Ghost Cats!


Creator's Blog for Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos (Gatos)! 2009

Are there cat ghosts?  Do the spirits of our deceased pets live on after death as many believe our own souls do?  Many who have lost a beloved cat can tell a tale of that cat's spirit returning from the other side to visit days, weeks, months, sometimes years after their passing.  Sometimes once only to say goodbye, sometimes frequently over many years.

You don't have to convince me.  I have as many cat ghosts as I've had cats.  And you know how many that is.

The night my mother's dear Theresa, our first bottle-fed kitten, passed away, I heard her footsteps plunkety plunk plunking down the stairs  beside me like she always did.  Clear as a bell.  Except no cat was there.  That was at my mother’s house.  The same night, at home in my apartment, I felt a cat jump onto my bed and walk the length from foot to head only to disappear at the pillow.  No cat can have been there because the door was closed.

Many days since Moby passed, I have heard him crossing the living room toward his bed, his distinctive quick, sharp feet hurrying along, and rustling around in the bed before settling down to nap.  Mo’s bed is still here.  I often find Julie standing and looking quizzically into the bed as if someone else is lying there.  Quite spooky.

I frequently see the ghost of a cat in the apartment that’s not one of mine at all - a large dark colored male who walks in and out of the door at will.  I have often seen him coming down my short entrance hall,  a sort of smoky, dark film in a cat shape, as if from outside the door.  In the first second that I see him, I am startled and think it’s one of mine coming in from outside.  But that can’t be, of course.  The door is closed, and mine are sound asleep.  I have also seen him jumping on the living room window sill, in the kitchen circling the leg of the chair like a cat waiting for his dinner, and once found him playing in the tub before he vanished.  I asked my super one day if there was ever another cat living in this apartment, and he said the former tenant had a large tabby male.

Aunt Betty tells of the night she was awakened suddenly from a deep sleep to see Catherine, her gorgeous all white cat (a female Johnny) sitting on the edge of the dresser, staring down at her… watching her sleep with her piercing gold eyes.  This of course could not be.  Ms. Catherine had passed away the day before.  Aunt Betty sat up and turned on the light.  There was no Catherine.  There was no cat at all.

My mother called me one night breathless with amazement because she had just seen Ginny walking through her living room… with Jasmine.  An incredible story that still makes me wonder.   Ginny was a 5-month old feral from the outdoor colony who had had to be euthanized a few days before. She’d been hit by a car and the damage was beyond repair.  This was in 2003.  Our Jasmine had died in 1980.  Also hit by a car.

What does it mean?  How could these two cats know each other separated by 23 years and between two worlds?  Jasmine had been a kind of outcast among our cats; the omega that the other cats picked on and mistreated no matter how much we punished, scolded and separated.  Ginny’s injuries, before we could catch her, had made her a kind of outcast with  her colony.  Did Jasmine sympathize with Ginny?  Had she come back to help her cross because she understood?  And how could she know about Ginny?   Had Jasmine been there all the time?  We never saw her….. ?

Only one other time in her life did my mother say she had seen a ghost cat.  It was in her bedroom some time about, maybe, 1990.   She was in the hall and saw a tabby cat retreat under the bed, as if fleeing her footsteps.  She had no tabby at that time, and thought a new cat must have come in from outside.  When she pulled up the bed skirt to look underneath, the cat was gone.  Could that have been Jasmine?  In the house all along?  Perhaps she never left!  And was still hiding from the other cats she thought would terrorize her.   Is this why we never saw her when we saw the ghosts of so many other cats?

And why would she linger so long in the place of her unhappy former life?  Perhaps like people, the ghosts of cats carry trauma into the next world.  Perhaps they cannot move on after a difficult life and an untimely or traumatic death.  I still wonder about that today with a thousand questions.  I still think about poor Jasmine and if she’s still in that house.

Halloween, La Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of The Dead, is the time when the spirit world is said to be closest to our own.  The hour between 3:00 and 4:00AM is the hour of every night when the spirits are most active and likely to cross the veil.   My dearly departed cat friends have never needed a special day or hour to appear to me.  They come when they like.  But I won’t be surprised if I get an extra visit on 10/31 from a dearly departed feline, either recently passed or long gone.  Don’t be surprised if you do too!  -JD