Some people might find it strange that a grown-up, educated, sensible woman finds it comforting to write an obituary for her cat. But then when it comes to love and loss, we are rarely sensible. Love isn’t sensible.
Bast was more than just a cat to me – he was a friend, companion and in many ways my first child. And he was a cat above expectation. He was a character; loving and something of a mischief-maker. And for many reasons, I feel that he deserves tribute – for his life and his loss to be acknowledged beyond my family’s four walls. For Bast was one of those fur babies that proves that we humans should follow in the path of unconditional love that animals not only instill in us but display to us every single day. Often without our even noticing.
You might also be confused by the title of this blog. After all, how can a cat save a human life? But it’s true, they can. And I will get to that in a bit…but first I would like to tell you a little bit about The Pesky Cat and how he came to enrich the lives of my husband and myself, and why he will be so sorely missed:
First off, Bast was a bit of an arsehole. Yeah, I’m not ashamed to tell you this because it’s true and we loved him for it. He could at times be the grumpiest cat you ever met, anti-social to strangers and frankly a real jerk if you dared stay up past his bedtime. He would bang cupboards in the middle of the night if he wanted attention, climb my very expensive tapestry or get stuck on top of the bathroom door, meow if his kibble bowl was only ¾ full, throw things off the worktops….I could go on.
But he was also sweet, loving and kind to my husband and I. He would come in the wee hours of the morning and lay between us. Huddled up, he would place his paw on the side of my face and lick my nose whilst purring. It was the best way to start the day.
If one of us was upset he would try to get us to run around the house and play with him by making dumb noises and pouncing at us before running away all jovial. He loved to muck about with triangles my husband made out of crisp packets – they were his favorite toy. We enjoyed watching him go loco on catnip sticks and adored how he looked after his little sister Auri. To her, he was always so attentive. He would wash her, cuddle her, they played together and she would kick his ass! But he always came back for more.
Recalling all these things now, I can’t help but smile at the sweet boy. I shall miss him running to the door whenever we got home. Rooting through the shopping bags to see if we had brought him any treats. Sitting in the kitchen sink licking the tap and chasing bugs around the house, stalking his pint-sized prey like a mini panther. And let’s not forget how he diligently always accompanied one to the bathroom in the middle of the night without fail…
Bast was so many things and such a lovely boy. Words cannot express the pain of his passing. He was one of the best things to ever happen to us.
We first got Bast when I decided to start my writing business part-time. I had taken the leap and quit my ‘secure’ job to explore my passion after struggling with deep depression for a year. This was due to chronic migraines, an illness which had been getting progressively worse for almost three years at that point, which resulted in me being in severe pain for most of the day and night (with some migraines lasting up to twenty-four days at a time) and only made worse by stress.
Having lived with pain for so long, I knew I needed a change and after all; life is too short not to live your dreams. But because of my illnesses, I didn’t want to be home alone all the time, and so my husband and I decided that we would adopt a cat.
We knew we wanted a black kitty as they are always the last to get purchased or adopted due to the ridiculous superstition that they are bad luck, and more recently, because they don’t take good pictures (both absurd reasons). We also wanted to have one as young as possible so that we could enjoy them for as long as possible, but as you may have gathered, things don’t always work out the way you expect them too.
Having searched all the local rescue centres I decided to check the free ad listings and found a woman selling a surprise litter. Basically, she was breeding a cat but her daughter accidentally let an older kitten into the room with the breeding pair and the woman ended up with six unexpected new arrivals abandoned by their mother, who was still too young to take care of them.
And so we went and had a look and adopted the runt of the litter. He was just seven and a half weeks old, playful, super pretty and he basically chose us by climbing up onto my shoulder then going and sitting on my husband and refusing to go back into the pen. We took him then and there and decided to call him Bast (after the character from Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss).
We adored him. He was pure magic every day. This tiny little fuzzball. So playful. So adoring. So full of life.
We had had him for about two weeks when my depression finally got the better of me. I had been working for myself for just over a month and been unable to make any headway. I was worried about money, stressing out which was making my pain worse, which stressed me out even more and so on. Not to mention the doctors had upped my pain meds and given me even more anti-depressants. I was gaining weight fast due to the drugs and they made me so sleepy I could barely get out of bed much before two o’clock in the afternoon, whilst incidentally keeping me awake all night.
