My childhood cat is dying.

Mom messaged me on facebook yesterday to tell me that Rugby, my childhood cat, has stopped eating.  With pets this is a near certain sign that they’re not long for this world.  It’s ok, Rugby had a good cat life that was full of love and wet food every evening at 5pm.

Of course, I was sad.  We got Rugby when I was 13ish.  He was with me through all of high school and a staple of every return home.  Every Christmas we gave him a can of tuna.

Honestly, it’s hard to recall a time without Rugby.  I got to thinking about that the other day and realized I owe Rugby a big thank you for the gift of perspective.  Sometimes I think about the swiftness of life.  I’m 31, about to be 32, and it feels like I graduated high school just yesterday.  That feeling really punches you in the face with thoughts of how short life is.

But Rugby?  He’s been there forever, it seems – through all manner of life events.  I realized today that I have enough room in my life for two more cats, maybe even three.  That’s a lot of life left.  I hate that Rugby’s about to die, but he has helped me to realize that life isn’t as fleeting as I had thought.  I have so many more years that won’t pass in the blink of an eye that I can fill with good times and new ideas – and even a Corgi for Michaelyn and I to love like we did Rugby.

Perhaps it’s cynical to see the bounty of my remaining years at the conclusion of a beloved pet’s life.  Although, when my time is up, I would love it if those who survived me found some peace in it.  You’ll be missed, Rugby.  Thanks for the good times and for the comfort those times are bringing to my mind.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • 23cal

    I celebrate the good fortune of spending so much time with such a special cat.

  • randomfactor

    Sorry to hear this. Cats are good people. Glad you had so many years with him.

  • neatospiderplant

    Hugs to you and your family. A lot of people don’t appreciate how much it can hurt to lose a pet. Especially when those pets have been with us since we were young.

    If a god does exist, I consider the fact that he chose to have such a big difference in the lifespans in humans and in our unconditionally loving furry companions to be another way in which he shows us his cruelty.

    Rugby sounds like a great cat. In a world where so many cats spend their lives in shelters or have their lives cut short because they can’t be placed, Rugby was lucky to have not only found a home, but to have been part of a family that obviously took such great care of him to be able to make it to almost 20. It might not be that long compared to a human lifespan, but it’s very good for a cat. I’m happy for Rugby that he benefited from both a great quality, and a long life by cat standards.

  • Carol Eberhard

    Rugby is the sweetest, most gentle cat soul I have ever known. I will miss his vocalizations, if not his shedding! He was always excited when you brought fish or game home. He loved venison more than anyone in the family. Seventeen is a good long cat life. I’ll miss him.

  • Michaelyn

    I will miss Rugby when I go to visit. I didn’t mind his shedding because we were best friends. :)

  • Zinc Avenger

    Off to hug my cat Earl Grey.

  • RowanVT

    Don’t give up on him just because he stopped eating. Please have your parents take him to a vet and get some labwork done to find out the actual cause. Sometimes they stop because of something fixable, like bad teeth. Other times, less fixable things like kidney disease, but even that can be managed for a time to extend quality of life.

    • Rob


      We’ve got a cat with chronic pancreatitis, and he’ll stop eating at flareups. We’ve managed to control it with diet (vet recommended) so it doesn’t happen that often now. If it’s something like that, it’s treatable.

  • John H

    Aww, so sorry to hear that.

  • Speedwell

    My two cats stopped eating when I was out of town on a business trip. My housekeeper didn’t know that a cat not eating was dangerous… that, or she neglected to feed them at all, I may never know (she is no longer my housekeeper for other reasons). They both developed hepatic lipidosis, which usually kills cats, but I was able to pull them both through because I have a top-class vet and could work from home while I was syringe feeding them and giving them pills six times a day. It was rough. But the vet said cats frequently stop eating because they get rattled or upset by a change, and leaving for a week could have done it (they see it happen a lot).

    But yes, stopping eating when the cat has a KNOWN illness is important. I had a cat with cardiomyopathy and it was obvious he had no quality of life left when he refused to sit next to us or eat. I’m guessing this is the case with Rugby, poor kitty. I just have to thank my boo Bandersnatch for giving me the six years of his life, and I was happy to hold him while the compassionate vet gave him the final injection. He purred, as so many cats do when they know you’re doing the last best thing you can do for them.

  • JusticeGustin

    As I sit here with four of my twelve cats, I can empathize. It’s always a sad day when you realize the inevitable is soon to come.

  • Feminerd

    I’m so sorry to hear about this! I meant to say something, but forgot. We had to put our cat down about a year ago- we didn’t know anything was wrong until she started vomiting blood and stopped eating, at which point the vet discovered a massive tumor in her stomach. We put her down about a week later when it was obvious she was miserable.

    17 is a long cat life, and your cat was clearly well-loved. My condolences on his loss.