By Maria Martinez
Blog Content Contributor
Growing up I never had my own pet. I mean I had fishes, rabbits, chicks and a turtle; but not a dog or cat I could call my own. The only time I tried having a pet that required more care (a ferret), I couldn’t even keep it for a month. My parents thought “I didn’t take care of him,” and they gave him away. I didn’t know what it felt like to form a bond with an animal and I never understood why people cried with the loss of a pet.
During the summer, as I was leaving my house with my friends, we heard a cat nearby but we couldn’t find it. Finally my dad found a baby kitty inside of our trash can. He immediately fell in love with this black and white kitty. He wanted to keep it, but the rest of the family wasn’t sure if having a cat would be a good idea. My dad still decided to at least give him/her milk and food until it was no longer a baby.
The kitty was at my house everyday and never left. We took it to the vet and we found out it was a girl, so we named her Tishi. She was a crazy curious cat. As time passed, we all fell in love with her, even my mom. I loved going home and playing with her, I would always joke I was going to steal her and bring her with me to San Marcos, but they obviously wouldn’t let me. I started to understand how people loved their pets so much.
This weekend I went to visit my friends in San Antonio. I was having so much fun until I received a text from my sister saying our little Tishi had died. They had run over her and my dad found her in the middle of the street. I could not believe it; how could this happen to us? It was our first pet, why were we only given a couple of months to enjoy having her and loving her? My eyes filled with tears. Luckily, my friends were there for me as I began sobbing uncontrollably. Since it was my first pet, I felt kind of stupid crying; I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react and why I was crying so much. I kept apologizing to my friends about my hysteria.
My friends told me stories about how they overcame losses of their own pets. They said it hadn’t been easy but that I would eventually be better. I learned that everyone has different ways of coping with the loss of a pet. For some people, it may be harder than for others. It is common that we mourn in proportion to the quality and significance of the relationship you had with your animal. How much time you’ve had an animal may not as impacting. There’s no “normal” time; the grieving process happens gradually. It really can’t be forced or hurried. Some of us may start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, it can even take years.
My family and I are still deciding if getting a new cat would be the best decision. My sister feels that if we do get a new cat, it is because we are replacing Tishi. But I don’t feel the same way. I believe there is no end to the capacity of our human heart. So if we can love another kitty, why not get another one? We shouldn’t feel guilty about getting a new pet. It might actually help alleviate grievance by filling the empty holes in our hearts.
I attached to her pretty fast. I never knew you can love an animal so much. We had a very short time together, but I felt I had her for the longest time. I will always love and remember Tishi. You know how everyone says our first love is the hardest to forget; I am sure this will be the case with my first pet too. Nothing and no other creature will ever replace our beloved friend. Now I know you should never feel ashamed about grieving for an animal friend.
At some point, we all need to come to terms with the mortality of our beloved pets. Some owners can be luckier and have the blessing of growing older together. For some of us, like myself, it might be just for a few months. But like my dad told us, Tishi knew she was loved. So all that I have to say is, if you have a pet right now, love him/her as much as you can. If you don’t own one, go to the nearest animal shelter and adopt one! Learning to love something other than a human, is a sentiment I can’t explain. You’ll just have to try it yourself.