My 15+ year old rescue cat Marcello was always the picture of perfect health. He passed his annual routine checkups with flying colors every year and only needed two dentals in the 12 years he lived with us. No sniffles, no sneezing, no coughing, no viruses, no infections. He could not have been an easier cat to care for. Until he started peeing outside the litter box. That’s when things started to change. That was a year and a half ago.
Marcello lived with three other rescue cats upstairs on our second floor. He would have been very happy as an only-cat, but unfortunately that was not his destiny as I was in cat rescue, and was actively trapping abandoned cats in our community, bringing them home to foster, medically treat, and socialize, before putting them up for adoption with my cat rescue organization. One by one, there was always a new rescue cat that Marcello had to put up with. He hated the competition for attention and would even punish and bully each cat for stealing affection away from him. He was a one-woman cat and that had to be understood by any new resident cat who came to share his home–those were Marcello’s ground rules and he strictly enforced them.
Marcello himself had been abandoned. Someone who owned him in his early years had left him behind and moved away, leaving him to fend for himself outdoors. Marcello survived, but he had been in his share of cat fights and had the scars and torn ears to prove it. But his real wounds were all on the inside—his trust in people had been deeply injured and his confidence in people shaken to the core. During the first two months of Marcello’s healing with us, he feared being abandoned again. Every time I came to visit him in his room, he completely let his guard down and would wrap, twist and curl his body all around me, then head-butt me over and over again, all with a big orange tail flared out like a bottle brush. But when I would get up to leave, Marcello would attack me like a police dog—and bite my ankles with a vengeance and leave me a bloody mess. That fear of abandonment slowly dissipated over time as he came to trust and realize that he was safe with us. In short order, Marcello became one of the most affectionate, loving cats I have ever come to know. He was a cuddle bug who loved nothing more than being stroked, rubbed, petted, caressed and loved every minute I could give him.
On Monday, December 3rd, we sadly said goodbye to our sweet, dear old cat Dusty. At 21 years of age, Dusty’s body had just given out. His health had been slowly deteriorating, and in the past two years he was suffering from arthritis, hyperthyroid disease in recent months, kidney disease, muscle wasting—but the final straw was an upper respiratory infection that he could not overcome with antibiotics. The infection worsened, and when Dusty started to have difficulty breathing—we knew we needed to let him go. But Dusty put up a hard fight, he had fought valiantly to live, and didn’t want to leave his loving cat mates and his humans—but his body had other ideas.
Dusty was the dearest, sweetest boy imaginable. He had a heart of gold, was gentle and kind to all of his cat friends, and was dearly loved by his best friend Angus who stayed loyally by Dusty’s side—licking him, cleaning him, care-taking him and cuddling him. Angus thought of himself as Dusty’s big brother even though Angus was many years his junior. Angus would hold Dusty in his arms, his legs extended cradling his body, and he would give Dusty this loving embrace for hours. Dusty could not have been happier and loved Angus back equally, and felt secure in Angus’s strong arms.
On Sunday, December 10th in the early morning hours, I lost my greatest friend, my sweetest love, the most beautiful soul I have ever come to know on Earth. My Angel was beyond beautiful, she exceeded all definitions, and words can hardly describe her most profound and deeply beautiful spirit, but I will try in words to share our story and honor my beloved Angel in this written tribute to her. With a broken heart forever at her passing, and the deepest grief I can possibly feel, I want to share Angel’s deep soul, beautiful spirit and most profoundly loving being.
Angel came to bless our lives when she was brought to our home in early spring of 2004. We bought our house in June of the previous year, bringing two rescue cats, Pumpkin who was homeless in Seattle and Red who was rescued from being dumped at the Oakland Airport. With our new house, in August, we decided to adopt another rescue cat, which quickly turned into two rescue cats from Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek. We were sure that — that would be the end of our kitty family!
Alex is a beautiful tuxedo cat who has been homeless in our neighborhood for the past 10 years. He has survived freezing cold winters; scorching hot summers where the temperatures often reach into the high 90s and triple-digits; maneuvered and outwitted busy residential traffic daily; fought off countless feral and tom cats; avoided close encounters with raccoons, possums and skunks; and dodged all the other dangers and hazards that lurk outside ready to ensnare him. This is the story of Alex, a homeless cat with life-threatening injuries, who has survived against all odds, and was rescued in the nick of time.
