Lillian, Queen of the Shelter

We called her Queen of the Shelter because when we went to adopt her, she sat on a high shelf in the cat room. We walked in the door. She stood up to greet us, two strange people.

Then with great dignity, she stepped down from the shelf, went over to the bowl of cat chow, took a nibble, turned, and gave a self-assured hiss to the cats in her returning path. No doubt, she ruled the cat room.

“We think she’s ten to twelve,” the woman told us as we signed the adoption papers. “In fact, since she’s an old girl, we’ll take $25 off the adoption costs.”

Lillian talked, with our help. She reminded Cliff many times that he owed her the $25. After all, she was the old girl. The money was really hers.

When we decided, with the vet’s confirmation, that it was time to let her go in early July, she’d been Queen of the Household and Queen of Our Hearts for eight years.

You’ve done it too, I suspect. Put a beloved pet to his or her end.

Our vet gave her a tranquilizer. I buried my head in her fur, which still smelled kitty clean and crisp.

“We love you, Lils. You’ve been a wonderful cat.”

At her funeral later that day, I read one of my poems, “At the Grave of a Fine Cat.”

May your whiskers be ruffled by only pleasant breezes,

May your bowls be filled with tuna and sweet cream,

May your dreams be filled with legions of mice,

May you forever purr in peace.


Cliff shoveled on the dirt as I tossed in garden zinnias.

Lillian taught me just what an old girl can do.

How to run on spindly legs.

How to greet each morning with short, upbeat  meows.

How to make your opinions known with more dramatic ones.

How to appreciate family and welcome strangers.

How to cozy up and relax on a pile of quilts.

And how to grow old with Queen of the World spunk.

Photo: Lillian looks out from the kitchen of her new home.  Photo courtesy Katherine Younger.

My Poem “At the Grave of Fine Cat” was published in June Cotner’s Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets (Harper San Francisco, 2000).

22 thoughts on “Lillian, Queen of the Shelter”

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s not an easy time, and we love our pets to pieces. They are family! God bless you and your family as you grieve the loss of your beloved.


  2. Lil was a sweet, sweet kitty I had the privilege of caring for on occassion. She was well loved and had a great life at the Younger house. I have had to put down many pets and it is extremely difficult every time. But part of love is knowing when it is best to let them go. I look forward to seeing all of them again as I fly free in the spirit world someday.


  3. Sweet Lillian. She was so precious. And I remember the many “conversations” with my sweet cat, Lilly. They are in kitty heaven now, chasing mice. 🙂


  4. A sweet post for a sweet cat. Lily & i saw quite a bit of each other at times and she was always a perfect lady. I know she brought great happiness to the Younger household and I’m sure it went both ways. You were lucky to have found each other!


  5. Dear Barbara, I have been following Kaths blog for several years and now and then she posted a sweet
    photo of Lilian. I am so sad that your cat is no longer with your family. Being a cat lover myself I cried through this post as it triggered old memories of our cat that got 18 years old and then got very sick so we had to put him to sleep. Although that’s now nearly twenty years ago I still miss him! I’m very sorry for your loss. Glad to see though that your cute grandson puts beaming smiles on your face :-). He is adorable, congratulations! best from Pauline


    1. HI Pauline, Thanks for your sweet words about Lady Lillian. She was a cat of cats, but I guess they all are. I still miss my others too.

      Thanks about Mazen and for reading my blog! (and Kath’s.)


      1. I forgot to mention that I really loved your little poem! It brought tears to my eyes. Every cat owner should read that one out loud when it’s time to say goodbye…. you are a wonderful writer!


      2. Thanks about my poem. It’s good to start off the funeral, because often I’m too upset to say anything specific about the kitty. A company that made plaques started making a plaque with the poem on it (with my permission), which was quite exciting, but then they went out of business.


      3. The plaque has a place to slip in a photo of the kitty. Perhaps I should look for another company who might be interested.


  6. You’re welcome :-). Oh that’s such a pity about the plaque! I’m sure a lot of cat owners would love to have that poem on a plaque. I was upset by only reading it so I guess I wouldn’t even make it reading it out loud while crying. Having it on a plaque would be a wonderful solution. And you are right, every cat has its own personality and is especially loved for its quirks and lovely meows.


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