Skip to comments.SPIRITUAL LESSONS FROM A DYING CAT
Posted on 07/28/2013 1:59:03 PM PDT by Lazamataz
My cat, Cathy, has become one of the most powerful spiritual teachers I have ever known. This article will briefly detail her history, the events that lead to her death, the conclusion of her life, and -- in detail -- what she taught me.
She was a little tiny kitten when I got her. She was weaned too early, and like many cats who are weaned too young, became extraordinarily attached to me. She grew rapidly, becoming a flush of pure black fur, a flower of a cat who bloomed pure beauty. She loved my company above all else, following me into any given room just to be with me. She seemed to be indifferent to, or actively hate, most everyone else. As my cats always do, she named herself with her behavior. Disliking most everyone else, she named herself CAT Hates You. CAT-H-Y. CATHY.
There came a time, four years into our cat-human relationship, when I needed to go somewhere to get medical treatment. I would be gone for a while, so I put her with a cat boarder. She didn't take well to being away from me, or her familiar surroundings, and stopped eating. For an obese cat (which she became) this could be fatal, I discovered later. An obese cat who stops eating will process thier fat, but the liver of a cat is ill-designed for this, and Cathy quickly developed Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty-liver disease).
When I heard of her situation, I quickly returned, coming to the veterinarians very regularly to spend as many hours as I could with her. Several clinic technicians remarked that they had seen a lot of 'patients' and a lot of owners, and only rarely did someone come in as often and stay as long, and they assured me that she was loved more in these four years than many animals were in a lifetime. Cathy clearly loved my company, expressing it with excitement at my arrival and joy at my presence. She would vocalize the minute I came into view, and she would stand to greet me. When I had her in my lap, she would knead on my shirt and arm, and butt my arm with copious head butting.
But she looked horribly jaundiced. The liver was not working well. For the next week, I asked the veterinarian to aggressively treat Cathy, even placing a feeding tube in her esophagus when she stopped voluntarily eating. She had a few good days, and we spent so much great high-quality time together. My hopes soared! Perhaps this was reversible. The more-experienced animal doctors warned me that her chances were still indeterminate, but I clung to hope like a rescue rope in a cold ocean.
There was a day when she turned for the worse again, and the improving liver-related blood work got worse. I asked the veterinarians what they could do? "Spare no expense," I said, "try to save my little girl." They did as I asked. It was to no avail. Her decline was precipitous and alarming. I continued to visit, well-aware of her impending death, but still hopeful for a miracle. Between sobs, I spent as much quality time with her as humanly possible. On the last day, she was so miserable, and her liver-related blood work was so bad, it became clear that I should release her from almost-guaranteed horrific suffering and eventual death.
We brought her to the room where I first saw her at the hospital -- a warm, friendly room. I asked for a reclining chair so she could be on my chest, which was her favorite place to be in the entire world. Weeping with intense sadness, I said my goodbyes and let her know where she was going. She was so very miserable, I could see it in her eyes. I put her back on my chest, and told the doctor to introduce the euthanasia drug.
When the drug hit her, she swiveled her head suddenly, and gazed at me for a long second that seemed like eternity. This look utterly haunted me for a while after. In her eyes, I saw two things: surprise, and 'Daddy, comfort me.' At the time, I had no response, mental or verbal. In retrospect, my only response was, "I'm giving you comfort, honey. I'm giving it to you." Then she laid down and died, on the chest of her loving owner and best friend.
After she passed, my reaction took me completely by surprise. I stopped crying completely. The veterinary team asked if I wanted to spend time with the body, but the idea repulsed me. "This is not Cathy," I said, "Cathy is gone. Get it off me!" They did. I walked outside, and felt as if someone had hit me in the head with a ball-peen hammer. I felt completely devoid of emotion, stunned, somewhat confused. It scared me. What was happening to my emotions?
I was surrounded that day and the rest of the night with people who loved me. One of them advised me that the numbness I experienced was very normal, and that it was called 'emotional shock'. He mentioned, with some sincerity, that the emotions would return, and in force.