Yesterday we regretfully had to say goodbye to our loving, beautiful boy Simba. This farewell caught us by surprise and was very unexpected. Although Simba had a long history of health issues, I never imagined having to say goodbye to him so soon, or so suddenly. So it is with great sadness that I have to let go of this gentle, beautiful life and soul and say a final farewell to our dear boy.
Simba was born feral and came to live in our backyard permanently in 2004. Because he adopted us, we built a shelter for him against our fence to protect him from the rain and added soft blankets to keep him warm and dry. He ate his food every morning and night on our patio table and when darkness fell he would take himself to his shelter, and go to sleep. He knew that we were now his home and he became increasingly comfortable with us and trusted us. Though at the time, I could not touch him, I would go out and say goodnight to him in his shelter and he would stay and listen. I felt honored that he let me sit so close to him, though he watched me cautiously.
I wish more than anything I could change what happened to you. I wish that I never went away. I wish I could go back and change everything and do things differently so you would still be here with me. I wish that I could have protected you and prevented what happened to you. I wish I was there for you so you never suffered. Oh, how I wish.
But nothing will change what happened. But I miss you. I will always miss you. I will always look for you in all of your special places—lying in the garden, under the trees, on the grass, curled up on your chair, and always sleeping on my pillow. I will never get used to you not being there—those places will never be the same without you. They are empty now.
The decision to give cat hospice care to our cat Pumpkin has prolonged her life significantly. Now a year and half later after almost euthanizing her, she’s still alive and still enjoying life. Today she’s going to our vet for a checkup to see where her general health is and to understand if we need to make any adjustments to her medical regimen.
I wrote about Pumpkin over a year ago when our vet had recommended euthanizing her to relieve her obvious pain and suffering. She had declined quickly, had lost a significant amount of weight, and was diagnosed with possible lymphoma. But I wasn’t ready to make that decision to end her life and wanted to give Pumpkin another chance, so we worked with our vet to create a palliative care plan for her that would make her as comfortable as possible, address her symptoms, and possibly extend her life. Continue reading Cat Hospice Care Has Prolonged Our Cat’s Life→
Our sweet, darling Red passed away almost four months ago to this day, the day after Christmas. We cared for him up to his last moments, and honored his death with his cat friends and proper burial in our backyard.
I wanted to honor our beautiful Red by writing about him and sharing his story of survival, challenge, and incredible transformation. Red touched us everyday of his life with his beautiful soul, his profound courage, his hard earned trust, and his huge heart and unending love. I believe we were meant to find each other on that fateful day thirteen years ago, and I’m forever grateful for crossing paths with Red and having the honor of knowing him and sharing every day of his life since. Continue reading Caring For Our Dying Cat in His Last Moments→
For the first time, I’m faced with making an end of life decision for one of my cats. Though I knew this time would eventually come, I always felt it was far off in the future and I didn’t need to think about it. But suddenly that time has come with my cat Pumpkin and I’m forced to examine what the best, kindest, and most loving path is for my terminally sick but beautiful 18-year-old cat Pumpkin—to let her die a natural death at home with pain-killers or euthanize her.
Some backstory: About two years ago, my once sprightly, independent “Princess Pumpeedo” (my friend’s nickname for her) started showing signs of slowing down. She was my first rescue cat in 1998. She had been living outside of my apartment in the parking lot for almost a year, living under parked cars where she hid from the constant rain and weather. I fell in love with her the day I set eyes on her. Continue reading Making An End of Life Decision for Your Cat→
I’m sensing the time is close now for my elderly cat Red. I instinctively felt it early this morning that Red is close to the end of his life, and could even be in the early stages of the dying process. He is getting weaker, slower, more feeble and fragile, losing weight and appearing more gaunt.
He came to me in bed this morning seeking to be close—very close, nosing to get under the covers for warmth and safety. He gently plows his head into mine messaging me he wants to lie next to me. I cuddle him, hold him, embrace his frail, skeletal body. As he lies stretched out along the length of my body, I cuddle him to comfort him. I gently run my hand over his thin body. He purrs loudly, strongly, breathing and purring. I can’t sleep to his constant machine of a purr, but somehow it comforts me. I will miss this purr, this beautiful soul, this survivor, this brave cat that has endured so much. Continue reading My Elderly Cat – Signs the End is Near→
Stories and tips about cat care and cat health—from 16 years experience rescuing, fostering, and caring for my rescue cats