The Last Good Day

How do we know when it is the last good day? We most often don’t, until that day has already passed. Then, if we can see clearly, if we can look back and say, “That Tuesday, the one in August when the sun was shining but the humidity was low, and it was only in the low 80’s.”

That day.

last good day

Mehitabel in her role as supervisor

That was the last good day.

Today, we take a break from all things pandas, and say goodbye to the real star of Zoonooz, Mehitabel, leader and enforcer of the panda kindergarten. She was the best of cats, from the day she was a tiny kitten, known as Mehitabel, stop that!!!!! She was approaching her 21st birthday, and so owed nothing more to me, her most devoted servant.

Mehitabel at 16. Still a beauty…

She’d been slowing down in the past couple of years, but it wasn’t until she passed her 19th birthday that she could no longer jump up to the bathroom counter, or the counter in the studio, where I fed her, and so had to start feeding her on the floor. Since then, it’s been a kind of gradual downhill slide, until finally this fall, it became less gradual.

But when do you say enough? I already knew that I was not going to subject her to invasive tests or surgery, or stuffing pills down her throat. As long as she was eating and drinking, and didn’t seem to be in real discomfort, I decided to keep her going.

“Surely you are not going to use THAT photo of me! Although I do have a rather handsome profile, don’t you think?”

But her world was getting smaller. She didn’t want to go outside as much, and I had to keep her out of some parts of the house because she was starting to get a little confused. She could no longer jump up to the drawing table in the upstairs studio, where she supervised me in my panda satire work, from her comfortable cushion at one end of the table.

In the end, I probably let her go on a bit too long. Last night she had a prolonged bout of gasping for breath, a symptom which had started a couple months ago, very sporadically at first, and then daily, but still for very short periods of time. Neither of us got much sleep last night, and when I woke up this morning, I made the decision to call her vet, and they said to bring her in.

We saw her vet, the wonderful Dr. Dave Parent of Useless Bay Animal Clinic, who had been her doctor since kitten hood. After examining her, he told me that it was time, and that by being brave and letting her go, I was doing the right thing for her.

She is in her final resting place, out in the wild part of the garden, behind the rhododendrons and the Katsura tree, in the shadow of the nurse log where huckleberries grow, and the birds gather to eat them. I think her ghostly self will like that. As she always used to tell me, “The brightly colored ones taste the best.”

Farewell Mehitabel. I know Jude and Annie C. are waiting for you just over the bridge.

In Memorial: Mehitabel 1996 – 2017

Ever wondered where all these pandas came from?

We’ll see you Friday, with a return to pandas.
Hug your cat now.
Bob T Panda

65 thoughts on “The Last Good Day

    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Mehitabel would like me to point out that she got more comments than any of the pandas usually do, even Princess Pinky. She will be watching from over my shoulder forever, I hope.

      Reply
    2. Judy Hogan

      Read with tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat remembering that day when I left Dr. Parent’s office and cried out in his parking lot for a long while before I could drive home. I had to let my Schpooky little girl go. She was 19 and it seemed she was asking me to stop her pain. It’s so hard to judge the last good day.

      Reply
      1. Panda in Chief Post author

        Dr. parent is the best. He was so kind. I am tearing up again thinking about how sweet he was with her on this last day. 19 is a pretty good life too. Especially out here, where the coyotes roam.
        Thank you, and I hope all is well with you.

        Reply
  1. Sue

    My heart aches for you. I am so sorry for your loss. She was such a beautiful cat, and I can tell you were great friends.

    My 5 kitties and I extend our deepest and sincere sympathies.

    Reply
  2. Ann Feldman

    I’m crying. Having been through this a couple of times, my heart aches for you. Don’t feel badly about your “timing”. It’s hard to get that perfect. I only managed twice out of five. Rest peacefully beautiful Mehitabel.

    Reply
  3. Dianna Van Buren

    I have the Pandamorphosis picture of the little girl sitting on the bed petting her cat staring at the clouds hanging in my bedroom. I will always think of Mehitabel when I look at that picture. RIP dear Mehitabel..

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      okay. Now I’m crying again.
      Thank you.
      and she was the inspiration for that drawing. she used to sit on me like that all the time. Plus jump down from a high window ledge, right next to my head as I lay in bed.

      Reply
  4. Sandy Reuscher

    You have me sobbing. There are some animals who just get us. They are with us through thick and thin, come hell or high water. While we remember them all, the special ones live on long after they’ve left this plane of existence. What a wonderful tribute to the Devine Miss M. She will live forever here.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Pass the kleenex.
      She was definitely one of the special ones. It was love at first sight, when she was a tiny kitten.
      and her cartoon self will live on. Someone has to keep those pandas in line.

      Reply
  5. JoAnn Mannn

    I am sorry for your loss, sincerely, I have had to be brave for 2 kitties and it is most assuredly not easy!

    Reply
  6. Claire Bobrow

    I’m so sorry to hear about Mehitabel. She appears to have been the finest of cats, and a real beauty. May she rest in peace.

