How Peaches Stole My Heart

two calico cats at a window

Peaches and Cream at their first home

I’ve mentioned Peaches frequently, the little kitty who arrived at age 15 and lived to be 20, and who had a profound effect on my household and on my portfolio of sketches, paintings and photos, including a favorite, Peaches and Peonies. It’s just two years ago that Peaches was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and I began writing about her condition. Readers still discover those articles and find them helpful when their cats have been diagnosed and are being treated for the condition, often largely receiving fluid therapy at home. I’m going to repost those articles from two years ago as they come up.

Here is the first, an introduction to Rosebud and Angel, who became Peaches and Cream, and above is the very first photo I saw of them, the one given to me by the person caring for them as described below to convince me I needed to help rescue them. Who could resist? And, yes, it is on my list of images that I love; read more at the bottom.

I saw a friend and animal lover catch sight of me from across the room, give a big wave and make a beeline for me, weaving through the crowd at the gathering we were both attending while digging in her purse.

“I know of two cats who desperately need a home,” Betsy said before she even reached me, waving a photo. “They’re going to be put to sleep if someone doesn’t take them!”

Now, among those of us who are known for rescuing cats and dogs and other things, how many times have we heard that?

I will always listen to the story, though. This woman was, first, an animal lover but not a cat person and not one of those constantly sending communiqués about cats about to be euthanized, and was also, though retired, a former architect and respected board member and support of various organizations I also supported, and not the type to make idle threats. I decided whatever story she had to tell was probably completely accurate down to the last fact, and there was a reason in addition to the two homeless cats that she was desperate to find a home.

And then she showed me the photo, above, which is lovely in its own right, but I also knew those two gorgeous calico cats were looking at someone they loved very much and waited to hear more.

Left behind when an owner died, a common story

As it turned out, her good friend and neighbor had died, leaving behind her two 15-year-old cats with no instructions for care. Betsy was distraught at losing her friend and neighbor of many years. Because the woman had no family in town, only a son in Chicago who could only stop by infrequently, she had undertaken to clean out the woman’s house and care for her cats as a last act of friendship and respect for the things her friend had loved so much. She had dogs and couldn’t take the cats but was in the house frequently enough to be able to feed and water and look after them until she could figure out what to do.

two calico cats on chair in sun

The other photo Betsy showed me of Peaches and Cream.

She and the son had initially discussed a few options, and he had decided to take them to their veterinarian to see what he thought and to likely have them put to sleep. He couldn’t take them and the last thing he wanted to wanted to do with his mother’s beloved cats was to take them to a shelter and drop them off, knowing what is usually the fate of old cats in a shelter.

Apparently the veterinarian told him they were healthy and friendly and advised him, if they had someone to care for them in place, to just hold onto them until they needed to leave the house. A little more time wouldn’t hurt.

So back they went, and for about two months Betsy kept an eye on them while she visited the house daily and cleaned and sorted and organized things for the estate sale and realtor visits. When the house was up for sale, the realtor advised to remove the cats, and that’s when Betsy magically saw me, knowing she could appeal to me.

I already had four senior cats

At that time I had seven cats, including four in their teens, Stanley over 20 and in chronic renal failure, and I was determined not to add to the household knowing somehow the senior health issues would be mounting. I loved each of these cats intensely, and I really wasn’t interested in taking in two 15-year-old cats, no matter how nice they were.

Sometimes I can steel myself against the knowledge that a cat who needs a home may not meet a good end if someone doesn’t help it along somehow with a temporary home. Although I normally had about nine cats, with the extra care for senior cats seven was about my limit and that usually reinforced my decision to not take more cats into my home, when Betsy called and said they had to leave the house and were bound for a shelter, I knew she was serious…and something told me to give them a chance.

Back up to nine cats, my magic number.

But I had always had some luck placing cats, even adults, so I planned on fostering until I could find a home.

two cats on steps

Peaches and Cream with a friend

Their own little marketing campaign

My little June kitties came in with different names; Peaches was “Rosebud” and Cream was “Angel”. Cream was mostly white with a few clear black or orange spots, one resembling the AC Delco logo on her shoulder blades, interchangeable orange ears and a detachable black tail—this last a reference I always made to cats whose extremities were colored as if intentionally setting them off. Peaches was petite and looked as if someone had laid large sections of peach and gray fur across her the top of her as her chest, belly and legs were all creamy white.

I know Betsy would have been diligent in feeding and providing water, but possibly they didn’t care for the food and water provided in the self-feeding and self-watering containers because they were both a little dehydrated and had a few bowel issues when they arrived. I was already dosing Stanley with sub-Q fluids and watching for other symptoms of renal failure, so I just added them to the list. Peaches responded right away, brightening up, but Creamy needed fluids every few weeks and then more often and always seemed to be a little tired no matter what I did for her.

Well, I’ve been in advertising and marketing long enough to know that I needed a really catchy name to get attention for two 15-year-olds who should be kept together, and “Peaches and Cream” came to mind and stayed there.

cat with little girl

Now there's a portrait! Cream with my great-niece Cassidy.

Both were nice cats, very friendly and social and actually mingling pretty well with my household, though Creamy decided right away she owned me and chased everyone away, which didn’t do well when I had to keep an eye on my two oldest, Stanley and Moses. So Peaches and Cream had the run of the house during the day, but stayed in the spare cat room overnight.

Cream was so friendly that I began taking her to the personal care home where my mother lived to visit the ladies there who had lost their kitties when they entered personal care. I would visit my mother in the evening, and Cream would wander around the living room, choosing one woman and then another to rub her face against and curl upon and purr.

I also had a little retail space at the time and had an open house so people could meet them, and I wrote about them on my website (no blog yet) and contacted everyone I knew who might possibly be interested in the two, or even one of them.

The biggest objection

The biggest objection to adoption of either one or both was, very simplified, “they are old, they’ll die soon, and that will hurt.”

I could hardly argue with that. We can never know how long they’ll be with us, and it hurts no matter. That didn’t change the fact that, for however long they were alive, they needed a home, and perhaps one where they’d get more attention than in mine.

two calico cats in a box

Not the best photo, but a favorite

And we did lose Creamy the following March to kidney failure. She was trying to hold on, even to the point where her skin would leak from previous treatments when I gave her a dose of fluids; she was holding on for her person who I’m sure she always thought would come back. I remember her looking at me with determination in those last few days, knowing she had no intention of giving me the sign she was ready to go, and having a very hard time balancing between my logical understanding of a cat who had reduced from ten pounds to four, who was not eating or drinking and was in fact subsisting on subcutaneous fluids and hope, and her clear desire to maintain.

Oddly enough it was trying to decide what to do with her remains after she died, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in my yard with the cremains of my others, that helped me and her make the decision. Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation suggested I find her person’s grave and scatter her ashes there. I was immediately put at ease with the thought, told it to Creamy and she did accept, relaxing and letting go over the next few hours, and I had her put to sleep the next day.

I had lost my 19-year-old Moses just a month before; Creamy was the second older cat of the four I lost in the space of one year. In addition, the August after they arrived, Namir went into congestive heart failure for the first time and she will always be a part of the beginning of these events, inextricably interwoven into my household.

catphoto-peaches

Peaches, Feline Photographer

Peaches goes on

Peaches, on the other hand, seemed to find a new youth, and five years later still  looked like a young cat, her 5.5 pound figure unchanged, her clearly patched peach and gray and white fur soft and shiny, green eyes clear and round, and very little unsteadiness to her gait. When people came to visit she was one of the favorites with her petite good looks, quiet friendly face rub and round-eyed welcoming  expression, and her curiosity never ceased to surprise me when she went exploring a bag or a box or the newly-renovated bathroom.

In retrospect, it’s hard to believe Peaches was only with me for five years, and came to me at age 15—it seems as if she was always been with me. I had the feeling that Cream, much bigger and bolder, had always dominated tiny submissive Peaches from what Betsy had told me and from what I saw.

One morning I opened the door to the spare cat room and Peaches purposefully walked out as if she’d been waiting. I intuitively closed the door behind her. Peaches looked around the landing and into the two other rooms, then looked directly up at me and I could tell that was the moment she accepted the loss of her other person, decided she was staying here and accepted me as her new person, even though it meant leaving Cream behind.

We packed a lifetime into those years, beginning on that day as a senior foster when she decided to start a new life and became, from what I hear, a completely different kitty from the timid and elusive kitty she had been.

tortoiseshell cat bathing calico cat

Kelly gives Peaches a sisterly bath on the butterfly rug.

My household changed over constantly from the moment she arrived, and she went along with all of it, letting others have the attention when they needed it. She didn’t let four boisterous kittens bother her, and in fact they loved their older sister very much. She found them very useful in the winter when she could snuggle in among them.

While she was friendly with every cat she encountered, she found a sweet friend in Kelly who absolutely adored her; Kelly had grown up the youngest and has always seemed most comfortable with older cats, and took to Peaches right away.

Not only did she settle firmly in the household, but she also settled firmly on the internet! She corresponded with others through our blog and on Facebook, and she even applied for a job as an office assistant finding a best friend, Eva, and regularly corresponded with her!

And it never even occurred to her I might not love her to pieces, which I do. Her little silent meows, hopeful looks, prompts for dinner and slight weight sleeping on me when I awaken all became a part of my life. I guess it’s really not hard to fit another cat into the household or into your heart; you’d think I already knew this.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Where would my portfolio be without her?

