Saying Goodbye – A Tribute To Spinner

I read the following quote last year and for some reason it sat in the back of my mind. “The trouble is – you think you have time.” It’s a little cliché, but profoundly simple in its meaning and would become more so as the events of the past few months unfolded. I consider myself to be proactive, but like everyone I will put off things thinking I have time to do it later. Time to finish a project, time to make a decision, time to pursue a dream or time to spend with those who are important in our lives – human or animal.

In September the time I thought I had with my cat Spinner would be suddenly cut short bringing everything in my life to a halt, and literally breaking my heart in the process.

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Spinner 2006 – He knew how to work a good photo

I adopted Spinner in 2005 from Toronto Animal Services where he had come in as a ‘stray’ (for his back story check out my guest blog post about Spinner on Katzenworld). He was a very special and unique cat – physically he was a handsome stunner with the personality to match. He fit into our already two cat household and became good friends and adopted brother to our beautiful and gentle house-panther Simon.

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Spinner and Simon enjoying the cat bed and the sun

In 2009, our tabby Cleo passed away and in 2010 Simon, both had lived to 18 years old. Simon’s passing was really difficult but Spinner was there to help me through it. When you lose a pet you realize how precious your time is with them so Spinner now the OC (only cat) was spoiled. Spinner was a special cat in many ways, beautiful on the outside with a funny, sassy, smart, talkative, loving personality that won hearts and had me wrapped around his little paws.

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Sleeping in his favorite chair

Spinner was the cat that was always there, literally. He ran to the door when I got home, looked for me when I wasn’t there and slept by my side every night. If I was on my laptop he would settle in between the laptop and me resting his chin on my arm. If I was on the couch he was there and if I moved he followed. He loved to be held, would wrap his arms around you in a hug and enjoyed jumping on your back when you bent over. He loved belly rubs and purred all the time – he sounded like a tiny motor boat. He was a super relaxed cat and enjoyed the attention from people around him. Whenever someone new met him they couldn’t help but fall in love.

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All tucked in for bed – the cold months were made for cuddling

No matter what kind of day you had Spinner made it better and when things weren’t going well, they were made better by being around him. Spinner was my best friend and knowing he was home made coming home better. There was no reason to think that his time would be cut short as his recent senior wellness check at the vet this spring showed all was in excellent order, for a 13 year young cat he was doing great. Then, just after the September long weekend – he stopped eating and I booked an appointment for the vet the next day.

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The first vet diagnosed him with pancreatitis but a trip the Vet Emergency and X-ray the next day revealed that he had a large mass in his chest cavity. The vet said it was likely cancer and due to the location no traditional means of treatment would help. They also had no way to know for sure how bad it was without a biopsy which they were reluctant to do because of the location. Immediately the option was to provide palliative care – which meant fluids, vitamins, sub-q and an appetite stimulant to get him eating and to keep him comfortable. At that point I don’t think the diagnosis fully sank in but I will say Spinner was handling things better than me.

Driving home that night from the vet it started to process and I began to research other options and booked an appointment to see a holistic vet for the following week. In the meantime Spinner perked up the next day and started to eat so I promised him we would try to do everything to help him as long as he wanted – that if we could cure him we were going to do it, he was going to be the ‘miracle’ story you read about. That afternoon emotionally and physically exhausted we had a nap, Spinner squeezed in between me and a pillow and purred – it would be a special memory that I will always hold in my heart.

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Enjoying a spot of sun

Spinner did well for a week but then he stopped eating again. I had tried everything to get him to eat on his own but as a temporary measure the syringe feedings would help him get by as his system started to settle. As long as he was drinking, going to the bathroom normally and maintaining healthy weight the vet said that we could keep him comfortable and in the meantime a trip to the oncologist was recommended for the final opinion on the mass.

Spinner was trying, I could tell and I knew he was trying for me. He had become a different cat in a very short time, he stopped playing and took to sleeping under the bed or on top of it he began spending less and less time with me. He showed little interest in anything except sleeping and taking his food, drinking or using his litter box. There were however many good moments where I was hopeful the support was working to build his immune system and he would have the miraculous cure that I was hoping for. Whatever he wanted or showed interest in he would get – cat grass and spider plant to munch on, his favorite treat of peanut butter and trips outside for fresh air. During this time I was a mess and when I did cry it was a wail – a sound of deep despair, it was the sound that I can only describe as coming from my soul. It was hard to keep it together but I was able to function normally by focusing on caring for him. When I broke down Spinner would often come out from under the bed lay down on the floor, look at me and start to purr – we had many cuddle sessions like this which would last for a short time before he would go back under the bed again.

The trip to the oncologist sadly, did not go as I’d hoped, in fact it was worse than I or the regular vet had thought – Spinner had multiple tumors in his liver, pancreas as well as the one in his chest cavity. The oncologist also found a lump on his shoulder bone which she suspects is where the cancer started. It was a rare and very aggressive cancer and there was no treatment, no cure, keeping him comfortable until he said it was time was the only option and that it would likely be a few weeks. The official word that there would be no cure, no remission was devastating, he was only 13.