    Reply
  7. Stacy Johnson

    I’m so sorry, Anne. Mehitabel was a superstar to all of us in the panda lovers world, but no matter whether superstar or super companion, it stinks to have to say goodbye. I’ve had to do it 5 times now and it never got any easier. RIP Mehitabel and run free over that darn Rainbow Bridge. I hope you run into my best friends who made it there before you.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      It is a gut punch and then some, as you well know. She is running free, getting on the counters across the bridge, and sitting on the laps of those who went on without us. I buried her behind the rhododendrons, in front of the nurse log, where she like to sit and survey her realm, and consider which of her subjects she was going to eat. Her ghostly self will enjoy watching the birds that come to eat the huckleberries.

      Reply
  8. Sweetg12651

    Oh Anne, my heart is aching for you. There is nothing that pains the human heart more than losing a loved and devoted pet. Mehitabel is happy and pain-free once more and looking over your shoulder right now to supervise your every move. So watch yourself! Sending you hugs and love.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      I’m sure she will continue to boss me around from the great beyond. Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  9. dachsieguy

    So sorry for your loss but so happy you had her all those years. You’ve got quite a treasure trove of wonderful memories that will overwhelm the sadness of losing that angel. Our fur babies are here for such a short time but they pack so much love and joy into it that it is worth the pain of their loss. (DoxieDad)

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thank you. We did have a wonderful life together. When my eyes stop leaking so much, she will return to the pages of the Panda Chronicles. Who else can keep the Pandy Kindy in line?
      what you say about loving them and losing them is so true. My life is so much richer for having been her devoted servant all these years.

      Reply
    2. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thank you. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by me, as wells all her fans around the world. She would say that she is the most popular of all the Panda Chronicles characters, and that if it wasn’t for her, the pandas would not have a job.
      I know that I will love another cat someday. Just not yet. They bring so much joy to our worlds. It is worth the pain of saying goodbye.

      Reply
      1. Stacy Johnson

        It took me 8 months to get over the pain of losing my Bailey dog. When I lost her I thought whatever was left of my heart went with her, but I decided I can’t live without a wagging tail and all the joy that comes with it. I guess I still have enough of a piece of my heart left to love again and you will too…when it’s time.

        Reply
        1. Panda in Chief Post author

          I know I will. I also know that I need to have time to heal, and not expect my next cat to be Mehitabel reincarnated. When the right cat appears, I’m sure I will know it. Mehitabel arrived a bit too soon on the heels of her predecessor’s departure, but when I first saw her, I couldn’t resist.
          Circumstances right now are that I need to take my time, and not jump into something new.
          The house seems so empty though.

          Reply
  10. Michele M.

    Tears are streaming down my face. I lived this with my dog two years ago. Knowing what is coming and trying to find the strength to let go and the perfect time to do so, not losing time but not allowing suffering. Your writing is wonderful. Thanks for sharing. It helps you and others too.

    Reply
  11. Aimee on the Left (@Aimee_Abq)

    I am so sorry Anne. Loving – losing. Living-dying. I have ranted at the powers-that-be about this for so long. She was beautiful and your soul mate. May she come to you while you sleep to let you know that she is okay and will wait for you. My Tsuki and my Finrod have both done that for me. That is my wish for you.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thank you. I miss her so much. I thought I was ready, but I guess knowing that it was her time to go doesn’t make it any less painful.

      Reply
  12. Val

    Your tribute was beautiful and heart-wrenching; I am typing this through streaming tears. My hope is that years of wonderful memories bring you inner peace and continued inspiration. Our thoughts are with you.

    Reply
  13. candy gai (@candygai)

    I cried this morning , which is okay., when I read I saw your Fezbook status post. I am so sorry for your loss. Few humans, pandas or other felines have been gifted with such a wonderful memorial as you have fashioned for Mehitabel.

    It is so hard to know. My friend Jan, who has been breeding cats since the late 70s, says you know as their “person”. I am generally a mix of thoughts. It is hard to die. The only time my vet and I were at cross purposes related to yet another challenging medical test and an obviously failing “baby”.

    Mehitabel’s great fortune was to find you. Ours was that you shared her with us. Please take care of yourself as you panda-on. You really are truly special to us.

    Reply
  14. Deb Collett

    Knowing it was time does not reduce the pain. It helps us to justify what we must do to release them, and releasing them is an act of deep love and respect. I still hurt from my last loss over a year ago. Hell, I hurt from my loss of 3 cats 15 years ago in a fire. I may break into tears at any sentimental moment. My heart hurts with you, Bob. <>

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thank you. Up until the day before I let her go, I was sure I was prepared, that I would be fine. I would do it again in a new York minute. I swore to her that I would not let her suffer or lose her dignity. I may have let her suffer a bit too long, but she was dignified to the end. Sorry for your losses as well.
      Knowing that loss is the price of admission, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. She was a cat among cats.

