StillAsleep
Hello, I discovered this site while I was googling info on how to assist a cat through their grieving process. This beautiful little Groucho lost his sister last night, and while my heart aches for what I just went through, it's doubled when I see him wandering around aimlessly, sniffing around the house, being much more vocal than usual, seeing him so alert to every little sound, like he's wondering if it's her.. and this morning I noticed that he left a toy right in the middle of her bed. Oh.. just the thought that he might be trying to coax her back with toys is tearing me right up...

Eleven months ago a stray cat showed up in my back yard, one of my cats was howling at her as she sat perched up on the fence. I brought him inside and convinced her to come down for a visit, gave her some pets and noticed that she was super skinny so I gave her a bowl of food, and then another two which she happily ate down. She was the friendliest kitty, so full of love, and I would put a bowl of food out for her every time I fed my other two cats. Though I couldn't bring her inside because she seemed to have a real displeasure towards other felines (like full on screaming and howling at them, and eventually trying to fight each other), I did leave the garage door open for her to come and go as she pleased. 

A few months later, July 10th, I woke from a nap to find her meowing much more than usual outside my bedroom window, so I went outside to sit and hang out with her and she was just oozing love all over me, hopped up in my lap and headbutting me like crazy. Then suddenly she looked up at the garage and bolted off inside. Thinking that was strange, I followed her and sat down on the couch to listen to what she was up to. She was rustling around in some empty soil bags that were stashed behind the couch, and I heard some squeaking as well. Thinking that she had a half alive mouse or bird back there, I got her to follow me into the yard then went back in the garage and closed the door behind me... when I crawled back into the bags to see what the commotion was, I was totally unprepared for what I would find... two teeny little black and white kittens squirming about, looking just like their mumma... I had no idea she was even pregnant! 

I quickly went about trying to convince her to bring them inside the house, I opened up the basement window, and made a little nest inside a cardboard box with some bed sheets. And she was thrilled. I went back out and brought the kittens back inside, placed them in the box, and she immediately hopped in with them and started purring her approval. Even more shocking was coming home from work the next day to find a third kitten squirming inside the box, this one a grey stripped tabby, totally different from her siblings. 

Sadly, one of the black and white kittens passed on after only four days. On the second day we noticed that the little one wasn't nursing, which is when I started religiously weighing them daily. This one was actually loosing weight, and though we tried kmr, I think maybe he/she just wasn't ready for this lifetime. 

The other two kittens thrived - being the only two nursing off mum, they grew well faster than the average kitten weight charts I found online. Soon they were crawling around, opening their eyes, and ready to venture out of their nest and get to some real exploring. The remaining black and white kitty was named Groucho, for his adorable little black moustache, and his sister was named Charlie. Groucho and Charlie were always cuddled up together, or running around chasing each other, play fighting each other for the sweet spot in the corner of the couch.. When people asked me what I've been up to, my only response was "kittens!!" I sat down there with them from the time I got home from work, to the time I had to go to bed. It was the most amazing and incredible experience, watching them grow and learn and discover themselves and the world around them. I am so so grateful for that. And even the clue-less scavenger hunt mumma put me through daily when she went through her "need to hide her kittens" phase - lucky, after finally finding them that first day, she really only had one same secret spot she always brought them to.

Eventually, when mumma cat went back into heat and looked like she was less interested in nursing, and Groucho and Charlie were quite happy with kitty food, we knew it was time to have her spayed, and her and Charlie went in together - though I really battled with the thought of taking away Charlies opportunity to be a loving mummy, after seeing how much this mumma loved and cared for her kittens (I'm terrible at making my own decisions, let alone one for another living being)... it was truly such an amazing thing for me to witness. A good friend of mine took mumma cat into her home, since she recently lost her long time fur baby, and they've been loving each other since. I eventually brought Groucho and Charlie upstairs and introduced them to my two older cats. Groucho was a bit apprehensive at first, but Charlie was so curious about these big smelly creatures. She would follow my oldest (16 year old) around, and try to cuddle up with him, but he's a bit grouchy himself when it comes to other furry creatures and didn't really want anything to do with her... so she'd wait till he fell asleep and then cuddle up behind him. I caught this a few times, Sags fast asleep with Charlie cuddled up to him with her arm around his side <3 <3 

I wasn't sure that four cats under one roof was a good idea or not, but I couldn't bear the thought of finding them another home - I fell in love with them from the moment I first laid eyes on them - let alone the thought that they might even become separated and go to different homes, they love each other so much and are always together, playing or cuddling or grooming each other. 

