“SNL”'s Heidi Gardner Says Saying Goodbye to Her 17-Year-Old Cat Was 'the Hardest Thing' (Exclusive)

The 'Saturday Night Live' star spoke about her deep love for felines for PEOPLE's One Last Thing

<p>Brianne Wills</p> Heidi Gardner in 2024

Brianne Wills

Heidi Gardner in 2024

Heidi Gardner wasn't ready to let go.

The Saturday Night Live star, 40, admits to PEOPLE in this week's issue that she last cried when she had to say goodbye to her 17-year-old cat, Marshall.

"This has probably been the one thing in my life that I've been in the most denial of that could end," she says of her relationship with Marshall. "There's a bodega cat down the street from me who's 24, and Marshall was 17, so I was like, 'Okay, I have seven more years.'"

Gardner had been warned by others how emotional it is to euthanize a beloved pet. "I've heard different stories of being in the room with your pet and not being with them because it is so painful," she says.

Related: Millie Bobby Brown Reveals She Has 9 Pet Dogs and Is Fostering a Further ‘23 Dogs Right Now'

But the actress knew she had to be there when the time came. "The thing about Marshall that was so wonderful, and why he was like the best companion ever, is he had these beautiful big blue eyes, and he would just stare," she explains. "I've never made better eye contact, even with a human being, as I did with my cat."

While being in the room with him "sounded so sad and scary," Gardner knew her cat "deserved someone to be looking in his eyes the way that he did for years with me," she adds. "He was on this planet for a long time, just giving love, and it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'm like, God, I am so glad we were looking at each other. And I hope he was in peace."

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Gardner shared Marshall's story with the magazine for PEOPLE's One Last Thing. Read on to see what else the comedian had to say and for more celeb news, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, available on newsstands now.

Last moment of self-care

I've been doing infrared saunas to the point where I’m thinking I need to put one in my apartment. It’s cold outside, so I feel like I’m shaking up my body.

Last obsession

While everyone was watching Schitt’s Creek, I was watching the classic TV show Dallas. I’m on season 12 right now. I even bought a "Who shot J.R.?" T-shirt.

Last thing I took from the set

Every so often, I’ll take a cue card. Right now, they’re all in my dressing room in a stack. I should definitely frame some of them.

Last time I was starstruck

I was walking today in Brooklyn and saw Matt Damon. We worked together on SNL a few years ago, but I didn’t say anything. I just walked away with the biggest smile.

Saturday Night Live airs on NBC at 11:30/10:30c.

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