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Some people feel that losing a beloved pet can be as devastating as losing a family member or a friend, while others think that this statement is ridiculous as pets are just animals.  But there are special animals, just as there are special humans.  Animals such as dogs and cats are capable of showing unconditional love towards their owners, and they can display great excitement and happiness when they see you after a parting.  They share most, if not all aspects of your life while they are with you, compared to most of the people that you know.

My cat Sparky passed away on 14th January, 2006 at the age of fourteen.  I knew that this sad day would eventually come, for such is the cycle of life, and for this day I had tried to prepare myself for some considerable time.  Now this day has arrived and in spite of all my preparations and good intensions I find that living life without my cat is not at all easy to come to terms with.  It’s as though a chunk of my life has gone missing.  It is hard to grasp the fact that I will never see her again, and so I am still half-expecting to see her walk in through the door waving her fluffy tail.

For more than a decade of my life, Sparky was a part of it.  This included the good, the bad and the indifference.   She has outlived two long term relationships and I don’t know how many short lived ones that I’ve had during the last twelve years.  It is generally considered that cats, compared with dogs are more reserved showing less affection, but this was not at all the case with Sparky!  She always knew when I needed cheering up for on those occasions she would hang around me for longer periods of time.  She made me feel special and she also made my house a home. As in any good relationship, our bond grew closer through the years. 

The dreaded day of her passing came only one day before my friend, Denise’s 39th Birthday.  This day my friend Olga and I buried Sparky (1).  The next day I planted a golden cane palm tree on Sparky’s grave and that tree is now known as 'Sparky and Denise’s special tree' (2).  This one bright little palm tree, which will grow into a big flourishing tree, now commemorates two (2)special friendships as well as two significant events (2). One event being the passing of my beloved cat, and the other representing the passing of Denise’s last year in her thirties.  Both milestones of life. (2)

Denise and Sparky the cat in 1995.   Denise and Sparky the cat's special tree.
Denise and Sparky 1995   The special palm tree
  Memorial for Sparky the cat. Beloved cat of Chrissy Layton, AusNotebook Music & Creative.











 Well wishes and special tributes to Sparky from friends above and below

Card from Denise highlighting the loss of Sparky the cat.



  Insert of card from Denise saying goodbye to a dear and furry friend, Sparky the cat.


Let’s now go back to the beginning.  It all started in 1994 when my friend Jennifer informed me that one of her work colleagues was leaving Brisbane to go travelling, and he needed a home for his two cats both aged two.  Originally I had planned to get a kitten but now I decided to inspect these two animals first.  Jennifer’s work colleague introduced me to his two cats, Sparky and Socks.  He explained that Sparky was so named because she “Is full of life and sparks”.  Not a name I would have chosen for a female cat, but after this explanation, how could I change it?  Though I did have some fond nicknames for Sparky such as 'Sparkalarka',  'Sparkaroo', 'Creature' and affectionately as 'Monster cat'.

Sparky was a grey, long haired half Persian, with deep piercing yellow eyes, an owl looking face and a soft, bushy squirrel-like tail.  She was beautiful.   She and I bonded immediately.   I persuaded Jennifer to take the remaining cat Socks.  So, as two independent, single women with no dependents, it was as though we had suddenly became mothers and our cats became our dependent children.  When I bought Sparky home for the first time she was a little apprehensive about this strange new place.  She kept hiding in places such as in cupboards and under tables where I could not see her and she seemed to be inspecting the place before coming to a decision.   This behaviour changed after a short time, and instead of her acting like an apprehensive visitor it now appeared that she was really the actual owner of the house!      

Sparky was a quick learner!  One instance that I recall happened soon after Sparky first came to live with me.  She jumped onto my bed one morning, with a present for me. A harmless huntsman spider!  As a person who absolutely hates spiders, whether poisonous or not, this was one of Sparky’s habits that I changed very quickly!  Like most cats that enjoy hunting, Sparky continued to show me her prize captures, but no more spiders.

  Sparky the cat.

Flowers for Sparky the cat.

Sparky in her early days above.  Flowers from one of my mentors directly above.



So what was so special and unique about Sparky?  Well, where shall I begin!  Sparky and I used to do many things together.  Sunbaking in the backyard is one example.  I would be sprawled out in the sun, and Sparky would be sprawled out right next to me in the shade.  It must have been a funny sight to see!  She especially enjoyed joining me in the back yard when I went out to do gardening.  She would follow me around just like a dog.  She also liked to keep me company when I was putting out the washing, and one time, to my neighbours’ amusement, when my back was turned she jumped into my tall cane basket that held the wet clothes.  She continued to be a very playful cat right up until that sad time she became ill, passing away five days later.

During all those happy years Sparky would always be there to welcome me home.  The time of my arrival home would determine her location.  Early evening, she would be sitting on the back stairs and my neighbours have commented on the way she would just sit there, waiting for me to come home.  If I arrived a couple of hours later, she would have moved to the front yard, and be waiting there.  As soon as she caught sight of me through the spaces of the front wooden fence, she would start meowing excitedly, even before I made it to the front gate.  During her later years, when I arrived home late at night, I would find her sitting outside the front gate, waiting for me there.  On those occasions when I drove home to find her waiting outside, I would stop the car, pick her up and put her on my lap.  Then we would drive to the garage together.  This was a treat that she loved. 

