The road from mourning to hope: Webster

The road from mourning to hope: Webster

WebsterOccasionally, a well-meaning person-who-hasn’t-really-known-a-cat will ask, “do cats really notice when somebody dies?”

I am convinced that cats mourn as deeply, and in nearly as many different ways, as we do. Some bounce back from change and loss fairly quickly, while others react in quiet ways we can recognize if we only pay attention. But, for some cats, the loss of a friend brings a deep and soul-wrenching, world-shaking grief after which nothing can ever be the same.

So it was for Webster.

We don’t know everything about Webster’s pre-Tabby’s-Place life, but what we do know tells us volumes. Webster was one of the lucky ones: he was adopted, and loved, for a decade of joy. Then, all too soon, Webster’s person passed away.Webster

And nothing would ever be the same.

During his initial intake exam, we saw one side of Webster. Preternaturally quiet, our big-eyed tabby sat frozen, his paws wrapped around Ginny’s arm as Denise took all the needed blood samples. This all fit quite well with what we’d heard about Webster’s life with his late owner; he’d been a love-bug, a snuggler, the consummate “people cat.” One look at that big round head and scared, too-wise eyes and I was gone. Gentle, bereaved Webster was already the owner of a piece of my heart.

But “gentle” Webster had another side yet to reveal, and this shadow of Webster howled with pain. Literally.

I have never heard a cat scream as Webster screamed that night, hurling his entire solid self full-force into the crate bars in his quarantine area any time a human approached. The stereotypical banshee has nothing on Webster when it comes to shriek volume. With all his might, Webster howled out his grief and anger and ache, rattling the world that had so rattled him. Day after day, it was the same, screaming story.

WebsterOur sanctuary associates, the brave souls who comprise the first line of defense against our newest and scarediest cats, have seen a lot of tough kitties through the years. From mad Max to quivering Cupcake, one might say they’ve “seen it all.”

But Webster was something entirely new. From those haunting screams to his willingness to bite and scratch anyone who entered his world of pain, Webster was a challenge…and then some.

So, it was time for the Cutie Plan. As you may recall, Cutie was a horror (an adorable horror, but a horror) and a constant danger to life and limb when she was crated in Quarantine. But, once we moved her to a “private suite” (the bedroom in the sanctuary apartment), she was a different girl – especially with her BFF Jonathan. Spending her quarantine period in such homelike, spacious digs had given Cutie what she needed to make a smooth, happy transition to life in a cat suite…could the same help our grieving tabby?

Could it ever!

Clearly I remember the looks on everyone’s faces as Danielle triumphantly announced one day, “Webster sat on my lap this morning…and purred!”


Such reports of sweetness became more and more frequent, interspersed with the usual groans, “he screamed and kicked his food bowl at me this morning.” Or, “he went crazy when I tried to sweep the room. I don’t think he likes brooms.”

Personally, I don’t think Webster’s rage had anything to do with brooms, or his cage, or even any of us.

I think it was all about his own human bean, and the fact that he wasn’t coming back.

Just like people, I think that some cats are deeply, painfully sensitive. It’s a gift or a curse, depending on the circumstances and how you choose to look at it. Personally, I’d rather have to deal with the deep hurt from time to time than to never know the deep joy that comes with being sensitive. I can’t believe I’m quoting mid-90s music here, but, as Jewel sang, “I’m sensitive, and I’d like to stay that way.” Though it means he may feel life’s knocks harder, I think Webster is gifted – because he’ll also know the greatest heights of joy.

I’m grateful to report that, this week, Webster cleared from his quarantine and moved into Suite A, the land of the large. His purry, lap-sitting, people-loving days have increasingly trumped his fits of sorrow, and the tide seems to have turned towards joy. I won’t pretend that Webster’s pain is over, or that he will be a snuggle-bug  at all times now, but I do believe he’s learning to be loved by his new human beans.

And, I do believe, he will be one of the lucky ones – a chosen one, an adopted one – again. Weeping may last for the night, but joy does come in the morning, and the dawn is breaking in Websterville.

6 thoughts on “The road from mourning to hope: Webster

  1. Just as people morn the loss of a pet and different people show it in different ways, I believe that the same is true for animals and this is Webster’s way of expressing his sorrow, I’m sure that even once he finds a new home, the ten years of love and affection that he recieved in his previous home will always be alive in the back of his mind. How about a Webster dance Fred (poor man is going to wear out every pair of shoes he has)

  2. I saw this often in cats, especially older ones, who were brought to the shelter after their guardians passed away. They would often become extremely depressed and stop eating. It was heartbreaking. What was worse were the older cats who were surrendered because they were simply too old or sick, and their guardians didn’t want to be bothered any more. How could you so easily say good-bye to your best friend of 16-17-18 years?

    Webster’s story broke my heart but that is tempered by the fact that I know he is at Tabby’s Place where he will receive excellent care, and most important, love. Please give this gentle guy a kiss for me.

  3. Oh my, this made tears come to my eyes for poor, sweet Webster. I’m glad he had such a loving person taking care of him and I hope he finds a new person soon. I wish I could take him myself. I’m happy he landed at Tabby’s Place with all the wonderful human beans to love on him.

  4. Webster and I “met” accidentally when I visited sweet Bellis in the “recovery” room after her third surgery. May I say the description of the vocalizations above were understated considering the catterwalling (sp?) I received just from walking by the door to the “quarantine” room. I had only heard people speak about him, but figured it out FAST exactly who the source of the menacing noises was. Poor ol’ boy! Considering his loss, I can empathize. I’ve even heard this true story: A woman died. Her casket was placed in her home for viewing. A visitor happened to ask what had become of her feline companion of many years. After much searching throughout the house, said pal was declared MIA. Later, one of the funeral personnel was checking the casket prior to burial and, to his dismay, he found the woman’s best friend laying at her feet, RIP. Honestly, true story and true love! I can’t wait to get to know Mr. Webster! He is special indeed.

  5. This boy is going to be tough to resist. Look at that wonderful big head and those eyes! Let’s all say a prayer together that he finds a loving home really soon!

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