RIP Chester

Posted on: July 8th, 2013 by


On July 3, on a dark-late night, we lost a member of the family – Chester, our cat.

My daughter named him when we first met him as the neighborhood outdoor cat, who mainly stayed near the house next door. He was an emaciated, affectionate cat who wanted and needed love almost more than the extra food we regularly doled out.

He was ugly.

Chester was losing fur, and parts of it were matted. He was skinny. I didn’t want my daughter petting him, for I didn’t know what disease(s) or parasites he carried. I hardly touched him myself for the very same reason.

But, despite this, he was a persistent little purrific thing who kept trying to win us over with his charm. He must have known we were cat people, for as soon as he saw my car pull up into the driveway, he would run to the driver’s door and try to make his way into the car. I gently shooed him away, saying “No, baby, you can’t come in.”

But Ari and I kept feeding him. Then, he would try to make his way into our home each time the door opened, and I once again gently shooed him away, saying, “No baby, you can’t come in.” Besides, I had two cats already, and adding a third to the feline mix was out of the question.

I was also bent on not becoming this weird cat lady.

But my heart broke for him, especially as the weather got chillier. Each day, he would take refuge from the Chicago winds under my neighbor’s car.

He worked his way into our hearts for good and our home on December 19, 2012. It was 19 degrees out, and he was miserable. After giving him food on my porch as I always did, he walked into the half-open front door and into my arms. I picked him up and was disconcerted by the fact that he weighed almost nothing, despite my feeding him lots of food regularly.

I carried him inside, and to keep him separated from the other cats, I set him up in a spare bedroom and created a makeshift litterbox from a cardboard box. The next day, Ari and I took him to the vet. The good news: he didn’t have contagious diseases. The bad news: he was a geriatric cat that had thyroid disease, some intestinal issues, and the beginning stage of renal failure.

While I knew better than to spend money on a cat like this, I doled out the money anyway. My heart would have it no other way.

Chester started recovering; he gained weight and actually felt like a cat when I lifted him up. His fur started looking healthy, revealing himself as a handsome cat. He purred constantly when petted, and his new household was one of warmth, love, and security. Eventually, when he was healthy enough, we gradually integrated him with the other cats. It didn’t go great at first, but the cats eventually started to co-exist well.

While Chester was healthier than he had been in a long time, he never quite got healthy enough. Multiple trips to the vet ensued, and I needed to medicate him regularly for thyroid disease and gastrointestinal problems. Yet, there were times he would bounce back and seem very happy. But in the long run, he wasn’t getting better. He was becoming more listless. And last week, he started withdrawing under the bed and not eating. Once again, I brought him to the vet, and they rehydrated him and gave him an anti-nausea medication. He had a hearty appetite for about two days.

Then he got really sick. I decided that his suffering had to end. So Ari and I and Chester went to an emergency vet, she not knowing that only two of us would return home. The animal hospital was backlogged with patients, and the staff would have to euthanize Chester in the middle of the night. We left him there. Ari was so tired, she didn’t even notice.

The next day, Ari learned about death – in an age-appropriate way. And she cried, for this experience was not like that of the goldfish that died at school.

Despite the medical costs and, to some, the unwise decision to take an elderly, sick cat into the house, I have no regrets. The day Chester walked into our home door for good, he would never walk away from our hearts.

Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Do you have any animal stories you would like to share?

Do/did you have a special pet in your life?

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17 Responses to RIP Chester

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    Oh my gosh, I do have some animal stories… but this is the time to remember Chester. Thank you for taking him in and thank you for sharing about him with us. Animals teach children so much about life and death, well, they teach all of us about these things don’t they? And some of the lessons are pretty painful…but still loving pets deeply is so worth it. I’m sorry you lost a dear pet. Hugs.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your comforting words during this time. Animals do teach adults and humans about so many things: empathy, how to love unconditionally, and, of course, death. I agree that pets are exceedingly worth having and loving, and I can’t imagine life without these creatures.

      Thanks again, for your support.

