Pet Loss and Grief.  Jarvis (6 May 2007 – 10 Feb 2024)

A few weeks ago, we had to say goodbye to our beautiful, amazing animal companion of nearly seventeen years, Jarvis, or “Baba”, as I called him.   He went to sleep, peacefully, with us holding him.  This was following six months of endless trips to the vets to treat an upper respiratory condition.

His health throughout the various exploratory treatments and medications has been one step forward, then two steps back, followed by frantic drives to the vet whenever he deteriorated.  As well as the medication, the vet recommended taking him into a room full of steam a few times a day, which was helping with his breathing and congestion.  I will come to the vet and costs, later.  This was the first time in all of his seventeen years that he had been poorly.  We have had to say goodbye to beloved pets in the past, and nothing ever prepares you for the pain. It is raw at the moment as I write this.  This is Jarvis’ story.

Back in 2006, I got a call from a friend (Julia) whose cat had recently had a litter of British shorthaired (blue) kittens. Julia explained she was having problems with one of the kittens. The litter was quite large. So, this little fella must have been squashed in the womb resulting in his tail being broken in a few places. This resulted in him finding it difficult to squat and poo, properly.  She’d had him to the vet a few times but there was nothing that could be done for him apart from hoping he would overcome this little hurdle.  Julia said she knew what animal lovers we were and asked if we wanted to consider giving him a home.  At that time, we had a cat called Ted who would have been around five years old.  I said, yes, we would like to meet him, so we arranged a time with her for a visit.

On arrival, I remember we were seated in her living room, while she went off to fetch Jarvis, returning to the room with not only Jarvis but, in addition, four of his brothers and sisters. Now, if you have seen the McVitie’s biscuit advert with British shorthaired kittens, you will understand this moment of pure cat joy!  Julia promptly placed Jarvis on my chest. I remember looking down at him and, of course, that was it!! He was mine. And, when the time was up with his mum and siblings, he was coming home to us.

The top left picture is the moment she brought him to meet us – the rest are when he was settling into our home.

When we brought him home, he had a rough couple of weeks (which seemed like months) whilst Ted exerted his authority, letting Jarvis know who was boss. He wasn’t happy with this new little upstart/interloper moving into his turf.  We had to separate them for what seemed like ages, slowly building the time spent together.  Jarvis got a regular bashing from Ted throughout this period, which we constantly tried to avoid – but, Ted was, sometimes, too quick for us. However, what we did notice, during their early “altercations”, was that Jarvis did square up to Ted, signalling that the former was no push over and that he would claim his rightful place in the household, in due course.

Jarvis, peeping out of the window at Ted.

Jarvis also improved at darting into places of safety.  Then, gradually, they started to get used to each other.  I remember feeling so relieved at this point, especially, as their behaviour now switched to being unexpectedly entertaining and hilarious to watch.  They would chase each other at full gallop around the garden and house. Ted would encourage Jarvis to wrestle and play which would result in him jumping on Ted’s back,  biting his ears – not sure if he was keen on this – but, it was funny to watch.  Jarvis had also overcome his toilet/poo problem.  We bought him a large cat litter tray with a lid on which seemed to help him and made all the difference, rectifying the problem.

Beautiful Ted in all of his glory!

All was perfect for around five years, then Ted, who was around nine years old at the time, passed away, suddenly, with a heart condition, which we weren’t aware of.  It was late on a Friday and he didn’t seem well. So, I took him to the vet where they gave him an antibiotic injection, asking me to return the following week if he hadn’t picked up. He died four hours later.  I remember being so shocked. It was a truly awful time.  It happened so suddenly. I remember it knocked us for six…. the pain was intense for all of us. My boys were younger when Ted arrived so I knew they would feel this loss.  The sad thing was also, Jarvis, who had lost his playmate, mentor and sparring partner and was looking around the house and garden for him, constantly.

A  few months following Ted’s passing, Jarvis began to change. He seemed to grow up, becoming more confident. He put weight on, probably because Ted loved his food and the hierarchy within cats meant he always had “first dibs” at meal times. And, even though I tried to control the portions, Ted probably ate more.

Up until this point, Jarvis had never made a noise or meowed. We thought this was because Ted was such a talker, in cat terms. If we said anything to Ted, he would acknowledge it with some kind of cat speak.  Then Jarvis found his voice which was very low and unusual sounding, at first. But, as his voice developed, he began communicating more and more, over time.



The first pic – Jarvis waiting for his daily chicken – the second and third are him enjoying his kingdom (garden).

What Jarvis Loved

  1.  First of all, to be with his family!! I am the “chosen one”. All cats have one, apparently, so I got most of his attention. But, he loved time with us all of us, both, individually, and all together.  My youngest son came home to live during both of the lockdowns and Jarvis would keep him company while he worked in his office space, mostly sleeping on his laptop case. Then, when he heard him talking to his work colleagues on Zoom, he would try and make an appearance  – he was so nosey as well as sociable!

