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:

Regal Xena

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:

Kitten in Alans 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:

Xena and Carrie

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:

Xena Roxy stairs

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:

Xena kitten bed

And, as an adult:

Tummy scratch

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:

Lazy girl

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:

My beautiful Xena

Here she is “helping” me unpack a box:

Xena 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:

Orange Xena

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.

Join my weekly newsletter list! I’ll e-mail you once a week with a summary and links to new articles, plus insider info and bonuses available only to subscribers. This keeps you from having to keep checking my site for new blog posts.

Sign up now and unsubscribe at any time. I will never sell your name or spam you, I promise.