Two days ago I came home and fed them as usual. Normally Charlie will scarf down her food, then try to get in on Grouchos, and then go after the others. Normally I have to sit with them while they eat and bring her into another room while she's done to let the others have their meals in peace.. but two days ago she was the last to finish her food. I watched her eat, like it was an effort to do so. Immediately concerned, I kept an eye on her all night, and all she really did was lay there with her eyes half open. At one point (right when I was about to get up to use the washroom) she crawled into my lap and gave me her usual lovey cuddle sesh... Charlie can get really demanding when it comes to cuddles, and her purrs and we would often sit and have little talks about life and everything else, and she would trill and chirrup, and it was the cutest most beautiful experiences.

As I held her I noticed that she was breathing really fast, and combined with her other behaviour that night, I decided to call the vet to get some advice. When I counted her respiratory rate, it was well above the normal level of 20-30 breaths a minute, I counted 40 breaths by the time the timer hit 35 seconds. I ran around the house checking the plants to see if any had kitty teeth marks on the leaves, or anything else that might have been left out that she could have gotten into that might make her sick. Maybe she had a fever or flu or something I really didn't know.. and I grabbed the carrier and brought her to the 24 hour vet clinic. 

Once there they looked at her right away since there was no one else in the waiting room, or maybe they were concerned about her breathing. The doctor came out shortly after to talk to me about what I noticed that evening and I gave her permission to do some x-rays. Not long after that she called me into the back to show them to me. The next bit is a bit of a blur, she started talking about some hypertrophic cardiomyopathy thing which causes ventricles in the heart to enlarge and she showed me that Charlies lungs were full of fluid, and told me that it was so rare to see this in such a young cat, and that some cats might only survive 6 months to a year, and there might be some treatments, but there's really not much they can do, she needs a new heart, but they want to monitor her and get her on an IV and some medication to help drain her lungs. And so I agreed to let her stay the night, and they let me say goodbye to her.. one of the staff had her on a table and I gave her pets and kisses and told her it would be okay and I'd see her soon.

The next morning I called them to see how she was doing, there was a little improvement, but not as much as there should have been, and they think maybe there were multiple issues going on, maybe some bronchitis as well. But the steroid medication used to treat bronchitis isn't recommended when heart disease is present, and they did more x-rays and want to send them off to a radiologist for deeper study. The clock ticked really slowly for the next couple hours, and finally I received an email with some of Charlies x-rays, and so I called them to discuss their findings. The next doctor I spoke with kept overloading me with information, but now they don't think it's HCM, it could be something else, but her heart is failing, and no progress is being made, and the options are pretty much non existent, and she kept telling me all this stuff and I didn't even know what to make of it. I brought her in the night before because I thought maybe she ate something bad, and now I'm told that this incredibly sweet 7 and a half month old kitten's heart is failing and that she's basically drowning with all the fluid in her lungs and she's uncomfortable and probably scared. 

Still reality was slow to hit me, though when it finally did it was a full punch to the gut. The vet said she would call me back, but I got tired of waiting so I drove down to the vet and asked to visit with Charlie. Outside her cage were sticky notes that had her name and age, and also said things like "wear gloves" due to the nitroglycerin that they put in her ears. As I was standing there talking about her, she heard me say her name and I heard her adorable little chirrup as she looked back over her shoulder at me. I swear the look in her eyes was that she was happy to see me, someone she knew, familiarity. She started purring. I was told I had to put on gloves to pet her, and when I asked to hold her they wrapped her up in an awkward blanket. Apparently they're super concerned about the nitroglycerin absorbing into others, and all I wanted to do was hold her and kiss her and give her love.

At one point, while she purred as I pet her, I took count of her breaths and it was down by more than half of what I counted the night before, I thought this was a great improvement. But maybe her breathing only slowed due to the temporary calmness and purring, and the vets still didn't sound very optimistic at all, and again gave me info overload about the possible conditions that she might have, now it could be a ventricular septal defect that she was probably born with, or maybe tetralogy of fallot, which could only be determined with a really expensive ultrasound, and even then it would only be confirming what they think, and there's still nothing they can do.. no treatment for these ailments, they can't fix a possible hole in her heart, especially at this stage and where she's at. Her heart is failing and she's drowning in fluid. 

