Apr 20, 2013 - Cats, Personal    36 Comments

And Then There Were Two

My beautiful Tabitha died today. She was 15 and had been my companion for 13 years.

When death comes naturally at the end of a good life and there is time to prepare for it, my grief at the loss is not lessened, but I have no trouble accepting this natural occurrence. I’m grieving tonight, but I’m okay. Ms. Cinnamon took good care of me.

I noticed last summer that Tabitha was beginning to feel poorly, so I took her to the vet for a full workup. Everything that could be checked for with routine tests — diabetes, thyroid, kidneys, liver, worms, etc. came back okay for a cat her age. She did have a slight bladder infection, which cleared up with a week’s worth of antibiotics.

She continued to decline in the next months, eating less and less, losing weight, and growing increasingly lethargic. I could tell her kidneys were shutting down.

When I adopted her in 2000, I was warned that because of major health issues in her kittenhood, she would not be a long-lived cat. The vet estimated that with proper care and a housebound existence, she might make it to nine or 10. She has far exceeded her life expectancy and she has had a good, rich life. She has been well cared for and cherished. I don’t believe in extreme measures. As long as she wasn’t in any pain, I was willing to let nature take its course.

She stopped eating in the last few days, but she was still happy to see me and cuddled, enjoyed sunbeams, and was able to get up and down from the bed in the back (forget the loft, she hasn’t climbed up there in weeks). I waited for her to tell me it was time.

When I got in tonight from a day out, she was just staring blankly at me and I barely got a purr out of her. She was breathing very heavily. I made a quick Google search and called a vet to ask about bringing her in.

You would think that a Saturday night would be the worst night for this decision to have to be made, but the Hillside Veterinary Clinic is open 24/7 and does not charge anything extra for after hours or weekends. The receptionist was wonderful and took me at my word that it was time to put Tabitha to sleep. She told me to bring her right in and that they would fit her in ASAP.

I had tried the shelter a couple of days ago to get information and the woman there was quite rude and said that Tabitha would have to have a full panel of tests before they would agree to put her down. Hillside did not question that I have been a good mom and was making the decision because it needed to be made.

The entire staff, including Dr. Smith who gave her the final injection, was compassionate. The cost was $75 plus $12.50 for disposal; the same price quoted by the shelter. I was allowed to be with her to the end while I would have had to surrender her to the shelter. I am so grateful that I ended up needing to make the decision late on a Saturday and had really no choice but to go to Hillside because I couldn’t imagine a better place for it to have happened.

My darling girl traveled the continent with me. We lived in five homes together and have had short stays in motels as well as my parents’ homes. In 13 years, she was only  kenneled once. In 13 years, I  lived at least six different lives and had as my only constant this raven beauty with piercing golden eyes.

From the first moment she laid eyes on me with those windows to her precious soul, I was her person. Aggressive and shy  with others, she always loved me. We slept together most nights of the last 13 years and could communicate efficiently. She was my girl and I loved her so much. Oh, how I will miss her.

The void in the rig is palpable tonight. Neelix seems to sense my grief. I am focusing on honouring her life.

I wrote a Squidoo lens about by girl sometime ago. If you want to do anything for me tonight, please go visit that page and ‘like’ it. All earnings from that lens go to a cat rescue charity.

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36 Comments

  • Rae,

    I am so deeply sorry to hear this news. My condolences to you. I’m glad you were able to be with her in the end. Very cute pictures of her, she was a very loved cat and have a great life with you.

    Big hug to you in this sad time,

    Tina

  • Thanks, Tina. I saw your like on Squidoo, too. Much appreciated!

  • {{{HUGS}}}} I feel so sorry for your loss. We have lost fur friends over the years and I know how great the void is. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Thank you for sharing your adventures with Tabitha over the years.

    Your cats were the main reason I started following your blog as we want to travel with our cats, too.

  • Thanks, P.J. I’ll hopefully get several more years of traveling with Neelix. I can’t imagine doing this alone.

  • Isn’t it amazing what pets add to our lives? They truly blessed us.

  • Love you much.

  • ((grosses caresses)) Toutes mes sympathies Mabel. Je sais a quel point elle était importante pour toi. Une autre de mes copines vient de perdre sa chatte de 22 ans. Comme elle m’a dit: “Ca fait toute un vide, c’est la relation la plus longue que j’ai eu. Certains disent que c’était seulement un chat; mais elle était une présence réconfortante a chaque jour.”

  • I’m so sad for you. She had a great life!

  • My heartfelt condolences for your loss…many memories to remember. What a sweetie…

  • So very sorry for your loss. May your fond memories and times together sustain you through this difficult time.

