Family pets are family

Peter Kennedy | Bendigo Weekly | 06-Apr-2017

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Pets are a huge part of many families, and plenty of us have made huge emotional investments in them.

So it was with great sadness that my family and I recently bid farewell to Milly, our 20-something-year-old tabby.

The enormity of Milly’s passing was actually far greater than I thought it would be when our dearly loved little cat drew her last breath one Monday morning before slipping away quietly – typical of the gentle Milly we were so privileged to know.

I grew up on a farm where the death of a working animal was not to be compared to that of a family pet, and I don’t say that wanting to sound like a cold-hearted bastard.

But from an early age, I was schooled in the fact that death was, and is, a part of life.

We all loved Milly. She was easy to love. So I take some joy in looking back through photos of Milly on my phone… the kids even have a video of Milly high-fiving them a few years ago.

That was Milly.

She’s been part of my screen saver on both my mobile phone and my iPad for many years.

Milly was loved by all who knew her – even the amazing staff at the local veterinary practice who told us about a month before she passed that Milly was likely not much longer for this world, but who recognised her to be a rather special pet. And I know they probably say that to all pet owners, but we appreciated it enormously.

Milly seldom complained, was rarely angry and never precious like a lot of cats can be.

She was… Milly.

In recent years, Milly had shredded the nylon insect screens on a couple of windows and sliding doors of our home in her best efforts to get inside and be with the family.

On occasion, we would hear her scrambling up those flimsy pathetic screens and suddenly appear at head height peering into the family room, seemingly floating in mid-air, quite proud of her achievement, but just a little bit concerned at the predicament she then found herself in.

Those broken, torn and twisted fly screens are still piled up in a corner of the garage as trophies accumulated on the way to Milly’s complete assimilation into our family.

Milly went on to claim her own place on the couch, her own mattress in the garage, and even a disused doll’s cot as her own. She loved watching television – particularly that RSPCA advertisement with all the animals in it, and we loved watching her watch the telly.

One of the things that always amazed me about Milly was just how we came to meet. We didn’t adopt Milly as much as she adopted us, turning up one day long ago out of nowhere and never leaving.

And I’ll always appreciate the fact she chose us, not the other way round.

      twitter@peterkennedy23
pk@bendigopublishing.com

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