What the Oldest Old Know

Ollie the Cat: 2004 – 2018


That's Ollie the cat in the bedroom late last year, healthy if a bit too fat. A few months ago, he got sick, made it obvious over time that he no longer liked his regular food and nothing else we tried was satisfactory to him. He'd have a few bites and walk away.

There had been no definitive diagnosis and even with the veterinarian's best efforts, Ollie continued to lose weight until his bones were sticking out. Last Thursday morning, he took up residence in a dark and comfy cupboard hidy-hole in the dining room – a place he otherwise had never shown the slightest interest.

On Friday night, I dragged out blankets and pillows from the bedroom and tried to sleep on the floor next to Ollie discovering, in the process, that I am officially too old now to sleep on the floor, even with carpeting and a couple of blankets for more padding.

I lasted there a couple of hours before returning to bed but as far as I could tell in the morning, Ollie didn't mind my having been in another room overnight.

He also didn't mind when I pet him but he didn't really care either – no purring and only the slightest acknowledgement of my touch.

His once bright green eyes had become dull and so on Saturday, another veterinarian from an organization called Compassionate Care came to our home so that Ollie's departure into the great kitty unknown could be done in peaceful, comfortable and familiar surroundings.

Our home feels so empty now and I am so deeply sad.

Here is Ollie in our New York City home early in 2005, when he was six months old.


In those early days, we jockeyed for position over whose living requirements would prevail. Sometimes I won, sometimes he did but overall we accomodated our preferences fairly well, if you don't count his biting my ankle if I didn't prepare a meal fast enough.

This is Ollie in 2010 helping with the packing to move from Maine to Oregon.


And here he is four years ago checking out the front patio/porch where local cats and the occasional squirrel sometimes show up.


Ollie was a Savannah cat, a relatively new hybrid breed, a cross between a domestic cat and African serval. Ollie was one-sixth serval with the gorgeous coat similar to a leopard's.

I don't know if it is typical of Savannah cats, but what anyone who ever met him commented on was his direct, almost human-like gaze into a person's eyes. In the beginning it was unsettling how he looked at me with such intensity. It didn't take long to get used to it and and I loved that connection between us every day of our life together.

Here is a photo that almost catches that feeling:


Many, many years ago, my then-father-in-law told me about how, on weekends, he and his wife might not bump into one another between breakfast and dinner as they went about their pursuits. But what was important is that they each knew there was another heartbeat in the house.

And so it was with Ollie and me but now, that other heartbeat is gone and it feels so empty here today.

As undoubtedly is true for you, I've been through this grief before with people and with beloved animals. I know that – as has already happened once – for awhile I will think I see Ollie out of the corner of my eye as he trots by. But that's just a mirage, right?

And someday I will be able to remember Ollie without weeping. But not yet. He always made me feel that to him, I was the cat's meow. To me, he was my best buddy for 14 years.

I'll leave you with a link to one of my all-time favorite blog posts that long-time readers will probably recall: the adventure of Ollie's disappearance from our second-story deck in Portland, Maine, in 2007. I titled it How Ollie the Cat Lost His Outdoor Privileges, a heart-pounding, scary tale with a lot of photographs and, at the end, my revenge.

Farewell my Ollie. You gave me so much joy. I will always love you.



So sorry for your loss. As a former "father" of 3 cats, I know how much a part of our lives they become. Have comfort in the fact that you gave him a long, happy life.

Oh no. I'm very sorry you've lost your pal.

So sorry to read this, Ronni. I met Ollie when I visited you both in Portland, Maine. A princely cat he was. Hugs

I’m so sorry, Ronni. I lost my big Turkish Van cat, Copper, about 6 years ago at the age of 16. I “felt” him in my lap for months. It’s surprising the space they fill. Now we have one big old, black cat and two young lady cats. That’s nuts, but they provide entertainment, joy and comfort. Wishing you comfort in knowing Ollie’s life was a good one!

Leave taking of any of the pets or people in our lives causes such a void for such a long time. What a wonderful cat he was and what a good life he had with you!

I’m so sorry, Ronni. He was a beauty!

Oh no--- you poor thing ----

With all you have been through this last year -- this is just not fair-- you already know so well the wheel of life that you did not need to add any lessons ---

I am sure devastation is not even close as a feeling with this latest blow

So sorry -- no words can convey

I am so sorry that Ollie is gone. He was a beautiful cat and I’m glad you had time with him.

My condolences to you, Ronni, for Ollie was your companion and comfort for many good years. I imagine he was the keeper of your many thoughts and secrets.

You gave him a life of love.

I'm very sorry for your loss.