I’ve always painted and photographed my cats, but nearly as soon as Peaches entered my house she became one of my most regular subjects. Perhaps because I’d been working with the others for so long and she was new and very different from all the others, but she continued to be one of my favorite subjects, and still is.

I painted “Peaches and Peonies” in 2008 from photos I’d taken in 2007. Some cats have to wait a lifetime before their portrait gets done, and I still have a few waiting!

Too bad for those who wouldn’t adopt her

So even though Peaches has gone into memory, I still celebrate her every day. I’m glad she ended up staying with me for all she gave to me and all I could give to her. Anyone who chose not to adopt her lost out on a great kitty with just a few little issues.

Don’t let fear of loss stop you from adopting

photo of calico cat on wooden floor

Precious Peaches

But I hope this is a lesson for anyone uncertain about adopting an older or senior cat. Even though they don’t have a full lifetime with you, you never really know how long a lifetime will be. Right after I lost my fourth senior cat in that awful year, my Stanley at about 25, I lost a kitten I’d adopted, my Lucy, to FIP at 15 months.

Still, in Lucy’s 15 months, and Stanley’s 25 years and Peaches’ five with me, we’d shared enough to last a lifetime. The moment you love, it’s forever.

Calico and tortoiseshell cats seem to be the beauty queens (99% of the time, anyway) of the feline image world. I always say it’s because the human eye loves pattern and color, and these cats certainly deliver! The first photo of Peaches and Cream in the window has long been an image I’ve wanted to work with, but I have so many ideas and I’ve been undecided in what seemed best. I don’t want to over use it in whatever I choose, a greeting card or painting or decorative item. It also works equally well as a photo as it would as a painting, and often that is my deciding point in creating a painting—much as I love to paint, if it’s a good photo and I can’t add anything to it by creating a painting I’ll stay with it. Still, my fingers itch to study and render their faces and spots as well as the delicate shadings on the window frame and the reflections of the trees in the glass. So I remain undecided!

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Feline Faith and Understanding

Peaches knows the door will open if she looks at the doorknob long enough.

This was one of my very first posts on The Creative Cat a little over three years ago—wow, here is little Peaches just being herself, the Fantastic Four were 18 months old, I know Cookie was right there with me because I have more photos from this particular morning, as was Namir, who was actually the inspiration for this blog and whose image is in the header.

Sometimes persistence is a very physical thing, sometimes it’s more cerebral.

Cats dislike closed doors, and will have you come and open the door just so they can look inside and see if there may have been anything that might at some time have been of interest to them. After even only a quick cursory glance, they may see that there was nothing of interest in there after all, and will simply walk away without apology. After all, you exist to fulfill their needs, and their needs aren’t all that great—what does it take to open a door, or put out some food, or move over in bed, or toss the toy, or pet them for the 32 seconds or two hours they want? Oh, and there are several other things that should be done, but we can leave these for another posting.

My house is very small, and without very many doors. The ones that exist are rarely closed, except those to the outside.

In this case, however, the door in question is the entry to what may be seen as “the good life” by the feline members of my household. This is the Spare Kitty Room, as I have no need for a spare bedroom, and often it actually contains a spare kitty, a rescue of some stripe or other, or a foster.

Peaches continues to look at the doorknob.

Peaches continues to look at the doorknob.

It can also contain a sick kitty, one who is actively ill with some acute or chronic illness as rescues or very rarely a regular resident may be, or one of the very seniors who needs a little extra care. Often, the room is only used as an observation area to isolate which kitty has been leaving the really awful stuff in the box, or to see if if someone can pee.

Now, why would they associate a room with “the good life” which I associate with illness and recovery? For the same reason I was always envious of my accident-prone brother—he got all the attention, the extra gifts, the time out of school, lots of special treatment I never got! Both humans and felines can easily forget or ignore the side effects of illness when there is some treat involved.

In this case, the room is warm and cozy with the best bed, one’s own litterbox, usually special food and sometimes it’s available all day, not this ungenerous twice-daily dash for the dishes before it’s taken away again. A nice window with a bird feeder directly outside provides entertainment, and, because the Spare Kitty Room sometimes doubles as my art studio where I perform non-computer-related activities, they get special time with mom, and having mom’s lap to one’s self in a house with multiple cats is apparently worth more than food.

Right now, Kelly is in there because she was the one found to be emitting the nasty stuff in the box. She is very upset by the existence of Mimi’s Children, so she’s in the room having quiet time and getting special attention.

Peaches is still looking at the doorknob.

Peaches is still looking at the doorknob.

So Peaches will patiently sit and look up at the doorknob, sometimes dozing off. Peaches is very sweet and I love her to pieces but I don’t think Peaches is the type of cat who reflects—in fact, I think her mind is most often nearly empty with only one thought at a time taking up a small portion, and that usually having to do with food or mylap. She is 18 years old and her age may have something to do with this, but I don’t think Peaches was ever the introspective sort, just quiet and consistent, pretty straightforward.* I’m not sure she’s even considering why she’s looking at the doorknob, only that if she does it long enough, she will get some sort of reward. Her focus can stay entirely on the doorknob, and when the door opens it can move to what is waiting inside.

I know she’s up there right now, waiting.

*Underneath that understated exterior, Peaches is a very creative thinker as I discovered when she considered becoming a photographer—read “Area Senior Cat Finds Muse in Photography” in the writing area of my website.

Read more about Peaches, the kitty I adopted at age 15 and who lived to be 20, It’s Peaches 100th Birthday!

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Farther Along the Path

 

Path-PeachesCloseup

I feel like crap. Can't you do something about it?

 

This past weekend I thought I might be saying farewell to Peaches very soon. She wasn’t eating, was occasionally vomiting and was one moment constipated and another with uncontrollable runny diarrhea, her sub-q fluids pooled up in her right front leg and paw for nearly 18 hours and I could hear gurgling in her abdomen that made me think I heard the toilet running.

But instead of reading the “I am preparing for my transition” which I expected, her expression read, “I feel like crap. Can’t you do something about it?”

Peaches may be 20, weighing in at 4.8 lbs. at her last exam, a little wobbly, pretty deaf with bad eyesight and sometimes confused, but she is one feisty, resilient kitty. Determining her state of mind at this point is a little different from others I’ve known, having only known her for the past five years. Most of the cats I’ve had previous to this I’ve taken in as adults, but I’ve still had more years of a relationship and can draw on that to help me read where they are now.

 

catphoto-peaches

Peaches, Feline Photographer

 

Peaches chose to have a new life

Peaches has a very direct personality, though, and once she decided—yes, she decided—to become a member of this household (“This will do,” she said to herself) I got the feeling she had also decided to make a change in her self. The woman who had given her to me told me that Peaches had always been shy and fearful, was rarely seen by guests and her sister seemed to dominate her. The Peaches who emerged from the spare kitty room, however, was social with all the other kitties, friendly with guests, and devoted to me, curiously exploring her surroundings and enjoying every moment of every day. Once the Fantastic Four came along with their energy and lust for life, she ignored their childish taunts and found a use for them in keeping her warm and comfortable as they cuddled around her. This was not a tiny, fearful senior kitty.

So I don’t think Peaches feels she’s ready for any transition but wants to enjoy this incarnation a little longer. My job is to help her stay as healthy and comfortable as possible until she’s ready to move on. I trust her to let me know.

Caring for the geriatric chronic kidney failure kitty

To say I’ve been preoccupied with Peaches lately is to make a great understatement. A cat who is dealing with chronic kidney failure can’t really maintain her own internal balance and to a smaller or greater extent needs assistance from her person. In order to keep kidney function as stable as possible, that balance includes not only hydration but also diet, activity level and, well, I’ll say “output” because “elimination” sounds a little too grim. One element too far away from center can throw the whole body off, and if it persists for too long balance sometimes can’t be restored.

I work with my veterinarian in all my observations and decisions regarding Peaches, and the poor woman will often get several calls in a day or several days in a row as I’m working with a condition, but she always patiently returns my call and helps me to the next step when I need guidance beyond what she’s already taught me. She usually uses observation and physical exam for diagnosis and avoids testing where the condition is obvious. Where Peaches is concerned, we don’t test for kidney values since I can’t imagine taking blood from little Peaches as often as we’d need to, and her skin is so thin now that I have difficulty properly inserting the needle to administer fluids let alone my veterinarian extracting blood from her tiny veins. These levels can fluctuate even through the course of a day and observation of her physical and social activity is usually an adequate indicator of her current condition because I adjust her treatment as I see a change.

 

peaches and giuseppe

Giuseppe comforts Peaches.

 

Assessing with both physical and social cues

Every day begins and ends with an assessment of Peaches’ condition and in between are constant checks of how she’s doing, what she’s doing, if she’s hungry, if she’s not, if she’s produced anything or not, whether she is active or not, all determined by the actual activity and social cues—if she looks comfortable, if she’s curled normally or sleeping in her normal spot, if she went back upstairs for her morning nap in the bathroom, if she joins me at my desk and so on. Cats are masters at hiding things and simply dealing with sometimes horrible discomfort, so the social cues are just as important as the obvious physical ones and are sometimes an early clue to a later change in her condition.

