Thursday, September 26, 2013

Saying goodbye

A couple of weeks we lost our beloved kitty, Pyewacket.  After years of incurable respiratory infection and the development of Cushing's disease (also incurable) we had to put her to sleep.  I have loved and lost many pets before, but have never felt grief this intense for one of my cats.  Looking at her picture still brings tears to my tired eyes.

My mom had advised me to look at the things I learned while loving and caring for her, that perhaps the meaning of her short life was to teach me things about myself, life, and love.

These are things I have learned:
(1) Breeding of flat-face Persian cats is inhumane.  The flatter the face, the more intense the respiratory problems.  These animals are born with a great disadvantage in order to conform to an arbitrary standard of what some consider to be beautiful.

(2)  The more we fight for something, the more attached we become.  In the nearly 2 years that Pyewacket lived with us, I cared for her as I would have a sick child.  She always needed something from me, from daily grooming to face washing to administration of medicine.  I fought to help her overcome her illness, just as she did, but even together our efforts were not strong enough.  As a result of the fight we shared, our bond was deep and lasting.

(3)  I have learned the vets do not know all the answers.  My vet was supportive and very caring and always told me that they at his office were just trying to help us.  I believe him.  But aside from invasive surgery to ream out her sinuses and nasal passages, which we opted not to do, the only treatment we could perform was to use the one antibiotic she could tolerate when the infection began to rage again, as it always did.  We also used a few grains of zyrtec daily, which helped her breathe a little more easily.  Persian cats commonly have allergies also, which can contribute to the sinus infections.  Giving medication to cats is tremendously difficult and stressful for both the cat and her humans.  The vet tried his best in this case, and I do not blame him for Pyewacket's death.  She was a very difficult case and such a fragile creature.  I know that he was just trying to help, and she came close to dying 8 months ago.  He actually saved her that time and gave us 8 more months with her.

(4)  I have learned to trust myself even more.  There were occasions where I told the vet I thought that steroid injections, which were sometimes given along with the antibiotic, were causing her fur to fall out and her skin to become flaky.  He said steroids don't usually do that, that there was probably something else going on. At her last appointment, when he said she appeared to have Cushing's disease because of the way her skin looked and her loss of fur, he stated it could have resulted from steroid overuse.  It could also have resulted from a tumor on her adrenal gland.  We will never know for sure, and knowing won't bring her back.  On my other pets, I will insist that steroid use be the last option.  The side effects often seem to overwhelm the short-term benefits.

(5)  Persians are inherently different from other cats.  They have a gentleness I have never before experienced, which goes beyond their calm natures.  Pye would often brush my cheek ever so softly with her right paw when she wanted affection.   She would raise up on her hind legs to receive a pet.  She was always happy, always eager to interact, always loving, despite the illness and daily struggles to give her medication.  Living with Pyewacket made me smile and sigh with deep pleasure.

(6)  I have learned (again) how little control I have.  We all like to think that if we do certain things just so and plan and work very hard, that things will go our way.  This is an illusion we buy into, and sometimes it works out for the best, but other times, it does not.  The death of someone we love is a great reminder that sometimes our plans and desires have nothing to do with what the universe has in store.

(7)  My capacity to love has not been hindered by the many losses I have had in my life.  Love, and not just romantic love, is the reason for our being.  I choose to keep my heart open and to allow the infinite well-spring of love to flow into and through it.  I know there will be more loss and more pain, yet to exist in a state with a closed heart and lack of emotional connection is not an option for me.  I choose love.  And I have the sweetest of memories to comfort me during times of grief.

I bid farewell and safe passage to my sweet Pyewacket.  Others may come after you, but none can replace you.

And so, I have been continually working on making this new house one that reflects my style and my personality.  These are things over which I do have control.  Focusing on them helps to ease my grief and affirms life by caring for those in the here and now, celebrating beauty, and connecting to the abundance of the natural world.

Stay tuned for the next post where I share changes I have made to our little cottage in the woods.   After all, decorating is good therapy!

Until next time...



  1. I am so sorry for your loss. This is truly helpful son's sweetheart wants a flat nosed kitty but when I share this with her I think she will change her mind. She hates any kind of animal cruelty...she loves animals. She is even a vegetarian because of the animal cruelty involved in providing meat for us to consume. So thank you for sharing your heart and advice. (hugs)

  2. Kerrie,

    The poor thing struggled to breathe every day of her short life. It was truly heart-breaking. My husband is also very saddened by her loss and her struggle and has asked that we no get another Persian, even one that has a more traditional facial structure. Neither one of us can bear to go through that again. Thanks for your support, my friend. And please do share this with your son's girlfriend.

  3. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby. I hope soon that your tears are replaced with smiles and wonderful memories of Pyewacket.


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