Fiona_W
Hello my fellows in grief— I'm Fi ("fee"). I'm a 63-year-old retired physician. I am a writer (nonfiction) and an artist (mostly collage & mail art). I have been married for nearly 40 years to a ponytailed botanist named Bob. Bob and I chose not to have human children, but instead to live with cats. We are not the kind of cat people who don't like dogs, though: we love all sorts of fur & feathered & scaly people. We have had four pairs of cats, each pair a brother & sister (littermates). The first three pairs were oriental shorthairs. Our 4th pair, currently living with us, are oriental longhairs.

The reason why I sought out this forum is that I am struggling with deep grief over the deaths of our third pair of cats, Oscar and Nénu ("nay-noo"). We got Oscar and Nénu from our breeder in August of 2014. Oscar was named for one of my literary heroes, Oscar Wilde. Nénu is short for Nénuphar, the French word for lotus or water lily. They were beautiful orange cats: Oscar was a tabby whose markings were a mixture of spots and stripes—splotches, really. He was the most beautiful cat we have ever had—long, tall, sleek, with a head that was exquisitely shaped. Nénu was an orange "ticked" tabby, the kind of tabby who has tabby markings (stripes) on face and legs and tail, but whose body is a solid color—light-colored underfur and darker "ticked" hairs.

Let me get quickly to the point. Oscar got sick in October of 2017, and died when his heart suddenly stopped, when he was in an animal hospital after minor surgery. We don't know why that happened. He died on October 26. When I called our breeder to tell her Oscar had died, she said, "You are in luck! I have a robust, healthy pair of four-month-old oriental longhair kittens, ready to go to a home. Since Oscar and Nénu were in poor health [it's a long story] when you bought them from me, and I have always felt guilty about that, I will give them to you for free."

So a month later we drove to where my breeder was at a cat show and picked up the longhair kittens, which we named Stevie Ray, for the late great Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Emmylou, for the vocalist Emmylou Harris. Stevie Ray is bicolored—part black-and-grey tabby, part white. Emmylou is a chocolate ticked tabby—brown underfur and black ticking. They have big ears and green eyes, like all orientals. Their long hair is silky, a medium length, not really long like a Persian. We brought them back home and introduced them to Nénu. They got along just great—not a single hiss—and Nénu showed our new kittens around the house and helped them get settled in.

A few days later, Nénu got sick with a respiratory infection. We took her to our vet and got her on antibiotics, but she died a couple of days later, unable to breath because her lungs were filling up with mucus. She died on December 9th. Needless to say, Bob and I were devastated. We had had two wonderful kitties, three and a half years old, and within six weeks they both died. TWO cats dead!

We have tried hard to weather the grief and stay strong for our new kittens, Stevie Ray and Emmylou, but frankly, I'm not doing very well. I have good days, when I'm crying, but able to function, and bad days, when I lie in bed, weeping and wailing.

I joined this forum in the hope of getting some support. My mourning is so intense, it's standing in the way of my bonding with Stevie Ray and Emmylou. The kittens are strongly bonded to Bob, but with me they are pretty shy. Why wouldn't they be? Bob is feeding them and taking care of them, and I am a weeping, wailing mess.

What am I asking of you? I would like to get to know you, as people who will understand how terrible the grief can be, after losing two cats, only three and a half years old, within six weeks of each other!

I don't know yet how to put a picture in a posting, but I would love it if you went to my artist's website on ipernity, where I have an album devoted to our cats. The most recent, first, pictures are of Oscar and Nénu. (I don't have any pics of Stevie Ray and Emmylou up yet.) If you click on each picture, you'll go to its individual page, with a description underneath. Then, if you click again on the picture, you'll see a larger version of it. Here's the link:

http://www.ipernity.com/doc/fi_webster/album/352235

I look forward to getting to know y'all!

Fi
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PeppermintPatty
Hi Fiona,

First of all, I am very sorry for your loss.

I have had cats all of my life. I have never gotten mine from a breeder as I had always been a rescue cat person. While I can't relate to that aspect of what you are going through, I can relate to the intense grief you are feeling right now. I recently lost two of my seniors within less than five months of each other.

My first question after reading your post (and I'm sorry if I am way off base here) is, how reputable was your breeder? Because, in my opinion, there is something wrong with this story. To have trusted and then suffered the losses like you did ... I just don't know.

What I do know is you have come to a safe haven where we can question, doubt, greive, cry, suffer and mourn together.