I was beyond stressed, unable to write because of it. My husband, rightly so, was getting annoyed as each day passed and I wasn’t making head away. Though Gods bless him he has never, ever stopped supporting me in my dreams (he is after all the one who told me to quit my job and go for it). But despite his reassurance, I felt like I was failing him. The house was a mess. Unexpected bills were coming in. We were trying to plan a wedding…
But the worst thing was the criticisms. The constant un-supportive criticism from loved ones. The ‘you can’t do this’s and the ‘your stupid/crazy’ speeches people seemed to think it was their unsolicited duty to give. One person, in particular, was very cruel, telling me that I was a waste of space, useless and a disgrace to my family – it was upon ending this particular conversation that I decided to commit suicide.
I have never shared this story before, and only a very select few family members even know of it. But on this particular day I was in so much pain I was crying nonstop. I had just worked a twelve-hour night shift (my way of contributing to the bills) and was exhausted not only from that but from a week of little sleep due to the pain. I had had my first rejections, unexpected bills through the door and now this – it was too much. I felt worthless. Lost and alone.
My husband was at work. I was alone with the day stretched out before me. My prescriptions had just been re-filled by the doctor, who in their kindness had been giving me double doses on the one prescription as they knew my money was tight at the time. Between the variety of drugs I was taking, the sheer amount and a bottle of whiskey I had brought to gift to my father, I intended to just fade away.
But as I started to unpack the pills (which rationally thinking about in hindsight wouldn’t have worked, as they would have made me throw up before any real-life threat could have taken hold), as I started to ready my ammunition, there was a little scuffle at the foot of my bed. I looked up to see the then tiny Bast skip across the bed towards me.
He gave me a little meow, head butting my hand until I stroked him and then curled up in my lap, purring contently. As I looked down at the little runt of the litter, a thought entered my mind, pushing away all the selfish, undesired and depressing thoughts out of my head for the first time in a while. I wondered as I looked at that kitten, who would look after him if I wasn’t there. Of course, the correct answer would have been my husband but thankfully that didn’t occur to me at the time. Yes, I wanted my pain to stop. I didn’t want to be the failure. But I had taken on this cat, agreeing to be in effect its mother.
I couldn’t let him be abandoned twice. He was too innocent. He needed my love.
And he was giving me his.
This tiny speck of fluff was showing me acceptance when I could find none among humans. Kindness when I felt the world had turned its back on me. He was giving me understanding, being there in his own way when I had no one to turn to. The friggin cat wanted to be with me, wanted my attention, my love, and caretaking. And it was a wonderful feeling. He got me thinking outside of just myself and reminded me that I was an open-hearted person. That I cared too much about other people, my husband and family, in particular, to just leave them behind for the sake of a bit of pain. My woes all seemed to diminish in that moment.
The pills all fell to the floor as I scoped Bast up and hugged him, and together we fell asleep. When I woke up the pain was gone and I had a new outlook on life. I finally felt like myself again after months of pain and confusion. I knew I could do the things others told me I couldn’t and I don’t care what anyone says – I contribute it all to Bast. I didn’t take another pill from that day forward and am glad to save I overcame my chronic migraine syndrome and depression with just diet and exercise, my loving husband by my side and a tiny, troublesome house panther, reminding me daily that life isn’t all about the individual. As far as I am concerned he saved my life that day.
I only wish I could have done the same for him.
Sadly, Bast passed unexpectedly and swiftly on the 21st February 2020 at just three years old. He had a rare, undetectable heart condition ironically know as FATE, which in layman’s terms harbors a blood clot which is then released towards the legs, blocking the blood flow resulting in almost instant paralysis. There was nothing we could do. It’s a death sentence with no possible treatment.
Bast died at home, in the arms of my husband and I, leaving behind his little sister Auri and his new human brother Seth. It pains me to put it into words, but we will miss you so much, buddy!
Too often in our busy day to day lives, we neglect to see the good right in front of us. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, but we knew. We appreciated Bast every single day and always will. Bast was a testament to the fact that animals are often better than people; giving unconditional love, caring for others and bringing joy in dark times. Animals don’t care for your clothes or what car you drive, so long as you can be loving, that is all they want.
It has been a very sad time for my family and I as we have had to say goodbye, but to those of you with pets in your life, I’ll ask you this now. Go give them a kiss or a hug, play for five minutes and generally enjoy their company – right now. Don’t ever put it off. We thought we would have Bast for the next ten-fifteen years of our lives, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Rest Well Bast.
In honour of Bast’s memory and the company he kept me over the years whilst writing, I am giving away some free #ThePeskyCats writing motivational wallpaper for mobile and desktop computers. Click here to download.