They did. The next day, I finally had time to be completely alone. Without warning, I found myself flooded with tears and crying in deep, body-wracking, soul-wrenching sobs. At some point, after the crying subsided, something very odd happened. I established contact with a power greater than myself -- call it Spirit, God, or the universe, whatever power you wish to call it -- and I got some amazing answers for the many questions I had. These are too personal to share with the public, but I have told my friends. Clearly Cathy had a purpose. It was clear I got what so few of us get -- answers for some hard questions. I became aware of what her purpose was, in my life. She was a very special kitty . Most of us do not get to know the 'whys' of life, and especially death. I am remarkably lucky, or remarkably blessed. There have been many wonderful spiritual lessons I was shown, through her life and her death.
I carried so much guilt and shame. I started engaging in the "What If" game. What if I had done something different? The answer was clear, and was told to me by a Higher Power -- not in words, but in feelings: She was intended to die, at this precise time, to reveal to me some important and unshakable truths. "What if" was useless. There was nothing I could have done that would have prevented her death. No matter which way I turned, and no matter how hard I struggled to save her, she was supposed to die now.
The guilt and shame lessened greatly, and I began discovering the truths that have been revealed to me.
One of them was that there was the tiniest bit of joy imbedded in grieving. I felt a small amount of joy, because I was alive, and I was able to feel grief at all. I loved her -- and she, me -- and that is why I grieved. There is joy in that love, and there is joy in being able to feel, especially after my brush with numbness when I was in emotional shock.
Another thing that became apparent was that I was there for her, in every way I could be. Some of us have the opportunity -- nay, privilege -- of being with our pet while they are dying, and others of us do not. But for all of us, if we love our pet as much as I did, we did all we were given the chance to do.
I learned from experiencing four years with Cathy that I am capable of giving, and receiving, unconditional love. This revelation surprised me.
I learned to be present in the moment. At one time when she was a little better, when she was on my chest purring, I let go of the possible future and outcome, and I stepped out any regrets about the past -- I was just with her. Simply with her. I felt her, warm, on my chest, rumbling with the loving purr, and I thought, "This is so nice. This feels good." That moment is eternal. I shall always keep it with me. It informs me that it is so important to be present and in the moment with our pets, and our loved ones, right now. The moments we make become like concrete, solidified in our souls, so that they may be treasured and kept for all eternity. It seems that if we are present in the moment, we might actually be able to live a million lifetimes, as each moment becomes pure and timeless.
I discovered the purpose of money, used to treat my little girl and make her as comfortable as possible. I used to think so wrongly about it. Money was a scorecard, and a way to acquire the shallow, the ultimately meaningless: The cool car, the nice house, the good-looking woman. I discovered that money had one fundamental purpose: To care for those you love. Any other use was an off-brand use.
I learned to listen to the voice of my Higher Power, who I call 'God'. I was repeatedly given impressions from this Power, impressions that were borne out as truth, in the fullness of time.
I found that the most important thing to do immediately upon grieving was to be surrounded by people who love me. I also found that it was important, after the initial shock subsided, to be alone, to grieve in earnest.
And finally, I learned the importance of memorializing the ones you love who depart. I memorialize her in many ways: How I live my life, the love I share with others, even this very article -- these are all memorials. I shall also create a loving headstone and place her remains in a tranquil place.
There have been many miracles surrounding this -- serendipitous events, large and small that I will not share here. They show me that my conclusions are sound and that my direction is good.
Please know one thing unconditionally: I understand what people who lose pets experience. It is my fondest hope that someone reading this gets something they need, and can find from it, some solace and some comfort.
Whoa—a serious post from Laz.
Nicely written. I work from home and my cat gives me love morning, noon and night.
This is a ping to an important article. I hope some of you can get something from what I have written.
Beautiful essay, and what a gorgeous kitty. I’m sorry for your loss.
She’s beautiful!! I know that this has been hard on you over the last month and I’ll give my “Mr. Crackerjacks” some extra love and treats today in honor of Cathy.
