Minneapolis + St Paul Pet Photography Blog

Saying Goodbye to Chippy

When a friend had a litter of kittens, of course I wanted to go see them. Just a visit. We didn’t need another pet, so I wasn’t intending to take one.

….But wouldn’t it be fun to have a new kitten, a loving lap cat? Dustin said no.

So I brought this unsanctioned kitten home the next week :)

We’d been watching Tim and Eric Awesome Show around this time, and when I walked in with this fuzzy little tabby, our roommate, Tommy, said “Hey, you got a little Chip Chip!” (a bit from the show) No other name seemed to fit, so she’s just always been Chip Chip / Chippy.

One line from that show was “Where’s my Chippy?” which we liked to play whenever possible. Was she in a box? Under a blanket? On the towels in the closet, or somehow inside the sock drawer? Where’s my Chippy?

twin cities cat photo

I’d love to say it was a perfect fit, a wonderful time, but oh man. This was a NAUGHTY kitten. She was wild, scratchy, bitey, climbing the walls, knocking everything off flat surfaces. She bullied Simon all the time (poor, gentle Simon), and she wasn’t interested in cuddling – like, at all.

So much for my lap cat.

I may or may not have asked most of our friends (semi-jokingly) if they were interested in taking a kitten off our hands.

But as time went on, she grew up and calmed down. She wanted to cuddle up to Gracie, who just grumbled and moved. She was playful and loved toys, which helped her not get TOO fat, since she ate all of her food and most of Simon’s through the years, but she was a big cat. And so soft! We always said she was impossibly soft – like a bunny.

Girl loved a box. If it was open, she was in it. If it was closed, she was on top of it. We had to keep an empty box on the dining room table for months because that was her spot. She also loved licking plastic for some reason. Not all plastic, just thin plastic bags – specifically grocery bags and the packaging from toilet paper.

Her cute little flat round face was famous for looking grumpy. She always seemed disgruntled about something, which inspired her catch phrase: “Chippy Hates.” She liked things a certain way, and hissing was her love language. That ubiquitous expression was known as her “Resting Chip Face.” It was such a defining characteristic that when we’ve had paintings commissioned of her, the main request was that she have that special expression.

Artists left to right: DC Ice, Sarah Thornton, Kimberly Santini

She was 8 years old before she ever sat on my lap. That really felt like the turning point from terrible kitten to a proper kitty companion. Took her long enough.

Once Simon passed away, she didn’t have that alpha “bully” energy anymore. When Gracie passed away 6 months later, that’s when she really stepped up into her role as the only family pet. She’d sit on our laps every night, became more playful and lost some weight.

She was so playful, in fact, that jumping for the feather toy got a little out of hand one night and she crashed into the coffee table. She lost some teeth from that incident, and gained the nickname “Chippy Chompers.”

Bringing Rosie home was a bit of a setback in her journey toward perfect pet. No surprise, the puppy displeased her. It took about 6 months before she really wanted to hang out in the same room as Rosie, but she slowly came around. She’d even initiate play, and didn’t totally hate it every time Rosie tried to play. She sounded like she hated it, but that was just her voice. Her body language told a different story.

Even though sometimes Chippy Hated, Chippy also Loved. If I was laying on the couch, she’d be laying on top of me, purring, paws sometimes pressed into my throat so I remember who’s in charge. Rosie is 100% a lap dog and I think Chippy got jealous, because she’d try to force her way onto my lap with her.

She took a real shine to Dustin, and made him the Cat Dad he never knew he wanted to be. She loved him in her own awkward Chippy way – rubbing her face in his beard, chewing on his hair, and giving me dirty looks if I got too close while she was on his lap. Despite her quirks, she was a Very Good Chip.

This past year when she wasn’t snoozing in a closet or her carrier or some other random spot, she wanted to be with us. Near us, on us, just in the same room. Always ready for a Chippy Treat, or hoping one of us would brush our teeth so she could get all worked up about “toothpaste mouth.”

Some favorite notes from the vet over the years included: “She’s a big girl, but she’s a delight” and “Bright, alert, responsive. Occasional hissing”

This past week was pretty tough. She just stopped eating and quickly went downhill. Her bloodwork was fine, but liver tests showed numbers that were off the charts. We’ll never know what caused it, but I take a lot of comfort in how she handled it. While she clearly didn’t feel good, she seemed very calm and content. She just wanted to sleep on the heating pad. Sometimes she’d get up and sleep in Rosie’s kennel. No distress, no messes, just an easy transition. As easy as it can be, I guess… this is never “easy.”

It’s been so cloudy lately, it was really nice to get some sun on her final day so she could have one last lay in the sunshine. We don’t get a lot of sun here, so she’d be really happy whenever she could find a sunbeam to bask in. Dr. Novak from St. Francis came out to the house and made everything really comfortable. Pets Remembered did a private cremation, and she’s back home now with all of us.

It’s all been such a whirlwind. Rosie’s a little sad, she’s been looking for her and whining. She hasn’t known life here without Chippy. Dustin’s been hearing creaking in the hallway every night, so we’re pretty sure she’s coming to visit him… after I go to bed, of course, so I don’t interrupt her cat dad time. We just miss her. It felt like this cat was going to live a long time, and we really had no reason to think otherwise until a week ago.

It sucks losing a friend, and my heart goes out to so many of you who have gone through this as well. This is the first time in over 20 years I’ve been without a cat. It’s strange and too quiet.

We may have had a rocky start, but you turned out absolutely perfect in your own special way. Thanks for being our cat.

Love you, Chip. Say hi to Simon and Gracie for us.

You’ll notice almost all the images in this post are cell phone photos. Chippy only got in on a few “professional” photos at the beginning of her life, and I do have regrets about that. It’s tougher with cats, of course, but I could have made more time to work with her. If you have a special pet nearing the end of their life – or really, ANY time in their life – consider a professional pet photography session to commemorate them in much higher quality. They deserve a place of pride on your wall to match the one they hold in your heart.


Hi! I'm Sarah, but feel free to call me Sarah Beth. I've been a professional photographer for over 17 years, and I've been an animal lover and an artist my entire life. Read More . . .


Sarah Ernhart
Sarah Beth Photography

2205 California St. NE, Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55418