Welcome to the forum. Take care.
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Fiona_W
Thanks for your reply, Patty. Actually, my breeder is so reputable, she has been the president of the Oriental Shorthairs Association of America, an association of breeders, for a number of years. She has a PhD. in Chemistry and knows a great deal about cat genetics. When she plans a breeding, she carefully compares the genetic profiles of the male and the female so as to minimize inbreeding. We discovered her back in 2001 when we had just lost the second half of our first pair, and I had a yen for a black cat. So I made a lot of phone calls (not much in the way of the Web back then), and everyone I called had high praise for this breeder, named Julie Keyer. Well it just so happened that Julie had a litter of kittens with an all-black female, and was willing to sell us that female and her grey brother. Those two kittens, eventually cats, were a huge success. They were lovely, highly social, playful, bonded to each other—just a super pair of cats. Over the years, even though Julie lives in New Jersey (Princeton area) and we live in a suburb of DC, we got to be friends through phone conversations. I was a chemistry major as an undergrad, so we have a lot in common in our interest in chemistry, and just in general, we hit it off. I have only the highest respect for Julie as a breeder.

Nonetheless, Oscar and Nénu started out as a bit of an unfortunate pair. Their litter was not very successful... well, I won't go into all the details, but O & N were not in the best of health, and Julie was very reluctant to sell them to us. She ended up paying for all their early vet bills AND she gave us our money back, that we had paid for them. She felt very guilty about having let us adopt them, but had a lot of trust in us as experienced people when it came to oriental shorthairs, such that if anyone could pull those tiny kittens out of their early health problems, we could. And we DID! At least it appeared that we did: at 3 years of age they were full-size oriental adults—playful, social, everything you could want in a pair of cats. But we continued to be somewhat worried about them, since their immune systems were not very strong...

Listen, Patty: I am not here to defend my breeder or defend Bob's and my decision to adopt purebred orientals instead of rescue cats. Only 5% of cats in America are purebreds, so I know we're in a small minority and that people who adopt only rescue cats or feral cats are often judgmental toward those who choose purebreds from breeders. But please don't judge me, Patty. The important thing here is that I am grieving very hard, because we lost HALF of our immediate family in a matter of six weeks. Surely you understand how crushing that is!

Our reason for choosing orientals, incidentally, is not for their looks, but for their personalities. They are a lot like dogs: they stay playful all of their lives, they are extremely social to humans, even strangers who come into our house, and they are full of sparkle and mischief. They're also champion jumpers and like to ride around on our shoulders. We had to buy Oscar & Nénu a cat tree that goes all the way to the ceiling, just so they'd get enough exercise. These are cats who are the OPPOSITE of the aloof, independent cat that has become a cliché.

But Oscar & Nénu are dead now. You can't imagine... two cats in six weeks... I am crying copiously as I write these words....

But we have a pair of very healthy seven-month-old oriental longhairs now, and are ready to embark on our fourth experience of raising kittens. I don't want to be weeping & wailing all the time, driving those kittens away from me and impairing my bonding with them. I do play with them every day and when they are cuddled up between my husband's legs in bed, I pet them and talk to them as a parent should.

I'm mourning HARD, though. And I'm disabled. I can't walk very far, with a cane, and have to go by wheelchair to my doctors' appointments.

Please.... don't judge me OR my choice of a breeder... I need help, not questions that poke at my past decisions!

I am crying too hard now to write any more....
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PeppermintPatty
Fiona,

Please know, I was not judging you in the least. I was just kind of searching for answers in this unfortunate circumstance. The only reason I brought it up is that I have never had any experience with a breeder. I trust you that yours was reputable and that fate simply presented itself as it did. There may never be any answers to adequately put us at peace with the loss of our little angels.

I know you are in mourning. Please take care.
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Fiona_W
Thank you for your kind words, Patty. And you can call me Fi ("fee").

You know, my breeder has her own theory about why Nénu got sick and died so rapidly after the new kittens arrived. She said, "Nénu lived her life taking care of others. When they were just infants, she took her brother under her wing because Oscar was a runt and needed all the help he could get. And she took care of you, Fi, through the medical disaster that left you disabled. After Oscar died, she knew she needed to be at his side in the Other World. But she also knew your new kittens would need someone to show them where their food and water bowls and litter boxes were, and someone to show them that you & Bob were trustworthy. So even though she missed Oscar a great deal, she hung around long enough to help the new kittens get settled. After she did that, it was time to go. It was time to go be with Oscar."

And here's a story that you might find unbelievable, but it really happened. On the last night of Nénu's life, she went downhill very rapidly, to the point where it was very difficult for her to breathe. So I took her in my lap in the passenger seat, and Bob drove the car, and we raced her to a vet hospital that was open 24 hours. All the way there I had to stimulate Nénu and talk to her to get her to keep breathing. When we pulled up in the parking lot right in front of the entrance to the hospital, something extraordinary happened: Nénu stretched out her neck, tipped her head up, and gave out a long, loud, creepy-sounding meow. And then she died. She died in my lap!