Loss, always the price of loving. May you reach comfort in knowing you were the best buddy he could ever have found in this crazy world.

You know I would leave before you
You knew, and you chose to love me,
Too much perhaps and perhaps foolishly.

You knew I would leave.
It could not have been otherwise.
Grieve as you must, Miss me for a time.

Take comfort in this , though:
You loved me as you could for a time,
A generous span of years.
I returned that love as fit my nature
For the whole of my life
Remember me.

How could you not?

I am so sorry Ronni for your loss. I know how it feels as our beloved Miss Kitty went a few months ago in a similar way. Just getting over it and the void that it leaves. I know it is no real comfort to you. It takes time. Sending much love and hugs and condolences from us both. Sali

I am so sorry for your loss.

Such sad news. And such a graceful tribute to that other consciousness that lived along side of you. Much love to you in this time of loss.

As many dear animals have passed through our lives, this fragment from a very old book always comes to mind. It has become akin to a "hymn" of gratitude to me. Sometimes brings tears and those of us that have loved them know why. Thank you Ronni, for sharing your Ollie with all of us.
"In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”
― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

My heart is with you. To lose a beloved pet is just devastating. Be so patient with yourself in your grieving.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Our Miss Kitty is 13 and her loss would be devastating. My heart goes out to you.

I am incredibly sorry for the loss of your dear cat. He was so beautiful. I hope you'll always cherish your memories and someday see him again in heaven.

Ronni, my deepest sympathy to you. Losing a beloved pet is indescribably painful, especially after 14 years. I hope your wonderful memories of Ollie will console you.

Im so sorry about Ollie. That thinning down happened to my Emily too. It is so sad when a beloved friend dies. Hugs to you. Blessings, Suki

Oh, Ronnie ...

I grieve for you and with you. When I lost Marco in December, the loss was absolute. The void in life is horrible. I am complete, though, in that he died in my arms. We shared 13 and a half years, and I miss him every day.

This made me cry. I am so very sorry. Pets are every bit our best friends. Death makes me so sad. We tell ourselves it's just the natural order of things and everything dies, but damnit, it hurts.

Wow... I hear your pain.
Big hugs Ronni. Big hugs.

I'm sorry to hear you've lost your beautiful cat. Yes, it's going to be quiet for a while.

I sincerely know how you feel. I had to send my friend of 19 years to cat heaven Labor Day of 1999. It took awhile before we adopted another from the home for unwed kitties. She's gone too, but now we have two.

"Brand New" was with me through two wives and the many changes in my life, including the Mayoralty of a small town and boot camp at 34 1/2. She became
more than just a pet, she became a part of me. We cried.

The memories will always be there, with the pain, but someday it will callous
over. A new relationship can begin.


Rest In Peace, Oliver the Savanna Cat. He is beautiful. I’m holding you in prayer, in this time of grief. God bless you, Ronnie. Andgood wishes to Ollie on his journey. ❤️

My heart aches for you. I know all too well the pain that comes with losing a pet.

I am so very sorry.
Long after he died, both G and I would see our fur person Sterling run through a room out of the corner of our eyes.

Dear Ronni, I join with all the others who have written to tell you how sad I am (we all are) that Ollie has left you. As someone else said, what a year you have had. But I know that during that year you have been greatly comforted by Ollie's presence. In many ways he reminded me of my late, lamented Marlitt, who died after 20 years of making me happy, always comforting and delighting me by her presence. When you wrote about your most recent stay in the hospital, I must admit that once I had thought about you - I thought then about Ollie, and how relieved he would be to have you back and how wonderful that he was there to greet you upon your return.

Marlitt was my companion, my friend, my comforter [I remember once crying about something, and she jumped into my lap and even joined in crying as well--], my constant present joy. So I know how you feel, and I know above all how much you miss him.

Thank you for letting us know. I wish there was a way to make you feel better. But in time, you will. And you will continue to have the blessed memories of Ollie and all the joy and pleasure, amusement and fun he brought you.

Take good care of yourself. Ruth-Ellen

So very sorry. He will always be in your heart, and you will treasure the memories of your years together. And the grief and sadness are deep and profound. Much love.

Thank you for sharing the pics of your lovely cat, and for this heartfelt tribute. My heart goes out to you in your loss, even tho grateful for the love and bond you shared, extraordinary and mysterious in many ways.

Wonderful tribute to Ollie. Thank you for sharing and including the pictures of that handsome cat. Brought tears as I remembered all the lost heartbeats in my life. Virginia Wolf said her dog connected her to the “play”side of life. Part of why we miss our animal companions so much.