As I had written earlier, she was greatly weakened by our infestation of fleas, resulting in greater anemia. We resolved the fleas, but rebuilding her strength with diet and fluids took a while. Peaches has always been troubled by constipation and any vitamin supplement exacerbates this so the process of rebuilding her strength and a putting a little more meat on her bones was an especially slow process.

The most Peaches ever weighed while with me was six pounds so reducing by 1.4 lbs. was significant. When I carry her I tell her she just feels like a handful of dryer lint especially considering her dilute calico fur, but her fragility is almost frightening, her bones feel rubbery and birdlike and there’s not enough of her to fill both of my hands.

A few weeks ago she began an odd seizure-like activity in which it seemed her right hind leg had just given way unexpectedly and she stumbled sideways and fell several times. A physical exam didn’t find anything, and the stress of putting little Peaches though diagnostic tests would likely not have found anything, or found any condition we could do anything about. I continued to observe her, but it simply stopped after about a week. It was likely neurological and related to her weakened condition and I’ll still be looking for it as her condition continues.

Not the end, just a really upset stomach

This past weekend, the nausea associated with kidney failure had finally gotten the best of her, though it took me a while to determine this. The reflux was likely burning her throat and causing a stomach upset that made eating out of the question, resulting in all the gurgling noises I heard, and her continued lack of eating made the condition worse as her stomach became completely empty and the constipation turned to a frequent diarrhea, dangerously dehydrating her. She was rapidly losing any nutritional and functional balance and, uncontrolled, this could easily weaken her enough that balance couldn’t be restored, and I could easily lose her to this downward spiral. While it might have been a virus of some sort, treating the symptoms she responded readily pretty much ruling out a virus.

I always have on hand a mixture of allopathic and naturopathic, pre-packaged and homemade treatments. The first thing to tackle was the reflux, so out came the Pepcid, one-quarter pill dissolved in water and put in her mouth with a syringe to neutralize the existing stomach acid (I always picture putting out a fire). A little later this was followed by a strong lukewarm tea made from slippery elm bark to coat the mucous membranes of her mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach which were probably raw from the reflux. In the meantime 50ml of sub-q fluids; though 100ml is usually the minimum therapeutic dose, this is all she can absorb at one time at this point, and I could give her another dose a little later once she’d absorbed these. I want her to be well right away, but I have to relax and space these treatments so I don’t upset her either with my handling or my own fears.

 

calico cat looking up

Can I come out now? I feel better.

 

Though stewed pumpkin helps elimination problems of both constipation and diarrhea, Peaches can’t eat enough pumpkin to make a difference, so I was hoping that treating the major symptom would help to resolve the others. Still, a little of this and a little of that. I keep CatSure on hand though it’s heavily milk-based because Peaches will usually lap up a little bit. The extra fluid doesn’t hurt, nor do the extra carbs to give her energy and perhaps a little weight as she metabolizes it, but the recommended amount is way too much. I also have Nutri-Cal which she enjoys and which has the side effect of also helping to settle her stomach and coat those raw mucous membranes, though I sometimes need to take it up in a syringe to get a bit in her mouth.

Neither of those is a substitute for real food, though, so next is a fresh jar of baby food, chicken or turkey with broth.  Her interest in this shows me her progress, and once she’s eating her baby food with some enthusiasm I offer little chips of raw salmon or venison which I’ve thawed in my fingers. If she gets to this point I know we’re on the way to recovery. I have to be careful with the amount of raw meat, though, because it’s difficult for her to digest, but as long as she can digest it, it’s like a direct injection of real and fresh nutrients. I also have canned cat food on hand in addition to this. Since she seems to love salmon they are usually salmon-based varieties, and while I try to keep with grain-free organic brands of food, usually Wellness, I’ll admit I’ll feed her whatever it is she wants to eat if that’s what she wants at the moment—eating something is better than not eating at all if that’s the choice to be made, and my goal is to get her back on the best diet she can possibly eat and digest.

Imagine the reaction of the rest of my household as I pull out all the appetizers and entrees for Peaches! Oh they’d love some CatSure, they certainly wouldn’t let any go to waste like Peaches does! And the NutriCal, just a taste—please! Baby food, oh the smell is heavenly! I do usually hand out raw salmon and venison; I actually try to feed it to them as often as possible though it’s difficult for eight cats.

I’m extremely careful with the canned food though, especially the non-Wellness varieties. I’ve had several male cats through the years who suffered from persistent urinary tract issues, and aside from a raw diet, Wellness was the only food that kept them consistently clear. Jelly Bean is very sensitive and a very clever food thief and had apparently been stealing more of Peaches’ food than I knew, especially the non-Wellness varieties, because he paid for it in some extreme urinary distress, also this weekend! That’s another story, but all of it together kept me pretty busy checking litterboxes and conditions.

It takes time, lots of it

And all of this means time spent observing often to the exclusion of other things, late nights and early mornings, leaving my desk repeatedly during the day, following Peaches around while I’m on the phone with someone, postponing appointments and scheduling around how she feels. Some days not much gets done, but Peaches is taken care of.

 

calico cat

Peaches checks on me.

 

Peaches, though, is quite well right now. I’m working upstairs this afternoon and she just came trotting up the stairs, output some positive stuff in the bathroom and came to check on whether or not I intended to feed her any time soon or if she was expected to starve.

As the end inevitably draws closer, love, don’t fear

I have always found it ironic that, as one of my kitty’s lives apparently draws to a close, we grow ever closer, communicate more clearly, share deeper expressions even as we are certain we’ll soon part. While I think of all my other cats through the day, I am constantly aware of Peaches and her condition, and I think she is of me. At this point, as Peaches and I walk a little farther along the path together, we grow close in a way that wasn’t possible earlier because we know what is ahead. The trick of it is to use that knowledge for good and not ill, for our mutual wellness and not to give into sadness and the fear of loss but to celebrate each other for as long as we can.

Peaches may last quite a while longer, but this last waltz, the quick changes in health, the need for greater care, constantly looking for the sign from Peaches, while they are the sweetest time we’ll ever spend together are indeed the most difficult. And again, I thank those who’ve gone before and taught me what to look for and what to do, and not to fear but to love.

Right now Peaches is sitting on my keyboard shelf demanding food. I’m so glad we have a little more time.

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You can read more about Peaches’ condition in these articles:

Get Well Wishes for Peaches

Peaches Says, “Thanks for all the good wishes, they worked!”

How Peaches Stole My Heart

A Day in the Life Of a Senior Kitty and Her Mom

It’s Peaches’ 100th Birthday!

Bastet and Freya, Do Us a Favor


Bastet and Freya, Do Us a Favor

peaches with facebook messages

"Thanks everyone!"

Peaches says thanks for all the good wishes this afternoon! She’s looking pretty relaxed after she spent some time reading them.

Her mom decided to take action and write a letter about Peaches, but deciding which omnipotent being would receive it was a quandary. Appealing directly to one who either was a cat or who likely lived with cats would probably be more successful than appealing to one of the other beings who had more general interests.

So we’ll see what happens.

Dear Bastet and Freya,

As the main cat goddesses, I’m appealing to you on behalf of Peaches. I’d like to know if we could have a little more time together. I have many reasons for wishing this—the anniversaries of several losses happen around this time, things are changing in my business, other things are happening, and I’m just not ready yet—but most of all, Peaches and I just haven’t had enough time together. I know she’s 20, but she’s only been with me for five of those years, and Peaches and I don’t feel we’ve done all we can together yet.

Peaches has seen me though quite a bit in the five years she’s been with me, including the losses of six other feline family members, and that including her sister. She’s also been instrumental in contributing to my work as a painter, a photographer, a writer and a merchant. I’m just beginning some new ventures, and since Peaches is responsible in no small part for getting me to this point, I want Peaches with me on the rest of this journey, still inspiring me every day with her sweet, gentle demeanor and petite beauty.

Please see if you can do something about this. Peaches and I have an agenda, and I think you’ll be pleased with what we do with the extra time you’ll give us.

Bernadette and Peaches

If only it was that easy. We never know when the time will come, and it may not be immediate for Peaches, but I feel it will be soon.

We’re not sure what’s wrong, but she’s just felt tired and had little appetite since last Friday morning. Usually, especially if it’s her renal failure, I can turn her around from this in a day or two with some aggressive fluid therapy, special foods, and a variety of naturopathic and homeopathic treatments. But this has been nearly a week and I’ve needed to resort to some steroid use to make a change.

We’ve always suspected she had something deep in her right ear, a polyp or infection, that affects her balance and breathing and swallowing. She’s often shown irritation in that ear, scratching it and shaking her head, but the stuff that builds up down in her ear canal never tested positive for anything, and short of an MRI no one can see anything. A polyp or infection can flare up and in that tiny sensitive area wreak havoc on balance and swallowing especially, but disappear just as quickly. However, now that she’s a little weaker she just may not be able to compensate, and the condition itself may also be growing more aggressive.

She was on the bed with me this morning, then left and came back, thinking I’d follow her the first time, very normal. She’s been eating but swallowing is a little difficult and sometimes distressing. She’s walking around but with stiffness in her hips and hind legs, and she’s not jumping onto things as she was even yesterday; she’s capable, but I don’t think she can see well and doesn’t want to take the chance. Confusing and distressing to me, she’s kind of wandering, walking from one room to another, considering the basement, circling the table in the kitchen, as if she keeps forgetting what she’s doing.

peaches at the gate

Peaches checks the gate.

Peaches at the fence

Peaches at the fence.

