Max…please help me feel better. My name is Hershey and I am a 12 year old Tabby boycat, and this week my mom found out that I have cancer in my head and that I don’t have a lot of time left. We are all scared here. My mom cries a lot, and I want to make her feel better, but I am really scared, too. You know a lot, Max. Please tell me what cat heaven is like. Please tell me I get to go there and someday I’ll see my mom again. I’ve been a good boy, I promise.
Dood, first off, before I say anything else, I know for sure that yes, you’re going to kitty heaven and when it’s time, your Mom will find you there. We all know the story about the Rainbow Bridge, where we wait for our people to come get us so they can take us along on the next leg of the journey. The Bridge is your reward, dood; It’s the prize you get for a life lived making people happy. Even if you’d been a slightly naughty kitty you’d go there, because that’s where all the pets—even the cats and dogs and birds and rabbits that should have been pets but never found their forever homes—get to go. I know there are a lot of people that say cats don’t have souls (and they’re serious, believe it or not) but you and I and all our kitty friends know…we are souls. These bits and clumps of fur and teeth, tails and claws, those are just containers. We are souls, and we get to have something after this life, just like the people do.
Now, I don’t know if the Bridge is a real actual bridge or not, but that doesn’t even really matter. It’s a place, a bright spot in a pretty vast area where we get to hang out while our people stay here, getting their lives right. It’s where we get to meet the Pets Who Came Before Us and the other cats and dogs that we lived with while we were here. When I go, I’m going to get to meet Dusty and Ataturk, the cats who came before me, and I’ll get to see Hank the Dog again. And we’ll all wait for Buddah, because I’m pretty sure I’ll go before him, and I’m fine with that.
The best thing about cat heaven? Everything you ever loved to do when you were here, you’ll get to do there, as much and as often as you want. Anytime you want a sun puddle to bake in, there will be one. If you want to munch on crunchy treats or real live fresh dead shrimp, you can have it right when you want it, and dood, you won’t even have to wait for a person to use their opposable thumbs to get things for you.
You know how awesome it is to sit in front of a window screen on a nice day, when the breeze is just so, and you can smell flowers outside? Every day is like that. Just the right amount of sunshine and wind, but there’s no screen to keep you from it. If you want to enjoy it while you lounge flat on your back in the grass, you get to do that—and no other kitty or dog or bird will bug you unless you want to be bugged. And you’ll get to watch all the birds you want, up close. You’ll even be able to chase them and they won’t mind, because they know that you’re in a place where no one ever gets hurt again. They’ll be your friend, and they’ll help you stalk and chase them, because it won’t be a cat hunting his food, it’ll be two friends playing chase and tag.
It’s not all outside stuff, either. If you want to be inside, there will be an inside that seems made just for you. It has tons of climbing trees and things to scratch—don’t worry if you got declawed here, because there you’ll have them back—and lots of high places you can get to, where you can jump around and play. And if you want to chase a red dot, you just think of it and there it is, zipping around on the floor and up the walls, and if you really want, you get to catch it. When you’re done climbing and chasing, if you want one there will be a big comfy bed with a fuzzy blanket to nap on. Or if you want to nap under a tree, you can just go outside again and curl up under a huge tree that has a giant canopy on it, with lots of shade if you want.
I don’t know if you’ve hung around the cat blogosphere much, but one of the fun things we do is to pretend to have house trashing parties, where we all “teleport” to some kitty’s house and have tons of fun and leave a giant mess behind. It’s fun to pretend, but we all know that if we all did wind up in the same room for real there would be lots of hissing and spitting and growling and biting. But in kitty heaven? Dood, we’ll get to hang with all the kitties whose blogs made peoples’ lives a little happier and a lot more fun, and we’ll just know them, and we’ll have tons of fun together.
We’ll also be able to be quiet together, to just chill and watch everything going on around us. We’ll tell each other stories about what our lives were really like, and it will all be good, even for the kitties whose lives might not have been when they were here, because they were special, and they have wisdom to share.
Dood. There will be Cheetos. I swear.
Before we know it, our people will be there. The first person in your family will come and all the pets he ever loved will be waiting at the Bridge, and will all get to go with him to the next place. But man, that’s not just it. When the second and third, or however many people were that loved us, we’ll get to meet them at the Bridge, too. And whenever we want, we can go play with our friends who are still waiting and keep them company. Our people will be cool with that.
For right now, your Mom is going to cry. She loves you, dood, and she can’t stand the idea that pretty soon you won’t be there with her. Just by being there, you make her life better and she’s happier, so getting the news what you have cancer and there’s not a lot of time left…well, that feels a lot like someone pulling out her nose hairs. It’s a sharp pain that doesn’t feel like it will ever get better or go away. It makes tears spring to her eyes and her nose run, and it’s hard for her to catch her breath. And that’s kind of scary to you, I imagine. It’s hard for a kitty to see his person suddenly racked with sadness, and being scared, that’s normal. It’s okay.
But you know what? Even when a person has had a lot of nose hairs pulled, sooner or later it doesn’t hurt as much, and the stinging feeling gets better. They can sniff back the runny nose and blink away the tears. The stinging lingers a bit, but it gets better. And in time, they can breathe again. Keep that in mind. When it hurts, the hurt doesn’t last forever. It gets better.
Your mom is racked, but she’s not wrecked. She’s scared for you, and that’s okay. It’s a good thing, it shows you that you did your job here well. So when you feel up to it, give her some extra head butts and purrs, but she might need to just take care of you, so let her. And she might need to bury her face in your furs when she cries, and that’s okay.
I know you’re scared, too, because even though you know you have cancer, you don’t know 100% what’s going on and people don’t know how to tell you what to expect. It’s okay. Being scared is okay. But I promise you, you’re going to kitty heaven, and while you wait for your Mom, you are going to have the most wicked awesome time. You’ll have fun, and you will be at peace.
You’ll be there. You earned it. Someday I’ll be there, too, and I hope you’ll be happy to see me and will show me where the great things are. We can hang with all our buds who got there before us, and we’ll have the most wicked celestial house trashing party ever. And in a lot of years, hopefully a whole lot of years, your Mom is going to pop up and you’ll go with her to her special slice of heaven.
Dood. It will be glorious.