I've often said that it's both a blessing and a curse never to have had a pet long enough to see them grow old. I'm sure that's its own distinct brand of horrible- but my brand of horror is met with a lack of closure.

The thing about cats is, it's really hard to keep them indoors. I have no regrets about letting my two cats, Cow and Bubba, roam around outside because it was their livelihood, but it's also what took them from me.

Bubba had a habit of 'wandering off.' In the 7-8 years we had him, he got lost once for 7 days, and another time for 9 days. The first time he came back to us with filed nails, tar on his fur, a bum leg, and very skinny, but still loving as ever. The second time, he returned home with a head injury that made him display symptoms of Rabies. After a couple of days, we knew he was OK, and again, just as sweet and caring as he'd ever been. You'd think that a cat who'd been through so much trauma would have become jaded to humans, but not Bubba. He was something very special.

We first adopted Bubba as a direct result of me just wearing my parents down until they said '[UGH] OK.' We fostered the batch of mother-less kittens he came from, and ultimately we were the closest things to parents for him. He was the runt of the group -- his brothers and sisters would literally take their paws and shove his head away from the food bowl. Vicious! But we made sure he ate, and he ate very well, becoming the most bear-cub-looking cat I've ever seen. He was my soul brother in the form of a cat.

In June of 2011, Bubba wandered off for the last time + I miss him every day still.

Cow was the veteran pet in our household. We adopted her after our first cat, Troby, was hit by a car. We weren't sure if another cat was the right move, but our hearts were hurting, and Cow fixed us. She was definitely weird, annoying at times, but the moment we stepped into the shelter 13 years ago and she stretched her arms out at us when we walked by her cage, looking up with big dreamy eyes, it was decided for us- she was ours and we were hers. She was proud and loyal, and she would never hurt anyone. Except chipmunks -- she literally killed thousands of those.

Cow left the house one day in July of 2016, and she never came back.

The older I get, the less I want for Christmas. This holiday, I'm thinking about these lost friends. It's really hard to cope with the loss of a pet, especially when you don't know what happened to them. My simple Christmas wish is to know that wherever they are, they're happy and at peace, and I hope that they know how much I loved them when they were around.

Cow