Lost pets live on in our hearts

This Thanksgiving break, I discovered a three-week-old kitten crawling across a busy parking lot. Being the animal lover I am, I immediately scooped him up and took him to the vet, skipping out on my lunch plans to make sure he was OK. Within minutes he had my heart, and I knew I was going to keep him. Little did I know three weeks later he would take a piece of it when he left this world in a tragic turn of events I will never be able to forget.

I did everything I was supposed to do to be a responsible pet owner. The vet said he was very young but would be fine if I just got him to eat. He was so young I had to bottle feed him, but he took to that very quickly. I took him to all his checkups for shots and blood work. I bought him a new bed, tons of toys, his own set of food bowls (even though he was too young to use them) and gave him all the attention he wanted. I stayed up late one night when I thought he was sick and I was going to have to take him to the emergency veterinarian. I acted like a frantic mom with a sick baby, but he turned out to be OK that time.

We were inseparable, and he had my heart from day one. He slept under my chin at night and followed me around the house. I always rushed to find him when I came home from class. He fell asleep in my lap while I did homework, or he would chew on my papers. He was the little ball of furry happiness I needed in a hectic time in my life.

Three weeks later, during Christmas break, I would find him convulsing on the floor with blood coming out of his mouth. I rushed him to the emergency vet, but he was gone before I even got through the door. The emergency vet had no answers as to what happened. The vet who had seen him for all his checkups and blood work had no answers either — I had done everything right.

I was, of course, devastated. Many people told me, “Oh, you only had him for three weeks. It can’t be that hard, you weren’t that attached” or “Just go get another kitten.” The problem is that I was attached, and no other kitten could replace him. Just like it’s not possible to replace family and friends, it is not possible to just replace a pet. Each one is unique, and I love them in different ways for different reasons. In three weeks, I had come to love and adore him more than anyone could understand. He taught me patience and showed me unconditional love, just as all my pets throughout my life have.

I have had three cats and three dogs throughout my life. All of them taught me different things and hold a different piece of my heart. I don’t think many people understand the love a pet can have for you and you can have for it. I consider my pets part of my family, so losing them is like losing a family member. It’s been two months since my kitten passed away, and I still have days I can’t think about him without crying. Pets love you unconditionally and know exactly when you’re upset and are determined to make you happy. They can turn a bad day around so quickly and make life so much more fun. I couldn’t imagine growing up without pets, and one day, when I’m done grieving, I’ll be so excited to adopt again.