The Manse has lost its Manse Cat, our dear Sieste

Sieste in the sun

I took this picture of Sieste in a pool of sunlight in the middle of the Manse’s kitchen several months ago, and I’ve always liked it. I was saving it for a good time to share it with you. This evening seems like that time; Sieste died today. The Manse is a very sad place.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Meanwhile, at the Manse. I’ve been busy with other community projects, all of them worthwhile. But tonight I have to interrupt that worthwhile work to share with you some very sad news. It is this: Sieste the Cat, easily one of the most popular characters here at Meanwhile, at the Manse, is no more.

Sieste in her happy place

The cushion says, “This is my happy place.” And this is our happy cat on it, not very long ago.

I am pretty sure that from my many previous posts about Sieste – like here, when I wrote about her Big Move to Queensborough from Montreal, and here, when she took on the role of the In-and-Out Cat, and here, in which she was Queen of All She Surveys, and here, in which her daily routine at the Manse had become thoroughly established – you could tell how much Raymond and I loved her. She has been a part of our family since we have been a family, and a very important part. Raymond and I both love cats, but I think it might be safe to say that we loved Sieste best of all.

She died quietly today, after being ill for just a few days. She was old; while we don’t know her exact age (we adopted her from the SPCA), our best guess is 18. That’s not too shabby for a cat. While she’d been showing signs of age and some frailty for the past year or so, she was 100-per-cent her smart, full-of-beans, affectionate but independent-minded self right up until three days ago. Over those three days she quickly became weaker and less able to control her bodily functions, and at midday today her body quietly gave out. It was a blessing. We hated to see her so ill, and I am sure she hated being so ill.

But she was still our old Sieste to the end. In these last days she always acknowledged us when we came near to her bed, and purred when we stroked and cuddled her, which was often. She did her best to get up and follow us around when we were in another room, as she always has.

And here is the best story of all, one I will not be able to write for you without sobbing.

As I mentioned in this post chronicling Sieste’s daily routine here at the Manse, for a long time it was her habit to come upstairs early each morning and yowl at us when she thought it was time to be up. Which tended to be half an hour or so earlier than we actually needed to be up, half an hour before the non-feline alarm clock would sound. Many were the mornings when we would sleepily curse at this too-early wakeup call from Sieste, even while we (of course) always continued to love her and appreciate the fact that she wanted us to come and hang out with her at the start of a new day.

Sieste hasn’t done the early-morning wakeup for the past couple of months or so, probably because she was just getting elderly and tired. Those steps can be hard for an old girl to climb, especially the high, steep ones ones in the Manse’s back staircase (as opposed to the front staircase; and why there are two staircases is an interesting question). But frankly, Raymond and I weren’t complaining about the lack of early-morning yowling.

Last night we stayed up quite late with her, as she lay in her bed in the dining room downstairs, just beside where I am writing this now. She was very weak and obviously fading quickly. She could hardly move, and when she did try she could not go even a step without wobbling, often falling over and having to lie where she’d fallen. We knew she was almost gone, and it was hard to say goodnight.

I set the alarm for 7 a.m., when I had to get up to go to work.

At 6:30 on the nose, there came a quiet, familiar yowl from a familiar place.

Peekaboo Sieste

Sieste playing peekaboo a few months ago, on the same steep staircase that she climbed one last time this morning.

Sieste the cat, who was failing so quickly and had absolutely no strength left, had somehow climbed those steep old back stairs at just the right time (that is, half an hour before the alarm was to go off), lain down in her familiar old position as the sun was rising, and issued one last wakeup call to her people.

I spent a lot of time with her this morning in that place at the top of the stairs, stroking her and telling her over and over again how much we loved her and how much we appreciated the morning alerts. Which in general was not exactly the truth; but on this morning, it was the truest thing ever. What a good, brave girl to have forced her dying body to do it one last time.

She died a short time later.

As I take a few minutes to weep about that lovely final gesture, I will turn things over to some pictures of our Sieste, Manse Cat Extraordinaire:

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It feels so strange to be finishing this post without Sieste perched either on the living-room chesterfield (where she could keep an eye on everything) or on the hassock right beside me (where she could keep me close company). She was always an excellent assistant for Meanwhile, at the Manse.

The Manse feels very lonely tonight. And very quiet.

Raymond and I buried Sieste late this afternoon. Her final resting place is beside the clothesline pole, a place that sees lots of action by her clothesline-loving mum (me). I will think of her every time I hang the laundry out and take it in. I know she would like that.

We don’t yet have a grave marker, so in the interim we put up a little sign that we bought a while back (at Wilson’s of Madoc) and that formerly hung in the corner where Sieste’s food and water dishes are. It was perfect for Sieste: “What part of MEOW don’t you understand?”

Sieste's grave

Here is her grave, with a tulip from our garden and a scattering of some Madoc Mix grass seed – the latter the subject of a future post.

Which I will have to write without Sieste’s help. Our good pussycat. Our good girl.

Never was a cat more loved.