  2.  Warm chicken, which he would have at around midday, every day.  Even when I was away on holiday, I had to show my sons how to do it, specifically.

  3.  A calm and quiet environment

  4.  His garden/home – being amongst us all, inside the house and out, even when there was noise and hilarity.  He circumnavigated the garden a few times a day (his kingdom), making sure there were no interlopers – no other cats were allowed in, apart from Lola, the black and white cat from next door, who he would entertain if he was in the mood and feeling sociable.  They would play “chase”, followed by some meditation – she’ll miss him.  She’s been past the kitchen window a few times, peeping in, wondering where her friend is.

  5. Jarvis wasn’t a hunter, much preferring his favourite Felix pouches and treats, instead.  He would sit very close to the big, podgy pigeons who inhabit our garden, not bothered by them at all.  The most energetic thing he would do, hunting-wise, was fighting a feather he had come across in the garden – hilarious!!. Then, he would carry it in his mouth, leaving it by the kitchen door as a present for us – his hunting trophy.

  6. Sleeping in his favourite place – a wicker chair which has a big fluffy cushion on it, next to my side of the bed.

  7. Sitting on the upstairs bedroom window sill where he could oversee everything.

  8. Stretching outside after a feed with the warm sunshine on his back

  9. Being played with and talked to.  He liked twigs, string, laser pens and reflection from glass mirrors which reflected light.  Whenever I was putting my makeup on, he would rush over to my dressing table and sit and wait until I played with him by catching the sunbeam in my small mirror. He could then chase the light along the floor – wow, I will miss these little moments!

  10. The garage – which is attached to our kitchen.  This is one of the coldest, darkest most uninviting places to be, mostly used for the recycling/dumping area.  Jarvis would cry, daily, to go in there. Goodness knows, why.  This baffled us all.

I laughed when I saw the bottom left photograph – if looks could kill!

What Jarvis Disliked

  1. Going to the vets, though he never got aggressive. They were a little timid of him, at first, as he was such a big boy.  Then, there was usually a fair bit of tugging to get him out of his cat box.  Overall, he had the gentlest of natures I have ever known in a cat – no aggression in him at all.

  2.  Being groomed. He would cry, so I would give in and stop. But, his fur was so dense and he would moult terribly in springtime, especially.   So, I had to keep on top of it or his fur became matted.

  3. Doors – he simply didn’t understand what they were for, especially when closed – hence, he wanted to be in, then out, in and out!!  We’ve had to change the handle/lock on the kitchen door which leads to the garden, a few times, simply from non stop use.  I’m not a lover of cat flaps – we’ve had them in the past and we were getting quite a bit of wildlife brought into the house, usually dropped and left to run around, until humanely caught.  Once, there was another cat from down the street in the kitchen, the three of them sitting in a cosy group, unfazed by me catching them – hilarious!   So, the cat flap had to go.

  4.  Workmen coming into the house – in any shape or form.

  5. Loud, flighty people and noises.

  6. Any interlopers in his garden.

  7. The green sun parasol??  Jarvis was timid of it and wouldn’t walk anywhere near it – then throw it a dirty look, now and again. No idea why, I would have to ask a cat expert.

Cat Insurance

It would be disingenuous of me to not mention the upkeep, costs and responsibility we have when taking any animal into our home.

Paying insurance for our pets can be a very expensive business.  We have been lucky enough to pay to have our pets fully covered as I know not everyone can afford it. It seems to have got more expensive, recently.   I have always shopped around looking for the best deal, scrutinising the small print – which can be complex.  The main things I would check are the insurance excess; if we had to pay any percentage of the overall costs; which illnesses were covered; and the overall amount.  We were with Sainsbury’s for a lot of years, and then they decided not to insure cats over twelve years of age –  age discrimination for cats, for sure.

For the last twelve years, or so, I have insured Jarvis with Tesco pet insurance.  I mainly decided to stay with them as the monthly premium didn’t increase,  hugely, when he became older. And, because I had stayed with them for so long, they honoured the price – keeping with the original terms and conditions, which was a good and fair deal.  Every year, I would receive (in the post) a new higher quote including an additional condition, requiring policy holders to pay an additional 20% on the overall cost of treatments. Then, I would ring them up saying I would go elsewhere and they would then honour the terms and conditions. So, it’s worth that phone call to try and get the price down. This is worth knowing. I have a few friends who are now in receipt of their state pensions and they are not financially able to pay the huge vet fees, or insurance.  They have registered their pet with the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), giving them the chance of receiving a reduced rate for their pet’s treatment. Depending on the benefit you receive, the cost of the treatment can be reduced further.  The PDSA are amazing – they are a charity which relies on donations from the likes of you and me, so we have to support them. Because, without them, a lot of very sick animals would suffer.


