A Special Gift to Honor Our Sweet Cat Milli

Last summer, our sweet Milli passed away from complications of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). She was a rescue cat I had adopted in 2008 when we lived in Tennessee. I adopted Milli along with her sister Sasha when Elijah and Michala were in elementary school so they pretty much grew up with the cats. 

Milli was diagnosed with FIV in 2015. I remember the day because it was right before we moved to Michigan. I had taken both of the cats to the vet for their annual shots and to get chipped. The vet told me since Milli wasn’t showing any symptoms for FIV, it was very possible she would live a long, healthy life. 

[FUN FACT: I named Milli after Lil’ Wayne’s song “A Milli” because at the time I had adopted her it was one of his hit songs. I would play that song on repeat! LOL!]

Pet Memorial Idea: Custom Pet Painting
Milli was a very special cat to Elijah and Michala because they had her throughout most of their childhood.

Millie was a plump cat that didn’t miss a meal (haha). We fondly called her Big Mam and every time we’d say, “Hey, Big Mama!” she’d shake her tail and rub her body against our legs. She had a sweet nature about her and seemed to always sense when you were feeling down. She’d come and sit beside us and would look up at us with her green eyes as if to say, “Hey, it’s okay. I’m here!”

She’d give a blink. Never a meow because she wasn’t the type of cat to “talk” to you like Sasha. (She’s a very chatty cat!) We always seemed to know what it was Milli wanted by just the looks she’d give us or how she’d want us to follow her.

Sometimes I would forget Milli had FIV. Throughout those five years, Milli didn’t show any symptoms of the disease so we were surprised when her illness took a turn for the worse in late May 2019. It was so unexpected and we felt helpless that there wasn’t much we could do for her. We knew at that point Milli’s death was imminent, but it still felt surreal.

When Milli passed, it broke our hearts. Elijah and Michala were devastated. They lost their best friend and it pained me to see my children hurting. Even now, a year after her death, we still sometimes think she’s in the house with us.

When I see Sasha, it doesn’t feel the same because Milli isn’t with her. They used to cuddle up together when they slept. Milli would often rest her head on Sasha’s backside or they’d curl up in a ball beside each other. Despite their old age, they’d still chase each other around the house and play fight like kittens. Those two were inseparable.



Pet Memorial Idea: Custom Pet Painting
This photo is still hard for me to look at because it’s the last one I took of Milli before she passed away. I miss her so much!


For the anniversary of her death, I wanted to get Elijah and Michala a sweet gift because I knew how much Milli meant to them. I researched for weeks a pet memorial idea that would be a special way to honor our kitty. I wanted it to be something personal and unique for Elijah and Michala. Yet, nothing I found online seemed to be a good fit for my kids.

One day, I was browsing Eastern Market’s website for information about Flower Day, an annual springtime event held in Detroit. That’s when I stumbled upon Kate Murphy’s art. She was the 2020 Detroit artist selected for Eastern Market’s Flower Day 2020 theme.

Kate, not only creates lovely flower art, but she also creates custom pet paintings. As soon as I saw Kate’s artwork on her Instagram page, I knew right away this would be the perfect gift for the kids!

I clicked on Kate’s website to find her email address and then I submitted my order request to her. She was very kind and had the designs ready in just a few days. She even took the time to select colors and designs that would personalize Elijah and Michala’s paintings.

In an email, Kate explained to me that she chose “a muted color palette that would be very angelic for her. For the backgrounds, I chose cherry blossoms that symbolize springtime.”

Custom Pet Painting to Honor the Loss of a Pet

While for Elijah’s painting, Kate added a Rosemary design because of it’s “fleeting nature of life.” She explained that Rosemary is a healing herb symbolizing remembrance. 

Both of the designs were perfect for Elijah and Michala! I even shed a few tears when I saw them in person. The paintings looked so much like Milli. I just knew my kids were going to love them.

Pet Memorial Idea: A Custom Pet Painting

Fighting back tears, Michala said, “I thought the painting was really thoughtful. The design of the painting is very unique and it’s a really special way to honor Milli. Actually, when I got it, the first two weeks I slept with it. (Laughs) It was right beside my pillow. It was a little something to remember her by and it just felt like she was right there with me.”

“I thought that it looked exactly like her,” Elijah told me. “I appreciated having such a realistic and vivid, physical representation of my childhood best friend. Honestly, it stirred some sad emotions because of how real it looked. It was like I was looking directly at Milli, but at the same time, that’s what makes it an even more beautiful gift. Thank you, Kate, for making this for me. I really appreciate that.”

Pet Memorial Idea: Custom Pet Painting
“I thought the painting was really thoughtful. The design of the painting is very unique and it’s a really special way to honor Milli.”
We miss you sweet Milli!

We love Milli’s portraits! This was definitely a special pet memorial idea for the kids, and the best part is: the paintings are one of a kind. It brought me great joy to bless Elijah and Michala in this way. I hope they keep the paintings and cherish them as they remember their furry friend.

If you would like to order a custom pet painting to honor your fur baby, then reach out to Kate Murphy here. Thank you, Kate, for creating such beautiful designs to honor our sweet Milli!


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All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.

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