It was too much to think about, so I left and went to talk with a friend, who was there with me watching these two pumpkins grow up. Through her I was able to try and sort out what felt like a good plan; go back to the vet and find out exactly what options there are, and that if Charlie is truly not long for this world then I would bring her home for one last night and we would cuddle and watch movies, and Groucho and I would surround her with love so that she wouldn't have to spend another night in a steel cage. And the next day my friend would come with me to bring Charlie back to the vet so I wouldn't have to say goodbye to her alone.

And I drove back to the clinic to tell them this, and quickly second guessed myself. The vet "highly recommended" that we get it over with that night, said that she was suffering. And when they brought Charlie up to visit, I looked into her eyes and saw fear, discomfort, stress. I looked at her chest and saw the most rapid shallow breaths. I asked her if she was suffering and wished that she could just tell me what to do. The hardest decision I have ever had to make in my entire life, was the decision to allow Charlie to move on. To even just say the words, "it's time"

I wanted so much for SOME WAY for her to get better, some miracle, maybe it would all turn around, keep trying to drain the fluid from her lungs, maybe some really expensive procedure to fix her heart. I would give it all up to have her live a long and happy life with us. She's still so so young. I read an article the other day that some scientists figured out how to grow new teeth right in the mouths of adults, using stem cells - - but they still don't do heart transplants for cats?? I have to believe that they did all they could, convince myself that this was for the best, and there was absolutely no other option. This is a nightmare. I just want to wake up. I never for a second thought when I put her in that carrier to bring her to the vet, that she wouldn't be coming back home with me. And when I said good bye to her that first night I had not even the slightest thought in my mind that I would never again be allowed to pet her with my bare hands and feel her unusually silky smooth fur under my fingers, or give her kisses on her forehead. I wish SO badly that had I picked her up that first night when I said goodbye, that I held her long in my arms and didn't ever let go. 

I only knew her for seven and a half months, and still she occupies a huge chunk of my heart. Little Charlie was the absolute sweetest little fuzzball I have ever had the honour of meeting. I'm so grateful for her coming into my life, for showing me her innocent wisdom and grace. I still feel it's so unfair, she had so much more living and loving to do. She always was a bit calmer than the rambunctious Groucho, I thought that was just her personality, and now I think maybe it was due to being born with a bad heart - which is ironic because that kitty truly had the biggest heart of gold... she even got my two old crabby cats to let down their guard and allow her to cuddle with them by the end. Even just three night ago she was play fighting with Groucho. This all seemingly came on so suddenly. But kitties are masters of illusion, and won't ever let on to something being wrong until it's absolutely detrimental. 

And my little Groucho.. this poor little guy has been clinging to me ever since. Not that I mind one bit, I'm loving the love. But I know why, and it breaks my heart. I can hardly bear seeing her favourite spots empty, her favourite toys just laying there missing her. I keep wanting to see her follow me down the hallway, to look over and see her sitting on her cushion on my desk, to have her sit on my arms as I type this and demand some loving attention... I want Groucho to have his sister back.

This story kind of got away from me, and I apologize for that.. I didn't really know where to start, so I just started at the beginning.. and then it got really long. If you did read it all, and I don't blame you if you didn't ;) thank you for providing the space for me, and for everyone else here, to let this out.


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cakes488
My sister had two cats who were thick as thieves and when one died the other did suffer for awhile...looking and waiting for him.

He eventually adjusted to the loss but it was very sad to witness his despair - we all felt the loss of Max our big black fat cat.


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Dennis
I am very sorry to hear of your loss. All of your kitties are adorable. I think that your little one that is extra alert at every turn now is sensing your lost one as I believe their spirit and connection to you is forever and never leaves.

I recently lost my beloved Max and we are still very much grieving. I am sure that everyone here would take your grief from you if they could.

I can offer you where I did find some help with handling grief and connecting with Max; at the website of Marianne Soucy http://healingpetloss.com/   I truly hope you find some comfort there. 

I am saying a prayer for you and please know that you will see your loved one again, of this I am certain.

Sincerely, Dennnis
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Bailey15
I just read your story and it made me smile to read what you did for this stray cat. So many people wouldn't have bothered with her. It reminds me of when my husband and I took home a stray cat that had been hanging around at our friends' house for weeks. We put up a sign near their home and within a few days we fell in love with the cat. Then we got a call and the cat was claimed. We were so sad to see him go but it was the right thing and we were glad he got back to his family. :)
I'm so sorry that you lost little Charlie! You went through so much! I really believe you made the right decision that last night. Letting our little friends go when their pain is too much is one of the kindest things we can do for them. :) The pictures you attached are beautiful! Your last picture of the empty basket was heartbreaking!
We lost our boy, Bailey (who was a shihtzu ) in November and I had his bed out for quite some time before I could put it away. We also had to make 'the decision' and it was awful but I had promised myself I would never let him suffer. (Bailey had been abused as a puppy.) Still we had many years of happiness with him and everywhere I look I am reminded of him. He would have been 16 in January.
I really understand the pain you are feeling. Little Charlie should have had a much longer life. It's so unfair that she died so young. All I can think is that you sure packed her short time with a lot of fun and most importantly so much love. I am so very sorry for your loss!

