Thursday, July 18, 2024
backyardDaily Featureessaygardengarden catspet lossPet Loss in the First Person

Treasure Every Moment

cat memorial with daffodils
Treasure every moment that brings you beauty and love.

Today is Pet Memorial Sunday.

In April 2021 our Memorial Kitty was festooned by this lovely arch of daffodils, which had never happened before though she and various daffodils have been there 25 years. I watched as the greens grew, leaving that little window to the kitty’s face, then as the daffodils bloomed all around that little window I was enchanted. I felt it was a sign and was obsessed, photographing them from every angle nearly every day, wanting to get every possible view before they faded and disappeared, afraid I’d miss a moment and they’d be gone forever.

I tend to do that with photographic subjects for many reasons usually having to do with my creative needs, but in April 2021 I was working on some anticipatory grief about potentially losing Mimi. She had always had occasional physical issues that started with her early life as a tiny cat giving birth to six litters of kittens by age 4. In the years since she had been tested for many internal conditions and diagnosed with possible lymphoma and possible chronic pancreatitis, her blood tests showing liver and kidney insufficiencies. In 2021 she was 18 and even without all the physical issues we just didn’t have as many years left. I photographed the daffodils in almost desperation because I felt I’d need them for her eventual loss, especially seeing her failing condition at that time.

Sitting in the sun but feeling pretty lethargic.

My veterinarian had retired the previous October so in early June I took Mimi to the new veterinarian I had chosen who worked her over with new blood tests and imaging and we found she had had a deep kidney infection for a while that had probably been causing her increasing lethargy and lack of appetite and constant cystitis and urinary issues, and that in turn had caused some frightening changes in her blood test results. She also had a yeast infection in her ears from a food sensitivity, and that infection had caused her periodic unsteadiness and stumbling and a general demeanor of discomfort or pain. And then a separate blood test found she had antibodies for toxoplasmosis, a past infection, not active. So two months of expensive but highly effective antibiotics and palliative treatments like ear drops and Chinese herbs and by September she was as good as new, better even—I don’t think she had ever felt as good in her life.

A reprieve. Another reprieve in another of my cats, as had happened many times over the years with health scares. I had not had a cancer in the house since 1999, and except for end-of-life metabolic diseases in the last months of life no serious diseases except Namir’s congenital heart disease. I had not lost a cat since Cookie and Kelly in 2012.

I had no idea what was to come for us the following year, in fact it was probably already developing in tiny ways. Mr. Sunshine was diagnosed a year later with probably some sort of cancer which has developed through to today and I thought what was weight gain from food stealing because I saw no behavioral changes was actually inflammation in his abdomen. In Mewsette and Jelly Bean, whose dental issues I knew of, the hyperthyroid disease and lymphoma would have likely been asymptomatic and undetectable but present. My kitchen notes in the stack of cat tablets recorded the occasional lack of enthusiasm at mealtime and some new sleeping habits but nothing that developed into a persistent change.

Be vigilant

Pondering
Pondering

My childhood cat Bootsie had had a cough since she was young and as the years passed it worsened as she coughed until her nose turned blue, but no veterinarian had ever pursued a diagnosis. When I suddenly lost her in 1985 to what I then learned was lifelong asthma that had developed into emphysema necessitating a completely unexpected euthanasia, I vowed nothing would ever take me by surprise again, I would never accept “we don’t know” after a quick physical and no tests and some guess with a medication that did not work, I would never lose a cat like that again. I began at that moment learning about cat health as best I could.

I remember back in 1994 when I first saw signs of something in Kublai, just a posture, an expression, a slight lack of enthusiasm, that made the back of my neck prickle and gave a little twist of dread in the pit of my stomach; he was 13 and I realized that I had had those moments a few other times through his life. With my vow I began taking notes. My veterinarian and I did all that was available as far as testing and treatment, I got a crash course in homeopathics, herbs and raw feeding, consulting with an animal communicator, and Kublai definitely got his daily backyard therapy, but while the changes were slow they were steady and nothing seemed to even alter the course of what was happening. I lost him on September 19, 1996.

But that doesn’t mean it was all for nothing. Perhaps the testing, constant attention to symptoms, the medications and naturopathic treatments actually gave us far more time together, and most importantly kept Kublai more comfortable, than otherwise would have happened if I had ignored that initial prickling of fear and dismissed the occasional symptoms. I have always felt that type of vigilance is our first opportunity to help our veterinarians keep our beloved felines healthy.

Treasure Every Moment

Kublai and me in August 1996.
Kublai and me in August 1996.

Kublai meant so much to the trajectory of my life after I rescued him in 1981 that I never thought about his actual death but feared the thought of it. Working through his condition put me in a position to spend lots of time with him and ease into acceptance by dealing with the condition first hand. I was grateful for all those memories and all the learning after I lost him, and that it also set me on the path of both that type of vigilance with all my cats as well as just enjoying little moments through every day, creating deep, complex and interconnected memories.

In a way I felt blindsided by the losses of Mewsette and Jelly Bean. After so many health reprieves with so many other cats through the years, and even Mr. Sunshine’s reprieve the previous year, I felt certain we could treat these conditions and get back to a pattern of general health. It’s taken me some convincing to not see their losses as a failure but to accept that their health journey was different and that this may have happened much sooner without my efforts to avoid unhealthy things for them, and my vigilance as well as just taking the time to stop and bask in moments of joy with them to keep a deep connection with each of my cats.

Treasure every moment, even the sad and messy ones, don’t miss any moments for fear of the pain you will eventually experience. Each is part of the whole experience of love.

~~~

Last year I had an idea for a new pet memorial gift: a suncatcher. I worked my way though styles and glass types and finally settled on a round beveled piece of glass, but because of events this year I hadn’t had time to make any trials and test it out. Since 2020 for Pet Memorial Sunday with Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation I have created a memorial gift for those who attend and submit a photo and tribute. This year when we discussed it I mentioned this idea, and though it got to be last minute I made up a few samples and we decided on a design. I spent the past several days creating 20 of them for the people we’ll greet today. My early cat paintings, the daffodils, the votives, garden flags and suncatchers, I’ve always wanted to offer a piece of beauty as part of healing from grief, because I’ve always needed that beauty myself to endure.


Read more articles and Pet Loss and other Essays on The Creative Cat.


Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy~~~

Animal Sympathy Cards from Portraits of Animals

Inspired by my own losses, my animal sympathy cards fill a need for those who want to give and those who need to receive pet-appropriate images and sentiments that remember the joy of life with their animal companions. Click here to read more.

"I'll always remember the way you looked at me."
“I’ll always remember the way you looked at me.”


Copyright

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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.


Subscribe to my e-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.


© 2022 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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!

 
PORTRAITS OF ANIMALS WEBSITE
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | LINKEDIN | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | INSTAGRAM | YOUTUBE| EMAIL | PATREON

HOME

Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

6 thoughts on “Treasure Every Moment

  • Agreed! Treasure every moment and love them every day.
    They are delightful companions.

    Reply
    • Thank you. Through my portraiture I meet people who have regrets. And even though it’s difficult at the end I’m so glad we can do this for them.

      Reply
  • 15andmeowing

    I do treasure every moment. No amount of time that they live is ever long enough. XO

    Reply
    • Yes, it’s one of the reasons I’m glad I take so many photos and I’ve done so many sketches, it’s ways to spend time with them along with playing and brushing and all the other things we do.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by ExactMetrics