And strangest of all, she wanted to go outside through the basement door. She’s never even acknowledged that there is an outdoors unless I’m in it and she wants me to come inside from it. She walked around the yard but the grass wasn’t comfortable, but she kept heading for the gate, then along the fence, to my side yard, even walking into an overgrown area at the end of my lettuce bed. I turned her around or I’d have had a difficult time getting her, and she walked back to the gate and eventually back to the basement door and we went back in the house. Perhaps she was actually looking for the way back into the house, and perhaps she was looking for something else; my intuition tells me it was the latter. It may be the “outdoor remedy” that has helped to heal and comfort many other of my cats—simply being outside livens their senses and brings back their emotional immune system.

If Peaches is anything, she is definite in her decisions. There is no equivocation that she does or doesn’t like something, or does or doesn’t do something. She lost her person, she came here, and she accepted the new home as her own and me as her person. I don’t even remember a questioning sniff or expression.

peaches behind monitor

Peaches gets up behind my monitor--a good sign!

Her health condition has been the same. She goes day to day then suddenly she’s in kidney failure, or she had no need for fluids and suddenly she’s dehydrated, or she’s been “going” fine then she’s constipated. I’m pretty perceptive, having been trained by the lives and losses of many other cats, but Peaches gives no warning, compensating as cats do until they can’t.

And even without renal failure and other conditions, I can’t avoid the fact of her age and that sometime soon we would have to part. As I’ve learned before, I’m not afraid of losing her, only of not listening, seeing, hearing what I need to in these last days, weeks or months, and of not honoring her needs and doing my part for her in her transition.

peaches and giuseppe

Giuseppe comforts Peaches.

Right now she’s actually sleeping comfortably on my desk and I can be happy with that. Giuseppe, her protector, carefully curled himself behind her.

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling.

And I need to move the injured fledgling robin to a safer place. It was nestled in the grass while Peaches and I were walking and held completely still as we approached, but I could tell it needed assistance. Sometimes an injured animal is part of the process or a sign. I’ll see if I can do this right.


It’s Peaches’ 100th Birthday!

peaches' birthday photo

Peaches wears her green hat for her 100th birthday!

The big day is finally here!

And did I ever think I’d make it this long? Honestly, I never really thought about it! I can tell you from experience that we animals never really worry about these things as humans do, but that we are glad for every day we are here.

Especially when we’ve got wonderful parents like my mom, and a world full of friends, near and far away!

photo of cat in box

I've got a big box ready for all my gifts!

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes and the get well wishes as my mom and I continue to work with my kidney failure (and what a birthday gift I’ll get later today—another 100cc of fluids), and I hope we’ve given many other cats and their people the idea that living to 100 is not only entirely possible but not all that uncommon anymore. Little health issues may be troublesome as the years go on, but we’ve provided information on those so you know what to expect.

And the point I find most important is that older pets need homes too, so don’t be afraid to adopt us just because we’re old! My mom took me in at age 15, and I’m still going strong at 20, and my brother Stanley in this house lived to be about 25! With animal health care getting better all the time and all the information available to pet parents these days, any one of us could live a long and healthy life.

Now, mom, bring on the salmon pate!

There’s still time to bid on the print!

Bidding on the print of “Peaches and Peonies” is open until midnight tonight, May 1! Whoever has the highest bid by that time wins the print with all proceeds going directly to FosterCat, so you get to make a tax-deductible donation to a worthy feline rescue organization AND you get a piece of artwork as a thank you! Click here to read the article and bid.

Other articles celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday

Bid on this Print and Start Celebration Peaches’ 100th Birthday

How Peaches Stole My Heart

Old is Awesome!

Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, Part 1

Beyond Food and Water, Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, part 2

My Feline Garden Sprites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

A Poem Dedicated to an Old Cat

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Cookie Reminisces

On The Conscious Cat

How to Care for Your Older Cat

On Catnip Chronicles

Peaches and Peonies

Donate to FosterCat Through Other Blogs and Websites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Other articles about Peaches

Peaches Applies for a Job

Get Well Wishes for Peaches

Peaches Says, “Thanks for All the Get Well Wishes, They Worked”

This is a short list—Peaches appears in many articles I’ve written on my household, on pet loss, and even some silly things I’ve written on my website before I had a blog! Search “peaches” in the search box for more articles.


A Day in the Life of a Senior Kitty and Her Mom

Another article in celebration of Peaches’ 100th Birthday.

cat peaking over blanket

The usual awakening.

Peaches didn’t awaken me this morning. All the black cats were on me or on my bed and Cookie was curled in the position of honor on my left against my ribs where she could feel my heart beat against her back. Kelly was having a bath on the sunny windowsill in hall and Dickie peeked in on his way from his favorite bed in the bathroom to the steps. I watched the doorway for a minute or two thinking she’d come upstairs once she noticed the activity. But no Peaches.

Not all my cats sleep with me every night, and not all participate in my awakening in the morning. But usually any cat who is in some chronic condition will be there in the morning or will show up in the doorway, make eye contact with me, our way of checking in with each other. If they don’t, it may not be a good sign. Peaches is very consistent and usually sleeps on me, and if not she doesn’t let me sleep late so this likely meant she wasn’t feeling well in one way or another.

She was fine last night, I thought, or just a few hours ago when I finally got to bed, and she was great all day yesterday. Things can change unexpectedly when the kitty is in chronic renal failure, though, so I bypassed my usual wakeup routine, put my glasses over my sore eyeballs and headed straight for the stairs.

She looked up at me from the butterfly rug where she was settled with all paws curled underneath, but she didn’t sit up or get up, and I could see her eyes were not as round and open as usual. Begin the diagnosis: she is dehydrated to a certain extent, she may be feeling some general indigestion as a side effect of the renal failure we’ve been fighting, and she might be constipated, an issue for Peaches as long as she’s been with me and common since she’s been in fluid therapy, plus she’d been eating very well but I hadn’t seen a significant “deposit” from her yesterday.

Well, let’s see how she eats at breakfast. Sometimes she’s a little sluggish. I was just buying time, though; I knew this wasn’t the case.

This was a very busy day ahead, I had stayed up late to get work done and especially made sure Peaches was in good shape so I wouldn’t have to worry while I was out. I really didn’t have time to fuss and fret over Peaches, but of course I would.

man and cat

My brother Mark and Cookie take a break from yardwork.

What was on the agenda for today? Complete minor corrections to design jobs customers had sent over yesterday; pick up post cards and greeting cards for the show I’m having Friday through Sunday, deliver them to another printer to score and fold, pick up the ones that are done, pack in boxes; call the nursing home I’d be moving my mother to later this week; call the personal care home she currently lived in and make arrangements to pack her belongings and settle paperwork; pick up a check from a customer at noon, deposit; order greeting card boxes; talk to disabled brother about his budget for May; work on a few of the bigger jobs on my desk right now; photograph some of the new pieces for the show; visit mom in the hospital…I knew I’d be out or otherwise occupied all day, so I got as much in order as I could before I went to bed.

Each of us has days that are full, and herein lies the quandary of caring for a chronically ill pet. When I worked away from home I was always frantic about leaving my cats when I knew they were ill. I also didn’t know symptoms and simple treatments as I do now. Working at home, even when I’m out for a good bit of the day, and with two family members who regularly need care, paperwork or more, I have the flexibility to treat my cats throughout the day. But I give thanks to all the senior cats who’ve come before and taught me what to look for and what to do.

Peaches came in the kitchen, ate a little dry food, ate a little canned food, then left. Eating in general is good, but Peaches usually eats like she didn’t just eat a few hours ago, pacing around on her countertop, waving her paw at me until she gets her food, focusing entirely on it until the first serving is done, having a good long drink of water. This could mean many things, and it was up to me to figure out.

She was on the butterfly rug again when I went to my computer a little later, and didn’t move to jump onto my lap, as usual. I looked at her and felt just a flash of irritation, then concern.

peaches and Kelly on the butterfly rug

Peaches and Kelly

Right now Peaches is a priority, not just because she’s my sweet little senior cat and her birthday is Saturday, but also because at her age and in renal failure, she can crash fast. I’ve seen her feeling fine in the morning, by evening her skin feels like bread dough and I need to get a reasonable dose of sub-Q fluids into her, and it will often take until the middle of the next day before she’s eating well again and feeling comfortable. So, let’s start the triage, then I can observe her while I get some work done before I leave the house, which means working with one eye on Peaches and getting up to follow her if she gets up to leave the room, which I’ve been doing for so many years with a succession of cats that it’s second nature now.

First, Petromalt, which I found long ago softens up nicely in the pocket of my bathrobe so that when you shove it in the cat’s mouth they can’t spit it back out in a lump. Peaches got two half-inch gobs, all of which went in. Ooo, not happy.

Second, just in case she’s developed any type of an infection, I take her temperature, finding it normal but also serving to grease up her other end. Just in case she is constipated, the thermometer and the petroleum jelly will help to dislodge something that may be in the way. Peaches has had bowel problems since before she was with me, and even on a mostly wet food diet with fiber supplement and a little sip of milk every few days—nope, I don’t like to give them milk either, but I discovered years ago that the extra fluid plus the fat in the milk can help an older cat with hairballs and constipation, and a tablespoon won’t hurt—she’ll still have occasional problems.