56 thoughts on “The Manse has lost its Manse Cat, our dear Sieste

  1. So sorry to hear about the demise of beautiful Sieste. I love your photos – your post is a real tribute to her, and I know you’ll miss her! We lost our “Charlie” at age 18. She died peacefully at home. I still miss her! Cats are such wonderful creatures!

    • Thank you so much, Caroline. We miss her so much; the house feels so empty. But I’m glad that Sieste, like Charlie, was able to die peacefully in her familiar surroundings. And she has a very nice burial spot that we can see from the kitchen window, which is actually quite cheering.

  2. I cried when Raymond texted me this afternoon, but I am sobbing now after reading your beautiful tribute to Sieste. She knew she was loved and she loved you as much. Sending you love and hugs. Xo

    • Thank you so much, Jeannie. Yes, Sieste was one of those cats who is very loving to her people, and she always made the Manse feel warm and happy. It’s so lonely and strange here without her. In time we will find another cat who needs a home and a lot of love, but for now we need to think about, and grieve for, our dear little Sieste.

  3. Anyone who has ever loved a cat is crying along with you. My Marmie was such a cat too, and I will always miss him. Farewell, Sieste – you loved your people and they loved you.

  4. argh, you made me cry… it’s always so hard to let them go though they give us so much joy and companionship. I’ll be thinking of you guys tonite and sending good thoughts your way!

    • Thank you so much, Johanne. It is truly amazing how much difference that small, sometimes yowly creature made in our lives. She filled the house with her personality, and she made it warmer and happier just by being around. We really appreciate your kind thoughts.

  5. So very sorry to hear that you have lost your little lovey, Sieste. She is with her sister, Bayonna, frolicking no doubt at being reunited. She was a good girl, who brought you years and years of joy. Amen to that. Big hugs to you both, see you in a bit over 5 weeks.

    • Thank you so much, Eloise. Yes, Sieste brought us many years of joy and laughter; she was a character. (And I know you know about cats who are characters!) She is probably batting at Bayona in heaven, just as she did on earth. We are looking forward so much to having you visit at the Manse, and only wish Sieste could have been here to be part of the welcoming committee!

  6. So sad to have a pet leave but she is in kitty heaven and chasing her kitty toys. All is blessed. The tears fall down my cheeks as I write this. Just remember she had the best life a cat could have and you will always remember her. I lost a pet cat and the night he died I dreamed he was walking on a cloud and looking back with a happy face, just saying goodbye and thank you. I am sure your Sieste will be doing the same.
    Nancy Lou

    • Nancy Lou, thank you so much for those kind and cheering words. They really made me feel better when I read them this morning. I guess all of us who have had cats we’ve loved and lost know what it feels like. But it is good to think that she is in a place where she is healthy and whole again, and chasing shadows (which she loved to do) and maybe her late sister as well!

  7. My condolences. Cats are people too. Based upon your description, Sieste lived a full life and when the end came, it was relatively quick. Can’t ask for much more.

    I’m blessed with a pair of 19 year old cats, Tangie & Fuzzy…you’ve met them. Both are still going strong. I just hope that they live continue to age gracefully and that when their time comes, they exit as gracefully as Sieste.

    • Thank you do much, GG. Yes, we were happy that Sieste’s illness was very brief and her death was peaceful and, as you say, graceful. That was the kind of cat she was. You are blessed to have two golden-age cats who are still going strong!

    • Thank you so much, E. It cheers me, and I think it would please Sieste, to have kind wishes coming in from all across the country and beyond. I think Sieste kind of liked being almost famous!

  8. You gave her a wonderful life. The only way her death wouldn’t hurt is if you had loved her less, so this sad time is a tribute to your intertwined lives and the pleasure you brought to each other. I’m so sorry.

    • Thank you so much, Nancy. Beautifully put: Sieste’s life was indeed intertwined with ours, so very closely. Just how close I guess we might not have realized until now. This household is missing a large chunk of its heart and soul right now. But eventually we will find another pussycat who will bring life and laughter to the Manse (and yell at us when we’ve been away too long), and it will be good to offer that cat a good life like Sieste had.

      • Many of us did not have the pleasure of knowing this lovely pussycat in person, but we all certainly knew her well from your blog. Your grief honours her and your words bring all of us who visit here together. The feelings you and Raymond have right now are, at the same time, uniquely private but also so familiar – all who have lost someone special can understand and share your sadness.

      • Jane, I hope I did Sieste justice in writing about her here. I wish you had known her in person – what a character! Thank you again for your kind words of sympathy.

    • Thank you so much, Steve, for your kind wishes. I do believe you’ve even met that feisty little black-and-white cat, at our wedding! (She was probably hiding from all the commotion and people, though.) She was a good girl, and so dear to our hearts.

  9. Sharing the pain. We are taking care of my aunts cat James who is pushing 19 with a serious thyroid problem and an alarm clock that screams at sunrise but Ewa just said he is also weakening these last few days. We do get so attached.