Also, to Dennis: so sorry you lost Max. :(

My mother sent this poem to me and I found it very comforting:

The only thing between us, whether we are big or small,
is a tiny heartbeat, just a heartbeat, that is all.
So when you're sad and lonely
and my death seems so unfair
you will always hear me whisper
"touch your heart you'll find me there".

Wishing you peace,
MJ

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jimmy17
So sorry, its so unfair that Charlie was so very young. You did such a kind thing in taking these kitties in, so many would have turned their backs on them and let them fend for themselves. Thank goodness for loving caring people like you. Charlie brought you such love, which you gave her back a thousand times over. I`m sure her little soul is still with you and your other kitties, its just so very hard when we have to lose them. Tomorrow will be 12 weeks since we lost our dog Jim, although we were so lucky to have had him for 17 years, I`d do anything to see him again. 
          Hugs to you, Jackie.
J Taylor
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StillAsleep
cakes488 wrote:
My sister had two cats who were thick as thieves and when one died the other did suffer for awhile...looking and waiting for him.

He eventually adjusted to the loss but it was very sad to witness his despair - we all felt the loss of Max our big black fat cat.


Thank you, and I'm sorry for your loss. Did your sisters surviving cat mourn for long?



Dennis wrote:
I am very sorry to hear of your loss. All of your kitties are adorable. I think that your little one that is extra alert at every turn now is sensing your lost one as I believe their spirit and connection to you is forever and never leaves.

I recently lost my beloved Max and we are still very much grieving. I am sure that everyone here would take your grief from you if they could. 

I can offer you where I did find some help with handling grief and connecting with Max; at the website of Marianne Soucy http://healingpetloss.com/ and the videos of Brent Atwater an animal intuitive and medium https://www.youtube.com/user/BrentAtwater  I truly hope you find some comfort there. 

I am saying a prayer for you and please know that you will see your loved one again, of this I am certain.

Sincerely, Dennnis


Thank you Dennis, grief is such a challenge to overcome. I'm trying to remain grateful for the opportunity to love her so deeply. It seems so hard when I first wake up and remember she's gone, and for the next few hours I'm zombified as my mind reels with memories of her. I keep expecting her to pop around the corner making her adorable little curiosity noises, or crawl into my lap cooing and purring.. 

And thank you so much for the resources, I will go look at them straight away!



Bailey15 wrote:
I just read your story and it made me smile to read what you did for this stray cat. So many people wouldn't have bothered with her. It reminds me of when my husband and I took home a stray cat that had been hanging around at our friends' house for weeks. We put up a sign near their home and within a few days we fell in love with the cat. Then we got a call and the cat was claimed. We were so sad to see him go but it was the right thing and we were glad he got back to his family. :) I'm so sorry that you lost little Charlie! You went through so much! I really believe you made the right decision that last night. Letting our little friends go when their pain is too much is one of the kindest things we can do for them. :) The pictures you attached are beautiful! Your last picture of the empty basket was heartbreaking! We lost our boy, Bailey (who was a shihtzu ) in November and I had his bed out for quite some time before I could put it away. We also had to make 'the decision' and it was awful but I had promised myself I would never let him suffer. (Bailey had been abused as a puppy.) Still we had many years of happiness with him and everywhere I look I am reminded of him. He would have been 16 in January. I really understand the pain you are feeling. Little Charlie should have had a much longer life. It's so unfair that she died so young. All I can think is that you sure packed her short time with a lot of fun and most importantly so much love. I am so very sorry for your loss! Also, to Dennis: so sorry you lost Max. :( My mother sent this poem to me and I found it very comforting: The only thing between us, whether we are big or small, is a tiny heartbeat, just a heartbeat, that is all. So when you're sad and lonely and my death seems so unfair you will always hear me whisper "touch your heart you'll find me there". Wishing you peace, MJ


