Ripley | Toronto Pet Photographer

I really cannot believe that the day has arrived when I have to write this. And if I press “publish”, it will somehow be more final. It hurts too much, so I will try to say it quickly and simply.

Today, at 8:59 a.m., we sent Ripley, our 17.5 year old tabby on his final journey. With as much love as he could bear.

I, personally, have never had the weight of such a decision on my shoulders and I am not sure that either my husband, Dean, or I handled it well. In other words, we were (and are) a mess.

We had no idea that Ripley was even sick until we took him to his vet this past Wednesday morning. What we had erroneously thought to be a little bit of constipation or issues with his anal glands, turned out to be far more serious. In fact, that was not an issue at all. After x-rays and an ultrasound, we were shown that most of his organs were in some state of failure. And his poor, little heart was really only in a constant state of fibrillation, and therefore not pumping vital blood and oxygen to the other parts of his body. Add to that, he had a very serious arrhythmia which put his whole system under additional stress. Hearing this, we decided not to contemplate any heroic measures, but to simply treasure whatever remaining time we had with him. So, at our request, his vet was able to stabilize him enough that we could take him home with us Thursday evening, along with some medication to make him comfortable.

Ripley seemed to be happy to be home Thursday night, but by Friday we knew something was horribly wrong. He could not sleep. He never did eat since returning from the hospital and he shifted his position often as if he was uncomfortable. We watched him and stroked him and cried over him until we knew that we had to make the final gesture to help him.

This morning, Ripley woke me up by pawing gently at my leg. I tried one last time to feed him, which he refused. So, Dean and I began the process of getting ready to take him on his final car ride. I truly believe that Ripley knew the time had come. He seemed to go through a routine to look at all of his favourite places. But when he stopped to nuzzle and kiss his sister, Lady Jane, it made our hearts stop. They had a quiet “moment” when I think he said his good-bye.

At the vet this morning, we held him and told him what an incredible boy he had been. He was from the Toronto Humane Society so, yes, Ripley was a rescue. He was a year old when we got him and were privileged to have loved him for over 16 years. And, even though his physical heart failed him in the end, he loved us until his final breath.

I do not quite know how I will get over the loss of feeling him sleeping on my feet every night of his life, or the way he would truly cuddle you when picked up. I have many, many photographs that will remind me of what he looked like, but I fear that I will forget the sound of his “voice” when he would talk. And his beautiful eyes…everyone remarked on his his lovely eyes. At this point, I am simply hoping that the huge hole left in my heart will slowly heal.

Ripley, I cannot write enough words to tell you how much you are missed. Not a day will go by when we will not think of you and remember how incredibly wonderful you were. I hope, in the end, you simply understood and felt how much you were loved. 

Go gently into that good night, my boy…

A special thank-you to the vets and staff of Westbridge Veterinary Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario. And especially to Dr. Cathy Buller who has been Ripley’s primary vet since the day we brought him home. Having you there at the end, made it just a bit easier.

Orange tabby on bed in Toronto, Canada


  1. Lisa Prince Fishler

    Karen I am so so incredibly sorry for your loss… What a gorgeous being Ripley was, and how incredibly the three of you were, to be together as long as you were. He was definitely asking you, when he pawed at you, and you were so kind to listen. It’s the most difficult decision ever to make, but at the same time, the ultimate gift of kindness you can give another suffering being. My thoughts are with you all. xox

  2. Donna Miller

    Dear Karen, Dean & Lady Jane,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Our pets are our children & losing one is so difficult. Just know that Ripley knew how much all of you loved him & gave him an exceptional, loving life. They always seem to let us know when they need to cross that Rainbow Bridge & Ripley walked across it proudly. My prayers are with all of you in this difficult time.
    Love, Donna

  3. Clyde McDonald

    Ripley Weiler was One Lucky Cat! I followed his blog for years, and he was constantly bragging about how he picked the best Mom and Dad at the shelter. He always thought it was his good looks that sealed the deal, but it was his personality that made us love him – am I right cats? Anyway he never took for granted the great care he got – “like room service and a concierge all the time” is how he described it. And one of his favourite things: his Mom and Dad brought home the most exotic smells from all over the word. A lot of his best stories came from those smells!
    Anyway not to be sappy or anything, but what came through loud and clear was how safe and secure he felt, because he knew they loved him no matter what. The day was always puncuated by snuggles and ended the same way. And he enjoyed having his auxilliary backup cat, Lady Jane, around to cover for him when he snuck on to the computer to post his blog.
    Well, Ripples, I always hoped to have a beer with you someday, but hey, you were always more into tea. I salute you Ripley, ya done good for yourself!
    Your Cuz Clyde

