Death of a cat - a haunting farewell.

This is a photograph of striking similarity to Spotty. I have no photos of her as an adult as she was always very shy and retiring. If she saw me aiming a camera at her she would always walk towards it and block the lens with a face full of whiskers.
This is a photograph of striking similarity to Spotty. I have no photos of her as an adult as she was always very shy and retiring. If she saw me aiming a camera at her she would always walk towards it and block the lens with a face full of whiskers. | Source

Any animal lover will know that dread moment. The moment you realise your pet is going to die, the moment you know there will be no reprieve. Despite the common response from people who have never shared their homes with pets that 'it's only an animal' the grief is felt as much as if you were losing a human, sometimes more.

The first signs of illness.

The first sign that there was anything wrong with our red tabby cat, Spotty, was when she snatched a mouthful of food, yowled and ran away from her food bowl to hide. A trip to the vet uncovered bad teeth which we had extracted.

Over the following two years the problems kept returning until one day the vet diagnosed cancer. Spotty was still only about 12 or 13 years old and as I was used to my cats living until they were almost 20 the news was a bitter blow.

A young Spotty ...
A young Spotty ... | Source
Battling kittens - Spotty holding her own against Spike.
Battling kittens - Spotty holding her own against Spike. | Source
Having a tender moment with her 'dad' ...
Having a tender moment with her 'dad' ... | Source

Cancer in a cat.

Despite doing all we could there was no recovering from such a death sentence, the cancer was in her lower jaw and was inoperable. The thought of parting with her was devastating to us and we decided to let her enjoy life for as long as she could as long as she was not in pain.

I wanted her to be able to die peacefully in her own home. The trauma of the final visit to the vet's surgery was something I really didn't want to put her through.

With the aid of painkilling medication she continued to seem to enjoy her life ... and even her food for a while but eventually she stopped eating and began to sleep much more. Anyone who doesn't know cats will tell you that cats seem to sleep all the time anyway and it certainly true that they do sleep a lot.

But many cats have made some effort to adapt to the human daily cycle and Spotty did spend a lot of 'awake' time with us, supervising and checking that we were doing things right. It told us a lot when this no longer happened.

Avoiding euthanasia.

At that time I had some weird notion that it was better for an animal to die a 'natural' death rather than be humanely 'put down'. It was all part of some crazy 'New Age' belief system that had got hold of my mind at the time but it seemed to fit whilst she was in no apparent pain. She just slept her time away and I expected her to pass quietly in her sleep but I had severely underestimated her indomitable spirit.

As the weeks passed she began to sleep more and more and I carried her up and down stairs when I went to bed so she could sleep on the floor at my side of the bed and I could check on her. Often waking in the night I would put out my hand to touch her and find her body cold with no discernible heartbeat but, miraculously, the next morning she would still be there groggily looking up at me with loving eyes.

I took to just sitting, nursing her on my lap for long periods and putting her in warm spots of the house, upstairs on the landing usually as it was warmed by heating pipes under the floorboards. She was very weak now and I thought she would not attempt to come downstairs. On sunny days I took her outside to listen to the birds calling. She lay in my arms like a baby looking up at me, blinking with love and purring like mad, apparently pleased to be outside in the sunshine with me.

Leaving to die in peace?

One day when I came back from the shops she was gone and panic set in. I could hardly believe that she had had the strength to go downstairs and climb through the cat flap but asking around my neighbours it seems she had done just that and they had seen her making for the fields. I had heard of cats disappearing off into the countryside to die but selfishly I could not bear for that to happen to Spotty and I knew I had to find her.

I slipped through the five bar gate that lead to the river bank calling for her and after a while I saw a little ginger speck weaving its slow, painful way towards me from a distant hedgerow. Slowly she got nearer until there was only a barbed wire fence between us. She sat down, bedraggled and exhausted, on the other side of it, as if unable to see a way through.

I climbed over and picked her up and she melted into my arms with what seemed to be a sigh of relief. I will never know whether or not she had tried to leave to die in peace or whether she just wanted one last check of her personal domain.

Giving in to convention.

Eventually I knew I would have to have her put to sleep. She still did not seem to be in pain but she was not eating and seemed to be staying alive only because I loved her so much. It felt wrong. So I took her to the vet and held her as she was injected and that felt wrong too.

I carried her poor wasted little body home and buried her in the garden just below the kitchen window and of course, in spite of our grief, we continued with our usual workaday lives.

