I just returned from a visit to my mom and stepdad. While I was there, their beloved cat of 16 years, Tigger, died tragically (he was run over). Needless to say, my parents were devastated, for they considered him their "child."
Tigger, a large gray tabby, was a very special cat in many ways. He was feisty yet affectionate, the kind of cat who came when you called, greeted you at the door, waited patiently for handouts as you dined, and hogged the bed at night. I, too, had come to be very fond of him.
After the initial shock wore off, we considered the implications of his loss. At first, it seemed like a hidden blessing, for Tigger was getting on in years and had recently had health issues and stopped eating. Also, there was the expense of owning a pet -- an expense that my mom and stepdad, who are struggling a bit financially these days, could certainly do without.
But then I reconsidered, and encouraged them to get another cat. The reason for my change of heart was the overwhelming joy and laughter he brought to their lives. It's a proven fact that pets significantly enhance our lives, adding quality and even prolonging life expectancy. Read this St. John Health article for proof. Even the Real Age test considers pet ownership a real-age-boosting category. You can't put a price on that.
So, here's to you, Tigger. I hope you're chasing squirrels and birds to your heart's content in that big kitty playground in the sky. And I look forward to getting to know my parents' next "child."