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 (“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
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 house diminished. It has a different vibe with just we five. I feel like death’s shade has me observing our pets a little more closely each day for fear I’ll miss a sign that something’s not right. Do I detect a limp in TJ? Is Lizzie panting more than usual? Did Ricco miss that jump?
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.
Share this Post
Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career most recently in animal welfare leadership. She writes about her experiences as a recent retiree living in Spain. Susan lives in Valencia, Spain with her husband, Jamie, and the senior pets they brought with them from the United States.