The cat that was thrown in the garbage

In 2009 after a shift of work at Cultus Lake, for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the stock assessment program there, I decided to take a drive up to Hope. As I was walking from my car to a restaurant I heard a soft “meow.” It sounded like it was coming from the dumpster. So I walked over to the green dumpster in the alley and opened the lid. I heard more soft “meows.” There was a cat in there alright!. I couldn’t see anything but some movement in a garbage bag. I quickly ripped open the garbage bag and found 4 kittens. 3 were dead and one was still alive. A blue-eyed beige and white tabby cat. I quickly rushed him to the vet in Sardis near my apartment. His body was crawling with fleas. My heart broke for the other kittens. How could anyone be so cruel?!. I reported it to the SPCA by phone and told the vet what I saw. He wasn't surprised shockingly. His assistant bathed the cat and gave me flea medication and the vet gave him his first vaccines. Other than the dirt and fleas. he seemed pretty healthy. I named him "Chester" on the spot and took him home. He lived with me in the prairies of Saskatchewan too. Like I said he went everywhere with me. He grew into a big strong tomcat. He was the second cat I've ever owned. The first my dad gave me when I was ten years old.

Chester as a Kitten - Photos: Melissa Hafting

It’s now 2021 and yesterday morning he got up and started vomiting and repeatedly banging his head against the wall. He displayed ataxia and open mouth breathing. It was downright scary. He was rushed straight to the Animal ER. After a full work up and his blood pressure rising dangerously high, him collapsing and being put on oxygen. He had a neurological consult and I was told he had an undetected brain tumor that burst. He was banging his head on the wall at the vet clinic too. Even despite pain meds, fluids, oxygen and antibiotics. They told me I really only had one choice to make. So I made it and euthanized him. It was heartbreaking. I cried as loud as could be. I didn’t care who heard it in the clinic. I couldn’t contain it. I felt gut-wrenching physical pain. I loved that cat. He would follow me everywhere. I would have done anything for that cat. I was so lucky my sister came to be with me when he passed away and that she could drive me home. The vet was also lovely to us. It cost a lot of money but I would have spent every penny I had if he could have been saved.

He was an indoor cat that lived with dogs since he was born. I think he thought he was more of a dog than a cat. He was a character that would sleep on his back and a good friend. He was a real comfort to me through many sad times. Always soft to cuddle. He also enjoyed watching the birds in the backyard with me. He wanted to eat them haha but we still loved to watch them together with equal fascination. I love jazz music and he would lie on my belly as I would relax in the evenings and listen to it. I'll miss all those special moments.

"Chester" - Photo: Melissa Hafting

I’ll miss him so much. I shudder to think if I didn’t walk by that dumpster and open the tied up garbage bag that he would 
have died a slow, painful suffocating death. Plus I never would have met this wonderful little man. I still wonder did he find me or was it the other way around?. One person's trash is truly another's treasure. This cat has helped me through so many difficult life events and struggles. He was a good, no great friend to me. He went on planes and cars with me. I’ll miss him sleeping with me every night and jumping on me early in the morning to feed him. As I said he has been with me through some of the toughest times of my life. He made it through diabetes, he was a trooper when I gave him his daily insulin and always so gentle. You could do anything to him and he would never get mad. I never met a more friendly cat in my life. Cats normally live well past 12 years so our time was cut short and that feels very unfair.

Not everyone can understand the bond of losing an animal, unless they experience it. Quite a number of people think it's just a cat or it's just a dog... go buy another. Why are you so sad? It's not a human!... How wrong can they be. It is a loss like no other. True unconditional love and no pet is ever replaceable. This is the first time in my life I’ve not lived with an animal. I lost my dogs back to back and now him. It won’t be easy. The home feels empty without him. For now, I’ll take comfort in knowing that he was loved and that he loved me back and that’s good enough for me.

I was lucky, that’s all I know, to have a cat like that touch my life and make me so very happy for 12 wonderful years. 

Chester - Photo: Melissa Hafting 

Russell Brand talks about the pain of losing his cat and the void it creates. They aren’t merely pets, they are family. He feels just as I do.

Thanks for all the wonderful memories Chester. You were loved so much. I’ll try to keep smiling, even though it hurts.


  1. So sorry to hear about your loss. I love animals as well, and it's always so heartbreaking when our furbabies pass away. Sending you virtual hugs.

    1. thank you so much teesa for your kind words. Right now I hate being home so spend dawn to dusk outdoors. as soon as I come home I miss him so much I cry. I miss him greeting me at the door, his feeding times and him sleeping beside me. right now i wonder how I'll cope through difficult life events without him it's all too raw. thank you so much for the virtual hugs, I really need it! take good care.

  2. What a lovely tribute to Chester Mel! Had me in tears! Thank you so much for saving him and giving him a great life! Big hugs!

    1. thank you so much kate! so sweet of you my friend

  3. So sorry for your loss, he was a special cat

    1. thank you so much, he really was special to me :(

  4. What a wonderful friend & companion.....sorry for your loss...hugs...

    1. thank you so much it really helps me to know so many care and understand how deeply this loss is felt.


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