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How to Cope with Grief After Losing a Cat

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7 Things That Help Me Cope with Grief After Losing a Cat

It’s never easy letting go. These are things I’ve learned by paying attention to the grief process.

Catherine Holm  |  Apr 9th 2013

Grieving the loss of a cat is excruciating. In fact, I’m going through it as I write this. I think the grief process is one of the hardest, most intense experiences we have to get through.

It’s not easy to prepare for grief, as each end-of-life journey is different. That being said, I’ve been through this a few times and have discovered that I do certain things to help me cope. Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help you navigate the grief process.

1. I celebrate the cat’s (whole) life

At the end of life, whether it’s prolonged or sudden, it’s easy to get caught up in the sadness and intensity of that current moment. Sometimes, when I’ve found myself in this place, I realize I’m not honoring the rest of the cat’s life. What about the amazing years or months I had with the cat? What about the funny things my cat did? Or the loving bond we had? What about the wonderful memories and stories of the cat? I try to focus on the life I’ve shared with the cat, even though it’s very easy to want to focus totally on the end of life.

2. I find people who understand

Whether your cat has passed on or is likely to pass on soon, obviously you’ll want to be around people who understand. Now is not the time to take comments like “it’s only a cat” to heart. If you do run across someone who says something like this, try to breathe and let it go. You need your energy to get through grieving, not to get mad about ill-placed comments.

Instead, find people who understand and are respectful of your grief process, whether they love cats or not. A compassionate person and friend will give you the space and respect your need to grieve.

3. I take time to be alone, if I need it

Some of us like to share; others are intensely vulnerable when going through grief. I’m a little of both. Know yourself. If you need to be alone, honor that. It’s OK.

4. I understand that grief is a powerful process

Sometimes, grief reminds me of the waves of an ocean. You’re feeling fine and then WHAM, some piece of grief hits you and you’re down, or crying, or both. I’m not sure why it is, but just knowing that this happens has made me prepared for when it happens again. I try to flow with it. Everyone grieves differently. We all grieve in our own time, and in our own way. Let it happen the way it needs to happen for you.

5. I breathe (deeply)

This is a yoga tool, but it’s also a relaxation technique, which anyone can do. When you’re exhausted from stress or grieving, breathing deeply through your nose can really help relax you and restore your mind and body to a state of calmness. Even a minute or two of this has great benefits. I do this all the time during periods of stress, or if I’m grieiving the loss of a pet. From a physiological standpoint, this activates your parasympathetic nervous system (which induces relaxation) rather than your sympathetic nervous system (which is all about fight or flight). Try breathing deeply in any stressful situation or any time you find yourself holding your breath.

6. I’m good to myself and my body

I’m no good to my cats if I’m a mess. So even though it’s hard (grief is exhausting), I try to remember to be good to my body. I try to remember to eat good stuff (not junk), get outside, exercise, breathe — all good things for me. Find the good things for you and remember to do them.

7. I honor the immensity of grief

It’s a big deal, and we all get to go through it. The sadness in grief is huge, but strangely, so is the joy. Celebrate these wonderful creatures we love, whether we’re going through life with them or whether we’re letting them go.

How to Own a House and Have Servants

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I am a grey, black and white tabby who was adopted when I was one year old by my persons – a Sicilian man and an American woman.   She was a pushover – she saw an adoption ad about me; he was my nemesis although she adopted me for him when he retired.    She was an animal lover; his first words were “He can’t come into the house”.  Sicilians don’t believe in sharing a house with animals.   “Animals belong outside”.  

I loved being outdoors – I really didn’t want to come into the house.  They had a grand garden complete with multiple nests of vulnerable chipmunks.  And a wonderful birdhouse where I could wait patiently for birds to gather to eat dropped birdseed.   She said, “How come Mrs. Cardinal isn’t with Mr. Cardinal, today?”   And the Sicilian quietly but sternly said to me, “I saw you – you can never do that again.  She liked that bird.”

I knew whom I had to overcome.

When a coyote attacked me one day in this beautiful garden, the couple brought me to the vet.  The vet charged them $500 and said “If you like this cat, you need to make him an inside cat.”  She agreed but the Sicilian said “Animals don’t belong in the house – he can go into the basement.” 