So sad to hear the news about Ollie. Never easy to lose a daily companion. Never. As I'm typing this my dog (20 pounds) is on the desk top sleeping. I'm thankful for his presence every day. Sending love and kind thoughts.


Dear Ronni, I am so sorry that you have suffered such a sad loss and I cry for you. Ollie was a more than a cat; he was your companion for 14 years and it must feel like another part of you is missing.

I know you have been told this many times, but time is a great healer and Ollie, with those beautiful green eyes, will always be a part of your life in happy memories.

My condolences along with every one else. Been there, done that.

Oh Ronni, I have tears in my eyes for you. It's never a good time to lose someone you love but this is just to much. With everything you are going through and now the lose of dear Ollie. Life is just not fair.

Much love and hugs to you.

What a beautiful tribute. It made me cry, feeling your pain and remembering the pain that I've felt each time that I've lost a cat. And yes, your home will feel empty and silent.

I lost my wonderful cat, Feather, in April. It is hard to lose anyone you've known for such a long time. I made a movie in honor of her: https://youtu.be/kZXmwCNFuK4

So very sorry that Ollie died! Dave and I read your old story about Ollie disappearing on our way to his chemo appointment this AM and it gave him a good laugh. He reminded me of how my daughter’s cat fell behind the hot water tank and got stuck in the corner! She loved to perch on the warm top of the tank. It was tricky getting her out as she was vertical with her head down!

Much sympathy on the loss of your beloved Ollie. I've been there two or three times, and the time is coming again pretty soon, as my 19-year-old girl is not doing well. Ollie will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge, along with all of your other gone-but-not-forgotten animals.


I am so very sorry that your wonderful friend Ollie has passed. He did have a great life with you.

A heartbreaking loss. My underweight 15-year-old ragdoll is purring in my lap as I type and tears keep rolling down my cheeks. Wish I could give you a hug, Ronni, but I know nothing can really help. Ollie will live on in your heart and in that way, will always be with you.

Dear Ronnie, I am so sad for you and share your grief . Losing your dear one, Ollie, is just heartbreaking. Only time and your sweet memories of him will heal. I remember well Ollie's great escape from your upstairs porch (Ollie loved those flowers). He enjoyed sunning there until the day you called him in and "No Ollie)!! (Panic gripped you). You called him and called. Then you ran down stairs out into yard and there he was! Safe and sound after learning he really Could not fly ! WhAt a sweet heart he was!

As soon as I saw the title on this post, my eyes filled with tears. It seems as though Ollie has always been there. I remember all that you did so that you could continue caring for him when you were recovering and the hints that you passed along to us. My condolences..

Oh no. I am so sorry! I've been there, and I know well how devastating this is. My best to you, Ronni. It's the price we pay for loving animals. What is worse is never having loved them. Take good care.

Many many hugs for the loss of your best friend. I know there aren’t words available to make you feel better, but I hope (and know) that your feelings of loss and pain will be replaced by memories of the good times you shared.

I am so very sorry to see this news, Ronni, about the loss of your dear friend Ollie. Our four-legged friends are such a huge part of our lives, especially like you (and me) living alone in old age. He was a beautiful cat and as others have said your memories (after a while) will provide chuckles and lovely thoughts of your time together.

I am so sorry for your loss. May you be comforted by your memories of sweet Ollie. He had the *best* life with you.

Regret to read of Ollie’s demise. My sympathy to you as I know the sadness experienced with the loss of a beloved pet.

I'm so sorry to read this. I have loved getting to know Ollie through your posts.

I am intimate with this overwhelming sense of loss. More poignant if it's your last pet as mine was in September of 2016. I still grieve my beloved Ansa.

Thoughts are with you and deepest and profound sympathy.


I am so sorry, Ronni. They are our family. I still miss every one of them. Four of them have been scattered in my garden over the years. My dog is almost 10, and my cat 11. So they probably have a few more years. But they too will rest in my garden, and, at some point, so will I.

My sincere sympathy to you. He was an amazing cat, and I'll miss reading about him. Take care.

So very sorry. He was a Narnian talking kitty (can tell by his eyes!) and returned thru that Wardrobe door to his Home. My thoughts are with you, Ronni. You were his Person and did a fine job of it!

I am so sorry about Ollie. He looks like a lovely cat. It is simply unfair that he is gone after all you have gone through.
Sending you love and energy.

I'm so sorry you lost Ollie. I know how much that hurts. In my experience when one human being shares a household with just one cat, a very intense and loving relationship can develop.

