The Abrupt Ascension of Pete the Cat – by Mark Davenport

The Abrupt Ascension of Pete the Cat

Today I want to tell you about the marvelous ascension event at the very end of Pete the Cat’s remarkably long life.

I “inherited” Pete from my mom when she was no longer able to care for him.  He was 17 at the time and had spent all his life (after early kittenhood) with her.  Living that long with my mother leaves a deep imprint (I know) and Pete was an over protected, not terribly bright, nearly voiceless neutered Tom.

I attempted to care for him in the style to which he had become accustomed – which meant rather low maintenance.  He didn’t ask for much, regular food and water, occasional anti-flea treatments, moderate rubbing, scratching and cuddling (not too much, mind you!) and soft surfaces, please.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!

He was small and not too well muscled for a Tom, so he preferred staying in the house, which was convenient as I was living in a Florida retirement community that FORBADE all pets – and yes, the residents voted repeatedly to continue this policy during my years there.  So Pete was in addition to his above described qualities, a clandestine cat, never in public view – except to all the other clandestine cat owners on the block! (Don’t ask, don’t tell!)

The Great Traveler

But he was an excellent traveler and rode shotgun with me on several trips back home to Wisconsin in the two years we pPete on the roadassed together.  If not on the seat next to me, he’d curl up in my lap under the steering wheel as I drove and just sleep, sleep, sleep.  He had settled on those two positions after some exploration of the area under the pedals on our first trip together.  

Once ensconced in a relative’s bedroom “up north” he didn’t mind my visiting with family around town all day long, then crawling up onto the bed with me at night.  He just wasn’t a complainer.

So I simply never heard him to complain about his health, so to speak.  He was a very constant and predictable animal and I guess I came to take him for granted.  But he finally did show some problem with urination, not an uncommon complaint for older Toms.  Upon a trip to the vet, I was told he had a kidney problem and they outlined an expensive plan of ongoing treatment that he would need indefinitely.  I reluctantly said no as my sole income was a miserly Social Security check that simply would allow such an expense and we went home.


Health Problems

I did change his diet however, and he appreciated that and it did seem to alleviate his difficulty urinating for some months.  But eventually I could see he was getting worse, not with the difficulty in urinating but in the dark color of his urine and a growing lethargy.  By now he was nearly at his 19th birthday so I simply awaited closure.

It came, gradually-  He had more and more trouble just moving about and eventually resisted moving at all.  I awaited the end.  Then early one morning he managed to crawl from the bathroom almost into my bedroom.  His tongue was dark blue and I was sure this was the end.  So I stretched out on my belly on the floor with him, encircling him in my arms, just holding him as he breathed slowly and heavily and then more weakly and fitfully.  After a few minutes his body indeed did stop breathing.  But before relaxing, a curious incident occurred.  

The Final Moments

I phrase it that way as I can’t be sure if it actually happened or if I imagined it. Let me describe it by comparison.  On a hot summer day on a highway, there can seem to be “waves” vibrating or rising from the surface of the blacktop in the distance as a kind of mirage.  


Pete 8-05This is what I felt or saw arise from Pete’s body within a second or two of his last breath.  Though I am not a believer in any traditionally religious sense, I told myself that I had seen his spirit leaving his body!  I cannot forget it.

This spiritual high was however immediately cut short by Pete’s bladder relaxing and he had one long-awaited final pee into my hands as I held him!  I had to laugh in the midst of my tears.  



12 comments on “The Abrupt Ascension of Pete the Cat – by Mark Davenport
  1. Fiona Vincent says:


    • Thanks for that nice long reply, Edda. I much enjoy and learn from close associations with animals. We currently have 5 cats and one quite extraordinary dog. they all have plenty of space here in the countryside bit often all of them end up inside at night, especially in the winter.

      And who should go first? I think that depends on who still has something to teach the other!

  2. Edda Davis says:

    Mark that was a heartwarming story. I laughed, I cried. I think the experience you had was on purpose. May it was God’s way of showing you that He does exist. I hope He got through to you. God works in mysterious ways. That cat was very special. He was also beautiful. You were very kind to him, so you have a good heart. I have a cat that is my buddy. Always greets me in the morning with lots of meows. She thinks I can understand her completely. We have our morning routine. She gets her special soft food for breakfast, and I get my coffee. She is like a shadow. Always following me around. I think , she thinks she’s a dog. Always sleeps with me and sits on the couch to watch TV together. I love her so much. I can’t imagine being without her. We are both about the same age. Cat age. and human age are different. I wonder who will go first. I don’t know which is better. Me first or her first. What do you think? Edda

    • Mark Davenport says:

      Thanks for that nice long reply, Edda. I much enjoy and learn from close associations with animals. We currently have 5 cats and one quite extraordinary dog. They all have plenty of space here in the countryside but often all of them end up inside at night, especially in the winter.

      And who should go first? I think that depends on who still has something to teach the other!

  3. Ella Fallgren says:

    Dear Mark, what an inspiring and lovely story and as a lover of cats I could fully identfy with the emotions you went through. Cats are indeed special beings and give us so much happiness.

    • Mark Davenport says:

      Yes, they are special, Ella, and I know they are to you also. There was one on your front steps the other day when we tried to drop in and surprise you. Now we know how to tell when you’re home!

  4. Heidi Hornlein says:

    Hi Ella, Edda, Fiona and Mark,
    Thank you for commenting here on the story about Mark’s cat Pete. I am glad you like his story and I invite you to share your cat-stories with us, too!
    Looking forward to that.

  5. Incredibly sad story. I’ve had pets die before, but never right in front of me like that. Your experience sounds heartbreaking. If I spent 19 years with a cat and had your story happen to me, I’d be devastated. But the important thing is, you got through it. Thanks for sharing your story Mark. As a fellow cat owner, it was a saddening read.

    • Heidi Hornlein says:

      Hi Mohammad and thanks for your comment. I see that you are very much touched by the idea of death and that it might happen with your cat, too. One of our cats dies this spring – I still have to write about it – and it was an amazing time of close contact with him, of his trust and love towards us. And his death was certainly a relief from his illness and he didn’t seem to mind but was fine with it. So don’t fear, you both will learn a lot about life and love!

  6. Actually, Mohammad, I did not find the experience as so sad. Well, yes, it was sad, but was relieved by the unusual last moments which have stayed with me ever since. You sound like a very sensitive soul yourself and i wish you all the best as you follow the lives of your animals…and your humans too!
    And please share your stories here with us!

  7. Dave says:

    A very touching story on Pete the cat. I had the same problems with my Tom cat Bono he lived a happy long life but had developed kidney troubles and had problems with his bladder in his later years. It’s always hard when a pet dies in front of us and very sad.

  8. Yes, Dave. It’s always hard to see an old pet, who seems to have been around forever, go…especially right in front of you. nonetheless, i probably would never had posted this personal story had it not been for that unusual phenomenon of watching his spirit ascend upward just a moment after he stopped breathing…plus the irony of him peeing into my hands as a final not to his life.

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