Recently a major city animal hospital purchased several dozen of Lakota’s sympathy card. I told them his story and said the anniversary of his passing was coming soon, and what better remembrance of him than knowing that his image and sentiment will be sent out by veterinarians to comfort clients they know well who’ve recently lost a cat.
And what better tribute to a cat who lived to be 20 only to find himself in need of a home? Though he was here for only six weeks he made a huge impact on me, on my household, and many of you who follow me. I knew his time was limited when he arrived and was happy and indeed charmed when he turned on the charm of that big personality and one more time explored and conquered another human and another household while his quieter fur sister, Emeraude, watched from her bed in the bathroom.
I got far too much credit for my part in Lakota’s life here. Indeed, it’s not easy to take in an animal knowing that it will die in your care without leaving behind a lifetime of memories. Unless you work in animal medicine, geriatric, palliative and hospice care are something learned only through the experience of many losses of animal companions you love deeply, and you learn to do things you’d never dream of because it keeps them comfortable for one more day, until the day they tell you their time has come. One of the most common hesitations at fostering or adopting an elderly pet are that they will die soon and that will hurt. Well, yes, but in taking in a geriatric pet or one with a serious chronic or end-of-life condition it’s really not about your feelings. They hurt much more in their condition, and after living as long as they did, in dying before they are ready. I am no more compassionate than anyone else who has rescued an animal, I have only been carefully taught by a household of cats who loved me enough to show me how important it is to do this for an animal.
We lost him August 1, 2013 and I knew that his experience should be remembered, and it’s my promise to the felines who spend some measure of their life, and their death, with me that I ensure they are not forgotten.
What do you say about a cat you didn’t have enough time to get to know but will never forget? There was time enough to love him, and whether you are together just days or decades, that’s the most important thing. At the other end of the spectrum rescuers lose young kittens every day, ones they may have known for only a few hours but came to love intensely watching that little life struggle for existence and not have the strength to overcome whatever odds have come against them.
So I put all that into a card that bears Lakota’s image and carries his memory as long as the cards are around. It’s one of the things I proudly say about the things I create—they aren’t stock images, they are based on cats I know and love, and the sentiments come from my heart, not pulled from the air because they sound nice, but drawn from my experience of living with that cat. It was important that my sympathy cards be created that way, and people notice it, and are happy they have a sincere experience to share.
I actually remember Lakota a little bit each day, but in the last few days I’ve been remembering his brief life with us here, and his passing with fondness and a big smile. Who could help it looking at that face?
You can read more about Lakota here.
Read more under the topic of Pet Loss on The Creative Cat.
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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!