      Reply
  15. chasbelov

    Sis (I don’t think I’ve ever called you that before, except as a response to “bro”), I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like you made as good a decision as possible under the circumstances. There is never a good time for such a decision, and if you’re like me (we are Belovs after all) you’ll be questioning the timing for some time. I hope you’ll be at peace with the fact that there is no answer. I’m glad you got to experience that last good day and the many good years before that and even the less-good times after that. Thank you for sharing so much of Mehitabel with us.

    I think the Pandy Kindy will miss her, too.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      I forgot about the perpetual second guessing of any decision, that is my birthright. Unfortunately this recent experience has no standing on any other…um…similar applications.
      I am so grateful for the time I had with Mehitabel. she greatly enhanced my life, and hardly ever got up on the kitchen counter. (the one in the bathroom was fair game, though.)

      Reply
  16. Gina Koo

    I am so sorry for your loss of your precious Mehitabel, Anne.
    Regardless of how long we’d known them or how much we try to prepare for the inevitable, when the day actually comes, it’s still hurts like heck.
    May Mehitabel live on forever in the crazy world of panda satire. Hugs.

    Reply
  17. Marcia

    What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful girl! She was well loved as are you, dear Anne. So sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  18. Diane Weissmann

    Anne, I feel for you, it is hard to lose your fur baby, I lost mine, she was 22, but still miss her so much. God Bless you. <3 Diane Weissmann

    Reply
  19. Karen Gulledge

    Anne, I’m so sorry for your loss. She will live on forever in your heart. What a wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing her with us through your art.

    Reply
  20. Lisa Pellegrino (@lmrpellegrino)

    Dear Anne,
    Thank you so much for telling us about Mehitabel. I am so sorry she is no longer by your side. It sounds like she was a very lucky kitty and lead a wonderful life with you. I hope when the time comes I can be as strong for my Chester as you were for your precious one, Mehitabel.
    Lisa

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      No matter how ready you think you are for this, and I had been mentally preparing myself for it ever since she turned 19, you will still feel like you’ve been sucker punched. Even two days before this happened, I was talking about it with some friends. I don’t have regrets about letting her go, I am just so sad that she isn’t in my life anymore. The house feels so empty. I know I will open my heart and home to another kitty again, but I need time to finish grieving for this wonderful kitty. she was the best cat ever.

      Reply
  21. Vicky V

    It’s never easy choosing the right time to let your beloved pet go. But if you are a caring a pet owner (which of course you are) you usually get the timing right. I think Mehitabel did let you know she was ready that last night but being the devoted owner you are, you will double guess yourself. We all do it.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Yes, I don’t think she wanted to leave sooner either. And yes, I will continue to question whether I waited too long.

      Reply
  22. Vicky Brown

    In this chilly weather it isn’t snowing but rather raining on the farm for you… or maybe my eyes just have a leak. So sorry my friend. *hugs*

    Reply
  23. jansfunnyfarm

    Saw this link on Twitter. What a beautiful cat and such a long, happy life she had with you. She has to have left you with many wonderful memories. We’re so sorry for your loss

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thank you. she was the most beautiful cat, and so smart. I know, all the cat moms say that, but it was true. She had me well trained.

      Reply
  24. Diana Sutton

    I can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said. Mehitabel was well loved. And I feel privileged to have actually met her. Run free dear girl. <3

    Reply
  25. Cat McMahon

    Dear Ann,

    We send you our deepest heartfelt condolences for your loss and wrap you in comforting purrs during this time of grief. Tears course down my cheeks as I write this as Mehitabel became very dear to us. She will be greatly missed. I’m so glad you wrote a guest story about her at CatsStories.com where she will always be fondly remembered. We are heartened that her spirit will be with us forever.

    Purrs,
    Cat McMahon & Abby

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      I do pretty well till I start reading all of these sweet condolence notes from all her fans. I am so glad she has been immortalized on your website, and I’m sure I will write more about her. She was the very best of cats and I will miss her for a long time. Her predecessor, who I loved dearly, despite his mercurial temper, was not always an easy cat, but he was devoted to me, except when he would have his Mr. Hyde moments. When he disappeared into the night, probably the victim of coyotes, one of my friends said, “well, now maybe you can get a nice cat.” Harsh, but true. and I did.

      Reply
      1. Cat McMahon

        Words seem pretty trite at a time like this. My heart goes out to you as we share grief for our beloved kitties who have crossed over. Purrs . . . purrs . . . purrs.

        Reply
        1. Panda in Chief Post author

          Thank you. It’s really kind of crazy. We were together for almost 21 years and now she’s gone. I know it is part of the whole living with cats experience. I know I will have another cat (or two) again. I need a little time to heal and stop expecting another cat to be just like her. Thanks for stopping by.
          Purr….

          Reply
  26. Joyce A Hulings

    I don’t know whether I can say anything to make you feel better after losing Mehitabel, but I would like to say I’m sorry for your loss.

    Reply
    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thank you. There’s not much other than time that will make me feel better. At some point I will welcome a new kitty into my home, but for now I am just going to remember my sweet girl and all her magnificence. She will remain, at least virtually, here in these pages.

      Reply

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