January 9th, 2024

By: Sarah A. Neikam, CAWA

On New Year’s Day, my husband and I lost Bastian, our handsome 10-year-old black cat. His sudden and unexpected passing devastated us. Bastian was our first pet as a married couple, and we loved him immensely.

We adopted Bastian from the SPCA Albrecht Center, where I worked as Volunteer Coordinator, in 2013. He was a stray kitten, found at a local hotel, and only two weeks old, requiring bottle feeding every few hours. Initially, I volunteered to foster him for a weekend. Despite never having fostered or bottle-fed before, I couldn’t resist his helpless sweetness. Unexpectedly, my husband, Tom, formed an even stronger bond with Bastian, especially during feedings, which I had much less patience for. As a result, Bastian became a permanent part of our family and Tom’s new best friend.

Bastian was a sweet, fun, and smart kitten. He quickly learned to use the litter box and scratching post. He even figured out our bedtime routine after one night, sleeping with us most nights, often jumping on top of Tom to “say goodnight” before cuddling into his fleece Christmas blanket, a gift from Tom’s mom. Bastian continued this routine his entire life, and his blanket remains on our bed.

Our family grew with the addition of Luna and Grady, other cats from the SPCA. The three of them moved with us twice into new homes, eventually welcoming two outdoor and one more indoor cat into our lives.

Sometime along the way, Bastian suffered an injury to his right eye that resulted in vision loss and the possibility of further complications, so we took our vet’s advice and had the eye removed. Minus a very short adjustment period, Bastian bounced right back and was his usual playful self in no time.

Otherwise, Bastian was perfectly healthy the rest of his life. His weight stayed steady at 10-11lbs, he never overate, rarely begged for food, and if he escaped outside, he was content just to roll in the dirt or on the concrete and then run back inside.

His favorite treats included ham, whipped cream, butter, and blue cheese dressing. He enjoyed sharing sandwich meat with Tom and their late-night “milk parties” in front of the fridge.

I never imagined that the past year would be our last with Bastian, or the last Christmas just a few weeks ago, or the last day on January 1. As quickly as his 10-year life seemed to pass by, it was filled with so much joy and so many happy memories, and as shattering as the heartbreak and grief have been at the end, it’s worth all the love we shared and I’d do it all over again.

Bastian was one individual cat, with his own unique personality, preferences, behaviors and character. He’s irreplaceable and there will never be another like him. But if we’re lucky, we will welcome many other cats into our home in the years to come, and say goodbye to many as well.

Pets, especially shelter or rescued ones, bring immense happiness and love to our lives, and the unfailing love and devotion of a pet should be experienced by everyone.

At the SPCA Albrecht Center, and every animal shelter, there are so many pets waiting for their chance to belong to someone. Each one has their own, special uniqueness, and one of them is a perfect match for you. Don’t miss out on enriching your life with years of joy and memories – adopt a pet today.

See our available pets at LetLoveLive.org or visit us at 199 Willow Run Rd, Aiken, SC.

Bastian, we’ll love and miss you forever.

Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken, SC. She has been with the organization since 2012, holding various roles including Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Operations & HR. A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator as of 2022, Sarah is a passionate advocate for animal welfare. She resides in Aiken with her husband, Tom, and their six cats.