Zander a cat

We Pause a Moment When Old Pets Die

In Living Gently by Susan8 Comments

We were a family of seven when we made our move to Spain just a few short months ago.  One of our furry friends passed on, and we were six.

Zander a catZander (“Z”) was exactly 15 years and 7 months on the day he died.  He was the first to leave us.  But when you have four cats between 15 and 17 years old, and a 9 year old dog, death’s visit, though a surprise, isn’t unexpected.

Our boy Z was with us from his third week of life.  He spent that whole life showing up first -- for everything.  He was the first to sleep through the night like a dog or a person so he could spend the whole day with us.  He was the first to be on my lap whenever I sat down.  First to the food bowl and first to the door when we came home.

We poured our hearts and cat raising know-how into giving Zander and his littermates a head start.  But Z was the first kitten from a foster litter that we fell in love with, head-over-heels in love, and that meant he was ours from the tender age of three weeks.

It is best to think of death from time to time, lest we forget how precious our time really is.

Zander’s curious nature and athleticism put him in some compromising situations over the years but never resulted in a single scrape or injury (including when he jumped into a burning gas fireplace).  Z’s zest for life was endearing and continued until the very end.  He was our 15 year old kitten.

And Now We are Five

Black femal cat


We also adopted Zander’s mother, a year old, scrawny, but healthy mom with a litter of six.  We started out calling her Madonna Mama, but only her vet records retained her official name.  Eventually she was “Em” or “Emmie” as she shed her “Mama” role pretty quickly.

Three months after Zander died, our Emmie left this world just one month after her 17th birthday.  Both Z and Em succumbed to failed kidney function, the senior cat syndrome.

While Zander stayed young and zippy until the end, Emmie embraced her peaceful, undemanding nature early on.  She was easy to please, easy to feed (after she weaned those kittens she didn’t stay scrawny for long), and quiet as a church mouse.  She would snuggle in and lie so still, I could binge watch a whole season of Downton Abbey and she wouldn’t move.  It seemed she embraced old age early, deeply, and well.

Our home is diminished. Death's shade has me observing our surviving pets a little more closely and appreciating each we have together.  Our reduced family prompted Jamie and me to talk about our own end of life plans.  Over the years, we’ve learned so much from our pets – love, forgiveness, joy of small pleasures.  Now we’re learning how to face death and old age with calm dignity.

Pet Cremation Service in Valencia

Zander died quickly. That morning Jamie woke up at 4 am and found Z  had already gone.  We didn't have a plan for that.  How do you handle the loss of a pet in a new country?

Fortunately there is a service run by compassionate people who operate on a 24-365 basis.  We found Cresma Crematorio de Mascotas via an online search and they handled everything for us.

Cresma's  services included:

  • Collecting Zander's and Emmie's remains,
  • Individual cremation, and
  • Return of their ashes in lovely ceramic urns.
  • An option for cremation without return of ashes at a lower price

A Cresma driver was at our door within a couple hours of being notified.  They treated us considerately and handled our pets with respect.  All in all they helped us though a couple difficult episodes.

They do, however, require cash payment at the time they collect your pet's remains.

Susan writes about the things that make life meaningful for her. This includes places we’ve been and what we’ve experienced as nomads these last several years. And now, includes finding a place to call home.

As we come closer to a “settled” life, Susan will begin to emphasize aging gracefully with a plant based diet, plenty of yoga, and physical activity. She is certified to teach Hatha, Vinyasa, and Yin yoga. Adaptive and Senior yoga certification is coming soon.


  1. We lost our dear corgi to complications from cancer this last Christmas. She was the boss and kept the other two corgis of ours in line. We miss her.

    1. Author

      We’re so sorry to hear of your loss. But I love to hear of pets loved and missed when they pass on. It means you had a beautiful relationship and gave them all they needed while they spent their short lives with you.

  2. I just found this link when I was reading about Jim and Jiab who moved to Spain last year with their cats.
    We have 6 cats that are all rescues. We travel but leave the cats at home with a pet sitter.
    Will enjoy reading about your travels and your cats.

  3. Susan,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I just recently lost our family cat (Cory -15 years) late last year and I miss him every day. The pain gets easier with time. Enjoy the rest of the pack while they are still with you. I know you give Zander and Emmie good and happy lives.

    PS. We follow your footsteps. My husband, our two cats (one is senior – 15 years old and the other is 5 months old!) and I are moving to Granada, Spain in early September. We follow your blog and enjoy reading them. Hopefully our path will cross one day.

    1. Author

      Jiab, thank you so much for your condolences. I can tell you understand. In fact, I just looked at your blog and loved it. We are fellow travelers and cat lovers. We are so happy you are moving to Spain and let’s try to make sure our paths cross.

  4. I am so sorry for your losses. Losing two beloved pets within a short span of time is especially tough. Wishing your whole family much peace as you grieve.

    1. Author

      Thank you for your kind words, Laura. We shared some wonderful retirement months with Z and Emmie and we hope we have retirement years ahead with the rest of the pack.

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