I/we will miss him so much.  The home feels so empty.  If you have lost a fur companion, and if you have been through this, you will know what I mean.

Jarvis brought so much into our lives as well as keeping us company and giving us all comfort and affection.  He was very funny with his little habits– such as chasing his tail whilst sitting on the kitchen stool – which never failed to have us in hysterics. He wasn’t a dainty cat, so this action made it more comedic, especially as he would routinely fall off the stool onto the floor, with a thud.

He also had to sleep in the kitchen with the door closed.  If not, we would have been very sleep-deprived. This was mainly because, at around four in the morning – no matter what month of the year – he would cry at the bottom of our bed wanting us to get up to be with him, which wasn’t good. He wanted us to wake up!  So, his morning routine was, once unleashed from the kitchen following a feed, he’d make his way upstairs shouting to me as he climbed each stair. Then, we would have cuddles in bed before I got up……Heaven!!!

It’s been a few months since Jarvis passed (10th Feb 24).   I have dipped in and out, writing this post. And, as with other times of bereavement with my family and animals, time is a great healer.  I guess we learn to live with the loss, always feeling their presence around us, which I find comforting.   It will be very strange in the forthcoming summer months while sitting in the garden.  We have received Jarvis’ ashes so we will scatter them in the garden when we feel the time is right. I feel so lucky to have known him as he has been the best companion, not only to me but to my husband and boys, too.  Everyone who met him fell in love with him.  I get asked about him all of the time – from old neighbours who have moved on as well as friends. Jarvis even got a few collaborations on Instagram, Katkins cat food being the last one!  What a cool cat!!

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my post, if you have any comments please leave a message.  I’d love to hear from you.




  1. /

    So sad for you hunny, I do hope you’re doing well. I remember losing both my dogs a few years apart. Such a sad time for you all, sending you a big hug xx

    • Thank you, Jacqui. It’s been such a sad time for us all, but time really is a great healer.

  2. /

    What a lovely tribute to Jarvis. I have a tear in my eye. Cats like these are rare jewels and their passing is so hard. I still haven’t got over Molly’s death (March last year) and I have her ashes in my bedroom as I can’t bear to part with them yet. She also used to run up the stairs howling in the night! Sometimes I think I still hear her footsteps. Sending love and hugs. So sorry for your loss.

    • Like Molly he was indeed a rare jewel. They leave pure emptiness when gone. We have his ashes and like you I will probably hang onto them longer than usual. Your tribute to Molly really touched me…’s going to take a while.xx

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about Jarvis passing. I can understand how devastating this is for you. My Henry is 17 now and I know I don’t have many years left with him, it’s a thought that is unbearable. Jarvis sounds a lot like Henry in his likes and dislikes, preferring treats rather than hunting birds – which I’m glad about! They are such a big part of our lives for so long. Sending lots of love.

    Emma xxx

    • They really are such a huge part of not only our lives but our children too. My son is working away in Hong Kong at the moment, and has just read my post. He said he loved my tribute to him, though he got a little teary when reading it – he said what a good send off, which I loved. xx

  4. Oh, Alison, my heart goes out to you and your family. Your posts with Jarvis were always my favorites. He brought joy to so many people and he will be missed. Sending love ❤️

    • Thank you, Lisa. It has been a roller coaster of emotions as he was poorly for a while, but now at peace. xx

  5. /

    Oh what a sad but also a beautiful story. I always have 2 cats, mainecoons, and also lost a few on the way. It’s heartbreaking. It just literally hurts when you lose a pet. I’m sorry that you had to say goodbye to beautiful Jarvis.

    • Thank you Nancy. Maincoons are beautiful cats and yes it is heartbreaking when we loose our fur companions
      for so many reasons. I think it will take a little while, but time is a great healer. xx

  6. I am so very sorry , Alison. Losing your pet is losing a part of your family, I know. I have decided our Jack, our latest Westie, is the last one. I can’t take the heart ache of losing another pet. We have the ashes of the last two, and will add our own when the time comes along with Jack’s, of course. It’s comforting knowing they’re still here in some form.

    Jarvis was certainly a handsome gentleman. I have had dogs for most of my married life, but I’m a cat person through and through. There is something special about a cat, especially when you’re their person. I hope his memory gives you and your family lots of comfort.

    • Thank you, Marsha. Our animal companions give us so much, hence, when they go it
      really hurts. I agree with you regarding going through the heartache again – at the
      moment I simply couldn’t. I love Westies, my grandfather used to be a breeder way back, they have such a lovely temperament as well as being super cute and if I remember rightly very mischievous. x

  7. /

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sweet cat’s passing. He is beautiful and looks like such a sweetheart! My heart goes out to you!

    • Thank you, Laura. We have such lovely memories and laughs when we remember him, and time is a great healer. x

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