I am so sorry. Our 13 year old kitty had an embolism last November and died. We always referred to him as "the heir to our fortune." My husband is still deeply depressed. Those four little paws leave a tremendous imprint on our hearts.

Ronni, I'm so very sorry to hear about Ollie. You were such good friends for so many years. It is so hard to lose a loved one; the only thing worse would be to never have known him. Take good care of yourself.

I'm so sorry to read about Ollie. He was a wonderful, gorgeous, very special companion. There is really nothing quite like losing a long-time, much-loved cat. We've bid farewell to more than one over the years and may have to do so again in the future since we have two who are in the 16-17 age range and a "young" one at 12.

Ollie could not have had a better home or cat-mom.

There are no transactions involved in our cat friends.
They are there unconditionally.
Painful as it is, Ronni, you have the memories that will perhaps sustain you.
Coco and I send our loving thoughts to you.

Ronni, I was so sorry to hear this sad news.Yes, grief doesn't get any easier, no matter how many times you go through it.

I was lucky enough to meet Ollie, many years ago when we came to your apartment in Portland Maine. He was a very handsome and noble-looking cat, and a strong personality. I can well understand what a hole has opened up in your life.

Sending you love and hugs at this painful time.


I'm so sorry for your loss, Ronni! I thought Ollie looked like a serval in his kitten photo.

I think Ollie is still there in your home. He'll be there for awhile.

I am so very sorry for your great loss. The photos of Ollie were enough for me to imagine the connection you guys had with each other. His gaze was deep. Tom had a cat that must have had 4 + litters so all of his friends had an offspring of "Ashes". Tom referred to her as "The Mother of all Cats"... We feel your sense of loss and send you comforting hugs.

Ronni, I'm so sorry to hear about Ollie. I've been following the adventures of you both since you left NYC, moved to Maine, and then on to Oregon. I have lost beloved cats, too, and it hurts tremendously.

Hug ....

Ollie was magnificent!

Oh Ronni, I was afraid this was coming when I read that your medication regimen had come to include administering pills to Ollie, too. He was a handsome cat, and undoubtedly he was extraordinary in many ways. I'm so sorry that you've lost your wonderful companion and housemate. May you find peace and comfort in fond memories of you years together.

Oh, Ronni. I am so sorry. I know well the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet. Just opening your blog today and seeing the header and I am crying.

Perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that you gave Ollie a good life. How wonderful that he never knew a human touch that was anything but gentle.

Oh Ronni, I’m so sorry.

Deepest sympathy sent your way. I know your grief and pain as my cat Funny Girl passed on May 1st, shehad breathing problems that had been treated but suddenly got much worse, a huge tumor appeared in her chest, we went to the vet but I came home without her. Like Ollie, she was older but very much loved and now, terribly missed. Cleo is now an only cat at 16, watching her like a hawk!!
Losing a furry family is losing a part of yourself, someone just said it's a hole i your heart, so very true. Grieve but know Ollie had a wonderful life and he will always be loved and remembered. I am so, so sorry. the emptyness is the worst,. All your animal loving friends share in your grief as best we can. Take care of your self. with deep sadness from New Mexico.

Oh Roni - I know how hard it is to lose an animal companion, having shared my life with so many. He looks and sounds like he was an extraordinary cat! (And even though it is too soon now, whenever you can bear it, think about adopting a senior cat from a shelter - there are so very many older cats - housebroken, sweet but who lost their owners or who weren't lucky enough to have someone like you.) To me there is no comfort like another heartbeat in the house. Love and hugs, Chris

Love hurts..
So very sorry...

So sorry Ronni...I teared up just reading your tribute to your beautiful boy Ollie. We share a special love with our pets and their passing leaves us heartbroken. I have a theory that every loss in our lives triggers unhealed pain from prior losses. Take time to grieve.

Dorothy K., it sounds like what happened to Funny Girl is very similar to happened with our beautiful Maine Coon, Tippi, 2-1/2 years ago. She was almost 14. She started developing breathing problems over about 10 days, and our vet couldn't identify a cause despite doing blood work and X-rays. When her breathing worsened suddenly, we took her to the emergency vet on a Sunday night. We left her overnight so they could make her comfortable. Their more sophisticated X-rays showed a large mass next to her lung, and the next day we left without her. It was all so fast. We adopted her as a kitten and she spent her whole life with us. Although we have 3 senior kitties, we still miss her.

My heart goes out to you. Rest In Peace, Ollie.

I get the having the other heartbeat around the place. What a lovely tribute for Ollie.

No words can help. Just know that other pet parents care and understand.........

