What the Best Cat in the World Taught Me About Life

TuffyLast night I had to make the difficult choice of putting down my beloved pet, Tuffy. I called him Tuffy McGuffy and sometimes “Tootie.” He responded to about anything I or my husband chose to call him. He was good natured, spirited, and loved for people to come over. When I would leave the house, or even if guests had to leave, he would grab his security blanket, a terrycloth AVON Santa Clause, and utter the most irritating meow. Sometimes I thought it would drive me crazy.

He wasn’t afraid of much, not even loud noises. He even liked to be vacuumed and he didn’t mind an occasional bath with a blow dry.

For six months he had been on a special food to help control his kidney disease. Last night it got the best of him and I couldn’t stand to see him suffer. I knew letting go could be the most loving thing I could do for him in that moment.

Letting go was a lesson Tuffy taught me about life. Here are some of the other life lessons my cat taught me.

Lesson #1 Everyone dies
The one thing all of us have in common is that one day we all die. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Eckhart Tolle: The next time you think you have nothing in common with someone, just remember that in seven or seventy years both of you will become rotting corpses, then dust then nothing at all. In that way you have everything in common with everyone else. We all face the same ultimate outcome. This realization should take you to lesson #2.

Lesson #2 Appreciate Everyone
My husband said, “No cat could ever take Tuffy’s place.” This is true. His markings, his mannerisms, his nature, his likes and dislikes were his special qualities.

The same is true for each person, animal or “being” in our lives. We should find something to love or appreciate about everyone in our lives. If you despise your boss, try to find some compassion. Appreciate the differences in your workmates and employees and try to find good things about them. Love your dysfunctional, co-dependent mother and your alcoholic father. Set boundaries, or stay away if must, but do so from a loving intention instead of a place of resentment and judgment. Tell your spouse, your friends, and your family how special they are to you because they may be here today and gone tomorrow.

Lesson #3 Heal Your Past
Consider the notion that even situations or people you don’t currently appreciate can help you to heal your past. Tuffy did that for me. In the past when I had animals pass away of even if I had to put them to sleep, I didn’t face it. I let someone else do the dirty work. I was afraid of death and I preferred denial.

I wasn’t even present for my grandmother when she was dying. Instead I was “busy” and working. This time I chose differently. I was there for Tuffy. I stuck it out to the end. Tuffy helped me to make a different choice.

Lesson #4 Lighten Up
The big thing I hear all the time in my “Stop Your Drama” work is that most of us are overworked, overwhelmed and full of anxiety. It’s time to lighten up and LOVE life. We are only here for such a short time. Tuffy loved to eat, loved to play, loved to sleep. He loved life. These are some of the lessons I learned from Tuffy.

Tuffy…I love you and miss you. You were the best cat in the world.


4 Responses to What the Best Cat in the World Taught Me About Life

  1. Joan says:

    Marlene —

    What a lovely tribute to Tuffy. I am so sorry for your loss. No matter how much time we have with them, it’s never enough, is it? We have 2 rescued Great Danes and e rescued cats, and they all got an extra big hug this morning.

    I love Tuffy’s life lessons. Here’s one I’ve learned from my cats.

    Enjoy every moment; revel in it; give yourself completely to whatever experience you’re in. Anyone who has ever seen a cat luxuriating in the sun knows this feeling perfectly.

    Tuffy will never be totally gone, as long as you have his memory in your heart.



  2. Randi Bishop says:

    Marlene, I loved reading about Tuffy. I currently have 4 “furballs”–2 cats and 2 dogs–all from the Shelter. I have lost loving pet companions too, and it is definitely a void in the family.

    When a loved dog died at 16, a friend said , “He had the best dog life any dog could have.” That was true, he was dearly loved and he knew it. Our jobs are to give our pet companions the very best lives we can while here with us. I’m sure that was true with Tuffy.

    I also believe in honoring the deceased pet by going out and “saviing” another from the shelter. There is enough love for all of them–each is special. Randi

  3. Marlene,

    I’m so sorry for you losing Tuffy. As any pet lover knows, they are more than pets – they are family.

    You learned a lot of very great lessons from all this – this was indeed, Tuffy’s last gift to you.

    I lost my cat last Christmas – he was 14 1/2 and I had to put him down. It broke my heart even though I knew he couldn’t live forever. Darn!!

    Now, I hug my dog, Ricker, even tighter.

    Thank you for sharing your kind and honest story with us!

  4. Mike says:


    I am so sorry for your loss…..we lost our Cat (Mouse) and Siberian Husky(Shasta) last year. They were part of our fanily and it is so hard to go let go. I sure appreciate the life lessons that you attached. They are so true and applicable in my life. Thanks so much for sharing that with me.

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