Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Mary Kirkpatrick/The Globe and Mail

First Person is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at

He arrived in my life at 12 weeks of age, a tiny black kitten, stunted by the effects of a congenital heart condition.

A woman from the SPCA called just after I’d brought him home. “We gave you the wrong kitten.”

Story continues below advertisement

“What do you mean, the wrong kitten?” I asked. “I paid for him. I’ve got the paperwork.”

I had to give myself permission to mourn my cat

“We got him mixed up with another black kitten of the same age,” she said. “He has a bad heart murmur and won’t live for more than a year or two. We didn’t intend to adopt him out.”

I remembered how he’d tumbled to the front of a cluster of kittens at the shelter, eager to explore the hand of a stranger. So friendly. He was the one I wanted.

“I’ve chosen this kitten," I replied. "If he only lives a couple of years, well, that will have been his life. I want to keep him.”

“You’ll need to sign some paperwork saying you were informed of his heart murmur,” she said. “He’s got only two years. Maybe five or six if you’re incredibly lucky.”

For the first few days after his adoption, I tried to keep him out of my bedroom at night in the name of uninterrupted sleep, but that went the way of most good intentions. The first evening that I left the door open, he flung himself onto the bed and kept me awake with his eager purring and kneading with needle-sharp claws. It went on for hours, breaking into my dreams. He wanted to be as close to me as he could.

“That’s a horrendous heart murmur,” the vet told me at his first checkup, a few days later. “You don’t even need a stethoscope; you can feel it through the chest wall with your hand. He likely won’t live very long, but apart from that he’s in good shape. A playful little guy.”

Story continues below advertisement

It took a week or so to name him, but one day he was sitting at my feet looking up at me and the word popped into my head. “You’re Kismet,” I told him, bending down to scratch the soft fur behind his ears.

Kismet is a word with Turkish and Arabic roots meaning fate or destiny. As he grew to adulthood, I would sometimes look at him and puzzle over what subconscious urge had led me to choose the name. He had become a profoundly ordinary cat, even an annoying one. He continued to disturb my sleep on a nightly basis. He would have panic attacks, urinating all over me and the floor if I tried to put him in a carrier for a trip to the vet. He also developed a neurotic obsession with food. I moved to another city for a couple of years and left him with my housemates, often returning during the holidays. Kismet appeared more bloated each time I came home, growing obese as he devoured the food of the second cat (a finicky eater) as well as his own. As the other cat’s food dish sat on top of the water heater, Kismet would only lose weight when he grew too fat to haul himself onto the adjacent bookshelf and then up to the extra kibble. Thus he yo-yo’d around morbid obesity until I moved him back in with me – and implemented a strict diet, feeding the cats in separate rooms.

Despite his medical issues, Kismet continued to thrive as the years went by. “The cat who lived,” my partner started calling him. Periodically, I wondered about my unconscious name choice, but never really expected an answer. It was probably just a name, I thought.

Ironically, it was his kidneys that were the end of him, not his heart. In the last several months of his life, he became incontinent, struggling to get inside his litter box and often failing, urinating on the towels we’d place on a plastic mat around the box. At first, we cleaned up the towels with irritation, then later with love and pity as he struggled to maintain the patterns of a lifetime as they incrementally slipped away.

More than 15 years after that trip to the SPCA, we arrived at the end of Kismet’s life. It was only then that I realized I was meant to learn much from him – about the bumpy and unexpected road we take through life, moved along by contingency as much as by choice, and about the nature of the complicated bonds of love.

Now that there is a Kismet-sized hole in our lives, I miss his habit of flinging himself into our laps like an awkward child, seeking and giving affection in equal measure, poking with uncontrolled claws, drooling ridiculously, laughable but irresistible in his need to penetrate the busy fog of our days with his immediacy. “Love is here, now!” he always seemed to be saying.

Story continues below advertisement

With his passing – a humane drift into his final sleep in front of the fireplace he loved – I understand that Kismet taught me how following someone to the end of their days holds its own magical power to enrich our lives. Love can be awkward and lumpy and strangely shaped, loving perfectly isn’t necessary and true love is paradoxically forged by negotiating the imperfections thrown in its path. The act of living with those imperfections is what forms the warp and weft of love: instead of love existing despite the bumps in its road, those features form the strength of it. To have learned these things now from my funny, clumsy, gentle and loving cat – before it was too late in life for me to understand – that is my kismet.

Louise K. Blight lives in Victoria.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies