Thursday, September 01, 2011

Rest in Peace, Jeremiah

Jeremiah's is gone. Here, several months back, he looked wonderful in a cabbage butterfly crown while sunning in the window in the shop.
Our sweet boy cat, Jeremiah, died on Saturday. We took him in his last hours to a good doctor who gave him a drug-aided death. We were with him the whole time. He died with the same noble grace and dignity he displayed all through his life and last couple weeks of failing health. Not a whimper, not a mess, no complaints.

I never thought I could make a decision to "take" a life of a pet, preferring to leave big things like that to nature. But it became too clear very quickly that he was dying a painful difficult death, not from old age but from an undiagnosed major disease of some kind and letting him ride it out any longer felt more cruel.
It all started with his 100% feral/wild mother in Benedict Canyon in the hills above LA. Here she is in our backyard at the time, pregnant, standing in a tree above a couple of previous litter kittens who are eating. She was churning out kittens 4 at a time every few months and there wasn't enough food or clean water to nourish them all (not to mention the canyon was full of hungry coyote packs munching on cats at night).

Jeremiah, was a rare Lilac-point Tonkinese (Russian Blue and Siamese mix) in one of her litters. He was so small and precious and light-colored we knew he could not survive as a wild canyon cat for long. I asked Paul to capture him for us. He did, with a box rigged with a string and baited with food. After he calmed down over being inside for the first time, he started to play and splay his back legs like this. He was the cutest thing we'd ever seen.
Half-a-year later, we also captured his biological sister, from a subsequent litter, to give him a playmate and to save her life as well. They became inseparable as you can see.
We moved to several places after that and Jeremiah grew to be especially beautiful, strong, and agile. He had an amazing way of running to help another cat in distress instead of running away from the noise. For that I called him, "Fireman Cat". His jumps were breathtakingly graceful, even by a cat's standard, something to do with his strength and proportions. I noticed his "meow" sounded like the lilting ringing of a bell all his life. Yes, he was crossed-eyed.
We made a general house policy a few years ago, that we would stop spending hundreds of dollars on veterinarian care for our pets. We'd changed our financial approach and stopped using credit/debt for anything and decided that spending a great deal of money we didn't have on our animals would be unwise. So we bought the best quality food we could and let life go it's own way. They were animals after all, not people.

With Jeremiah's illness and death, however, we've come to a new understanding/learning. That if we are going to have pets we are going to have to be more responsible for their health care. With Jeremiah and his sister Isabella's being so wild (they never really tamed much) we thought taking them in for annual exams would be unnecessarily traumatizing for them. C'est la Vie, we'll take life as it comes. Not now.

Now we will take our pets in for annual exams and tests as part of their care. We still don't want to get every expensive test and medical procedure possible, and there's no guarantee that knowing what Jeremiah had would have given him more time, but we've decided to at least check them out as best we can and go from there.
Over the last year or so I can now in hindsight realize he'd been ill, he had taken to sleeping most of the day, needing way too much food (for a few years) and then more recently drinking more and more and having an oily coat. The last 3 weeks he lost all his flesh except for a bloated misshapen belly and finally could only drink water strained from fresh cans of tuna every hour. He'd look like death (no photos shown of that stage) and then would miraculously perk up and quietly cry when he heard a can being freshly opened to lap up the salty water.
Even though my mind saw that he was going and that there was nothing that could be done at this point, I still cried over his going. He was a good boy. And is missed everyday.

Dagoba, good boy.


21 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for you! Losing a cat is very very hard and Jeremiah seems to have been a sweetheart. He was very pretty and I can imagine you miss him. Big hugs from Holland

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  2. Sorry Shelley, reading that just breaks my heart.
    Jeff

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  3. such sad news. that is a lousy decision to have to make, but in the end a kind and loving one. i'm sorry for your loss.

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  4. Thank you all very much. For some reason sharing about these losses on the blog really helps. It gives me a place to express my feelings and thoughts to caring folks.

    Thank you for being there.

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  5. Shelley, that is a loving tribute. I love Jeremiah already because of this story; beautiful photos, beautiful cat, loving words. It's the best we can do to honour these decent creatures who share our life. I think annual exams is a nice resolution for you to make in the face of your grieving. It is a thoughtful response to the balance between doing maybe not quite enough and doing maybe too much. Sending comfort from Australia. Your comfort mouse friend, Melissa.

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  6. Ah sweetie, I am sorry for the heart pain you are having. I know you are missing his little spirit. I am saying a prayer for your loss and a big ole southern hug.
    Love
    Marcie

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  7. Very very kind of you to say, Melissa and Marcie. Our thanks to you both.

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  8. Peace and wellness to you, Paul, and the other family cats. Hugs.

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  9. ah, shelley. i'm sorry to hear jeremiah has left this world, but he will always have a place in halfland! *hug*

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  10. I'm so, so sorry. Hang in there!

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  11. sorry Shelly!

    jriggity

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  12. I'm so sorry Shelley :( He was a cutie pie, and very lucky to have such a wonderful mama.

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  13. Thank you all, my good friends...

    Your well wishes are much appreciated.

    xoxoxox

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  14. Shelley, you didn't take the easy way out (I don't know if there is one in this case). We already talked about it before: It's a really hard decision, and I'm really sorry for your loss of your feline friend! Warm hugs to you!

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  15. Aww, thank you, Jessica. Our conversations about the matter really opened my mind to paying attention to what was best for dear Jeremiah.

    Thank you again.

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  16. Awwww, my heart breaks for you. I love cats and have a few that are in their final years.

    You did not hurt your karma by euthanizing your kitty. I bet he is thankful in spirit and hope he comes to visit you in your dreams.

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  17. Yeah, I know what you mean, Don. I had a friend who felt they had "killed" their cat when they had it euthanized. They felt as though they had harmed their beloved pet.

    I thought I would feel that way, but I don't. I feel as though I gave him a kinder end than the slow agony he was enduring already too long.

    He looked like it was mere moments before he was going as it was. In the car on the way to the Vet's office, his eyes were fixed and vacant and he looked "not there".

    Best of luck with your anipals. Some say that because these friends have shorter life spans than us we have a chance to learn to accept the full life cycle.

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  18. Anonymous5:14 PM

    Haven't been to the Halfland blog in a while and it saddens me to find this. Was this the fellow who came out to say hello every once in a while? Big hugs, Shelley. May he live on in your sweet memories of him.

    -Yuji

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  19. Thanks, Yuji. No, the little grey cat you have met here is a very different sort of kitty. (She is my first "normal" type of cat that actually likes it when people visit.)

    The fellow who passed, Jeremiah, wouldn't dare to come out if people were here. He and his sister remained untamed even after 13+ years.

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  20. ah man, sorry for your loss Shelley.

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  21. Aw, thanks so much, Rich.

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