By then Bob had the car door open and was holding the cat carrier open to take Nénu into the hospital. He didn't realize, as I did, that Nénu had already died. So I lifted Nénu up into the cat carrier, so Bob could race her inside for CPR.

As I did that, as Nénu was guided into the cat carrier, I saw a flurry of light orange at the back of the carrier. At first it was hard to make out what was moving around back there, but then it was clear: I saw Oscar. He was there, in the Other World, waiting to greet his beloved sister as she joined him.

It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced—Oscar's spirit waiting for Nénu to cross through the veil into the Other World.
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Buzz
What handsome boy's and beautiful little "Furbabies" you have shared your life with..... Love is not just for us humans to feel but our little one's also give us unconditional love and the enjoyment of being a family......Unfortunately our little one's leave us all to soon and with heavy hearts we grieve for them, Your babies stole your hearts giving you both Love and Comfort sometimes for years or just for a brief moment, Their love cannot be measured in time, and it always seems like there's not enough moment's to cherish when it's time to let go. Sometimes we are able to share their crossing and sometimes they may pass unnoticed, but the most courageous thing you can do is to ensure their lives had meaning and share the gift of love meant for only you..

You have a big heart that is breaking so grieve for your little one's and let the healing process begin.

.
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Fiona_W
Thank you, Buzz. I'm still crying often when things or conversation remind me of Oscar & Nénu, but the last few days have been better. I'm discouraged, though, that the new kittens are still pretty shy around me. They're "hand shy," if you know what that means: when I reach out my hand to pet them, they scoot rapidly away from me. But when they curl up in their cat bed or between my husband's legs in bed, I'm able to pet them, make tentative eye contact with them, and... I hope.... advance the process of their beginning to trust me.

But I think of Oscar and Nénu so much! It's been two and a half months now, since Nénu died, and six weeks longer than that since Oscar died. Please tell me, someone: is that a very long period of time? Is it normal for me to still be missing them so intensely?

Again, here's the link to pictures of Oscar and Nénu:

http://www.ipernity.com/doc/fi_webster/album/352235



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Buzz
Your so welcome, as for your grief that is something you should not be embarrassed about....Love is the reason why we grieve and their is no time limit, It will get better as time goes by..Your babies stole your heart so greive but let your tears be happy one's thinking about all the great times you shared, as those are the gifts they gave you and your family..

As for the new little family members give them time my Pepper is a rescue and she is also handshy as well but she is learning how to be more affectionate, and I'm happy to have her but a huge piece of my heart will always be reserved for my beautiful little boy's Scooter and Tweedy.....I wish you "Peace"..
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Fiona_W
Thanks so much, Bonniesmum, for your comment on the photos of Oscar and Nénu. It's remarkable how important, how consoling, photos and artwork commemorating one's fur childrem are. I took only one photo each of my first pair of orientals, and I keenly regret not having taken more. But I'm not a camera person. It's taken the acquisition of an iPad to get me going on taking photos in earnest.

Thanks for your advice about setting up separate but parallel threads devoted, on the one hand, to mourning for my precious orange kitties, and on the other hand, to reaching out to our seven-month-old kittens. But HOW to do that? When I give myself over to the grief for Oscar and Nénu, I quite literally weep and wail. I know Stevie Ray and Emmylou can hear me, no matter where they are in the house. The last thing I want them to think about me is that I'm some sort of untrustworthy basket case. Plus, I'm disabled: I can only walk a short distance—with pain, difficulty, and a 4-pronged cane—so I can't follow the kittens when they run from me. =sigh= When we first got Oscar and Nénu, it was before I became disabled.

I have never had trouble forming close, affectionate relationships with our cats in the past... so this dilemma is new to me. I guess I'll just have to work harder at setting up barriers in my psyche between the old cats and the new ones. And I also need to develop some ways of grieving more discreetly, in ways that are less alarming to Stevie Ray and Emmylou.

But you know what I want to do, when Oscar and Nénu press into my mind, as they do at least once an hour? I want to scream and scream and scream....

Oh my god, WHAT am I going to do?

Fi
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COOKIES4
Fiona_W wrote:
Hello my fellows in grief— I'm Fi ("fee"). I'm a 63-year-old retired physician. I am a writer (nonfiction) and an artist (mostly collage & mail art). I have been married for nearly 40 years to a ponytailed botanist named Bob. Bob and I chose not to have human children, but instead to live with cats. We are not the kind of cat people who don't like dogs, though: we love all sorts of fur people. We have had four pairs of cats, each pair a brother & sister (littermates). The first three pairs were oriental shorthairs. Our 4th pair, currently living with us, are oriental longhairs.