Living in the basement wasn’t bad.  It was warm and cozy and I was allowed upstairs to sleep on the sofa only if the Sicilian let me sleep on his stomach.   “No sleeping on the furniture”.   The sofa was leather and I was allowed to keep  my nails, so that was OK.   I really had my eye on the bed in the guest room.

When the woman wasn’t around, the Sicilian told me “No jumping on counters or the tables; no scratching furniture or rugs”.  No sleeping alone on sofa or in bedrooms.  Animals don’t belong in houses.”    She was a pushover; she let me sleep anywhere I wanted.  But I had to win him over.  It could turn out to be a good deal.  Plus, I was curious why she was so easy and he was so hard.  

Then he had a hip replacement.   He had to rest a lot and not move around for a while.   This was my long-awaited opportunity.   Patience runs in my family.   I watched him with soulful, sad, beautiful green eyes. (She told me how beautiful they were).  He would pat his stomach and I would jump up and cozy up to his neck while putting my paw around his shoulder.   She would say, “The cat is comforting you.” He would fall asleep and I revved up my purring.  

Not long after, he was in the garden again, and I was jumping around after him.  He gave me a name – he called me Compagno – sounds like ‘Goombah’ – she told me that meant companion or partner;  he started to like me! 

They took me on vacations and sometimes they left me at home with a pet sitter.  One day while they were away, there was a forest fire in the woods behind us and the pet sitter could not get near the house.  I was really frightened.  Alone.  Lots of smoke and ashes.   A kind neighbor had the key and came by to get me – the neighborhood was being evacuated.   My persons came home two weeks later and I felt strange and different.   I was still scared and slept rolled up in a ball in the corner of a room for six months.   I did not jump on my persons’ laps or want to do anything but sleep and eat.    I lost 3 pounds.  I ended up with diabetes.    

My persons took me to the vet who said I was traumatized and needed insulin shots twice a day.   My woman cringed, but the Sicilian took over my care – giving me shots twice a day.  He was so attentive to me, that I could sit by the ‘shot site’ at my given times and he would always be there on time to administer to me.  

When I started to feel better, I jumped up one day onto his stomach and purred loudly and they both cheered.  I purred louder.   When I gained my weight back and ate my high protein food, I was feeling good again.  I slept in my bed by the fireplace, but one night, the Sicilian whisked me up and brought me into the forbidden bedroom.   He put me at the foot of the bed and said, “He can sleep here.”  

And I still sleep there today – I’m 15 years old now – 75 in person years.   I’m high in their routine – we eat at the same time, I sleep on their laps while they sit in the living room, and he still picks me up to bring me to bed.   He gives me my shots, changes my kitty litter, brings me for my check-ups, has me blessed at church on St. Francis animal-blessing day, and makes sure my stash of insulin, special high-protein diet, catnip and fresh water are in place every day.    He’s even added glucosamine for cats because I was walking arthritic-like.    I feel GREAT.    He’s my BFF.   My Compagno.

The woman loves me like her baby – she cuddles me and talks to me all the time.   I wake up in the morning next to her and she cuddles me.   I fall asleep at night next to the Sicilian and he puts his arm around me.   I follow the sun around the rooms during the day and bask in its warmth.  

The Sicilian put in a special pet door for me so I can go to my ‘apartment’ on the enclosed porch and get fresh air.  They speak to me lovingly like I’m their child.  I love my life.  The Sicilian used to say, “He can’t come into the house.”  And, now, I own it.   And have servants.   I purr a lot – just to think, I have eight more lives to go.   

Marie Coppola Copyrighted April 2015

Please do NOT feed the alligators!

When visiting South Carolina, PLEASE do not feed the alligators!

The good news first: South Carolina is a great state to visit or retire to – droves of retirees move here every year. Why not? it’s beautiful country, inexpensive, balmy winter weather, close to the beach and water, lots of attractions and places to go with myriads of same-age friends to socialize with.

The bad news: The American alligator is native only to the southeastern United States, where it inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human-populated areas. Wetlands abound in South Carolina. We have them behind our house.   Occasionally we hear of them entering a home or swimming in someone’s backyard pool.

