Rest Well Flo

Flo hunting on the stone wall.

Flo died this morning.  We buried her in the shade garden, next to Gus, under the Hydrangea bush.

Flo had been declining for a while.  And in the past week or so, I knew that she was dying.  And I knew what to do for her because she told me.

When she first showed little interest in her food, I got her special food.  The first day she stopped eating completely, I still brought her food when I fed Minnie.  I even put a touch of it on her nose like I learned to do when I worked at the Veterinary Hospital when I was in my early 20s.  Usually, a cat will lick off something on their nose.  Flo didn’t.

That was when I knew for sure she had stopped eating.

After that, every time I went into the basement Flo was either in the little heated cat house or laying on the bed outside it.  I made sure she had water close by and would pick her up or pet her.

Since Friday, if I went into the basement and Flo was on the bed, she would get up and go into the cat house when she saw me.

That’s when I knew to leave her alone.

I’ve had and heard of outdoor cats who leave when they are ready to die. They go off to a place where no one will find them.  Flo has always been a wild thing.  As she got older and deaf, she stayed closer to the house, but she still preferred being outside until the winter came.

I feel like Jon and I gave Flo the death she wanted.  The only difference is she got to go off to die in a safe and warm place.

And of course, Flo did have company.  Minnie was there with her.  Sleeping next to her in the little heated house and eating Flo’s food when she didn’t finish it.

When I found Flo this morning I wrapped her in the towel she sometimes slept on and put her on the chair on the back porch.

Then Jon and I buried her.

Yesterday when I was walking with the dogs I found the wings of a hawk on the side of the road.  It was a shocking and amazing thing to see. They were still attached to each other by the bone that holds them together.   They looked so powerful even with the rest of the bird gone.  I put the wings in the bushes and took four of the small downy feathers that had fallen off of them.

As I walked up the road, feathers pinched between my thumb and finger, I was thinking of Flo.

I dug the hole and placed Flo in it.  Then I sprinkled some dried Hydrangea flowers on top of her.  I asked Jon if he thought the feathers should go inside the hole or out.  We decided to put them in and save one for the top of the grave.

Jon thanked Flo for being his “first cat.”  Not literally, he had both Mother and Minnie before Flo showed up at the farm.  But Flo was the first cat that was able to work her way into Jon’s soul.  He had no real interest in cats before Flo.

Then Jon buried Flo.

I read Pablo Neruda’s poem Ode To The Cat.   And I thought of Mother, the barn cat we brought with us from Old Bedlam Farm.  She disappeared soon after we moved and a while later Flo showed up.

I used to read Neruda’s poem to Mother in my Studio barn.  Me in the pink chair, her on my lap.    I never said goodbye to Mother, I just always waited for her to come back, but she never did.  So this morning I felt like I was reading that poem to both Flo and Mother, two wild things who lived and died the life of a cat.

“…But the cat,
only the cat 
turned out finished,
and proud:
born in a state of total completion,
it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants….”

Ode To The Cat by Pablo Neruda

I put a rock (along with some hydrangea, sage, and one hawk feather)  where we buried Flo so I would know in the spring where she is.  There are primroses growing next to her. I’ll put more primrose seeds in this spring.  They seem the perfect flower for her because they spread wildly and come back every year.

15 thoughts on “Rest Well Flo

  1. We should all be so lucky to die in our sleep. No matter how tame and affectionate a cat is, it never loses that spark of wildness … always stays true to its nature. RIP Flo.

  2. This is very touching Maria. I’m so glad she got to do it her way and that you were able to dig a little space for her before the earth froze. Maybe she and the hawk are flying free together. God speed.

  3. Ah — I have been checking back to see about this old girl. Thank you for the updates as Flo is a favorite for the cat folk. Maria, I just want to say that your writing is lovely. It’s evocative and poetic. As a longtime follower of your blog and Jon’s, it’s been a pleasure to watch and read your writing mature and progress. Powerful. Selfishly, I hope you get a kitten or two in the spring…maybe a young adult to help you out with the mice? Ha ha ha. Thank you — and sending you comfort and peace as you say goodbye to sweet, wild Flo.

  4. I’m glad she died at home, within the circle of her family. Jon had posted that if she were still alive tomorrow, Monday, that you would take her to the vet but now you don’t have to, which is good. (I loved the Neruda poem.)

  5. Yes, may she rest well. I am so sorry for your loss, but your intuitions were correct in that she wanted to be alone to complete her journey on her own terms. I am so glad you were able to enjoy her as long as you did. She will be missed, I know. I’m so sorry. I will miss her too
    Susan M

  6. God speed Flo! A beautiful life has come full circle. It is a sad day when one of our pets die, but I’m so happy Flo was able to complete her journey in the quiet beauty of her home. Blessings to you, Jon and all the animals of Bedlam Farm.

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