everyone for the comforting thoughts and condolences.

    It makes me happy to know she touched so many people, even ones she never met.

  7. Oh no, that’s sad to hear. Rest in peace in Kitty Heaven, Dolly.

  8. I am sorry to hear about your cat passing. Putting down one of our cats was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Glad Dolly had a good life with you. :3

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