Thank you sir, for your kind words. I hope you keep a bookmark to this, in case you ever need these thoughts.
My screen is acting up as well.
This is beautiful Laz, thanks for sharing.
For me too, kind sir.
Animals are a very special part of our lives. Nicely written Laz...sorry you lost a good and loving friend.
Thank you so much.
Great story, Laz.
Yes, please do. See the text about being in the moment, and make that moment eternal for you. You will be so grateful someday.
Such a nice looking cat. Sorry your cat died Laz.
Thank you so much....
Thank you for sharing. My eyes are leaking.
Thank you my brother. It is almost exactly the one-week anniversary of her passing. She is missed and loved.
I prayed for Cathy, and for you, my facebook friend. I think my prayers were answered. God blesses those who love animals. There will be a special place in Heaven for you.
And her. Thank you...
I forgot to add, so sorry for your loss.
I knew, my brother. No need to add.
This touched so many chords in me. I had a male cat....man, I loved that cat.....who had to spend time at the vet's for bladder stones. Like you, I remember the yowling and the vocalizing when I came to visit. He was so unhappy there, and it tore my heart out.
"Another thing that became apparent was that I was there for her, in every way I could be. Some of us have the opportunity -- nay, privilege -- of being with our pet while they are dying, and others of us do not. "
I wasn't there with my cat when he passed, and I will never stop regretting it nor eating my heart out over it.
Laz, you've written a lot of good pieces, but I'm saving this one. Hugs to you.
I hope that you got a small answer to the 'what if' question, that pointless, self-torturous nonsensical thought that nags us until we hear the truth....
Thank you for the post Laz. It is important.
Sorry for your loss.
As a suggestion to follow-up on your new walk with God. He can speak to us in many ways including the death of a beloved pet, and He want’s to be close to you. Yelp or google some churches in your area. Seek fellowship of other believers.
One of the worst feeling in the world a loss of a beloved pet. God Bless
Just saw the date on your tag line....I didn’t know it happened so recently. I’m sorry for blathering about me and my problems.
I’m so sorry and I’ll keep you in my prayers.
I Did ... Thanks Laz.
Please reread that part. You will understand that you did all you could -- even if you were in the next room and couldn't bring yourself to be there, you STILL did all you were *capable* of at that time -- and that should help a lot.
What a great post.
I cannot tell you how much your words mean to me. How blessed you are to have had Cathy and she you.
She is waiting for you and will help guide you home. Trust.
The people I love the most are always a subsection of people who have dogs and/or cats.
That said, happiness occurs between the ears. You either have it or you don’t.
I love you. Do not worry about me at all. My response to this tragedy has been remarkably healthy. You can rest, knowing I am in good hands (God’s), and if I can help you in any way, it would be a privilege.
Well there went that box of tissues. ... I so desperately want to believe that the life of these little beings remains some where/when in the Universe, in the portion we cannot yet sense directly. At 68, I’ve lost so many of the little friends.
This makes me feel wonderful. How lucky I am to have helped you somehow!
How blessed you are to have had Cathy and she you.
I wish to God it had been different.
Thank you dear friend.
Not much in the Bible that society lives up to today, but when we lost our best little buddy after 18 wonderful years, I realized there is a passage that applies to pets perfectly, and explains why we love them so much:
Wherever you go, I will go;
wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God
even unto the end.
Thank you, Laz.
Love you, too. God has been with you through this whole thing....you’re going to be fine.
Keep rereading it, or maybe I'm not telling it in the right way. You are 100% blameless. You did ALL you were capable of. That is plenty! Don't pollute the memory of your dear companion with regrets, for regret is a terrible and selfish emotion. Instead, treasure the beauty you shared.
They are God’s creatures as well and our interaction with them and their effects on our lives is very real. We do have dominion over them, but you cant tell me that their “domestication” was our idea.
Good advice, truly. I will read it again....I’ll probably end up reading it several times, lol.
It ain’t your telling, my friend....you did a wonderful job of it.
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