Third, aforementioned milk. Peaches was mad at me and ran, she’s a little suspicious but forgets she’s mad when she sees her dish and the milk carton. She doesn’t finish it, also not a good sign.

photo of two tortie cats

Cookie and Kelly at the computer

Let her sit, get more work done. Posting on Facebook, calling to confirm my order for greeting card boxes, calling printer to ensure my printing is done. Peaches leaves several times, always just to the water bowl in the kitchen and back; this is good. I make one more call, and off goes Peaches, headed for the basement. I finish my call and follow.

I’m not sure if she’s not entirely comfortable with any of the ten litterboxes in the house, but Peaches no longer uses one, even the empty, fairly flat one I added just for her. She prefers the floor in two areas. Fine, I can clean up after that very easily, and it’s almost convenient because I always know what she’s “done”; this can be hard to tell in a house with nine cats unless I confine her, which upsets her.

photo of calico cat

Do I look hungry enough?

Okay, there’s number 1 in the number 1 area, then number 2 in the number 2 area. Good girl! Yes, it was more than her usual, so that likely was the problem. Clean up, back up to the kitchen. After a little clean-up on the butterfly rug, Peaches is actually hungry.

I call my neighbor who recently graduated from vet tech school and who watched my cats while I was away three weeks ago, leaving a message asking if she has the time for fluids for Peaches. I can dose Peaches myself but it’s a little bit of a struggle. I also like Teri’s help; she will make a wonderful vet tech some day when the job market opens up again. Peaches really likes her and is completely relaxed when the two of us give her fluids; I also like being able to help Teri keep her hands in the business while she’s applying for jobs and working in a pet food store.

So between other phone calls and getting work done for customers, I feed Peaches a little at a time as she asks. By mid-morning she’s resting on my lap, by late morning when I’m ready to start my errands—a little later than anticipated because I wanted to be sure she was comfortable before I left—she is pretty much back to normal.

This was an easy morning, made easier by years of experiences with many other cats growing older. With each one I sharpened my observational ability, learned a new physical skill in caring for them such as dosing subcutaneous fluids, learned a lesson in symptoms and side effects, learned to control my fears and relax because I’d project my feelings on the cat, sensitive to me in return, and only make the situation worse.

Being an artist I’m attuned to minute physical changes in familiar things, especially my cats. After finding a veterinarian who didn’t wave me off when, for instance, I said my cat’s eyes weren’t as big as they normally were, I learned to trust these observations as well learning that a squint can be a sign of pain and sunken eyes appearing smaller than normal can be a sign of dehydration.

photo of my mother

My mother two years ago.

And I’ve been able to use the knowledge I’ve gained in treating my cats to understand the same illnesses in humans, and vice versa. My mother has a history of illnesses and surgeries, including with the lung cancer surgery and subsequent COPD, renal failure and congestive heart failure that necessitated her move to personal care several years ago. I had learned about renal failure prior to that from treating one of my cats, so I understood what was happening with her when I saw the symptoms.

And when my Namir was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure he was prescribed the same medications as my mother, and it was comforting to be familiar with what each would do for him.

In fact, I had the same conversation with my mother’s doctor and with my veterinarian on nearly the same day about the importance of hydration: if we could keep these older bodies hydrated they’d be much healthier generally, my mother’s medications would work better, my cats would have a better appetite, both would have more vitality and their organs would function better and for longer. It’s a struggle to get my mother to drink enough liquids, and I can’t just pop a needle under her skin to hydrate her as I can my cats, and it’s always a comfort to me when I see the sometimes miraculous recovery after a simple dose of fluids.

watercolor painting of rainbow and hearts

Original sketch for Heal Your Heart.

I ran all my errands, made all my calls, checked on Peaches, checked on my mother, at the end of another day all is as well as it can be. I still have hours of packaging and tagging merchandise for the upcoming sale, and I can use those hours to muse about the spectrum of life, the slower span of humans arching over the faster span of our companion animals like the arcs of the rainbow where, perhaps, we all mingle at the end.

Other articles celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday

Bid on this Print and Start Celebration Peaches’ 100th Birthday

How Peaches Stole My Heart

Old is Awesome!

Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, Part 1

Beyond Food and Water, Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, part 2

My Feline Garden Sprites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

A Poem Dedicated to an Old Cat

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Cookie Reminisces

On The Conscious Cat

How to Care for Your Older Cat

Donate to FosterCat Through Other Blogs and Websites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Other articles about Peaches

Peaches Applies for a Job

Get Well Wishes for Peaches

Peaches Says, “Thanks for All the Get Well Wishes, They Worked”

This is a short list—Peaches appears in many articles I’ve written on my household, on pet loss, and even some silly things I’ve written on my website before I had a blog! Search “peaches” in the search box for more articles.


How Peaches Stole My Heart

I saw a friend and animal lover catch sight of me from across the room, give a big wave and make a beeline for me, weaving through the crowd at the gathering we were both attending.

“I know of two cats who desperately need a home,” Betsy said before she even reached me. “They’re going to be put to sleep if someone doesn’t take them!”

Now, among those of us who are known for rescuing cats and dogs and other things, how many times have we heard that?

I will always listen to the story, though. This woman was not one of those constantly threatening me with cats about to be euthanized, and not the type to make idle threats. I decided whatever story she had to tell was probably true.

Left behind when an owner died, a common story

two calico cats at a window

Peaches and Cream at their first home

As it turned out, her good friend and neighbor had died, leaving behind her two 15-year-old cats with no instructions for care. Betsy was distraught at losing her friend and neighbor of many years. Because the woman had no family in town, only a son in Chicago who could only stop by infrequently, she had undertaken to clean out the woman’s house and care for her cats as a last act of friendship and respect for the things her friend had loved so much. She had dogs and couldn’t take the cats but was in the house frequently enough to be able to feed and water and look after them until she could figure out what to do.

She and the son had initially discussed a few options, and he had decided to take them to their veterinarian to see what he thought and to likely have them put to sleep. He couldn’t take mother’s cats and who wanted to take two old cats to a shelter?

Apparently the veterinarian told him they were healthy and friendly and advised him, if they had someone to care for them in place, to just hold onto them until they needed to leave the house. A little more time wouldn’t hurt.

So back they went, and for about two months Betsy kept an eye on them while she visited the house daily and cleaned and sorted and organized things for the estate sale and realtor visits. When the house was up for sale, the realtor advised to remove the cats, and that’s when Betsy magically saw me, knowing she could appeal to me.

I already had four senior cats

At that time I had seven cats, including four in their teens, Stanley over 20 and in chronic renal failure, and I was determined not to add to the household knowing somehow the senior health issues would be mounting. I loved each of these cats intensely, and I really wasn’t interested in taking in two 15-year-old cats, no matter how nice they were.

Sometimes I can steel myself against the knowledge that a cat who needs a home may not meet a good end if someone doesn’t help it along somehow with a temporary home. Already being at my limit of cats and caring for that time reinforced that steel, but when Betsy called and said they had to leave the house and were bound for a shelter, I knew she was serious…and something told me to give them a chance.

Back up to nine cats, my magic number.

But I had always had some luck placing cats, even adults, so I planned on fostering until I could find a home.

Their own little marketing campaign

two cats on steps

Peaches and Cream with a friend

Peaches and Cream with a friend

My little June kitties came in with different names; Peaches was “Rosebud” and Cream was “Angel”. Cream was mostly white with a few clear black or orange spots, one resembling the AC Delco logo on her shoulder blades, interchangeable orange ears and a detachable black tail—this last a reference I always made to cats whose extremities were colored as if intentionally setting them off.

I know Betsy would have been diligent in feeding and providing water, but possibly they didn’t care for the food and water provided in the self-feeding and self-watering containers because they were both a little dehydrated and had a few bowel issues when they arrived. I was already dosing Stanley with sub-Q fluids and watching for other symptoms of renal failure, so I just added them to the list. Peaches responded right away, brightening up, but Creamy needed fluids every few weeks and then more often and always seemed to be a little tired no matter what I did for her.

Well, I’ve been in advertising and marketing long enough to know that I needed a really catchy name to get attention for two 15-year-olds who should be kept together, and “Peaches and Cream” came to mind and stayed there.

cat with little girl

Now there's a portrait!

Both were nice cats, very friendly and social and actually mingling pretty well with my household, though Creamy decided right away she owned me and chased everyone away, which didn’t do well when I had to keep an eye on my two oldest, Stanley and Moses. So Peaches and Cream had the run of the house during the day, but stayed in the spare cat room overnight.

Cream was so friendly that I began taking her to the personal care home where my mother lived to visit the ladies there who had lost their kitties when they entered personal care. I would visit my mother in the evening, and Cream would wander around the living room, choosing one woman and then another to rub her face against and curl upon and purr.

I also had a little retail space at the time and had an open house so people could meet them, and I wrote about them on my website (no blog yet) and contacted everyone I knew who might possibly be interested in the two, or even one of them.

The biggest objection

The biggest objection to adoption of either one or both was, very simplified, “they are old, they’ll die soon, and that will hurt.”

I could hardly argue with that. We can never know how long they’ll be with us, and it hurts no matter. That didn’t change the fact that, for however long they were alive, they needed a home, and perhaps one where they’d get more attention than in mine.

two calico cats in a box

Not the best photo, but a favorite

And we did lose Creamy the following March to kidney failure. She was trying to hold on, even to the point where her skin would leak from previous treatments when I gave her a dose of fluids; she was holding on for her person who I’m sure she always thought would come back. Feeling Creamy’s reluctance I had no idea what to do with her after she died, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in my yard with the cremains of my others. Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation suggested I find her person’s grave and scatter her ashes there. (I still haven’t found where the grave is, but when I do I will follow through.)

