The Final(?) Chapter in the Cat Saga

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I thought this would be another story of grace in my ongoing cat saga. Perhaps it is. Just not in the way I expected.

If you followed my cat stories, several months ago we lost Joey, our beloved black cat (the best cat ever), and also became petless for the first time in decades.

After months of not having a cat, and a couple of negative attempts to bring another pet into our lives, a few weeks ago I was really, really missing having a cat. Yet, I didn’t know if I was ready for a full commitment to a pet at this time (vet bills, food bills, and dealing with possible destruction of furniture as we had with the last brief cat visitation). I just entrusted the longing to God.

Not two hours later, I was checking my Nextdoor chat group, and someone posted that they needed someone to take care of her 14-year-old cat for 6 weeks. The cat loved to sit on a lap (and wasn’t picky about whose), she was front declawed, and used her litter box religiously. Bingo!

I private messaged the owner, Zadie, and told her how we’d lost our last cat, who was an older lap cat, I wasn’t ready for a full commitment to a pet yet, we did not have any pets and would love to take care of her cat.

I didn’t hear back from her right away, and let it go, figuring that she chose one of the other volunteers. But I was wrong. Zadie had actually called right away and left a voice message (I often don’t get my vms right away), and said, “You sound just like someone sent from heaven for me and my cat. Please give me a call. I can’t tell you how perfect you are….”

It did seem perfect. Zadie provided all the food and litter. We just needed to provide the love and care. I looked forward to having a lap cat again (who wouldn’t wreck our furniture).

So in came Kaya, a gray Manx cat whose lack of a tail weirded us all out at first. But she was sweet and friendly. All went well—for a couple of weeks.

Soon, however, I began to get concerned. Kaya wasn’t eating much. When she stopped drinking and eating, scorning even her special daily treat of shrimp (I spoiled her as Zadie did), I began to worry.

When Kaya threw up, I contacted the owner. It took Zadie a day to get back to me. She was very thankful that I had contacted her about the problem, and I’m sure, very worried about her beloved cat.

Zadie had her daughter come and take Kaya to the vet. After a couple of days at the animal hospital, during which time I did Healing Codes for Kaya, I got the report that Kaya was eating and doing better and could go home.

This time “home” was not my house. Zadie was sensitive enough to pick up that I wasn’t crazy about taking care of someone else’s sick cat, and had her daughter-in-law take the cat.

What happened, in fact, was that I was triggered into grief about Joey. I remembered that in the last couple of weeks of Joey’s life, the same things happened: he didn’t eat, drink, and he messed outside his litter box (which he never did, and neither had Kaya previously). I could not deal with another sick or dying cat.

I realized I’m still not over grief concerning Joey. I’ve had a lot of grief in the past year or so: Joey, my mother, an ongoing private grief, and other past unhealed losses I didn’t realize I need to work on. They are all melting into each other it seems, and I need to create space to heal it.

With every loss, there is a subtle diminishment of identity. I am no longer a pet owner. I am no longer anyone’s daughter.

Recovering from grief is a journey, and healing grief is more complicated than I thought. Though I’ve been working on it for a while now, I find you can’t rush it.

The outcome of taking in this cat was not what I expected. Instead of the comfort of having a cat purring on my lap (which happened exactly once with Kaya, before she started acting sick), unhealed grief was stirred up.

At this point, it’s like, “three strikes you’re out” concerning cats. Kaya was my third strike. At least for now, I’m not interested in any pets. I need space to heal more of this grief and deal with the recent new challenges that crop up unbidden. I’m in a mode of subtraction, not addition.

When I saw on Nextdoor that another cat “desperately needed a forever home,” I wasn’t even tempted.

This may or may not be the last chapter of my cat saga. If it is, I’m OK with it. There is a time and season for everything. This is a season of letting go. There can still be peace in that.

If you need help in healing grief or any other heart issue, check out my coaching at HealingCodesCoaching.com.

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Sally Smith

Awww, Diane, this brought tears to my eyes. Pets…. so special, beloved, and important. People who have been to heaven say that they are there, waiting for us. I believe it!

Renee

Diane, thank you for sharing that very real and honest experience. It takes time, but time is not the healer. It is so natural to want to push past the pain but at the depths I have found the Peace that passes understanding, then new strength and a return to joy. Thank you for the marvelous work and gift you carry that has brought healing to so many – may that Grace and love return to you multiplied in this challenging season.

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