Last Wednesday, our wonderful cat Jasper passed away. Jasper was deeply loved by his owners, and by everyone who knew him. I had never owned a pet before Jasper, and in these past 5 years, I’ve really grown to love Jasper for his gentleness, his warmth, and his unique personality.
My wife got Jasper thirteen years ago, when her roommate brought Jasper and his sister Jasmine home from work. My wife named Jasper after a mountain range that she saw when she visited Canada as a child. She watched them grow from kittens, and observed their unique personalities develope. Jasper was a very mellow cat, who loved being around people. When a visitor came, he would go right up to the person and start rubbing his head on their legs. Often he would lie on his back, in hopes that a human would rub his belly. Jasper loved being petted, and he most enjoyed it when a person would gently rub under his chin.
I always envied the fact that Jasper spent most of his time relaxing, sitting near an open window and enjoying the warmth of the sun. He was a lazy cat, but he always found energy to rush to the kitchen when he heard the refrigerator open. Jasper loved to eat. When it was time to eat, he would walk right up to me and just wait until I got up and fed him. If I was late, he would often go on the table that I was doing my artwork on and begin toppling items off the table. He had a mind of his own.
In spite of these minor annoyances, I grew to love Jasper as much as my wife did. When we would watch television, Jasper would sit on near us, and put one paw to touch our leg or arm. He often did this when my wife and I were doing our nightly exercises. He loved going outside, walking around and enjoying walking in the grass (and occassionally eating a few blades of grass). If I called his name, Jasper would walk right up to me and rub his head to my hand or my leg. My neighbors grew to love Jasper too, and several of them would ask how Jasper was doing.
A few months ago, Jasper suffered a heart attack. Though he survived that episode, we had to begin giving him medication for his heart and insulin shots for his diabetes. Jasper hated going to the vet. I remember one time taking Jasper to the vet, and his eyes began to water. I had never seen a cat cry before, and it made me cry too.
During most of the months after his health scare, it seemed like the medicine had brought Jasper back to good health. In these past couple of weeks, though, Jasper started eating less and less, and his health began to deteriorate. Though this time had prepared for us for the eventuality of Jasper’s passing, both my wife and I still feel sad over the passing of our cat.
About two years ago, I went to an animal blessing ritual in honor of St. Francis and had Jasper blessed. I don’t know very much about spirituality or the afterlife, but I’m hoping that Jasper is with his sister in heaven right now, sitting around and enjoying the sun. Jasper was a great gift to my life and my wife’s life and we hope he felt as loved by us as we felt loved by him.
Here is a prayer of St. Francis for the pets of our lives that I found in a website. I modified the words for my cat Jasper:
Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet Jasper. By the power of your love, watch over Jasper’s spirit and keep him safe and content. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.
I looked at some youtube videos of animal blessings and liked the words that this preacher said during this animal blessing