  4. Deb

    Dear Karen,
    I’m so very sorry. I don’t think anything prepares us for this day. Your beautiful Ripley clearly had a blessed life in your home and in your hearts. Sending you guys my deepest condolences and hugs. <3Ripley<3

  5. Heather Cole Brownlow

    Oh, Karen, my heart goes out to you. From everything you’ve ever said about Ripley, he was a very special cat, and I’m sure he counted himself very lucky to have found his home with you 🙂 Give yourself time to heal, and hang onto those beautiful memories…

  6. Anita Weiler

    I can’t stop crying, this is so sad. If this is how I feel, I can’t even imagine how hard this must be for you guys. I will never forget Ripley. He was such a wonderful cat, and he certainly had a wonderful family. My deepest sympathies to all three of you who are missing him so much. Goodbye Ripley!

  7. Juli-Anne Warll

    I’m sorry sorry to read about your loss Karen. It is so hard to loose such and amazing pet, and Ripley sounds like he was an amazing member of the family. How lucky he was to have found you guys and you him. Sounds like he had fantastic home and life for 16 years. All the best to you.

  8. poshpets

    Thank you all for your lovely words of comfort. Ripley was amazing and I am glad that I could introduce him to all of you, whether in person or by means of the pages of this blog 🙂

  9. Daniela

    Oh Karen…I am so very sorry. What a stressful decision to have to make. I can’t imagine your place without Ripley. Isn’t it amazing how these little creatures find a way to get into our hearts and set up house like no one else can do? Their habits and personality become part of our ‘normal’. No wonder we don’t feel right when they are gone. They give us a nonjudgemental love and unselfish comfort that no human can. What a gift.

    One day you will look at those beautiful pictures and not cry. He will comfort you again with the memories he created.

    Love Daniela

  10. Angela

    What a beautiful boy. I am so sorry for your loss 🙁 I don’t know you, but we have experienced the loss of a number of wonderful animal friends. It is tough and at the time of loss, I can never imagine it ever feeling less painful. But one day, the pain doesn’t feel quite as raw.

    Be kind to yourselves,


  11. Bev

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved family member. They have an uncanny way of settling right on top of our hearts. The good news is, they remain there forever. Your decision, though excruciatingly difficult, was both humane and compassionate. One I wish more people would bravely make. Time will eventually erase the pain and only sweet, happy memories of Ripley will remain. With love and sympathy.

  12. Patti Kurgan

    Karen, it’s so hard to lose such a beloved pet. I got tears in my eyes. You did the right thing. It is terribly hard to see animals suffering. Hopefully, Lady Jane will be a comfort to you.

  13. Kaylee Greer

    Karen, I am sitting here in tears right now. Your story and infinite love for Ripley is so beautiful. Animals have the most amazing souls – and the way they change us and heal our broken parts and complete our lives is something that will never ever go away. Not now. Not ever. Ripley’s love and lessons will be with you long after his physical body has left. My heart is with you during this painful time.

  14. Jill Flynn

    Karen, I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to your sweet, Ripley. Your words brought tears to my eyes and a flood of memories … I know that pain all too well. Our pets take a little part of our heart with them when they leave us and that is why it hurts so much. But that way that they will always have a part of us with them and it gives our heart room to save and love another pet. I hope your heart is healing … your tribute to Ripely was beautifully written as was the photo you took of him … so telling and heartfelt.

    Peace ~ Jill

  15. stacey

    My heart goes out to you – if only our pets would live as long as we do. Your entry was a beautiful send off for Ripley – made me cry.

  16. Barbara Bozeman

    Somehow the circumstances of beginning my own journey in pet photography led me to find your posts just as you were experiencing such a difficult personal loss. Please accept the condolances of a stranger. It is fortunate that you were able to have such a long time with Ripley and bring each other such joy…and that in that final journey, he was comforted, I am sure, by not going down that road alone, but surrounded by the care and love of his family. You will never forget his voice, or the feel of his cuddles…and I think you are a brave and caring person to share your personal story with us. You and your family have my prayers for peace in this difficult time.

  17. poshpets

    It has been so lovely to read all these comments. Thank you all!

  18. Kelly

    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Ripley was a very lucky boy to have found such a great home.


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