  • Rae, I am so very sorry to hear of Tabitha’s passing. Tears in my eyes to start my morning. As a cat owner/lover for my entire life, I know what you are going through and my heart goes out to you. But I know you are comforted knowing that you were a wonderful mom to her. Perhaps even now Tabitha is purring with her brother Samuel, or playing with my Munchkin, someplace that we can only imagine. Big hugs to you and Neelix…. I know you will miss her always.

  • So sorry Rae, It is never easy when the time comes to say “Goodbye” to pets we have known for a long time.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. But, grateful it could be done so gracefully. You were in the right place and for that we can all be thankful.

  • Rae,

    Sorry for your loss of sweet Tabitha. I enjoyed what you wrote about her (or what she wrote about you being such a good mommy.). 🙂

  • Thank you everyone for your kind and sympathetic thoughts. The rig feels so empty this morning. Thank goodness for Neelix cuddles!

    Julie, c’est bien dit que ma relation avec elle fut ma plus longue avec n’importe qui. Ce n’était pas ‘juste une chatte’ bien bien une âme soeur. Je n’ai pas la même relation du tout avec mon gars, bien que je l’adore!

  • Thinking of you this morning…..

  • 🙁

  • Oh Rae, I am so sorry about Tabitha’s passing, but I am SOOOO glad that she had you as a Mom and you had her. She was loved and treasured and you took her on a grand adventure that most cats only dream of. I am glad that you were with her till the end. Gentle hugs and I wish you and Neelix and easy time of adjustment.

    I just watched your rig tour yesterday and loved the shots of the cats, she looked so cozy lounging in the middle of the office floor. 🙂

  • I share a small part of your grief at Tabitha’s passing. I have cried many tears this morning. May it help to comfort you knowing that others care.

  • Rae,
    I cried my eyes out trying to read you blog last night about 2 am.
    I have been in your position several times, at the shelter & at the vets…& it does not get easier. It was nice you found a compassionate vet. The hardest part is knowing… when is the right time?
    You house may be one short but it will always be filled with the memories of your loved one.
    We love our 4 legged family members forever too.

    My heart goes out to you.
    Sincerely.

  • I’m so sorry to hear this, Rae, and cried as I read your post, knowing what it’s like to lose our precious feline companions. May you and Neelix be comforted by each other and many wonderful memories. Praying for you.

  • More thank yous everyone. I am overwhelmed by your sympathy and kindness. *HUGS*

  • Sorry to read you have lost your friend. I know you gave her many good years and lots of great spots to sit in the sun and survey her surroundings.

  • Thanks, Caroline.

  • Rae-I just got home and finally have a computer. I am so very sorry about your beautiful Tabitha crossing the Rainbow Bridge. She was indeed a gorgeous girl. You two shared a lot and you gave her a wonderful life and the most loving gift of all by setting her “free” at the end. There are some cats and dogs who for whatever reason, capture and hold our hearts in their little paws and when they leave us they leave a huge hole. But that hole it will slowly close and you will keep her alive in your heart forever. You have my deepest sympathies. Lynn – Kingston NY

  • Thanks, Lynn.

  • Speechless with sadness. Hugs to you and Nee from Ken and I.

  • Thanks, Donna. *HUGS* to you and Ken.

  • Rae,

    I was so sorry to read about Tabitha’s passing. Tabitha and Neelix look so much like my Guiness and Norma that they feel like my cats.

    After losing Norma, I know how you feel. At least with your tabby and my black, we still have a pair between us.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures of Tabitha and Neelix with me. I posted them on my blog Old Roads Once Traveled at http://oldroadsoncetraveled.blogspot.com/2013/04/tabitha-neelixguiness-norma.html.

    Guiness and I have you and Neelix in our thoughts and prayers.

    Debbi

  • I’m sorry for your loss. We’ve got a pair of kitties ( brothers, one black, one tabby ) who would leave a huge hole in our lives if they weren’t in it.

  • *sniffles* What a beautiful tribute to our fur-babies! Thank you!

  • Thanks, Airmon. Another person with a black/tabby combo! What are the odds?

  • Rae, so sorry to hear the news about Tabitha. It’s always such a hard decision but you made the right one for her. I enjoyed the squidoo about her as well. Just getting back to catching up on posts after traveling. Hugs and take care.

  • Thank you. *HUGS*

  • I’m catching up on your goings-on and noticed that you have lost your precious Tabitha. I’m sorry to be so late but I wanted to send along my condolences to you on your loss. I’m glad you have wonderful memories and that you have shared them with all of us. Peace be with you & Nelix.

  • Thanks, Lisa.

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