While I had long planned to go stargazing Oct. 24 – 26, 2022 to enjoy New Moon observing, the trip turned into a mourning period for my cat Cassiopeia.
Cassiopeia came to me as a 6 week old foster kitten in May, 2003, along with two others, to keep another foster kitten, Pegasus, company. Pegasus had just lost his brother, Cepheus, and was an alone and very lonesome kitten.
I never intended to keep Cassiopeia, but circumstances changed, Pegasus became so attached (they were boyfriend and girlfriend for a long time, including him regularly trying to have sex with her, despite them both having been fixed when they reached 2 lbs.), and I couldn’t bring myself to take Cassiopeia away from Pegasus, especially after he’d just lost Cepheus.
So, Cassiopeia joined our family, which already included Andromeda and Virgo, and we all lived happily ever after, until 6 years ago today.
After a two week illness, in which I was the best nurse a cat could ever ask for – I even foreswore Halloween activities that year to care for him – Pegasus was suddenly gasping for air and died on my sofa while I was desperately attempting cat CPR. To this day, it remains the worst day of my life, by a long shot.
Virgo, very suddenly, followed Pegasus to the Rainbow Bridge 13 months later and Andromeda, the oldest and suffering from arthritis, 17 months thereafter. Since May 19, 2019, Cassiopeia was the last of my original four cats, the boogie children as I called them, and the constellation companions as a friend referred to them. Cassiopeia’s death happened after a crazy 67 hours in which she went downhill fast after I bathed her to rid her of fleas. We had just celebrated her 19.5 birthday a month to the day prior, and she had seemed like she would live at least another year or two.
Of the four constellation companions, although Andromeda was named for the galaxy, not the constellation, Cassiopeia was the one with whom I lived the longest. I spent nearly 20 years with my little Grey Goose being her broody and funny self.
Losing her 4 days before the planned stargazing trip was a mixed blandessing. On the one hand, I got to spend all night seeing her hanging high in the sky. On the other hand, I never set up a telescope, preferring to spend my time just basking in the heavens and mourning not just my sweet little girl, but the end of 21 years of being a pet parent to these beloved cats.
While I have two others, they are not, nor ever can be, the original constellation companions. I love them, but not the soul sucking love I had for Andromeda, Virgo, Pegasus and Cassiopeia.
I have long felt that, as long as Orion or Scorpius was hanging high in the sky, I would be safe. So seeing Orion rise, while I was out mourning Cassiopeia, was a very welcome reminder that everything would be OK. And now, since it is mostly circumpolar, I have my little Cassi girl looking after me, too.by