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Until we meet again…

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Cat and Dog at the windowAfter a long, chronic illness (though mostly without pain or appearing very sick), I had to put my 16.5 year old cat to sleep today. :’-(

She was diagnosed with CRF (Chronic Renal Failure; failure of the kidneys, a common ailment in older cats) about two years ago. She was given only six-months to live. I learned how to give her subcutaneous injections (under the skin between the shoulder blades) of lactated ringer solution (similar to saline solutions) to help her kidneys function better. I tried to feed her a special diet, but she refused to eat it. Eventually, I just fed her whatever she would eat and figured her quality of life was more important than the quantity of months. I feel very fortunate to have had two years instead of the six months.

For a cat, she lived quite a life. I took her to the beach, the mountains, shopping, church, and many more places cats aren’t typically found. She actually enjoyed traveling, and was the only cat I ever owned that didn’t need a pet carrier when riding in the car (though I kept her on a harness and leash for safety). She actually walked on a leash fairly well (for a cat, not compared to a trained dog, of course).

She was sweet-tempered and generally well-behaved (for a cat). She had uncharacteristically bad balance for a cat, and would sometimes fall off of ledges, window sills, etc.; she’d always immediately look around to see if anyone else noticed, and if they did, she’d immediately start licking herself to hide her embarrassment (the only cat I ever had that showed embarrassment).

She’d snuggle under the blankets with me on cold nights. She used to let our dog drag her around by the head (she also would give as well as she got), but it was all in play for the two of them. My dog was two years older than the cat, and she also died two years earlier; they both lived to around 16.5 years.

The cat was a particularly finicky eater; if she didn’t get what she liked, she would go on a hunger strike until she got what she was holding out for. She enjoyed chicken nuggets (the baked ones from Foster Farms, not the fried ones from McD’s), as well as catfish and tilapia (also a fish).

She moved with me between three different homes, lived with all but one of my various house mates (some of whom weren’t exactly cat people), and was truly a member of our family.

I will miss her terribly, just as I still miss my dog.

The song below helped me in the past cope with grief after I discovered a good friend of mine had passed away. And below it is a poem filled with hope that a friend recommended to me that comforted her after her cat had passed away.

Friends (are Friends Forever)

Words: Deborah D. Smith / Music: Michael W. Smith

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

With the faith and love God’s given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you’ll live in
Is the strength that now you show

But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

Repeat chorus

The Rainbow Bridge

Poem inspired by a Norse legend
©1998 Steve and Diane Bodofsky

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

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