The reason why I sought out this forum is that I am struggling with deep grief over the deaths of our third pair of cats, Oscar and Nénu ("nay-noo"). We got Oscar and Nënu from our breeder in August of 2014. Oscar was named for one of my literary heroes, Oscar Wilde. Nénu is short for Nénuphar, the French word for lotus or water lily. They were beautiful orange cats: Oscar was a tabby whose markings were a mixture of spots and stripes—splotches, really. He was the most beautiful cat we have ever had—long, tall, sleek, with a head that was exquisitely shaped. Nénu was an orange "ticked" tabby, the kind of tabby who has tabby markings (stripes) on face and legs and tail, but whose body is a solid color—light-colored underfur and darker "ticked" hairs.

Let me get quickly to the point. Oscar got sick in October of 2017, and died when his heart suddenly stopped, when he was in an animal hospital after minor surgery. We don't know why that happened. He died on October 26. When I called our breeder to tell her Oscar had died, she said, "You are in luck! I have a robust, healthy pair of four-month-old oriental longhair kittens, ready to go to a home. Since Oscar and Nénu were in poor health [it's a long story] when you bought them from me, and I have always felt guilty about that, I will give them to you for free."

So a month later we drove to where my breeder was at a cat show and picked up the longhair kittens, which we named Stevie Ray, for the late great Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Emmylou, for the vocalist Emmylou Harris. Stevie Ray is bicolored—part black-and-grey tabby, part white. Emmylou is a chocolate ticked tabby—brown underfur and black ticking. They have big ears and green eyes, like all orientals. Their long hair is silky, a medium length, not really long like a Persian. We brought them back home and introduced them to Nénu. They got along just great—not a single hiss—and Nénu showed our new kittens around the house and helped them get settled in.

A few days later, Nénu got sick with a respiratory infection. We took her to our vet and got her on antibiotics, but she died a couple of days later, unable to breath because her lungs were filling up with mucus. She died on December 9th. Needless to say, Bob and I were devastated. We had had two wonderful kitties, three and a half years old, and within six weeks they both died. TWO cats dead!

We have tried hard to weather the grief and stay strong for our new kittens, Stevie Ray and Emmylou, but frankly, I'm not doing very well. I have good days, when I'm crying, but able to function, and bad days, when I lie in bed, weeping and wailing.

I joined this forum in the hope of getting some support. My mourning is so intense, it's standing in the way of my bonding with Stevie Ray and Emmylou. The kittens are strongly bonded to Bob, but with me they are pretty shy. Why wouldn't they be? Bob is feeding them and taking care of them, and I am a weeping, wailing mess.

What am I asking of you? I would like to get to know you, as people who will understand how terrible the grief can be, after losing two cats, only three and a half years old, within six weeks of each other!

I don't know yet how to put a picture in a posting, but I would love it if you went to my artist's website on ipernity, where I have an album devoted to our cats. The most recent, first, pictures are of Oscar and Nénu. (I don't have any pics of Stevie Ray and Emmylou up yet.) If you click on each picture, you'll go to its individual page, with a description underneath. Then, if you click again on the picture, you'll see a larger version of it. Here's the link:

http://www.ipernity.com/doc/fi_webster/album/352235

I look forward to getting to know y'all!

Fi
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COOKIES4
NOT YELLING LOW VISION. WHAT A SAD STORY. SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSSES. BLESS YOU FOR REACHING OUT TO THIS KIND AND COMPASSIONATE GTOUP. WE ARE SPARKY'S MOMMY AND DADDY AND LIST OUR BEAUTIFUL COCKATIEL FEATHER BABY *BIRDIE WHO PASSED AT 29 YEARS OLD SUDDENLY WITHOUT WARNING.OR BEING I'LL ON DECEMBER 28TH 2017. HE WAS BORN 2/14/1988 VALENTINES DAY AND HAD HIS 30TH BIRTHDAY ON THIS PAST VALENTINES DAY ON RAINBOWSBRIDGE HE WAS OUR PRECIOUS BEAUTIFUL BABY. SMART A TALKER A LIVING CHILD. I AM SO SORRY TO HEAR FI YOU ARE GRIEVING. WE AR3 TOO BUT MY HUSBAND HANDLES IT BETTER. I AM SO BING AND ENGULFED IN GRIEF. AS FOR HELP POSTING PHOTOS, PLEASE WRITE FOR HELP IN THE LINKS ATTACHED AS YOU,SIGNED UP. GINNY WHO IS THE FOUNDER WILL HELP YOU. GOING TO THE MONDAY NIGHT CANDLE CEREMONY WILL HELP YOU ALSO. YOU MAY SET UP A MEMORIAL HO.E ON RAINBOWSBRIDGE FOR YOUR FUR BABIES YOU LOST. HERE IS A PICTURE OF OUR PRECIOUS SPARKY.
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