25 September 2017

We said goodbye to our little cat Jack last week. She was an incredible, beloved member of our family, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about her today.

As I’ve mentioned before, John is known as the Cat Whisperer in our circles. Cats make a beeline for him like heat-seeking missiles (which, let’s be clear, is exactly what cats are). It was a foregone conclusion that we would add a cat to our family after moving to North Carolina, but in the name of fiscal responsibility thought we would wait until John started a job.

A few months into our new life together we started frequenting adoption events “just to look.”

Mmm hmm.

For awhile, though, that’s exactly what we did…until a sunny November day when John crouched down to peer into a carrier in the aisle of Petsmart, and Jack popped up beside him and put her paws on his knee. Out of all the cats brought to the adoption event that day, this little seven-month-old was the only one on a leash, and she amused us for the next half hour by attempting to steal food out of other cats’ cages, nearly toppling off several surfaces, and boldly investigating everything within her orbit. We were smitten, and a few weeks later, she (and her brother Oliver) were ours.

(Jack’s official name from the adoption agency was Jackal (what the heck?!?), but we decided Jack was short for Jacquelyn. She was always a tomboy, and she carried her name off with panache.)

We were looking for cats with personality, and boy did we get them. From the minute we set her carrier down in our apartment (and she promptly bounded out to explore), Jack was an energetic, fearless, engaging presence in our family. She was the first to greet someone at the door, the first to jump up on a lap, and the first to explore a new noise or object. Often described as “overly friendly,” we had to warn guests to leave their doors closed at night if they didn’t want a visitor licking their nose and pawing at their faces around midnight. She loved to curl up in the crook of my knees, under the covers, year round.

These friendly cats were the cure for our homesickness, and for that I will always be grateful. They made us look forward to returning from trips when nothing else did, and they made us feel like a family before we even were one. They’ve been a part of almost our whole adult lives, and it aches to move on without her.

Jack was a deadly bug hunter, a ferocious athlete with incredible balance (she liked to parade back and forth on our balcony railing!), and a devoted sister. One of the many reasons I’m sad she left us so soon is that she would have been an incredible role model for June. I know that might sound silly to some, but we talked about Jack often as a brave, bold, confident, independent female – the ultimate embodiment of girl power. She was also a diligent ambassador for the cat species. I can’t tell you how many times we heard “I don’t like cats, but I like this cat” after spending time with Jack.

Another quirk of Jack’s is that she L-O-V-E-D going to the vet. She was famous amongst the techs, who nicknamed her Miss P, for Perfect, early on. When she was diagnosed with nasal lymphoma earlier this summer, her love for Dr. Wendy made our every-other-week appointments much more pleasant than they would have been with another cat.

She is no longer in pain, for which we are grateful. But we are so sad. Jack’s incredible personality made her a once-in-a-lifetime cat, and eight years with her feels like a cruelly short amount of time. Because she was such a constant presence in our lives — following us from this room to that, sitting on the desk next to my laptop every day I worked from home, waiting patiently for us to go to bed in the evening — her absence is felt at every moment. There is a heavy lack in our lives right now.

The inconvenience, the expense, and most importantly, the searing heartache of her illness this summer… nothing changes the fact that given a million more chances at this life, I’d choose our sweet Jack a million times over. I count the fact that we walked into Petsmart that day as one of the luckiest strokes of my life, and I will always be so grateful that she was ours.

Of all the marvelous things I’ve shared over the years, Jack is near the top, and though it feels like my words fall flat, this place wouldn’t be true without sharing a bit about her with you. Thanks for listening, friends. xo

30 Responses to “Jack”

  1. Cried reading this and my heart aches with you, Em! So sorry for your loss. I have to believe that we’ll be reunited with our beloved pets in heaven, because it simply wouldn’t be heaven without them! Jack is so lucky to have had you and been loved by you!

    p.s. I had no idea cats caught bugs – total MVP material, right there! :)


    I think so, too. And yes, we’ve already noticed an unwelcome increase in the number of bugs we’ve seen inside ?

  2. Thinking of you and your family, Emily. Reflecting the happiness and joy this space/your words give to so many right back at you during this difficult time.


