Overnight, my cat Booboo died. She was 21 years old.

Booboo was born sometime around April 1st 1996. She was named after her namesake, Ugly Booboo Kitty, who died that year (Ugly Booboo was my mom’s cat and was born in 1971, dying at 25 years old. Booboo is a good name for a cat that you want to live a long time).

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It’s hard for me to get too broken up over Booboo, because she was so old. For the last five years or so of her life, she basically lived in the kitchen. Occasionally she’d walk into another room and announce her presence with a meow. My dogs would look at her like “what the fuck is that?” Shocked that she had left the kitchen.

I don’t often grieve animals very much. When I was in college, my Rottweiler, Willie, died in my arms when I came home over Thanksgiving break. She had cancer, but sort of held on until I could return home. Dying from cancer is not a pretty sight, and I’ve never hesitated again to euthanize an animal before they got to that point. It was, genuinely, the most traumatic experience of my life, and typing this is enough to make me break down in tears.

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Willie sort of broke me, and I’ve never really grieved so much since.

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Booboo died peacefully. It was clear around Sunday that she was in the process of dying. She stopped eating, spent most of her time laying in her bed. By Tuesday, she wasn’t leaving it. I had a business trip that I couldn’t cancel, and my biggest fear was that she would die while I was gone. I’ve known that cat longer than anyone who isn’t a blood relation and I owed it to her to be there when she died.

Oddly, Booboo was the third animal to die before I was leaving for somewhere. Willie, as I mentioned, died while I was on break from college. Lucy, my boxer, died a week before I went to Uzbekistan for a month.

Booboo lived through four presidencies. She was older than some of my coworkers. She’s older than some of you. She was old enough to order a drink.

Booboo outlived four dogs and two cats. It was a joke that she was the skinniest and sickliest animal I owned, but outlived them all.

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When I woke up this morning, I knew she had died and didn’t really want to get out of bed to check.

Booboo was probably the last cat I’ll ever own. At some point over the 21 years that I had her, I developed a severe allergy to cats. She was grandfathered in. I spent most of last night and this morning sneezing and itching from holding her.