I had lost my 19-year-old Moses just a month before; Creamy was the second older cat of the four I lost in the space of one year, and I will always connect her with the beginning of these events.

Peaches goes on

cat with camera

Peaches, feline photographer

Peaches, on the other hand, seemed to find a new youth, and five years later still looks like a young cat, her 5.5 pound figure unchanged, her clearly patched peach and gray and white fur soft and shiny, green eyes clear and round, and very little unsteadiness to her gait. When people come to visit she is one of the favorites with her petite good looks, quiet friendly face rub and round-eyed welcoming  expression, and her curiosity never ceases to surprise me when she goes exploring a bag or a box or the newly-renovated bathroom.

My household has changed over since she’s been here, and she went along with all of it, letting others have the attention when they needed it. She didn’t let four boisterous kittens bother her, and in fact they love their older sister very much. She finds them very useful in the winter when she can snuggle in among them and they give her a bath.

And not only has she settled firmly in the household, but she’s also settled firmly on the internet! She corresponds with others through our blog and on Facebook, and she even applied for a job as an office assistant finding a best friend, Eva, and regularly corresponding with her!

And it never even occurred to her I might not love her to pieces, which I do. Her little silent meows, hopeful looks, prompts for dinner and slight weight sleeping on me when I awaken have all become a part of my life. I guess it’s really not hard to fit another cat into the household or into your heart.

Where would my portfolio be without her?

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarsi

I’ve always painted and photographed my cats, but nearly as soon as Peaches entered my house she became one of my most regular subjects. Perhaps because I’d been working with the others for so long and she was new and very different from all the others, but she continues to be one of my favorite subjects.

I painted “Peaches and Peonies” in 2008 from photos I’d taken in 2007. Some cats have to wait a lifetime before their portrait gets done, and I still have a few waiting!

Too bad for those who wouldn’t adopt her

So as Peaches approaches this milestone, I still celebrate her every day. I’m glad she ended up staying with me for all she’s given me and all I could give to her. Anyone who chose not to adopt her lost out on a great kitty with just a few little issues!

Don’t let fear of loss stop you from adopting

photo of calico cat on wooden floor

Precious Peaches

But I hope this is a lesson for anyone uncertain about adopting an older or senior cat. Even though they don’t have a full lifetime with you, you never really know how long a lifetime will be. Right after I lost my fourth senior cat in that awful year, my Stanley at about 25, I lost a kitten I’d adopted, my Lucy, to FIP at 15 months. Still, in Lucy’s 15 months, and Stanley’s 25 years and Peaches’ five with me, we’d shared enough to last a lifetime. The moment you love, it’s forever.

Celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday, and bid on the painting

Please add your comments on your older cats, and please read about blog auction for a signed print of Peaches and Peonies. All proceeds from the highest bid go to FosterCat. I’ll also be featuring other articles on Peaches and other senior cats, and so will friends of mine and Peaches on their blogs. Stay tuned!

 


Meet Peaches’ BFF, Eva, and Read a Miraculous Rescue

photo of Eva's face

Eva's expression

…and the story of a completely unique feline purrsonality—a strong and centered purrsonality that probably saved her life by giving her the strength to endure what she was dealt.

I first met Eva in the post you will read below, originally posted on The Conscious Cat in December 2009 . I was moved to tears of empathy for both Eva and Renee, her rescuer, because Eva was strong enough to hold on, and Renee was given an unexpected second chance to rescue her. I know what it is to see cats in the dark in the rain on a lonely back road, knowing their chances of survival are nearly non-existent, and many have either eluded me or I’ve not had the time or the means to go after them. How many Evas did I miss? I love Eva for the story that she tells.

However, even with her near-death and her many health issues, Eva is a vibrant and social cat—who even has her own blog and a Facebook page with 341 friends! Not to mention she looks like my Peaches…

Eva’s Journey – Second Chances and Lessons Learned
Guest post by Renee L. Austin

Second chances are hard to come by, especially when the crazy pace of life can cause us to miss the fact that there was an initial opportunity to begin with. And when there is a chance to change a life, one’s own or someone else’s, a second chance is even more precious – particularly when that life hangs in the balance…

I’d seen her at least a week, maybe two weeks earlier, climbing an embankment on the side of the road. Even though there were no houses or barns nearby, the collar she was wearing stood out, and with some degree of relief I gave her just a fleeting thought. I was in a bit of hurry and traveling the back dirt roads. Well, by December they’re usually treacherously slick and muddy narrow lanes flanked by the dull browns and grays of winter. I have no business using them when they are so bad, but haste often overcomes common sense.

The next time I came upon her was in an even more remote area. She was wandering ahead of me up the middle of the road through the freezing rain. She was so un-cat-like; helpless looking and forlorn, head down, shoulders slumped, plodding through mud the consistency of pudding. She seemed totally unconcerned with my car pulling up behind her and barely glanced over her shoulder before slightly quickening her pace. Dejection and misery radiated from the little body.

When I stepped out and into the muck to call her, this suddenly animated creature whirled around and half ran to me chattering on and on in short rapid bursts. She leapt into the car without hesitation and proceeded to hug me; purring loudly and rubbing her face against mine as I settled back behind the wheel. Before I even got us turned around we were both covered in the mud she’d carried in with her. The inside of the car was a mess, too. And there I was, late-late-late, headed back to the house with a stray tortoiseshell cat loose in my car with cautionary thoughts churning of rabies, crazed tortie attacks, and wondering how I was going to explain this one to the folks at the emergency room. She rode standing in my lap, shivering and smelling of cold, wet earth and winter, front legs wrapped tightly around my neck, face pressed hard against my cheek. It turned out that my biggest concern was being able to keep the car on the road while trying to see around her head.

It was much later that night after I’d returned and had time to really study her, that I understood just how close she must have been to the end – that she already must have decided there would be no more chances. For however long she’d been on her own, and whatever had sustained her thus far, those resources and energy stores were gone. She was spent. Clearly there was no longer any expectation of help. Hope had faded and simply ceased to exist.

I remember looking down at her and thinking ‘no room at the inn’. We do have a full house, and I’d been waffling back and forth between frustration and acceptance over the rate and circumstances at which the fur-footed population was increasing here. Not only that, but I’ve been so slow to heal after losing my two special friends, each my heart and my soul. Sometimes it’s just too hard to find space for others amidst the broken pieces. In that moment I tried to close myself off even more, and then the little gray cat looked back up at me, stumbling and losing her balance in her weakened state. The drawn face filled with anxiety, showed all of the uncertainty and desperation she’d been carrying-for who knows how long.

It’s been a year now, and this cat that I was so reluctant to bring into the fold is a constant companion; always on my lap or at my feet, or greeting me at the door – when she’s not off raiding the kitchen. She could stand to lose a pound, maybe a bit more, but that’s something we’ll deal with much later. Her enthusiasm for all food is rooted, I’m certain, in her having been so near starvation when I picked her up.

photo of Eva

Eva

Eva walks with an awkward waddle as she follows me whenever I move throughout the house. Her back, neck, and hip problems are always apparent-even more so-when she first awakens and tries to work the stiffness from her sore joints and muscles. The chronic cough from a heartworm infection sometimes wakes us all in the night. These things don’t seem to prevent her from playing by herself in my office while I work, or from efficiently devouring the contents of my plate if I look away for even a moment, or from applying teeth and nails if I decide too soon that she needs to get down. She is a happy cat – as long as things go her way.

Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like out in the middle of nowhere with no food, no shelter, no hope. Just hunger and cold and loneliness, and a hopeless fading day by day. And then I marvel at how, with my crazy schedule and ever changing routes, there could have been the teensiest possibility in all of the minutes and hours and days and miles, of coming upon Eva a second time.

A couple weeks ago I was driving the back way through the rain and gloom and saw a gray form moving up an embankment. I kept going and then stopped, backing carefully until I was even with a little gray tortie cat. She wanted nothing to do with me, but as I drove away and worried that she might just simply be frightened and still in need, I realized that I had at least stopped for that first opportunity. I tucked my own concern away, and have not been back through there since. Some things are meant to be, some things are not. You can’t be sure until it happens, or doesn’t happen. The latter is the tricky part, isn’t it?

One thing I do know is that we have to be willing to stop and back up for a moment-and keep our hearts open, even if there’s only just a tiny bit of space among the pieces.

One year later, Eva has not only settled into Renee’s household, but she now has her own website! You can follow her day to day adventures at Conversations with Eva.

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I highly recommend signing up for Conversations With Eva—brief vignettes of Eva plotting on how to get Encheesladas and how to take over Renee’s computer, as well as her duties running a household of animals of varied ability and intelligence. What would Renee have done without her?

You can also begin at the beginning—Eva’s ad for an “office assistant” on her blog, which my Peaches read and replied in the comments and which began a correspondence between the two girls…Peaches replied with her own blog entry, Eva actually sent Peaches an “application“, to which Peaches replied with her qualifications!

You can also find Eva on Facebook.