    Thank you so much, Molly.

  3. Kensington

    Definitely cried reading this. As someone who grew up with five cats throughout my childhood years at home, I know they leave such a lasting impression on a family. I know June will love looking back at photos of the sweetest siblings that were a part of her first years of life :)


    Thank you, Kensington! Yes, we have lots of photos – and two watercolor portraits on our walls :)

  4. Sarah

    What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful gal. I’m so sorry you didn’t have more time with her. We lost our first dog way, way too early to a rare disease and it was honestly the most profound loss of my life (I’ve been incredibly lucky with the health and longevity of the humans I love). My heart goes out to your family!


    Yes, it’s been the same for me. A small comfort during this time was helping each other keep this loss in perspective, as searing as it is.

  5. Erin M

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your sweet kitty!! What a beautifully written tribute to her. She sounds like the perfect cat!! Sending you lots of love <3 <3 <3


    She really was (aside from the licking and pawing at midnight!). Thank you so much, Erin!

  6. Zoe

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know how a cat makes a family. Our own cat Poirot is so central to our lives. It sounds as though she has a very happy life xx


    She did. Thank you so much, friend!

  7. Emily, I am so sorry for you loss. I can completely relate to how fondly you feel about Jack as I have felt the same for several of our animals. They are like a family member and when you loose them, it leaves that same aching pain. Isn’t it crazy just how much a sweet little animal can impact your life for the better?!


    It is. And we are so grateful for all the ways she made our life better! Thank you, friend.

  8. Lara

    Lots of tears reading this. Your love for Jack is so beautiful and true. What a gift she was – and is – for opening your hearts in these ways. Many say that adding children to a family expands your capacity to love. I would say that is equally true about Jack. Cntinued prayers!


    Grateful for your prayers and wise thoughts!

  9. Wanda

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Jack was such a wonderful part of your family, as you so beautifully described in this tribute. It is so hard to lose a pet, I think sometimes we don’t realize what a huge part of our lives they are until they are gone. However, just think how lucky Jack was to have such a loving family and brother. She had a wonderful life!


    Thank you so much, friend. Glad you got to know her!

  10. Bethany

    I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved kitty. A few years ago my cat died after sixteen years together- she was with me throughout high school, college, meeting my husband, getting engaged, and wedding planning. She sadly died before I got married, but she will always be missed. We have since adopted two other cats (both of which are great in their own way!), but none will compare to Miss Kitty, and so I feel your heartache.

    I am a firm believer that we will see our pets in heaven. You will be reunited with Jack once again. <3


    That is so sweet and heartbreaking, Bethany. I know exactly what you mean – there will never be another Jack, even if we get to love more sweet kitties in the future!

  11. Emily

    A beautiful tribute to a beloved family member. I know that ache — and the strange feeling that she’ll be right around the corner — and my heart goes out to you. We keep a portrait of our dog who passed away front and center in our living room- maybe a framed portrait of Jack with John and June? That one’s really great.


    We have watercolor portraits of Jack and Oliver on our bedroom wall, and I’m grateful for them! Planning to frame a few more photos, too. xoxo

  12. Emily, this is such a sweet post to Jack and I am sorry for your loss. She sounds like the best cat for your sweet family.


    Thank you so much, Jess. She was!

  13. Kelly Strawberry

    Just catching up on your blog after being on vacation last week. I am so, so sorry to read this. Thinking of you in your pain of losing Jack. This was a wonderful tribute you wrote.


    Thank you so much, friend. xoxo

  14. Kelly

    What a beautiful and loving tribute to Jack. As a cat (animal) lover who has been greatly affected by my pets, I can relate to just how integral they are in our lives. They’re amazing creatures, full of personality and so much love. Sending you a hug. I’m sorry you’ve lost Jack too early.


    Thank you so much, Kelly!

  15. Emily and John, I just found out about your sweet Jack. I am so sorry. This post was such a special one to read, I enjoyed finding out about her cute quirks and personality traits. I know I’m over a week late, but you all are in my thoughts. Sending you love!