Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sweet Zoey

                                                       Zoey Woelfert    1994-2011

April was an especially cruel month for our friends who have lost beloved animal companions.

Only a few weeks ago, I wrote about our former next door neighbors losing their beloved cat Vilula and about the very special cats Bob and I lost in the past few years. And soon after that, I had an sad email from my high school friend Suse who told me that her cherished dog Sparkly had passed away and that she was comforted only by the knowledge that Sparkly lived with her adoration on a daily basis and that she hoped her once lively pet was "herding sheep on the Rainbow Bridge."

Now pet loss has come closer to home again: Jay and Linda, our neighbors who live two doors down from us here in Arizona, lost their sweet 17-year-old cat Zoey on April 26.

Bob and I had the pleasure of caring for Zoey and her two feline sisters Alice and Phoebe while Jay and Linda were on vacation last October and we fell in love with Zoey in particular. She greeted us warmly when we arrived for twice daily feedings and her patience as we measured out the medicine for her thyroid condition into her food was amazing.  Jay told us that she would answer to her name and also to her title "The Finest Cat in Arizona". And we soon realized that the title was quite apt. She was a treasure.

Zoey and Jay had a long and loving history. He adopted her from PAWS Animal Shelter in the Seattle area in 1995. It was love at first sight when Jay spotted the one-year-old stray.  She happily settled into Jay's home and his life and was at his side during some major life transitions including his marriage to Linda, two homes in Seattle, then a move to Arizona -- first to Cornville, then to Tucson, and finally to their new home in Sun City Anthem Merrill Ranch near Florence.  Zoey's good nature and fervent love for Jay made each transition and move an adventure and a joy as she delighted him and Linda with her quirky feline sense of humor.

Jay especially enjoyed her silliness, her funny little routines like a mad dash through the house after using the litter box, dipping her paws in her water bowl and then licking the water off.  She found pleasure in so many things: chasing leaves blowing in the wind, sitting in front of the refrigerator purring, greeting Jay and Linda when they came home.  A large cat -- 18 pounds in her prime -- Zoey had a tiny meow and a big purr.  She purred the most when Jay was around.

He was the center of her world. Frankly, she could take or leave her feline companions. She tolerated and even came to like Alice, an unwanted cat that Jay adopted some years later. But for Phoebe, Linda's cat who had come into the family when Linda and Jay met, Zoey had only contempt.  Besides Phoebe, Zoey didn't like vets (except a vet in Tucson who had treated her during her difficult 7 year battle with thyroid disease) and took a while to warm up to strangers. She really didn't need a lot of people or animals in her life because she had Jay.  When he left the house, she would wait by the door for him. When he worked outside in the yard, she would watch and paw at the window, begging to be let out to join him.  Of all the pets that Jay has had throughout his life, Zoey was the one who was most special, who truly captured his heart and well earned the title "The Finest Cat in Arizona."

Lately, her illness, which she had battled so stoically and courageously, began to overwhelm her increasingly frail body. All of us in the neighborhood worried. Was she eating again? Could she walk better today? Her condition fluctuated over the last few weeks, but, sadly, that last week, her systems began to shut down.  Finally, Jay knew it was time.  His heart breaking, he took her back to the one vet she could tolerate, that wonderful doctor in Tucson, who helped end her suffering as Jay held her in his arms. The last image she saw as her eyes dimmed was Jay's loving face. It was a fitting, if heartbreaking, end to a very special love story.

Such endings are so very painful and stay with us much like the loss of other beloved family members. I know Jay will miss Zoey forever and the only consolation may be that he gave Zoey a wonderful life and did everything he could for her -- including the hardest thing of all: letting her go.


  1. This heartfelt post will touch many people with or without pets. How can we not love them so? They add so much to our lives.

  2. Losing a beloved pet leaves a mark on our hearts forever. I still remember beloved cats from many years ago, so can identify very much with this lovely post.

  3. Ah, you have made the tears come. What a wonderful post about an amazing love story. I hope Jay is doing all right. The loss of a pet after so long and such a struggle to keep them alive, is brutal.

  4. This is beautiful. Pets add so much to our lives. We have a Maine Coon cat that my DD gave us after finding him lost as a kitten. He is a joy and such a peaceful soul. I agree thar losing a pet is like losing a member of our family.

  5. I always hate to hear about the loss of a pet. They are such wonderful companions.

  6. Zoey
    By Rebecca Strecker

    I know your heart is broken.
    I know that you are sad.
    But please try to remember
    all the fun we had.

    Our eyes met at the shelter
    and and when I saw you, Jay
    I knew we'd form a special bond
    forever come what may.

    Before long you married
    and we moved from place to place.
    How you and Linda laughed
    when from the litter box I'd race!

    You really did indulge me.
    You thought my antics charming.
    And all the silly things I did
    you somehow found disarming.

    Remember how I chased at leaves
    and my coat of softest fur?
    And how I used to greet you
    with my loud contented purr?

    How I used to paw the window
    when you had yard work to do?
    How I watched you every second
    wishing I could join you too?

    But no one lives forever
    and when I grew old and ill
    You cared for me so tenderly
    with every single pill.

    You knew when it was time to go,
    and you took me to the vet.
    You held me in your loving arms
    please never feel regret.

    Because now I'm at Rainbow Bridge
    and feeling young and strong.
    We'll both begin our lives anew
    when you come along.

    For us here time is different
    many years are but a day.
    Until then I'll live in your heart
    My dearest friend, my Jay.

  7. Thanks so much for all your lovely comment and thanks, especially, Rebecca, for your wonderful poem. I know it will mean a lot to Jay.