The grief of losing a beloved four-legged companion is devastating. We've had one or two cats throughout our 53 years of marriage, every one with a distinctive personality, and every goodbye shreds your heart.

I am so deeply saddened to read of Ollie's death, and though your grief will not be lessened by our messages of condolence, know that you will be in our hearts.


Words, of course, are but a small offering of condolence to you. Still, I am truly sorry for your loss. Though I do not know you personally but only through your blog, your pain is palpable. So much loss in our lives; please continue to be kind to yourself. Thank you for letting us know.

Oh no, Ronni.

This is too sad.

I loved reading every mention of Ollie on your blog.

A one of a kind cat.

You gave beautiful Ollie a wonderful life.

I believe he is already sitting in the upstairs window of your NYC Cafe "Ronni's Place," waiting for you and your future guests.

Losing a pet is heartbreaking.

Yes, you will see Ollie everywhere in your home. That's because he's going to fly back and forth from NYC to you, making sure you are safe.

Ollie the cat.

Ollie the best cat,

Ollie your best friend.



Hugs to you and Ollie.

Farewell, Ollie. After thirty years of non-stop cats, we had our Mabel put down last October. It is hard to get used to. I hope there will come a time when you can again welcome a furry friend into your home.

I'm very sorry to hear about Ollie.
When my dogs die, I "feel" them around me for some time. I think my other dogs have felt that too.

I'm so sorry Ronni. He was a wonderful kitty.

I am so sorry for your loss. Ollie was as much a fixture around TGB as Crabby, I didn't think he would leave.

What a special, beautiful kitty.
Take care and know you are sent lots of love.

Hi Ronni - was quite stricken to hear that Ollie had died. For me, the first thought was that he had been there for you through all your health events over the last while. I just felt that he couldn't have left you when you were going through so much already so he stayed with you, comforting you through all the harrowing ups and downs that you've been experiencing with the Whipple operation and the aftermath. I've had many of these heartbreakers with pets in my life, too and it sure doesn't get any easier. I'm about your age and I also live alone, so I really understand how important they become as your family. Wishing you comfort and peace at this time, Ronni. He was a beautiful cat!

So very many people here who love you and love Ollie. I am keeping both of you next to my heart, as you have become family to me, too. I hope that you can feel my embrace.

What a lovely loving tribute to Ollie! Re-reading about his balcony escape was bittersweet after all these years...can it possibly be so many years ago? Be well, dear Ronni. Hope you may be comforted by the caring words of your faithful readers. Don’t hesitate to share more Ollie stories with us in the future, if it helps you cope with his passing.

Oh, i’m so sorry...have been there a number of times. The evocative poem from Trudy says it all. Going now to read your Ollie adventure story.

I am so so sorry for your loss.

Though I am not currently, and have not been for many years a pet owner , I have had several wonderful cats in my life. In my opinion there is not a better companion.

Peace be with you and comfort surround you.

Sorry for your loss.

Hi, Ronni,
Sometimes silence is golden! We are speechless. We know your grief.
Just know we care.

Gail and Jim

It is so heartbreaking. Reading your post this morning felt all too familiar. I had to call a compassionate vet to our home on the 17th of July 2016 to help Emma and I still cry when I think of her, I still miss her beyond belief, I still see her out of the corner of my eye. I am so very very sorry that you have had to say goodbye to Ollie and that you have had to add that horribly empty, lonely feeling to your plate of burdens these days.

I'm so sorry, Ronni.

Time spent with a cat is never wasted. We love our pets so much, and, in the end, they must break our hearts. I'm so sorry for your loss, Ronnie, many blessings for you and for Ollie.

May the many condolances (I read them all. Is it a record number of comments?!) ease the pain of your loss. You are pretty remarkable -- sharing your Ollie story in words and pictures. You always know the best way to comfort the people who are your readers I jrecently read an article on the growing number of self-published books. Your story about Ollie in words and pictures screamed "Publish Me! IMO.

Many Blessings.

I'm so very sorry for your loss of Ollie. It's so painful to lose a furry family member, especially one as unique as your Ollie. Thank you for sharing Ollie and your story. Sending you hugs across the miles and good thoughts of Ollie in "Cat Heaven."
Mary, a fellow kitty lover


I know how you feel and it is terrible. We have kept and lost cats for many years so we know the feeling when one of our furry friends has reached the end of their time. My suggestion to you is to get another cat as soon as possible. This really does help to heal the hurt and bring you along into the next relationship.

Our heart hurts for you!

As one cat lover to another, I understand the empty place where a cat has been after they left. But I can't be without a cat to sleep on my bed with me and order me around. There is a definite and very strange connection between a woman and her cat.

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