Wildlife experts estimate there are 100,000 alligators in South Carolina. These extremely powerful creatures, with cat-like quickness from the snap of their heads to the crushing whip of their tails, can be dangerous, and weigh hundreds of pounds. Most wild alligators (are there any other kind?) do not get above 13 feet in length and weigh 600 pounds. The record one is over 19 feet. Not something you’d like to step outside in your back yard and run into.

Alligators are on the shy side and normally do not chase or bother people unless their nest is provoked or you get closer than 15 feet to them. And people do that all that time. For some unfathomable reason, people may think that if they get close to an alligator, the alligator may invite them for a swim or to see their young. Not. They have good eyesight and can run very quickly to overtake a human. Sometimes alligators become disoriented when their natural habitat is compromised and have been seen swimming in lovely developments’ community swimming pools. We had such an occurrence a few miles from our home here on the east coast – a five foot alligator taking a swim in a backyard pool.

And alligators are good press copy. Recently three Critter Manaement workers removed a “monster” of an alligator — an 11-foot long, 500 pound alligator from a tiny lagoon in the Hilton Head area. And recently, too, part of a man’s arm was bitten off by an alligator as he leaned to retrieve his golf ball at a private South Carolina course, officials said this past Friday. The man, in his 70s, was bitten by a 10-foot alligator on Thursday afternoon at Ocean Creek Golf Course in Beaufort County.

Alligators eat fish, birds, turtles, snakes, mammals and amphibians. They will also eat small fish at any opportunity. As they grow, they gradually move on to larger fish, mollusks, frogs, and small mammals like rats and mice. Some adult alligators take a larger variety of prey ranging from snakes, turtles or birds to and moderate-sized mammals like a racoon or deer. Once an alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey. Adult alligators will also eat wild boars, deer, and dogs of all sizes, and livestock including cattle and sheep.

The purpose of my article is to plead with tourists and even natives of South Carolina and all southern states: Please do not feed alligators. Dogs and cats disappear all the time from golf course communities – where at least one or two alligators reside — in the ponds on golf courses.

Never feed or entice alligators – it’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. Some unknowing people with small children with them have been fined for feeding alligator; the alligator could view the child as possible food. Don’t feed ANY wildlife in or near the water. Again, it may create a situation where an alligator sees these events and begins to associate people with food.

To keep the alligators at bay in South Carolina, 1,200 excited people take to the public waters of South Carolina for the annual alligator hunt. The season opens in September and closes a month later, with each licensed hunter allowed to capture one alligator. The sport is popular in the Palmetto State. The number of permits sought by enthusiasts and granted by the state has grown each year since it became legal two years ago.

Do I partake? Nope – the only alligators I ever want to see are at an alligator attraction down by nearby Barefoot Landing, a popular North Myrtle Beach tourist spot. They are contained and all I ever hope to see.

© Marie Coppola Revised February 2013

 

 

Do our pets go to Heaven?

 

According to a National Pet Owners Survey, 69 million households own a pet in the U.S. – 63 percent of ALL households. This breaks down to approximately 73 million dogs, 90 million cats, 139 million freshwater fish, 9 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 18 million small animals and 11 million reptiles. The positive aspects of being a pet owner are too numerous to list here; the biggest negative is that that their life span is shorter than humans. We feel the empty void when they leave us.

Have you ever wondered what happens when a pet dies; and if he or she go to Heaven like humans do? Why did God make animals? In Genesis 2:19-20, we read: “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to the cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field…” Chronologically, God created the animals before He created Adam… God’s first task to Adam was to name each of the animals. God saw them as individuals and important enough to have them named accordingly.

What does the Bible tell us about God’s relationship with animals? In Genesis : 9: 13-17: “(12) “And God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations.” In God’s Love for His animals, they are mentioned in many places throughout the Bible: In Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” God looks after and tends His animals as He tends His children.

