Remembering Youngest Old Cat Lady

April 16, 2023

Trigger warning: suicide

It was a Sunday when I learned about the news. I was scrolling Instagram when I stumbled upon a post by the.real.gus.gus that read "how sad we are about the news of Ashley’s passing". I was like, wait... what? I didn't understand, so I went to Ashley's account (@youngestoldcatlady) and saw her scheduled post. That's when I learned of the heartbreaking news. 💔

Ashley Morrison, also known as Youngest Old Cat Lady, was an animal foster and rescue advocate, and she mostly worked on cat TNR (trap-neuter-release) operations, fostering, and adoption. All of her adventures of trapping kittens, feeding new-born babies, and taking care of her foster cats are documented on her Instagram account.

Parasocial relationships are so weird. I had never met Ashley in person, nor did she know me, but I cried after learning the news. The tears kept on flowing as I read through other followers' convos and threads on Ashley's last post, as well as on Gus' account. Maybe because it was all so sudden. Maybe because I just loved all the cat content she created. Maybe because Ashley really had an impact in my life.

I discovered Ashley's account during the pandemic. Instagram, with its wonderful algorithm, must have recommended her account because it's cat related. 🐈 Well it made sense that I became a more serious cat mom because it was in 2020 that I went hands-on with a kitten (a.k.a. Cloudy) that would then be our first indoor cat. Through Ashley's account, I learned about litter box training. I learned the importance of spaying and got encouraged to finally do the big step of spaying two of our female cats.

I also got to learn about bottle-feeding new-born kittens and I actually got to apply the skills when Dorsey was born. I think it was also through Ashley that I was also able to "save" Cloudy last year when I thought she was going to die. Cloudy didn't eat for around 3 days and then for the 4th day I pulled her out of her hiding place and fed her through a syringe for a week. I am where I'm at today with my cat-caring skills because Ashley inspired me with her work. 

Aside from all the helpful information that was present on Ashley's account, there's just so much entertainment in the content she released. She gave her newly-arrived kittens with so many adorable names and would go to IG live to show the kittens playing. She would make funny voice-overs for each of the cats and that just made my day brighter each and every time. I enjoyed following the stories of her fosters (most notably Gus and Blossom and most of the Soap Lake kittens) -- from the day they got trapped up to their adoption. Ashley did dedicate her energy and time to these little cute creatures.

Ashley was also a mental health advocate. She had shared with her followers her own struggles. She's such a brave soul for being open and vulnerable about it. It was only after her passing that I learned more details about her experiences. Damn, she did experience a lot.

Since the start of the year up until a few weeks back, I have been seeing posts from her that she's just not her best version at the moment, even saw that she got hospitalized (apparently she had to have her gallbladder removed). She was not posting much after that and I assumed that she was resting and recovering. This was why the news of her passing was so unexpected.

Her scheduled post went out Sunday, but based on her relatives who have commented on Instagram, Ashley passed away on Thursday. I can't imagine the pain her loved ones are going through. 😥 As one of her followers, it's really helping that Gus' owners are holding space for us, who are still in a level of sadness and grief, through Gus' IG and we're supporting each other through comments, sharing our own stories of Ashley and of how she impacted us. I have read a lot of comments saying that they felt weird crying even though they did not meet nor know Ashley personally, and was so glad that they're not alone feeling that way. This community is really a safe space and we're just all offering virtual hugs to each other.

I think writing this post is my way of processing my own grief. Ashley was younger than me. As someone who also has a scheduled post hidden somewhere, I can't imagine the pain that Ashley had to go through to see that her only choice was to take her own life. 😔 

I still go back to her final post and just repeatedly read her final message to the world: Please, take care of each other. And yes I will, and that's applicable for both two-legged and four-legged living beings. 🐈💓


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