Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys


When a friend loses a cat, my heart aches for my friend. Today, the world lost a very special tortie named Steeler.

I never met Steeler. She belonged to my friend Bernie, but she also “belonged” to a group of friends who met via one of my blog posts about Tortitude: The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats.  Bernie found the post when she did a  Google search after Steeler first arrived on her door step, because, as she said “I was curious to see what kind of a cat I had taken in. She just looked so exotic to me.”

Bernie found the abandoned tortoiseshell cat crying at her backdoor one night. She had never had a cat before, and knew nothing about cats. The little cat wanted in. Bernie did not want a cat. When it became colder, and no shelter would take her, Bernie decided that any cat that wanted a home that badly could stay.

She called her Steeler, because she stole her heart, and because Bernie is a big Pittsburgh Steeler fan. Steeler watched the games with Bernie.  Like all tortoiseshell cats, Steeler proudly wore the gold and black not just on game day, but every day.

Steeler became a comfort to Bernie’s husband, who had  become increasingly debilitated from Alzheimer’s. He responded to Steeler’s presence long after the disease took away his ability to respond to anyone else, even Bernie. After he was hospitalized, Steeler continued to provide love and support to Bernie.

Steeler was at Bernie’s side through a lot of tough times, including some devastating losses over the past few months. Bernie’s husband succumbed to his illness last December. A few weeks later, Bernie’s son Eric lost his battle with lung cancer. Steeler was Bernie’s anchor, and for a long time, she was the only one who could bring a smile to Bernie’s face.

Steeler had been battling multiple health issues for the past few months. She died quietly in Bernie’s arms early this morning, wrapped in a Steeler’s fleece blanket.

I believe that animals come into our lives when we need them most, especially when we don’t even know that we need them. None of us who love Bernie will ever understand why Steeler had to leave so soon, and none of us will ever forget this special little cat.

Rest in peace, Steeler. You’re with the angels now.

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22 Comments on A tribute to Steeler

  1. Everyone who wrote here, thank you.. I save this Tribute to Steeler and return to it often. Steeler was more than a Tortie. She truly rescued me and gave me a reason to keep going. Steeler was always at my side. If a tear would fall silently, Steeler could sense my mood and step right on my lap and look at me, as if to say, I am here and it will be ok. Even though she has been gone for a while now, she is still in my heart and thoughts. Many of you knew she was special in many ways. I think I was very special because she chose to love and rescue me.

  2. I have just reread the Tribute to Steeler. I still cry over losing her. I will always love this very special little Tortie. She truly did belong to all of you as much as to me. Grieving for her was all consuming.
    Now I remember how much love she gave and how she helped bring so many people together for a season. I remember her hissy fits, and her loving jabs to the jaw at night for treats. There are times I still think she is right there beside me, jabbing me for late night treats. I think all of you went through her last illness with me and were hurting as bad as I. Her passing, I will never understand.
    The loving words, hopeful thoughts and comforting remarks made by all of you, are cherished, because this is real. Steeler’s life was real and I was so happy to have shared her with everyone.
    Thank you all. <3

  3. What a beautiful tribute to Steeler and the people who loved her!! Steeler’s Tortie-tude is an inspiration to all of us– NEVER give up– LOVE is just around the corner (or in Steeler’s case — at the back door of Bernie’s home!!)

    My Cee Cee Tortie extends a comforting paw to Bernie and says “Torties RULE! Fly high, sweet Steeler Angel!!”

  4. I just got hooked back up to the internet not an hour ago and saw this posted on Facebook. I am so sorry to hear this. I felt like I knew Steeler. I’m sorry I couldn’t have beeen here for Bernie. Rest in peace Steeler, you brought so much enjoyment to us all, and especially to Bernie. You are loved.

    • Lynn – you DID know Steeler. We all had a little piece of her, and it hurts like we all lost. Missed you- glad you’re back. I’ve done a lousy job of keeping Bernie in line.

  5. What a beautiful, touching tribute to a sweet little angel who brought so much love, comfort and joy into her family’s hearts! Fly free, sweet little Steeler!

  6. A beautiful tribute, Ingrid. As tears are once again pouring from my eyes, I send all my love from my heart to Bernie & Jay. I am truly blessed to “know” all of you along with dear, beautiful Steeler. I will see you someday, Steeler.

  7. Thank you for your beautiful comments – I’m sure they will bring comfort to Bernie as she mourns her beautiful little girl.

  8. Beautiful job, Ingrid. Much hugs to Bernie. Rest in peace Steeler and have a wonderful time in your heavenly home.

    Diana,Lucy, and Rikki

  9. Glad Steeler found a home and was loved. Sounds like the cat was a wonderful companion and came along just at the right time. I feel sad for Bernie though.

  10. Bernie, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss of Steeler. It sounds like you fulfilled each others lives in a beautiful way. Prayers sent your way.
    Emily–Edie Kidie’s Mom

  11. So sad for your friend Bernie’s loss….Steeler was a beautiful tortie and it sounds like she entered Bernie’s life just when she needed her the most….or maybe they needed each other. At any rate, it sounds like it was “meant to be”. Blessings to Bernie for taking Steeler in……and we hope Steeler has a lovely time learning all the best nap spots over the Rainbow Bridge.

    Pam and Sam

  12. What a beautiful tribute to Steeler. May Steeler and Bernie be comforted by all the love pouring forth from this website. The bond between tortie lovers is so very special, and the bond between Steeler and Bernie was meant to be. Surely Steeler is playing in the meadows by Rainbow Bridge now so relieved to be free of her ill physical body and so happy being everything everywhere — the sunrise, the spring flowers, the blue skies, the stars at night.

  13. I read your post as I was talking to Bernie on the phone. I was crying when I did.
    She will read it later as she can not right now.
    I was very touched by what you wrote and Bernie will thank you when she can.
    She does thank everyone for their support in the last few weeks. So do I.


  14. what a beautiful story. steeler looks so gorgeous and sounds like she provided so much love and joy for everyone. god bless her. x

  15. No one person should ever endure so much in a life time much less the span of several months. God be with Bernie. Sending a huge cyberspace hug!

  16. She showed up just in time and stayed as long as she could.

    I will never forget how much Steeler loved Bernie, and watching Bernie grow to understand how much she loved Steeler.

    Until we all meet at the Bridge…

  17. I believe that animals come into our lives when we need them most, especially when we don’t even know that we need them. None of us who love Bernie will ever understand why Steeler had to leave so soon, and none of us will ever forget this special little cat.

    Rest in peace, Steeler. You’re with the angels now.

    Really, what more eloquent words could be said?

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