Spotty says 'thank you' ...

It must have been two or three days after Spotty's death, when I was at work at the natural health centre that I ran with my partners, that I received the message.

Our centre had become very successful since we had first started it and we offered a wide range of therapies as well as working there ourselves. We rented out our rooms to a great many different therapists, one of whom was a no-nonsense, down-to-earth Yorkshire lady called Mavis, who gave Reiki, a hands-on Japanese healing system.

Reiki has a very spiritual element to it and strange things often happen when doing a healing. As a Reiki Master myself I can attest to this. Messages can often appear to be 'channelled' whilst working in the quietness of a Reiki treatment and this often happened to Mavis in particular.

I was sitting in our reception room taking bookings for treatments when she came hurrying up to me after working with a client. She said she had had a 'funny' sort of message that she did not understand whilst giving the treatment and the message appeared to have no meaning for the client with whom she had been working.

In her inner mind she had heard the words "Spotty says 'Thank you'" accompanied by the image of a cat. She did not understand what she was telling me as I had not told anyone about Spotty's death. In fact Mavis did not even know I had had a cat.

Strangely she had not even been told to give the message to me specifically, something just prompted her to mention it when she joined me in reception and despite the bizarre nature of its delivery I instantly understood the message and it meant a lot to me then in the newness of my grief.

Looking back now I cannot remember feeling 'spooked' by what seemed to be a message from the after life and from a cat at that, I simply accepted it for what it felt like, an attempt to comfort me. The message still has the power to comfort even now, whenever I remember the timid, gentle and extraordinarily loving cat called Spotty who once shared my home and my heart.

_________________________________________________________

Another story of cats in the afterlife ...

Many 'otherworldly' things have happened to me over the years. For another one concerning cats see my post The Spirit World of Cats.

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Comments 41 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

Angie...Sorry, no words, just thoughts

Love

Bob


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks Bob x

This happened years ago but I still cried when I wrote it ... and coming from Yorkshire I'm not known for my sentimentality.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Angie, great article about Spotty, she sounded like a right little character so you must have had lots of lovely memories once the rawness eased a bit. Nice that you got the message too. Take care.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Jools - many thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice comment on this hub.

Spot was a funny little thing that's true, so independent and was not really one for much of a cuddle. That all changed when she became ill and depended on us for comfort ...


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Nothing

But

Shared

Tears


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Harald ... thank you. x


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi Angie :)

I keep trying to post, but am having computer problems.

Suffice to say, we have been through this, very recently, and it is very sad. Our lovely little cat was only two.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Trish ... I am so sorry to hear about your cat ... that is even more sad as she/he was so young!

I understand exactly how you feel ... much love.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Angie, I am sitting here with tears pouring down my face. This story was so controlled, but so intimate, and somehow, so reassuring.

But hell, woman, where do you get the idea that "...and coming from Yorkshire I'm not known for my sentimentality."?

Beautiful hub (doesn't seem to be the right word for this outpouring) and marked up and appreciated so much.

x


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands

Thanks Angie.

It was a he. Everyone loved him.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hello dearest wingman ... thank you for your usual kindness.

As for the Yorkshire thing we are truly, genuinely quite laconic about emotion. The highest praise a Yorkshire farmer gives about a deceased wife is that she 'were a good worker'. Often everyone thinks he is coping with bereavement until he hangs himself in the barn.

We just don't go in for public displays of emotion ... but as you so rightly assume, it's there right enough, just under the surface.

Mwah! x


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 4 years ago from India

What a truly comforting end to a sad story...you know that Spotty lives on, somewhere. :)


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi FP ... thank you for that!

I'm pretty sure Spot will have moved onto her next adventure in the flesh ... she was such a sweetie that she may have come back as a really nice person.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 4 years ago from Midwest

Aw I loved this. I recently lost an old friend and familiar myself. He had been with me for a long time and had shared the births of my children and a few moves to new places. He was my heart and this story was so moving. They are like family and it hurts to lose them, especially when so many happy memories are also attached to them. I also put my kitty in the garden - he loved it there and would sun himself there frequently when we let him out. Thanks for the beautiful and reassuring hub. I have no doubt your kitty sent you a message as I believe our Sam has as well.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks for such a nice comment, Christin.

That well-known fridge magnet that says 'Cats leave paw prints on your heart' may be hackneyed but that doesn't make it any the less true, does it?

