Childfree woman credits her late cat’s long life to her pet parenting skills

By Nina Steele 

Michele Heritage who is 52 and from Exeter in the UK, made headline news recently. She is now officially known as the owner of the world’s oldest cat. The cat named Rubble, died at the age of 31, which in human terms works out at about 150 years. Talking about her relationship with her late cat, Michele said: “I have always treated him like a child”.

All the signs are that she and her husband are indeed good and one might say lucky pet parents, because Rubble isn’t the first cat of theirs that has had a long life. Another of their cat died at the age of 25, 116 years in human years. Of being lifelong pet parents Michele said: “I don’t have any children and had another cat called Meg, who passed at the age of 25”. Trying to explain the reason behind her cats having a long life, she said: “If you care about something, no matter what it is, it does last”.

Loving a pet like a child is common. I knew a woman who loved her cat so much so that when he passed away, she had to take a few days off work. Just like Michele Heritage, she was married with no children. She was also the proud parent of a dog. She too was in her 50s and had been an animal lover her whole life. I remember us having a few conversations about her pets and how happy she was whenever she talked about them.

About 3 years ago, I published the story of a proud dog owner entitled: ‘I live a peaceful life with my dogs and that’s enough for me’. In the article, the woman explained that not having children wasn’t a choice and that “it just never happened”. She is now divorced and has chosen not to remarry. Her dogs are her main companions. The feedback on her story on social media was mainly positive. However, one comment has stayed with me to this day. It was from an older man. He wrote that it was all well her being happy with her life with her dogs, but wondered what would happen when her dogs die. He mentioned the fact that animals have a shorter lifespan and the inevitable pain their owners have to go through when they eventually die.

I cannot recollect my exact response, but what I do remember is reminding him of the fact that humans die young too. So many people have had to bury people they love too early. Just because animals live shorter lives than humans does not mean their owners should only focus on their impending deaths, as opposed to making the most of the time they have with them.

Going back to Michele Heritage, she said this about her time with her cat Rubble: “He was an amazing companion that I had the pleasure to live with for such a long time”. Her cat may have died, but his story is now making worldwide news.

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