The Life of Xena
This post is a celebration of the life of my cat, Xena, who passed after an unexpected illness on December 3rd, 2016.
As heart-breaking as this situation was for my husband and me, I want this post to be happy and to include some of the wonderful memories of our beautiful soul-cat and fur-baby:
Xena was a spunky little kitten was born in April, 2004, in Ventura County, CA. Not to sound weird or anything, but she was born almost 9 months after Alan and I were married. For so many reasons including her birth date, it felt like we were meant to be her parents.
We didn’t actually meet Xena until she was about 6 weeks old and she was being fostered with her litter mates by a work friend. This friend invited us over for lunch to meet the kitties. We already had my older cat, Roxy, at home, so we weren’t intending to adopt a kitten <—most naive thought we’ve ever had, ha.
I remember the very first moment I saw Xena because I thought she looked like a little tiger. She had stripes on her legs and a tummy as white as snow. She was a typical kitten and was running all around my friend’s apartment, doing typical naughty kitten things like climbing the window screen and stalking the fish in the aquarium. It was so much fun watching the kittens wreak havoc on my friend’s home.
After we ate and the kittens had fully tired themselves out, I picked Xena up and passed her to Alan. She promptly fell asleep on her back in his hands:
I’m sure I don’t need to do anymore explaining about how this was the moment that we knew Xena would be coming home with us. Before we left my friend’s house, Alan snapped this picture of me holding the kitten that would soon have both us wrapped around her tiny little paw:
We actually had to wait a couple more weeks before we could officially adopt her, as the animal shelter required all kittens to be fixed and Xena was not even two pounds at that point. Once she did come home, she became Roxy’s little sister, following her around and learning how to be a cat.
Here’s the two of them lounging on our stairs in the sun:
Roxy never loved being an older sister and taught Xena more than a few lessons about proper cat behavior, but she tolerated Xena and they did keep each other company during their years together. As cranky as Roxy was, Xena was the opposite: playful, silly, rarely upset, and always interactive and up for a tummy rub, both as a kitten:
And, as an adult:
When Roxy passed at the age of 18 in 2014, Xena truly stepped into the princess role. Since Alan and I both work from home, we were always talking to her and giving her pets and kisses all day long:
Because I spent so much time with Xena, I knew every part of her personality and could almost predict her needs and moves. She was as part of our family as any animal ever could have been. She made me smile every time I looked at her, and I still feel that connection when I think of her or look at her picture:
Here she is “helping” me unpack a box:
No words can express how much love I have for Xena, and how much of an influence she had on my life. She filled my heart with joy and made me a better person for having known her. It was my privilege to spend 12 1/2 years with her, and her spirit will never, ever be forgotten:
I must say thank you to everyone who reached out to me after Xena passed. I couldn’t have survived my broken heart without your love. Losing an animal companion is one of the hardest life situations there is.
I ended up needing the support of a grief counselor to get through the worst of it. If you or anyone else you know is struggling, I highly recommend reaching out to a professional, such as the ASPCA grief hotline at (877) GRIEF-10.
Alan and I are supporters of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and made a donation in Xena’s honor after she passed. Tax-deductible gifts may be made here. Thank you for your generosity and support of all animals in need.
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This is a completely beautiful tribute to Xena. She was so lucky to have had such a loving, wonderful home. And she made you and Alan lucky to have her in your lives. She is part of your family and always will be.
Although I don’t know exactly what you are going through with your grief, I do know the pain of losing a pet. It’s losing a little part of yourself that you can never truly get back, and the only consolation is that we feel so much pain because we loved so very, very much.
Thank you, Kimmy. You were such a sweet friend when I needed you and I’ll never forget that. Having the new kitties in the house has helped so much with my healing, especially once I realized that loving them didn’t take anything away from my love for Xena. I still think of her everyday, but it’s much less painful now. I’m proud of myself for opening my heart again. XOXOXOXO.
Beautiful tribute to Xena and the love you had for her, Carrie. I adored seeing the pictures of her as a kitten, thanks for sharing those! I’m glad you sought counseling to help you through the immense pain. Having the strength to realize you needed some guidance is a big step in itself. No one can take away the memories and connection you had with her and I hope you continue to celebrate those.
RIP to your special friend, and sending lots of love to you and Alan. Xoxo
Thank you, Laura!!! I appreciate the words of support. I learned more about myself from this experience, especially about asking for help and not feeling ashamed about it. Love back. XOXO.
🙂 🙂 🙂
My heart melted about 20 times in this post! But I have to say that my favorite part was that she came into your lives 9 months after you and ALan married! That made me smile and laugh!
It’s funny, I don’t think that many of our princesses actually LIKE getting younger siblings. THat certainly has been the case in our house- they like to be the center of attention and exclusively fawned over (and why not!!).
I’m happy that you wrote this post because, to me, it signifies a new chapter. Xena was your fur-baby-princess and nothing will ever take that away. And the fact that you can share this means that you are healing.
Hugs and sooo much love from us.
Thank you, Deb!!! You were so helpful and comforting during one of my darkest days. I knew you would understand the depth of my love for Xena and how much it hurt to lose her. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend. You are so right that a new chapter has begun for me and I’ve done a lot of work to realize that healing my heart doesn’t take away any of the love I had for her. Sending you so much love!!! XOXOXO.
P.S. I meant to text you this week with some big news…KITTENS!!!!!!!
Such a touching tribute to a sweet little kitty. Much love to you and Alan
Thank you, Dianne!!! I know you love kitties as much as I do. XOXO.
Beautiful Xena. Thank you for sharing about her life but also your experience with grieving. I think sometimes people don’t understand how brutally painful losing a pet can be. Our cat, Grace, passed earlier this month, very unexpectedly and I still have moments where the pain of her loss takes my breath away.
Hi Ali, I’m so, so sorry to hear about Grace and your loss. Sending you so much love and compassion in your grief as well. XOXOXOXO.
Xena is beautiful. I cried reading this but thought how great it is your celebrating her wonderful life as a beautiful cat and companion. I lost my Sebastian a year and four months ago and I still can’t let myself think of him because it tears my heart apart. I have to start celebrating his life now, he was my best friend and he deserves to be celebrated. judy
Hi Judy, thank you for your sweet message. I’m so sorry about your Sebastian. The pain is so hard to manage sometimes. I read a book about loss that suggested trying to just think of loving thoughts about your pet and that will increase the warm memories and help release the pain. In other words, pain creates pain and love creates love. It’s a little mind trick that has helped me a lot. XOXOXOXOXO.
beautiful beautiful Xena!!! at my age I’ve lost many pets and have loved and cried over their loss…my recently it would be our beloved Gypsy Rhiannon …not realizing there was something going on other than her Addisons I can still see her sitting like a sphinx in the sun by the tree down in the back yard…all the other dogs had come in and she was just looking around…I view it now as she was taking in her last views of it all as she died early the next morning in my oldest daughters arms on the way to the vets. Turns out she had cancer. I still cry over her when I think about that day. She was only 11 rather young to die as she was a Boston who gave us 11 yrs of love and joy. She loved to run after balls & frisbees and would bring them back unlike the other 4 dogs we have. Our Boo Girl was very much loved as your Xena!!! hugs to you and the precious memories
Hi Debbie, thanks so much for the sweet words and for sharing the story of your fur-baby. I am so sorry for your loss too. I am healing and it helps to share my pain with others. I sure wouldn’t wish this type of loss on anyone, but it’s helpful to know that others have felt the same type of pain but have been able to find a place of loving memory and peace for the pet who passed. XOXO.