The long goodbye

PUBLISHED: 14:29 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 11 May 2010

WE have been overwhelmed through words of sympathy after the death of Nipper the cat. As soon as the loss entered the public domain through last week s column, there has been, and this is the only way to describe it, a constant arrival of letters of condo

WE have been overwhelmed through words of sympathy after the death of Nipper the cat.

As soon as the loss entered the public domain through last week's column, there has been, and this is the only way to describe it, a constant arrival of letters of condolence and a stream of e-mails.

And they are not just from people we know.

Those unknown to us have shared a moment of grief.

And each of them, too, has shared a moment when they also had to come face-to-face with reality and knew, like we did, that the life of a pet was about to come to an end.

We've had the stories about the digging of graves in the garden at midnight, and the last, sorrowful journey to the vet when the reality of the situation was that the line between life and death rested in the giving of an injection.

All the stories have a theme about loss, but are different. There is a sadness about recalling the occasion of last days spent nursing a pet, but there are also thoughts of days when each and every one of these animals happened to give comfort and joy.

And the one question being asked now is whether we will replace Nipper. Well, to tell the truth, Nipper is irreplaceable. There will not be, I am sure, another Nipper, but there could be another moggy which will have its own character.

That's always the way, isn't it? Cats may appear to be the same and is some cases even look the same, but they all have certain individual characteristics.

But we haven't thought about whether we should indulge ourselves in a replacement.

Just the other day when we were thinking about such a question we realised that a cat could now live longer than us. It was a point I mentioned when talking about a "replacement" to which the answer came that we could always get one which was, shall we say, more mature.

In other words, we could adopt a cat.

I believe the term is rehome. Although as someone else said, they acquired a cat of a mature being which they described as being a re-cycled cat.

Now there's a thought.

We will think about it.

But one lesson learned over the last weeks is that there are still a lot of people out there who still really care, and that, at least, cannot be bad for the future.

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