On other occasions when I arrived home during the day after shopping for groceries, Sparky would come straight out from under the house and inspect what I had bought.  Rain never prevented her from running out to greet me. Unlike many cats and dogs, food was never her priority and often she would leave her food to be with me instead.  She especially loved it if I sat with her downstairs in the morning while she was eating, but unfortunately I could not do this very often because I was usually rushing off to work.

Sparky loved playing games, and one game I especially enjoyed playing with her was to see who would have the last word, or in Sparky’s case, the last meow.  It was like having a chat with Sparky, or even a debate!  Most of the time she would win!  One of my friends, Kerry, was amazed at how Sparky would like to chat with me.   Sparky also liked to chat when I was on the phone, and usually the friend on the other end of the line would comment, “Is that Sparky I hear in the back ground?” 

Card from friend Kerry dedicating to Sparky the cat.

  Insert of card from Kerry with dedication to Sparky the cat.  

Hi Chrissy

Sad to hear the news....my eyes were blurry in tears when I read your email to your niece.....I know how much Sparky means to you.   I am glad that you are able to put your feelings all down in words and from your words I know that you are very sad but have accepted that life will move on without her in a new era for you. 

In our Buddhist perspective Sparky has a been a very lucky cat....to be cared by someone one who has given her a life befitting of a human life.....in her past life she must have done something really good for you and in this life you are caring for her back.......in her next life she will move on to a higher realm.....you both will treasure the time you have spent together....lessons in life that you have both learn from each other.  

I do thank her for being a part of your life...to share your life in one wholeness.  May she rest in peace..  Will look forward to the writeup on AusNotebook website..  Meanwhile, pray for peace for her.        Love May


Often I would wake up in the morning and find Sparky sleeping on my bed, for she would like to come in quietly during the early hours while I was still sleeping.  On the weekends when I had my sleep in and when Sparky was ready to be fed, she would give me a kiss on the nose while I was sleeping, in her attempt to wake me so I would get out of bed to feed her.  I would usually just roll over to the other side, as I never like getting out of bed to early on weekends!  If I rolled over and had my back to her, she would move to the side I was facing.  She would then go back to sleep too and wait for me to get up, but she always made sure she was on the same side I was facing!

Sparky also had her mischievous side.    I would often joke with this particular friend by telling her that I know what it is like being a parent because I have a cat!  My friend has two children and never agreed with that statement!  It was as though Sparky wanted to prove my point, for Sparky would meow, wanting attention.  But Sparky’s best performance always happened in the middle of the night.  This was the time when she would find something to bring into the house, usually a moth or grasshopper, and make the biggest noise ever, chasing the moth or grasshopper while this friend was trying to sleep.  Thank goodness Sparky generally saved this type of behaviour only for the occasions when this specific friend stayed over!

Generally Sparky was really very well behaved, for a cat!  To the surprise of my friend, Sue, who also has two cats, Sparky knew my limits and she knew there were strict rules that could never be broken, such as not being allowed to jump on tables or bench tops.  One funny memory I have of Sparky is when she came home covered in car motor oil, she accidently knocked over my neighbours bucket containin this oil and it was all over her.

The guest room was the only room in our house that was a cat free zone.  So every opportunity she had, such as if I accidentally left the door of this room opened, she would sneak in, then run out quickly when she saw me, knowing full well that this was the forbidden room!  So it was a special treat for her if friends stayed over and left the door open, for she considered this was an open invitation for her to go in to join them.  Which she did of course!  When I walked people out to the front gate to see them off, Sparky, by her own choice, would always be part of the farewell committee.   

Sparky was a very placid cat and she tolerated many things that must have been irritating for her at the time.  This ranged from being brushed by me, even when she had knots to untangle.  She tolerated being washed and she even made it relatively easy for me to give her tablets to swallow when required.  She would never scratch anyone and was a great pet to have around children. 

This New Year morning of 2006, unlike most where I usually stay out late, I came home just after midnight.  The first thing I did was to cuddle my cat and wish her a ‘Happy New Year’.  This was probably the only time I have ever done this.  I had no idea then, that sadly, this would be the last New Year festivity that I would be able to share with Sparky.

Card from Olga for dedication of Sparky the cat.   Insert of card from Olga for the loss of Sparky the cat.


During those twelve years while we have been together, many changes have occurred in my life, and Sparky has been there through them all.  She has always been great company.  Sparky, my cat, my companion and friend has brought much love into my household and made my house a home while Sparky was there.  I would never feel alone, and it was comforting to have this special cat to come home to.  Now the house feels so empty.  Sparky is a cat that can never be replaced.  Maybe one day I will get another pet, but at this stage that is the last thing I want.  A new stage of my life will now begin without Sparky.   I will miss my pussy cat greatly and I will cherish the memories of her for the rest of my life.

The Rainbow Bridge - to meet Sparky the cat once again.

With 'special thanks' to all those who acknowledged Sparky's life and what a special cat she was.

Chrissy Layton - AusNotebook Music & Creative 2/2/06

Editor's Update: (1) Olga Theodore's funeral was held one day before the tenth anniversary of Sparky's passing and burial, both special friends are greatly missed.     (2) planted palm tree is now known as the 'Sparky, Denise and Olga's special tree'. Now commemorates three special friendships as well as three significant events. One event being the passing of my beloved cat, the passing of Denise’s last year in her thirties, and the third being the passing of my dear and special friend Olga.  All are milestones of life.                 


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