Renee Austin is the owner of Whimsy Cats, Northern Virginia’s premiere cat sitting service. Whimsy Cats specializes in cats who need special care such as administration of medication, fluids or insulin, senior cats, post-surgical care, and more. For more information about Renee and Whimsy Cats, please visit her website at www.whimsycats.com.


Peaches Says, “Thanks for all the good wishes, they worked!”

photo of cat on table

Your 42 minutes is up.

Well, I think I lost a few days in there, but at my age I don’t really care about time, except for when it’s time to eat, which is still every 42 minutes.

But I felt pretty bad for a while there. My mom kept waking me up and looking at me and smelling my breath, and then she’d follow me around and watch me in the litterbox—please! some privacy for a dignified older kitty! Then we would go into the kitchen, and I would get up on my counter to eat but I just felt crappy and even though I was hungry nothing tasted good. Then I’d go back to sleep some more, but I wouldn’t get any peace because mom would wake me up again.

Even before this I’ve had some bad days now and then. My tummy would gurgle and I’d throw up everything I ate, and it would be really hard to do, you know, number 2. I always thought that was the way it was supposed to be because I was 15 when I came here and it had been that way for years, even with my other mom when my sister was still around.

But this mom would have none of it and let me out of the room here but left my sister in so she could watch just me. I thought I had gotten used to my sister pushing me around and stealing food, but no one did that here and finally I could eat a whole meal and use the litterbox without anyone chasing me in the middle of…you know. Wow, I really started to enjoy mealtime and not worry so much.

cat peaking over blanket

If you don't get up I will dig you out.

Then my sister was gone and my mom started feeding me all sorts of different food “to see what works for you,” she said. That was nice. I really liked everything, but anything with salmon was the best. I felt very special, and I could eat whenever I wanted, well, almost.

Still, I would have days when nothing agreed with me and mom would hover. I just wanted to tell her to leave me alone and I would be okay.

And that’s the way this started out. I was comfortable curled on mom’s lap and she seemed relaxed about it. I had contacted Eva about the job opening for an office assistant and it seemed like that was going well, and I was trying to keep it a secret. Mom was at her computer all day, Cookie was mad because I was on mom’s lap all the time so she walked on me, and I figured I would be okay again in a day or two.

cat on blanket

Will you please get up?

But it went on longer than usual. I knew I felt bad when Giuseppe tried to curl up with me on mom’s lap and I just didn’t feel like moving to make room, and he licked my face but I didn’t even have the energy to look up at him. About that time I started losing track of things and I knew I was really sick.

All I wanted to do was sleep, especially after mom and that lady that smells funny and the guy that comes with her were talking about “kidney failure” and all teamed up on me in the kitchen and tried to make me into a kitty sacrifice or something, sticking needles into me and filling me up like a water balloon. When I woke up later, I was really hungry and ate for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, and I felt a lot better too. Mom was so happy when I woke her up the next morning. I was hungry!

cat at top of stairs

The kitchen is this way.

But it didn’t last all day. Mom tried to do the same voodoo thing to me and I said there was no way I was going to put up with that again so she didn’t get too far with it. Later my mom pulled some stranger in off the street about whom she said something like “vet tech school graduate” and “glad to find her and she lives just around the corner” to help her but I stopped that before they were done too. I may only be 5.4 pounds, but I know how to fling all four paws at once and throw everyone off. Mom said that was probably enough and they talked about how kitties “had to get used to this”—as if we’d ever get used to torture like that! Enough torture, just bring on the salmon pate! I’ll eat already!

I started out okay the next day and got right back to work pushing papers around on the desk and walking on the keyboard, but by later on I felt crappy again. It was really dark and everyone else was sleeping and I heard mom on the phone telling someone that she really didn’t want to wait until the next night when she’d “have someone to help her”, and suddenly I was in a plastic carrier with a warm blanket and we were moving!

cat on landing waiting

I am losing patience.

I never did figure it out, but we ended up in a strange place with lots of lights that smelled like more things than I could figure out and we were doing the needle thing again. Many hands were petting me and telling me how cute I was and what a strong kitty I was to have lived this long and they were sure I’d be fine. I wanted to tell them they had no idea what I did all day, that I am one hard-working kitty! And at my age yet!

I think we had a little snack when we got home, then the next morning I sat on mom until she got up and this time I was good all day. In the evening the same stranger came around who had tried to torture me with the needle a few days before, but she and mom just talked and petted me, and then they petted everyone else and I knew I was off the hook.

cat on crochet project

Peaches keeps my crochet project from getting away.

So I got to eat some pretty good stuff, that pureed chicken in the little jar that mom feeds me off a spoon, and all sorts of salmon pate, even little bits of cooked real salmon and, most exciting, real raw meat, little slivers of salmon and venison that mom warms up in her fingers. Mom gives me this now and then already, and I can’t eat too much of it but I don’t need to. I feel supercharged after I eat it.

And I got back to work and worked all week, helping around the house and I don’t know if mom would ever stop dawdling upstairs in the morning if I didn’t coax her down. Mom kept an eye on me, and that was a problem because I could barely get back to Eva to tell her I was well again and we should get back to our interview thing.

Near the end of the week, though, I started to slow down again and mom kept pulling at the skin around my shoulders and frowning and saying, “Hmmm.”

peaches and Kelly on the butterfly rug

Peaches and Kelly

Then Kelly, who usually eats with me and curls up on the butterfly rug with me, wasn’t feeling well and I discovered she was upstairs in the bathroom. Mom called that stranger, who I guess isn’t a stranger anymore but this time she didn’t just visit, they did the voodoo needle thing again, both me and Kelly.

Maybe I really am getting used to it, and I also remember that after I had a nap and slept it off I felt really good, so I just put up a little fuss so they wouldn’t think I liked it or anything but I didn’t make them stop. Mom had me in a death grip against her chest, anyway, so I couldn’t even wave a paw, and she kept talking and talking which was really nice because she was warm and it felt like she was purring.

cats on desk

Dinner, now.

So now I’m waiting for dinner, and not only do I have to wait longer than usual but one of those annoying young cats is taking up her entire lap. The only good thing about them is that they are warm and soft and don’t mind when I touch them, not like Cookie or Kelly who can sometimes be prickly, but when I try to walk on him he squirms around and I land on the keyboard and mom picks me up and puts me back on her desk.

But it looks like mom is getting up now and dinnertime looks imminent.

And I got get well wishes from Daniela and Eva and Ingrid and Amber and Marg’s Pets who sent us “lots and lots of purrs, 2 woofies, 2 Heehaws and 1 Baa” and Allia and Bogey from My Three Cats who always sends us cool toys and everyone else who wished me well and so many others, and it made me feel so good that everything seemed normal again. Read the comments in “Get Well Wishes for Peaches”. What’s a kitty to do without the internet these days?

I’ll be in touch Eva!

Read about what started it all in “Get Well Wishes for Peaches”.

P.S. Peaches’ mom thanks everyone too! Your support was just as important to me as it was to Peaches!


Get Well Wishes for Peaches

photo of cat on desk

Peaches is ready for dinner.

Peaches is pretty much back to being her sweet, demanding little self, but for a few days recently she was sleeping more and eating less, growing a little unsteady, a few other symptoms. We saw the veterinarian on Thursday and confirmed what I’d been suspecting for a while, that she’s been slipping into renal failure. A dose of fluids that day and each day since, and she’s feeling much better.

This is not a surprise, and not unanticipated. Peaches is “anecdotally” 19 years old, and kidneys get tired as the years go on, even in humans. Even with a good, balanced diet and continued good health, it’s wise to look for the symptoms of chronic kidney failure as a cat grows older. But I’ve nursed other elders through this, and I’m glad for the lessons learned.

So Eva, I think Peaches is out of the running as your assistant kitty for the moment, though having read your other candidates’ interviews she’s seriously considering at least being a virtual assistant!

About Peaches

photo of two cats looking out a window

Their former person's favorite photo.

I do know that Peaches is in her late teens, though not her exact age, because she’s been with me for only five years. A friend told me about a good friend of hers who had died unexpectedly, leaving two cats who belonged with no instructions for what do to with the girls.

After a cursory look for prospective homes, the woman’s out-of-town son had decided to take them to a veterinarian and likely have them euthanized rather than take them to a shelter where it was unlikely they’d be adopted, but apparently the vet convinced him to give them a little more time.

Back home in the empty house, my friend gave them food and water and visited while she helped get the woman’s belongings in order and the house ready for sale. I told her with seven cats and several seniors already, I didn’t want to take them in, but if they were in “dire straits” she should call, and so she did when the house was sold and the girls had to go somewhere.

I knew this meant that I stood a good chance of not only fostering but also owning two senior cats, but I’ve fostered and found good homes for plenty of cats, including older adults. Something told me to take the chance on these two.

Their records were lost in the shuffle so I had no idea of true age, health or inoculations. Peaches’ name was then Rosebud, and her calico sister was Angel, and while I usually keep the names adult fosters come in with if I know them, these names didn’t work for me. I used my everyday skills in marketing and promotion and renamed them Peaches and Cream, hoping the familiar phrase would help encourage someone to adopt the two.

pencil and watercolor sketch of a cat sleeping

Peaches Nap Spot, pencil and watercolor © B.E. Kazmarski

Perhaps because of their age or the fact that they had been primarily alone for three months, they came in with some hydration issues; Cream, in fact, seemed to be suffering from chronic renal failure then, and Peaches had some serious elimination issues. A few weeks of fluids and a regular diet, confined in the spare cat room, and they were good as new. I was already treating Stanley for chronic renal failure and always had a bag of fluids hanging in the kitchen, and with the four senior cats on hand—Stanley had come to me as an adult and been with me 20 years already, Moses was 18, Sophie was 15, Cookie was 13—I had done my best to learn what to anticipate as they grew older.

