Elegy for Stella, 1998 to 2011

Stella was the very first pet that came into the Harrison household. As is the case with most cats, she found us.  She strolled into our lives on Christmas Eve at my sister’s home in Kansas. There wasn’t really much debate about it. We just loaded her up and drove her home to Tennessee, because early in our marriage, Troy and I were insane like that.

Stella at 12 weeks old

Stella came home to a new world full of interesting things. She excelled at stalking and biting my bare toes while I was hanging out on the sofa and she pretended we couldn’t see her when she hid in a laundry basket to spring out at us. We played along with her like the delighted kitten parents we were.  Then we decided she needed a friend. Holden arrived a few months after she did. Stella instantly hated him and spent the first week hissing and growling. Troy negotiated the tuna armistice of 1999 over a bowl of tuna fish which they were forced to share and there was peace across the land, or at least, the Harrison household.

Stella's first mortal enemy, Holden

Years later, Holden got his own cat, Etta, who graced us with her presence for nine years before we lost her to cancer.

Even our pets have pets

Stella put up with the cats, but the worst surprise of her life came in the form of our first dog, Zoe, followed quickly by Floyd. Zoe lit up when she saw Stella, and Stella never really knew what hit her. After Zoe and Floyd, then came Baxter, Bess and Sunshine.  Somehow, Stella managed to make them all behave.

Zoe and Floyd as babies - tormentors of Stella

Stella was not just the apex predator in the household. Stella was the model citizen who taught every dog who was Queen. More than 300 foster dogs have passed through our doors over the years, and every one of them has been schooled by Stella. Stella taught them all that cats are to be treated with respect and that no one gets to sleep on her Daddy but her. If you have one of our foster dogs, it is thanks to Stella that they know how to behave with cats. Stella bit Chloe on the nose as recently as Sunday morning for daring to disturb her sleep.

Stella lording it over the pack

 Stella had been with us for so long with no health issues that we came to consider her immortal and eternal.  This afternoon, we were reminded that we have all of our animals only on loan for a short time and that the day will come when we have to give them back. This day was made even back on the day when a tiny little kitten crawled onto our lap and purred. Today, we had to give Stella back. Although our hearts are broken, we did the right thing in not being selfish and trying to hold on to her for ourselves. Stella has already given us everything she had and it was time to give the gift back. Stella left us today and although we are broken at the loss, we know we are luckier for having had her in our lives and we would not trade a moment of it. God speed Stella and we’ll see you on the other side.

Stella, 1998 to 2011

34 Responses to Elegy for Stella, 1998 to 2011

  1. Tonya says:

    I am so sorry and have felt this pain. I am sending e-hugs-the best I can do right now.

  2. Debbie says:

    So sorry for your loss. Stella looked just like my Geoffrey. I had to give him back too. I know how much you will miss her. Thank you for all you do for the animals and for loving them as much as you do. Godspeed, Sweet Stella.

  3. Toni says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Stella. Loosing a pet is like loosing a child, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  4. colleen says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, I am sitting here tearing up as read your post. I am sure she is watching your toes from the other side

  5. Brittany says:

    Really sorry for your loss.. Very hard but loving and brave decision to make… she sounds like a total queen bee! You did her justice with the illustrated elegy. I feel like I knew her 🙂 Your family has so much love to give! Sending positive thoughts your way!! -Brit & Mathilda

  6. Angela says:

    My heart aches for you. It is so hard to let them go across the bridge. However, they watch over us daily!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    So sorry to hear about your baby 😦

  8. Lee Ann says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to Stella. Thank you for sharing during such a sorrowful time in your life.

  9. Janet says:

    What a wonderful tribute! I know she will still be the queen in charge watching over all with an iron feline paw!
    I am so sorry for your loss, it is never easy.

    p.s. I am really glad to hear I am NOT the only one that ever got my cat–a cat –

  10. Sharon says:

    You can never prepare yourself to let them go. Bless you for the good life and loving home you gave Stella.

  11. Tarin says:

    I’m so sad for you. 😦 Take comfort in the wonderful life she had because of you and know that now she’s frolicking through the daisies on the other side.

  12. Lisa Phillips says:

    Lloyd, Justin, and I send our hugs and condolences to you all. We feel very fortunate indeed that Lloyd had her as a teacher. Thanks to her, he treats all catkind with respect and proper deference. Godspeed, Stella, and see you on the other side.

  13. Carolyn Cummings says:

    Awww Jean I’m so sorry. It is so hard to let them go, even when you know it’s the right thing to do, and especially when they are your “children”. Hugs to you and Troy and all the “babies”. I’m sure Stella will be deeply missed.

  14. Judy Wilson says:

    Beautiful and heart felt tribute. True we only have our creatures for a short while, as all things are transient but what joy and happiness we experience for that time. She had a great life and was much loved . . . the best that can be said for any noble kitty, queen of her realm, admonisher of lowly dogs, stealth stalker of evil prey, supreme cat of cats.

  15. JUDY STOCKARD says:


  16. Sue DeBili says:

    we are so sorry for your loss, Jean.. she sounds like a truly special cat…

  17. Dear Sweet Mama says:

    My dear old Wallis is 22 this year. I keep thinking she will someday bury my dessicated old body in her catbox, but I can look at her and see the day looming closer. Hearts full of love break so easily.

  18. Good for you and her that you were so graceful about giving her back. I still expect my Larry to stroll around the corner (after pooping God knows where) and it’s been five years.

  19. Elizabeth Morgenroth says:

    We adopted my beautiful Salsa from the humane society in Topeka in October of 1998 when she was perhaps 12 or so weeks old. We lost her to kidney failure January 4, 2010. My heart still aches when I go to bed and she’s not there. Your first baby is always Queen or King at home. When our friends are called home, nothing is ever the same. What a wonderful tribute.

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