We had a black cat called Sam when I was a child ... he was another truly memorable character. In fact there are so many over the years ... it's a wonder one's heart can stand it.

I am sorry to hear of your recent loss and have no doubt that Sam will have sent you a message to reassure you that he is quite happy as a 'spirit cat'.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

What a stunning (in more ways than one) reply to my comment, Angie.

"The highest praise a Yorkshire farmer gives about a deceased wife is that she 'were a good worker'. Often everyone thinks he is coping with bereavement until he hangs himself in the barn."

It gave me a frisson of emotion, as did your well measured hub. I have thought about it, off and on, since reading it.

x


jennifer jones 4 years ago

I just lost my cat of five years.. I feel so bad beause the night before we argued over a steak.. ( i know that bobby dont like it) but for some strange reason he wanted it. His legs was giving out but i thought maybe it was the eye infection again and old age. So I reorderded his eye drops. Im hurting soo much right now.. When will this stop hurting so much... I cant talk to anybody because they dont get it.. thanks for listening your article touched me and enabled me to understand that pets "get us"


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

TL - I always like to really 'talk' to you in depth ... you bring out my thoughtful side.

xx


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hello Jennifer ... I am so sorry you are going through the pain of losing Bobby. I can only say that it will pass, truly it will.

'Time heals' is a common platitude ... and platitudes are just shorthand for the truth. One day you will be left with just the memories of the love and the good times. Trust me, I have been through this so many times ...

With much love ...


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Cats can be very loving animals. God Bless You.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Many thanks for your thoughts and the blessing, stars ...


Talullah profile image

Talullah 4 years ago from SW France

I've been through this sad scenario more than once; I always say 'never again', but cats are so irresistible, aren't they? A very moving hub.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks, Tallulah ... we can never resist a furry face can we?


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi Angie,

I realize this is a sad story but it really is a great story, great writing. It touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing Spotty with us. I truly believe the special thank you message you received was a beautiful gift! I must now go cuddle with my feline girls Peanut and Punkin! Hugs to you,

Sharyn


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hello, dearheart ... how nice of you to call!

Yes, Spot was such a loving, though timid cat ... I felt truly blessed by the message and I was very fortunate that Mavis was around to 'intercept' it for me too.

I do love my cats and whenever I don't have one my house never feels like a proper home. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Hi Angie- I like you am not known for being emotional, but when I had to take one of my elderly cats to be put to sleep, I cried on the way there, all through the procedure, on the way home and off and on for several days. Reading your lovely but sad essay I cried again.

And yet as much as it wounds us when they leave, we still fall in love with them. Thank you for sharing with us.

Theresa


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

That's so sad, Theresa.

We have had cats for as long as I can remember ... our family has always had cats, usually rescued, of all ages and we have all wept buckets when any of them died.

Then we got angry and swore we would never have another as the pain was too much. But of course we always did have another.

A cat would turn up in distress and be taken in and lavished with love. My mother had four or five at a go sometimes and an elderly great aunt died of malnutrition as she spent all her pension on feeding the local strays, or so the family story goes.


christin53 profile image

christin53 4 years ago from UK

It brought tears to my eyes reading this. Your Spotty is the spitting image of my cat Kneste who died many years ago. We had to make the decision to have him put to sleep when his kidneys started failing and he was in obvious distress. So I know exactly how you feel.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you, christin ... I have endured so many cat deaths over the years.

As a Yorkshire girl I did not want to be too maudlin about the subject (mainly because I would cry all over again) so I wrote this piece as factually as possible. Spot - like all cats - was a right character, bless her.

My other cat of that time, Spike, had failing kidneys and had to have pills for many years, so I know how agonising that diagnosis must have been for you when Kneste had it.

Right now, we are living with The Toof - who is also ginger and whom I have also written about on HP.


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

Oh no, this is very sad but then again you know that the cat is now resting in peace. Our first cat "Oreo" was obese that eventually lead to some other complications like kidney problem and so on. Poor cat was always in pain and we could feel it too when he cries as if he's asking us to just let him go.

One day, I came home Oreo was gone and in remembering him, it prompted me to hub about him too. That's actually my latest, if you'd like to see.

Thanks for this hub. It's a good read, sad but great story. Voting up and across except for funny and will definitely share.

P.S. The message from Spotty~"Thank You" made me cry.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi CrisSp … thanks for taking the time to comment, vote and share. I really appreciate your input.