  2. EAK13 had this to say about that:

    Beth Sorry for the loss of “Chester” That was my younger brother’s name.
    I love Cats, every size shape fluffy or shorthair male female no matter. I have never lived without one except for a brief period when my beloved Smudge died. He was 18 Part Siamese the most beautiful blue eyes ever. Oh and his personality. He was the most gentle cat, even those who disliked Cats couldn’t help but like him back He was endearing, he loved to talk. Loved anything with perfume. I’d come home from work he’d lay all over my clothes rolling purring because he loved the smell of my perfume. His favourite habit was un through the apt at 5 in the morning From one end to the other Then he would stand in the tub and just howl!! Once he woke everyone up he’d curl up on the bed trying to understand why were awake annoyed. But we loved him. All my pets have been strays. When he turned 18 he suddenly slowed right down slept a lot his appetite grew less by the day. Smudgie had a cancerous tumour in his bowels. we took great care of him though one day he couldn’t walk he just lay there Called the Vet he came said he was almost at the end. I dreaded this day. That night around 3 am he passed away in my arms… I never thought I could love another cat again, I was heartbroken But here we are with Miss Lucy the sassy all black long haired kitty who absolutely adores my son. She lays on his bed daily sleeps in the corner.. She will just chatter to him as though they were having a conversation. Funny to watch but in the same breath you can see how much animals can relate and be attached to us as we are to them…. May Chester Rest in Forever Peace in Kitty Heaven!!
    Love Alli…….XX

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      Smudge sounds beautiful and so special. A perfume-loving cat! I love it. I’ve never heard of cats who love perfume, but Smudge sounds special, and it’s wonderful he lived until 18. I know that it’s so hard to find love in one’s heart for another animal after the loss of a dear one. I’m glad you found Miss Lucy.

      When my black cat Charley died years and years ago, I never thought I could love another cat, but the three critters that had been inhabiting my home (now two of course) have proven me wrong. :)

  3. Sue had this to say about that:

    Poor heart!! Losing a pet, especially for the first time is so hard!! Our daughter went through it for the first time at 13 when we had to put a beloved lab down. He was her Christmas present when she was very young. It was a double broken heart for me – to lose our beloved Faith and to watch my daughter and husband’s hearts so broken (it was his first pet ever too)! You both should take comfort in the fact that you made the last months of Cheater’s life days of love!! You are special people!!

    • Sue had this to say about that:

      I need to reread posts before hitting ok. Faith was a she, not a he. And your cat’s name was not Cheater LOL!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Sue, I know what you mean by the double pain of putting an animal to rest and watching loved ones grieve that animal. I felt heartbroken when Chester died, but it was horrible seeing my daughter crying over him when she didn’t fully understand everything at age 5.

      I did tell her it was OK to cry and grieve and that I felt sad at Chester’s passing, but he was in heaven. She seemed to find some comfort in that.

  4. karen sutherland had this to say about that:

    oh, beth, chester’s story brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for you and ari’s loss of such a dear fellow. but you and your girl gave him such a loving home, such tender and attentive care, and that was such a kind and generous thing to do. he knew you loved him, and I think his coming into your hearts and home was meant to be.

    love, XOXO

    Karen, TC

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Karen, thank you for your sweet words. I agree that Chester’s coming into our hearts and our house was definitely meant to be. I will never regret having him in our lives.

  5. Renn had this to say about that:

    Goodbye Chester. No regrets, only love.

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  7. Catherine had this to say about that:

    This is such a touching story, Beth. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. You guys gave Chester a giant gift with your love and care.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Catherine, I so appreciate your comment. I’m glad he had the chance to be deeply loved and cared for.

  8. Susan Zager had this to say about that:

    Beth, thank you for sharing your beautiful Chester with us. I understand how you and Ari brought so much life to Chester. Our pets bring so much joy to us. I know that Chester belonged with you and Ari for as long as he could enjoy his time of becoming as healthy as he could under the circumstances he was facing medically. Although it was time for Chester I am so touched at all that you did to continue to bring so much love into your home with you beautiful Ari. Hugs and xoxoxo -Susan

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Susan, as a pet lover, you know how special animals are. I share that love of animals, and Chester was special. Thank you for your kind comment.

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