Ode to Izzy: 1998 -2019


Losing a beloved family member is never easy. Over the past week, my beloved twenty-one year old cat, Izzy, had all the signs that I dreaded to see – a decreasing interest in food, a vacant gaze and yesterday he did not come down for his morning meal. Blood tests proved that severe liver issues had surfaced since his last check-up in competition with the feline leukemia that had been diagnosed late last year. I made the heartbreaking decision to let him go.

In my grief I turned to a wonderful book by one of my neighbors, Meg Daley Olmert, Made for Each Other, The Biology of the HumanAnimal Bond” and reread her words of wisdom.  I also remembered the poem “Cat in an Empty Apartment”, a poem from the book “View with a Grain of Sand” by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska. Unlike the cat in the poem, I survived Izzy and he lived a long life with me after his two previous human companions had died. Two of the poet’s phrases resonated with me-“nothing seems different here, but nothing is the same…someone was always, always here, then suddenly disappeared.”

I gratefully remember the day at Talbot Humane when I saw a heavy orange and cream cat laying in his litter box who was clearly traumatized by his new surroundings. I was delighted to discover he was a polydactyl with big “mitten” paws. It was love at first sight for me and he came home with me to meet my younger cat, Bunter. Izzy weighed twenty-five pounds and quietly sat in front of Bunter like a serene Buddha.  Bunter, however, was eager to establish dominance and began flaying his arms to pick a fight.  Without changing his expression, Izzy smacked his paw across Bunter, sending him into a backward tumble.  So many happy memories that I know will sustain me.

At times of stress, a song pops into my head to help me cope. This morning I heard in my head Sarah McLachlan’s song “ I will Remember You” and I know my beloved Izzy will always be with me in spirit.




Letters to Editor

  1. Rebecca F. Gaffney says

    It is heartwarming to know you adopted a senior feline after so quickly recognizing his confusion at finding himself “left behind.” Bless you for giving him a loving home!
    Rebecca F. Gaffney
    Oxford, MD

    • Jennifer Martella says

      Dear Rebecca
      Bless you for writing. As Habitat Editor, I usually post my houses ofof the week and other articles in design. Having volunteered in shelters I knew older cats were the lsdt to be adopted and I just loved Izzy from the first time I saw him. I always assured him I was his last ” old lady” and he would never again be returned to a shelter.

  2. Alan Boisvert says

    I am more familiar with the pain then I care to be, I am very sorry for your loss. Take comfort in the fact that many will read this think of you and Izzy(love that name) as well as shed a tear as I am now. Animals are truly remarkable. Thank you for your bravery in writing this piece.

    • Jennifer Martella says

      Dear Alan
      Your letter touched my heart and thank you for writing. I can’t take credit for Izzy’s name as that is what his first “Mom” named him. I have lost too many beloved cats and dogs but Izzy was truly special.
      I must help my 11 year old cat, Bunter, grieve and cope with our loss.

  3. Jennifer, bless you for rescuing Izzy from his trauma and welcoming into your heart and home. What a lovely boy and companion. There is nothing like the bond you two shared. Thank you for sharing everything you did, it will touch many hearts. Big hugs to you and Bunter. RIP sweet Izzy boy.

    • Jennifer Martella says

      Thank you so much for responding to this after your kind words in response to my FB post. You and I are so lucky to have had your beloved Gracie and my sweet Izzy. I know they are best buddies now and are chasing each other free of pain. Their spirits are with us and we will see them again one day.

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