Like all our pets Spotty was very special and incredibly stoical as are all cats when they are unwell. I still get a lump in my throat when I think of her little pinched face with great big eyes looking up at me with such love in those last days.

I will definitely read about Oreo … going over there right now in fact.


tobint44 profile image

tobint44 4 years ago from North Carolina

Sorry for your loss, I love my cat and I am not looking forward to that day. One thing I do know is that when a pet passes they are all on running on the Rainbow Bridge (Rainbow Bridge Poem.) Great Hub. Voted Up!

Tyler


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Tyler … thank you for your kindness!

I have lived with cats ever since I was 6 and quite frankly the loss of one never gets any easier. They are after all still members of the family … even if they are a different species.


Lenny Sparkles 3 years ago

I was always hoping that my hamster Toffee would contact me like that after she died, and I even sent her some messages, like "I'm sorry I couldn't save you", and "I hope you're happy now, and at peace" I loved her so much, and I think she died a day or two before I noticed, because rigor mortis had set in when I noticed. Would you mind if I wrote a poem called: "Spotty says thank you"? I would love to, but I don't want to offend anyone.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Lenny … so sorry to hear about Toffee. It is sad when our pets die but I’m sure that they love as unconditionally after death as they do in life.

I would be most honoured if you could write a poem in memory of Spotty … that would be very kind.

Much love ...


Peter Geekie profile image

Peter Geekie 3 years ago from Sittingbourne

Dear Angie ,

Even though it's a little while ago now, I'm sorry to hear of Spotty's passing. Time has little meaning in these instances.

In my garden I have a rose patch of all the old English scented roses. It is here the cremated ashes of all our cats are buried when they pass on. I like to think that their ashes are absorbed by the rose bushes and become a living being again. As silly as it may sound I can have quite long chats with them all as I tell them all the family news.

Kind regards Peter

Voted up,awesome and beautiful.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Morning Peter ... thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Spookily enough I was thinking of Spotty this morning just before I checked my mail and saw your comment. Maybe she's at it again :)

I really love your rose garden idea ... I'm a bit of a gypsy and feel guilty that I have left cats, bodies and ashes, buried in a great many gardens in the past. I feel rather guilty now ...

As always, bless you for your kind votes.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Beautiful message. There are some souls -- four legged included -- that we connect with on such a level that I believe messages from beyond are truly possible. What a remarkable story of love and friendship you have here, and so nicely told. You did the right thing for Spotty.

Your story reminds me fondly of my Speedy. She was a "recovering feral" tortie cat -- always very finicky about how people touched her and when since she had been a wild kitten born in a graveyard. I nursed her and her littermakes through a terrible upper respiratory infection that nearly claimed Speedy's eye, giving her iv fluids and meds and gently force feeding her as a 14 week old kitten. I spent over $1000 on feline opthamologist consults and surgery for her trying to save the eye (it should've just come out). Then when I later came down with optic neuritis, an incredibly painful eye condition associated with MS that made me go blind in one eye for a few weeks, Speedy would crawl up in my bed by my side and comfort me. In my darkest day she would not leave, bless her heart. She ended up having an illness that required me out of utter empathy and love to euthanize her. She is buried under a tree and I can see her from my bedroom window.

Maybe she knows Spotty.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Your poignant comment made me cry, FlourishAnyway …

I get mad when people who don’t have cats think they are cold and self-serving. They should read your comment and realise that if you give love to them love is what you receive in return.

Speedy showed you her love and sympathy and would appear to have understood your eye condition and how you felt. I think you are both remarkable … and I do hope she is in some sort of happy afterlife with Spotty.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

When I was young, I had a cat named Goldie. I loved that cat more than anything, but while I was away at camp, my grandfather let her out and she was hit by a car. I took her death so hard that my mother told me I could never own a cat again...and I never have... but I have never forgotten my beautiful Goldie. I am so sorry for your loss.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi TT2 - good to hear from you.

I got over the loss of Spotty as she died many years ago now … and as always I was healed by other cats and their immense capacity for affection.

Whenever one of my cats die I angrily vow I will never get another one so that I can never be so hurt again. But I can never stand by when a cat is in distress or has been abandoned, I have to jump in and help. So all my cats have been rescued … it’s a family trait.

But, just as you have never forgotten Goldie, I have never forgotten Spotty and the lessons she taught me with her gentle, loving nature.

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