Hi MJ, thank you for reading and for sharing your story. Am trying to believe it was the right decision, and still something in me keeps wondering 'what if'. Such terribly difficult decision for anyone to make. If only they could speak to us and give us some guidance as to what their wishes are, maybe it would feel just a bit less heavy on our shoulders. Also, such a beautiful poem. Much love.



jimmy17 wrote:
So sorry, its so unfair that Charlie was so very young. You did such a kind thing in taking these kitties in, so many would have turned their backs on them and let them fend for themselves. Thank goodness for loving caring people like you. Charlie brought you such love, which you gave her back a thousand times over. I`m sure her little soul is still with you and your other kitties, its just so very hard when we have to lose them. Tomorrow will be 12 weeks since we lost our dog Jim, although we were so lucky to have had him for 17 years, I`d do anything to see him again. 
          Hugs to you, Jackie.


Thank you Jackie, hugs back to you. It would shock me to think of anyone that would be able to just turn their backs on something so precious. There was no choice or decision, it was as natural as breathing or scratching an itch, just a reflex really. And I would do it all again. So wonderful that you had so many years to love your precious Jim. It truly is important to be present in each and every moment, and enjoy it to it's fullest while we are there.
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Beaglemomma
Hi Dennis.  It was an HONOR to read your story.  No one here minds you going on about your LOVE for an animal.  I am so sorry it had such a horrible outcome for you.  You did everything you could for ALL of those kitties. Such beautiful little lives and there are no answers really.  Why do these babies who are pure unconditional love live such short lives will remain a mystery.  You were wonderful to take the mama into your heart in the first place.

You will find no judgment here for anything. I wish you only peace and admire the love you showed a sweet little kitty. My babies are surely there over the Bridge to play with and show your little ones around.
    Patches.JPG  Birthday photo.JPG
janice
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buttercup12344
I am so sorry for your loss I know how you feel i lost my cat to cancer she was the best cat i could have ever asked for i still have her sister who is turning 15 in July 
kathryn 
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StillAsleep
Beaglemomma wrote:
It was an HONOR to read your story.  No one here minds you going on about your LOVE for an animal.  I am so sorry it had such a horrible outcome for you.  You did everything you could for ALL of those kitties. Such beautiful little lives and there are no answers really.  Why do these babies who are pure unconditional love live such short lives will remain a mystery.  You were wonderful to take the mama into your heart in the first place.

You will find no judgment here for anything. I wish you only peace and admire the love you showed a sweet little kitty. My babies are surely there over the Bridge to play with and show your little ones around.
    Patches.JPG  Birthday photo.JPG


Thank you so much for your beautiful words. It truly is a mystery why they sometimes leave us so quickly, I suspect there is a lesson in there somewhere that I am to learn from. Hopefully i can sort it out once my head clears so I might somehow be better for learning from it.

It's really unfortunate that the images of her that are flashing through my head are of the last few unhappy hours we had together. Finding it so hard to make peace with this, it doesn't feel real.

Your precious little ones look like such sweethearts. I'll send some love out towards them as well



buttercup12344 wrote:
I am so sorry for your loss I know how you feel i lost my cat to cancer she was the best cat i could have ever asked for i still have her sister who is turning 15 in July 


So sorry to hear about your loss, lot's of love to you. How did the sister do after your cat passed on? Can you recommend anything to help with coping?

So far Groucho has exhibited many signs of stress, I sometimes hear him meowing all around the house, endless sniffing in random spots, or extended napping on my lap - for the most part he rarely leaves my side anymore. He's also became really stinky, I read somewhere that that's a fear or stress mechanism. So far I've been trying to get him playing with new and old toys, and just giving him lots of love. I really don't know much about kitty depression though... and this guy used to be so rambunctious and playful.. 
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LindaDwyer
I had a beautiful bengal boy, took him to the vet because when I left him alone he'd pull his hair out.  Vet did skin scrappings, checked for everything, nothing wrong with him, vet said stress and to get him a kitten.  So I did, I got him a siamese kitten (a rescue) they bonded so closely that I used to joke and say he left me for another woman.  Fast forward 8 years, I had to have my bengal put down due to cancer.  The siamese was lost, she cried and looked for him all the time, this cat had never gone outside and she started trying to get out, I assume to look for him.  Months passed, she was still grieving, then came Mother's day, my oldest daughter bought me a bengal kitten.  He wasn't born yet but she put a deposit on him and I was given pick of the litter when he was born.  At first the siamese hissed at him and growled, but she soon got over it, now she is happy, she has her bengal back and no more trying to get out, no more wandering around looking for him and crying.  She is bonded to my new boy and all is well
He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion"
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