Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 1, 2022 by Crystal Uys


Guest post by Rita Atkins
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Working at our rescue’s booth at a recent cat convention, selling items to raise money for our foster cats, I witnessed (or, rather, was privy to) a very special moment: the memory of a woman’s soul cat suddenly came rushing back to her.

At fundraisers and adoption events, people love to tell us about their cats, both past and present. Sometimes there are a few tears remembering a beloved kitty, and our eyes often leak right along with theirs as they tell us their stories. Somehow, though, the encounter with Lily’s human was different, and one I will never forget.

I came to learn that her Lily, a black cat with a little white spot on her chest and an ear crumbled by hematoma surgery, passed away some years ago. Lily’s memory, or perhaps something more, was triggered by a catnip toy we were selling: a cheeky, cigar-shaped toy loaded with high-test nip – the good stuff.


As I noticed the woman touching the basket containing the toy cigars, I asked if I could help. She met my eyes with tears in hers and remained silent.

Several minutes passed before she could start telling me about Lily, the love of her life, her soul cat. Lily had been the proud owner of one of the exact catnip cigars we were selling. She slept with it, carrying it to bed next to her human every night. It was ragged and smelled more like kitty spit than catnip, but Lily loved it, keeping it close until the end of her life.

In Lily’s memory, her human has kept that old tattered toy on her bed, in Lily’s favorite pillowcase, ever since.The woman said she had not seen these toys for sale anywhere since the day she bought Lily her cherished toy years ago. When she saw them on our table, she was instantly swept back in time, as if Lily’s spirit was tugging at her right in the middle of that noisy, crowded convention floor.

For a moment, it was just her and Lily and her favorite toy, in a time and space that was just for them.

After telling me Lily’s story, Lily’s human went on to tell me she had gone to a shelter a couple of years ago, still mourning Lily, and not intending to adopt, only to look.

“As if that every works out,” she said with a smile.”

Sure enough, a little black cat with a white dot on her chest worked hard to catch her attention. The kitty’s name was Pearl. As she looked more closely, she noticed Pearl’s ear had been tipped (most likely done as part of a TNR program) – the same ear that Lily had crumpled by surgery. That sealed the deal!


Clearly, Lily had decided her human had been missing her long enough and led her to Pearl. Pearl quickly settled right into her new home and is loving life with her new family, and they adore her! She is, of course, different from Lily, despite their similar appearance, and is carving out her own piece of her human’s heart.

And now, Pearl has her very own, brand new, cheeky catnip cigar.

Rita Atkins volunteers with Only Maine Coon Rescue.  The group specializes in the Maine Coon Cat breed and rescues Maine Coon Cat / Kitten mixes from shelters and unwanted situations. All of their cats are lovingly cared for in foster homes until they are adopted.

Images are stock images via Pixabay

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12 Comments on Lily and Pearl: Passing the Cigar

  1. Lily and Pearl have definitely met between space time; a place in between levels of the universe where a soul passes another soul. Pearl sounds like the perfect replacement for your once precious Lily. Now enjoy each other and allow new memories to befall upon your family album. A beautiful story and I pray for you, Rita, and your precious girl Pearl and your whole family. G d always replaces the old with something new.

  2. A lovely story and well told. I think that all of us have certain cat toys tucked away for the memories they invoke. I know I do.

  3. What a precious story. I am a firm believer that our fur babies own our hearts and always will. I pray I will see those that have passed on when it’s my turn to cross the bridge. I am so thankful that this lady adopted another kitty. While we will never forget our babies, it is so healing to adopt another baby and give it a chance to receive all that love one has to give. Blessings!

  4. I, too, re-lived precious memories of my beloved Piper (black) and GabriellaFuzzyfeet(longhaired gray). After each passed, I put all their favorite things in plastic tubs. Often I just look up at the tubs and can see toys and smile. Every now and then, I open the tubs and cherish those happy times. I now have SapphoLily, who I often muse was sent to me by the two previous cats: Sappho is black like Piper and has Capt Gabie’s huge green eyes. When she showed up hungry in our yard, I was thinking of how I so missed my cats! She is small and dark and loves moonlight, as did the ancient poet Sappho, and because I believe St Joseph had a hand in bringing us together, I added the Lily, his flower, in his honor. PS The Yeowww! catnip banana was Gabie’s favorite and is also Sappho’s—no substitutions. Gabie also had their rainbow and cigar (from KeyWest), but there is something about the shape of the banana! They each have held it in front and hind paws, tossed it in the air, and slept with it. I tried others, but the cats ignored them. Yeoww! (I get them from Amazon). PS Sappho likes the Yeoww! soft round balls as well. Thanks, Ingrid, and the other commenters for sharing these nice, loving kitty memories.

  5. This is such a sweet story. I do believe cats we have lost in the past bring us to new ones. Nani was my soul cat and thinking her still brings tears to my eyes. I lost her almost 7 years ago. I still have some of her favorite toys set aside. I feel Nani brought me to Kiki when she thought I was ready for a new cat. It turned out to be a rescue in my town and I started to volunteer at the rescue too and became good friends with the girl who ran it. I wrote a short story in memory of Nani if you ever want to read it. I placed top 5 in a contest about unconditional love. What was ironic about the contest was it was put on by a jewelry insurance company and everyone assumed that love story should have been about their significant other. I wrote about the love Nani and I shared.

      • Maria, I just sent it to Ingrid. She may decide to post it if it’s appropriate. If you want, you can read my blog post from a few years ago.

        • Thank you Janine, for the opportunity to read your story. I have had four cats, and each of them have touched my soul and heart – I do believe I have become a better and more compassionate person all thanks to being owned by these loving animals.

  6. This super sweet story brings back memories for me as well – so now I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, mostly happy tears though because cats have that impact on me. Almost every morning, when having my second mug of coffee, I read the “Consciouscat” daily post, it’s a great habit.

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