    • We do indeed, Gordon. Isn’t it amazing how these creatures insert themselves into every part of our lives, unwanted too-early wakeup calls and all? I hope that James will be okay, but of course none of us lives forever. If the weakening continues, I wish the old boy a peaceful and painless exit. That’s a very good way to go.

    • Thank you, John, for the kind words. I was weary and sad last night, but I knew that I owed it to Sieste, who’d sat beside me and “helped” with so many Meanwhile, at the Manse posts, to write something in tribute to her on the day of her death. She would have expected no less!

  10. Sorry to hear Sieste has passed away. I am sure you two will miss her for a long time. We have had cats and they do become part of the family and how ironic that she was given the strength one last time to climb the stairs and awaken you. If all cats were only fortunate enough to have the love and care that she had.

    • That is a lovely sentiment, Barbara – you’re absolutely right that all cats, gentle and good creatures that they are, deserve kind and loving homes. I am so happy that we were able to give one to Sieste, and one of these days, there will be another cat at the Manse. No one could ever take Sieste’s place, but we are open to new cat adventures!

      • Oh Katherine, it is early days yet, but there is another cat out there that needs you more than you need him (or her)! I expect there are more than one – there will never be another Sieste, she cannot be replaced, but it looks to me like the Manse is the sort of place that should have at least two cats in residence. Really, you and Raymond could probably spend the whole day chasing the lovely sunny spots around the house, and would still never keep up.

    • Thank you so much, mk. I know you and Jos love your kitty too. Those creatures really do become part of the family, and there is a great big hole when they are gone. But we have a lot of happy and funny memories of Sieste, and it cheers us to think of them. She was a character!

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss, Katherine. Anyone who has ever loved an animal knows what you’re feeling right now. My deepest sympathy to you & Raymond, and may Sieste’s love for you give you comfort at this difficult time.

    • Thank you so much, Sash. I hadn’t thought of it until you put it so beautifully, but yes, the love that Sieste always showed us (including how ticked off she got when we were away from the house too long, which she expressed in a good loud scolding) does bring comfort. Her last climb up the stairs to wish us good morning was just extraordinary, and something we will always treasure.

  12. I am sorry to hear about Sieste..I am a cat person and my thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. She has crossed the rainbow bridge ,but her love for you and Raymond and your love for her will never die. Hugs to both of you.

    • Thank you so much, Betty. You always know that your beloved cat’s death is going to happen eventually; cats don’t have very long lives. But that doesn’t make it any easier when it does happen. The kind thoughts of people like you have really helped Raymond and me to feel better. And when I look out my kitchen window at Sieste’s pretty little grave with the flower on it, I feel kind of peaceful and happy. Which is what I know she would want. (Well, that and some cat treats.)

  13. Raymond and Katherine so sorry re your little friend We had cats for 25 years Very sad when you lose a dear pet. — a fellow cat lover M

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Thank you so much, Margaret. We always wished we could bring Sieste with us down to Goose Rocks Beach! She would have hated the car ride but enjoyed the new adventures there. She never did get to see the ocean. But she had a happy life, and gave as much love as she received. Maybe even more.

  14. I’m so very sad to hear about your dear Sieste passing. We went through that a few years back with our beloved Sonic and Murphy, both at age 18. My heart aches for you.
    RIP Sieste.

    • Thanks so much, Karen. Sonic and Murphy – what great names for cats! I suppose when a cat reaches 17 or 18 years old its people should prepare themselves for the end, and we thought we were doing so – but somehow you never quite do. That cat, like your two, was a much-loved member of our family.

  15. Sorry for your loss of a great “teammate”. The sadness will fade somewhat. But it will soon be time to think about giving another rescue “rookie” a chance in your family lineup.

    • Thank you so much for your kind wishes, Doug. You are absolutely right that another good creature that needs a happy home should – and will – soon come into our lives. I think we need a bit longer to mourn the loss of our dear Sieste, though.

      • When we lost our beloved old cats, we vowed that we would never get another. Well, that lasted a short while. We now have another adopted kitty family…..Molly and Tobey came into our lives abut 5 years ago and three-year-old Roxie is our own little Tuxedo cat. They are a noisy bunch, playing and chasing each other and generally being pains in the……well, you know. But this young family keeps us young. You’ll know when you’re ready, Katherine. Sieste will be a hard act to follow, but there will be room in your hearts in time.

  16. Katherine, Derek Tangye, the Cornish author of many books featuring his beloved cats, wrote about Rainbow Bridge, a special place where much-loved pets go when they die. A place of great happiness for them, one where their people can be sure they have a wonderful next life. It would be hard to top the life you and Raymond gave Sieste, but perhaps picturing her there will give you comfort. petloss.com/rainbow bridge

    • That does give me comfort, Brenda – thank you so much. It is lovely to think of Sieste being full of health and vigour once again (as she was so very recently here), and perhaps chasing shadows, once of her very favourite things to do. Well, that and watch the Red Sox with her dad!

  17. The loss of a treasured family pet can be blow.
    Our sincere sympathy to the family.
    Gerry and Bev Boyce

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