Psalm 136:25 tells us …”Who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.”  “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Luke 12:6.   ‘And I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse…” Revelations19:11 The Old Testament makes comparisons between the eventual destiny of humans and animals. Ecclesiastes 3:19 declares, “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal.” And in Job 12:7-10: “You have only to ask the cattle, for them to instruct you, and the birds of the sky, for them to inform you. The creeping things of earth will give you lessons, and the fish of the sea provide you an explanation: there is not one such creature but will know that the hand of God has arranged things like this! In His hand is the soul of every living thing and the breath of every human being! These Bible verses, our communication with God, show that animals will not be forgotten; I believe they will be there with us in Heaven. The last book of the Bible – Revelation 5:13 tells us “And EVERY creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and ALL that are in them, heard I saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the lamb forever and ever.”And the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the (Heaven on) earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9

I haven’t read any Scripture that tells us that our particular Fluffy or Fido will be reunited with us, but since we all think our pets are extraordinary, it’s a ‘given’ that we will love and bond with any animals that may be there. What do you think? © Marie Coppola, Revised July  2017

Gombah Becomes Traumatized…..Chapter 5


At some point in time in every pet’s life, he or she may need medical attention either at a veterinarian’s office or at an animal hospital. In addition , since the average life expectancy for indoor cats is 14 to 15years {although the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, lived to age 38 and some cats live to age 20} the costs for their care is increasing along with their age. And like humans, cats’ health issues can increase with their age, too.

Statistically, cats are prone to diabetes at age 9, and our cat was no exception. Since we had suspected, diagnosed and now corrected his affliction, the following might be helpful for those of you who will experience a similar situation.

Like humans, it is not good for cats to be overweight.  A survey of the National Pet Pharmacy informs us that 40 percent of cats are considered to be obese! Only 5 to 10 percent of all cats can be classified as only slightly overweight. In recent years Feline Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes) has become almost a daily diagnosis in animal hospitals all across America. U.S. cats are at risk for a number of obesity related disorders. Documented research indicates obese cats are far more prone than cats of normal body weight to Diabetes, arthritis and a very serious disorder called Hepatic Lipidosis.

And the 40 percent obesity figure seems to be growing.

 A picture of a fat cat — but it is not Gombah, although the markings are similar.

Along with the above, a cat’s history may have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, along with a sedentary life style. Yup, Gombah most definitely changed his habits from an active, outdoor cat to an indoor cat, who LOVES to be sedentary; he was also overweight. He was a prime candidate for diabetes.

One year we traveled for a month and at the vet’s suggestion, we always left him in our home since he is familiar with his surroundings and not farmed out where he may become disoriented and/or feel abandoned. We always left someone in charge that he knew ~~ to cat-sit overnight, to feed and pet him. This time was no exception.

But, an ‘exception’ did occur the very next day after we departed for our trip and were a continent away. Our area had a forest wildfire, a devastating forest fire that destroyed 72 nearby homes and continued to char 31 square miles near our home. Damage estimates rose to $16 million for the three-day blaze. The fire came within 5 miles of our development and neighbors tell us that ash and smoke were heavy on our street.

I’m mentioning this tragedy because the caretakers for our cat also live near us and were understandably anxious, under stress and preparing to evacuate if necessary. Although Gombah was being taken care of, we’re assuming that anxiety was high for both humans and animals. Gombah, just adjusting from his ‘parents’ not being there, aware of surrounding smoke, different feeding times and anxiety — were factors, we feel, in contributing to his onset of diabetes. Our vet concurs it probably did.

When we returned some weeks later, Gombah greeted us weakly – he was three pounds lighter – a lot of weight for a cat to lose in a few weeks’ time. He was thin and his gait was different; he weaved when he walked and his legs were wobbly.

He was constantly hungry and thirsty and we thought as long as he was eating, he would be OK. But, his routine had changed, too. He no longer slept curled up with us; he would find a corner in the house to sleep curled up in a fetal position with his back hugging the wall. Something definitely was not right. He wasn’t gaining weight and he was eating and thirsty all the time. He didn’t play much anymore, had stopped grooming himself and was lethargic.

A checkup at the vet’s revealed his sugar count was very high and after two overnight stays, he was diagnosed as diabetic and would need insulin twice a day.   It would take 6 months before he returned to normal.                                                    

TBContinued……Chapter 6

Marie Coppola (C) September 2012

 

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