Of course, though many people met the two friendly and social seniors, complimented their good looks and laughed at their names, no one wanted to risk adopting cats that old, and the most frequent comment was along the lines of “they’ll die soon, and I can’t handle that”. I could understand not wanting to walk into a potentially hurtful situation, but these two ladies had been the darlings of a widowed senior woman and needed a home where they got more attention than mine.

But the two adapted to my house better than I’d seen many other cats adapt to a dramatic change. Creamy thought I belonged to her and chased the other cats away when she was on my lap, not a good idea, so I had to keep her confined for certain periods of time during the day to avoid the other seniors getting upset. Still, she was so sweet and pretty that I regularly took her for visits to the personal care home where my mother lived so she could happily sit on the laps of ladies who had had to give up their kitties.

One day Peaches walked out of the Spare Kitty Room leaving Cream and never went back in. I had the feeling that Cream, much bigger and bolder, had always dominated tiny submissive Peaches, but it seemed Peaches felt she had a new life here.

I did lose Cream 10 months after she came to live with me; she was one of the four seniors I lost in a 12-month period, finally losing the battle with chronic renal failure. I felt she was desperately waiting to see her person again and had a hard time letting go, and I thought of the individuals who wouldn’t adopt her because of the age and loss issue, but I had known what I was headed for, and I also knew that my pain at her loss was far outweighed by the final happy months she had.

Peaches goes on

Photo of cat with plant

Peaches With a Green Hat

Peaches immediately became a part of my household, her health continued to improve and she turned out to be very friendly, even greeting people (after Namir was done with them), and everyone remarked on what a pretty little kitty she was, and apparently very different from what she had been in her former home.

She came in with some variation on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), my veterinarian telling me she had horribly ropy and lumpy intestines, and this was likely the cause of Peaches’ elimination problems. As a senior, she gets high-quality canned food with supplements to help her digest and metabolize her food, plus raw meat or a raw meal now and then as she will eat it, especially once we learned about the condition of her intestines. While she occasionally became constipated, she gained weight—from 5.5 lbs to 6.1 lbs at the most—and vitality.

And she’s more than held her own with the arrival of the Big Four. I was concerned what four lively growing kittens could do to a frail tiny cat like Peaches, but she ignores their silly games and they love her, cuddling with her and treating her gently.

Her new career

animal sympathy card

They find a comfortable place in your heart to live in forever and ever.

animal sympathy card

Remember the beautiful moments from all those years together.

Despite her attempt to become a feline photographer, Peaches was meant to be an artist’s model. I can’t imagine what my portfolio of writing, feline paintings, sketches and photographs would be like without her. Her little self-possessed habits, her delicate, petite appearance and her clear peach and gray and creamy white markings make her a constant inspiration to me as a feline artist, and a favorite subject for those who view my artwork.

Among other things, she appears on two of my animal sympathy cards—two of the most popular so far.

pastel painting of cat on table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies

And she is the subject of one of my favorite works, “Peaches and Peonies”, which shows the moment I understood how important Peaches had become in my life. It was then that I realized how often I looked at her, how much I loved both her sweet self-centeredness and her natural curiosity and affection for me, how I studied her features, and how much this scene was what I felt was the essence of Peaches. I have dedicated a portion of the sales of prints of this piece to support adoption programs for senior pets through my “Senior Pet Adoption Program“.

Getting older, and the risk of renal failure

I’ve given her a few doses of fluids here and there in the years she’s been with me, partly to help with her bowel condition, and kept an eye on her appetite, elimination, physical appearance and her breath. In addition to elimination problems, she was also the one who vomited at least once a day, for no apparent reason. When she vomited more than once, I was concerned and took a closer look, and usually, with a little special food, maybe some fluids, a little something to settle her stomach, she was fine.

Beginning Monday, I saw the same symptoms. She seemed to be clearing up, but by Wednesday night just wasn’t eating right, still vomiting and was very sleepy with that characteristically strong uremic breath. Thursday morning I called our veterinarian, who has a house call business and was coincidentally just a few streets away from me.

This woman has been my primary veterinarian for 15 or more years, and I think at this point she can read something in my voice. She trusts my interpretation and descriptions, and while she’ll often just return my call with advice, when it’s been most important she’s decided to make the time in her schedule and stop by. Thursday was such a day.

While she weighed and examined Peaches and we gave her fluids, I described Peaches’ recent activities, including quite an animated discussion of how “good” the condition of her stool had been for the past few months since I found a new supplement. Cat owners will understand these intense conversations about cat poop, and the various descriptions of size, shape and consistency, and my vet and I had a good laugh at it.

pencil sketch of gray cat on table

Nikka on the Table, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

My veterinarian also remembers my shock when I lost my Nikka to acute renal failure in 2003. Nikka was 15 and had also had some elimination issues, and I had only thought she was constipated and perhaps vomiting at breakfast was caused by that. But with no stool the next morning we did a quick appointment; Nikka’s body temperature was dropping, she was apparently suffering some neurological effects in her hind quarters, and the next morning I had to have her put to sleep at an emergency clinic in the middle of a snowstorm because her kidneys had simply quit. I saw no symptoms of anything, so I don’t know if Nikka dealt with it as cats do, or if it really was classic acute renal failure where even getting her to the clinic earlier would have helped.

My veterinarian gave me the details of how feline kidneys function and how they fail, and what to look for with renal failure. I have never forgotten the lessons, all of them, from the loss to the learning. A year later, Stanley had been showing some early symptoms and suddenly dropped of the scale, completely lethargic and losing body temperature one morning, but fluid therapy brought him around and eventually he recovered to the point where he only needed fluids now and then for his last three years.

Moving forward

The day we’d dosed Peaches with fluids, I had to leave in the late afternoon. She was sleeping on my chair when I left, but when I came back she had her paws curled under like a little dilute calico meatloaf on the papers on my desk, awake and waiting for me to return. Some sights are so welcome they bring tears to your eyes even though they are hardly noteworthy without knowing the details.

photo of peaches on the counter

Peaches on the counter.

Today, two days after her diagnosis, Peaches is almost back to her usual activity level and appetite, still a little sleepy and unsteady, but she’s responded well to the fluids alone and that’s a good sign. She’s gone from baby food to her favorite canned food with some raw interspersed, and a few tablespoons of skim milk for extra fluid and because she likes it. I can usually find someone to help me give Peaches her fluids—for all her seeming frailty, Peaches puts up a heck of a fight, and in part it’s her tiny body that’s the problem because she’s impossible to find when I wrap her in a towel.

I’ve got a bag of fluids hanging in my kitchen, the joke between me and my veterinarian is that I always do because it wards off the evil spirits. In the three-year period when I had senior and critically ill cats and lost a total of six cats, I always had a fluid bag in the kitchen. Whenever it seemed I didn’t need it anymore and took it down, suddenly someone developed a condition and needed the fluids again, so I’ve left a bag hanging there even though it’s usually been outdated and unusable. Doesn’t everyone have a bag of fluids hanging in their kitchen?

Peaches eats on a counter/island I have in the middle of my kitchen, and even at her age she jumps up onto the backless stool I use and from there to the countertop, usually racing me into the kitchen and trying to convince me it’s time to eat—every 42 minutes. Partly because I need to sit in a chair instead of on a backless stool and Peaches didn’t always make it up onto the stool, I added a table with regular chairs.

Peaches was a little confused at the change, but she is very independent and I knew that any attempt by me to show her how to get up on the new table would be summarily rejected. I let her circle the table and her natural curiosity led her to investigate each of the chairs, choose one and jump up and easily walk to the counter as if nothing was different.

I know two things: we are not out of the woods yet, and we probably never will be again. The reality is that Peaches is a very old cat and her days are fewer than I’d like to think about, but I need to think about it. I’ve lost 12 cats from my household, dozens of others I’ve fostered or come to know through friends and customers whose portraits I’ve painted. My days of losing cats are far from over. I’d be a fool to deny that losing Peaches isn’t part of the reality of loving Peaches, in fact, it’s an integral part of loving Peaches, and being honest and aware is especially important right now, both for Peaches’ care and my own emotional health.

We’re not ready to walk down that last stretch together, but we’re considering the journey. Losing a loved one is never easy and nothing can make it hurt less, but I’m guided by what I’ve learned from each of my losses and I have them to thank for the awareness that comforts me.

pastel painting of black cat on floor

Are You Looking at Me?, Kublai in pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Thanks to Bootsie for my awakening, and to Kublai for looking into my eyes and teaching me what to listen for when an animal wants to communicate. To Sally for the knowledge that passing over really is a joyful event, to Stanley and Moses for teaching me to understand and trust their physical and emotional strength. And to Namir for teaching me to trust him to know when this time was the last time, and he was ready for the journey.

So Peaches and I are going to eat now, then she’ll get today’s fluids, then I’m heading outside to restore my soul. Keep Peaches in your thoughts.

This thou perceivs’t, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ‘ere long.

Perhaps the Storm is Finally Over

Pet Loss in the First Person, a series of six articles