In under five weeks Spinner had declined but he didn’t start to deteriorate quickly until late September early October. A week before I made the call to a vet to discuss at home euthanasia he did two things that he hadn’t done in over a month – he went to the window to look outside and he sat on my lap, stared into my eyes then jumped off. I realized that all this time he was preparing me for life without him, even though he slept by my head every night he was sending me a message and the signs were clear. I was worried that I wouldn’t know, but there was one clear sign that would help me make the decision that all pet owners dread and even fear.

He was such a gentle, patient cat and was unbelievable through everything and I never wanted to let him go, however I couldn’t watch him get worse I had to let him go. Six years ago I had to make that choice for Simon and the memory of that experience brought back all the emotions, but I don’t know if that was a good thing. I knew what was coming, the pain, sadness, emptiness… the only difference was I had already started grieving for Spinner before he was gone and it had been happening for weeks.

I made the call to the vet to look at booking an appointment and even though I knew it was the right and compassionate choice it did not make it any easier. During my initial call I didn’t commit to a day or time instead I took a day to decide and had a conversation with Spinner. I told him that I loved him and that it was OK for him to go home, that he would see Simon, maybe Cleo to and any of his friends he knew before he came into my life. I was sorry I couldn’t help him and I would miss him more than I could ever say – we should have had many more years together.

I stayed home on Spinners last day, which was beautiful and sunny. He had one last meal in the morning and I told him that he would no longer have to endure syringe feedings. We had a nice visit outside in the sun where he walked around the garden sniffed the flowers, plants and fresh air. When he was ready he walked back inside to rest. Some of my friends who had known Spinner came by for a visit and to say goodbye and of course Spinner being a social cat made sure to come out and greet them all.

The vet arrived at the scheduled time and as we prepared and went over how everything was going to transpire, Spinner calmly lay on the same pillow where he had slept every night for the past month surrounded by his friends and with me by his side. Surprisingly I had stopped crying earlier in the day and this strange calmness came over me. As I spoke to Spinner and gave him tons of kisses he purred. He purred right up until the sedative took effect and his eyes closed. On October 13 at approximately 8:30 pm he took his last breath and his heart slowed to a stop.

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Our final moments together – Spinner was beautiful and peaceful

Before we wrapped Spinner up in a towel with his favorite toy mouse and placed him in a fleece blanket lined basket that the vet provided I noticed something. His eyes had shut completely and there was a single tear in the corner of one of his eyes. I wiped it away and we gently wrapped him up placing him in the basket. A part of me knows he did not want to leave and I like to think that the single tear was his way of saying goodbye, that he was just as sad at having to leave me as I was having to let him go.

The next days following were hard, very hard and the reality of his loss hit me. His absence was at times unbearable and knowing he wouldn’t be there when I came home was really difficult. It has been up and down since, some days it is fine and other times it hits me, but I guess that is all part of the grieving process. While it does get better there are some losses you never really get over, they stay with you, take a part of you and even change you, I know this was one.

Spinner will be gone a month next week and before now I hadn’t been able to write about him or determine how to pay tribute to a very special cat whom I adored beyond words. I am lucky to have tons of photos and video of him, so I put together this video to showcase his beautiful personality and moments throughout his life with me.

Spinner I hope you are watching and with me still, thank you for being part of my life.

Special thanks to Dr. Banks of Midtown Mobile Veterinary Services for taking the time to talk to me about at home euthanasia and providing the information that I needed to make a very difficult decision and to Dr. Ellis for her professionalism, kindness and compassion with Spinner on his last night.

Love/Hate

Now for something completely different…I was recently tagged by Cat9984 Adventures in Cheeseland for a Love/Hate challenge.

The rules are:

  1. List 10 things you love
  2. List 10 things you hate
  3. Tag other people to take the challenge…if you like

Love

Love hate challenge

1. Cats, Big Cats small cats everything about them

love hate challenge, cats

  love hate challenge

 2. Summer, I love the heat, sun and the light

love hate challenge

3. The sound of the birds early in the morning before the traffic starts

love hate challenge

4. Africa, all the wildlife – especially the cats

love hate challenge

5. Traveling, that usually involves some connection to wildlife and nature

love hate challenge

6. Crystal clear blue water and white sandy beaches

love hate challenge

7. Donuts, good vegan donuts…or any baked good

love hate challenge

8. Having free time with a wide open schedule

love hate challenge

9. Books, I can’t imagine using an e-reader

love hate challenge

10. People who are kind to animals

love hate challenge

Hate…or dislike

love hate challenge

1. Cold, long freezing winters

love hate challenge

2. Animal abusers, people who hurt or exploit other species

love hate challenge

3. Working 9 to 5 and the wonderful fun that goes with it

love hate challenge

4. Time again, I don’t have enough of it in a day…it’s a theme for me right now

love hate challenge

5. Commuting, taking public transit being stuck in traffic…it’s very frustrating

love hate challenge

6. People who don’t respect or appreciate the Earth and all wonderful that comes with it

love hate challenge

7. This is love hate thing….how much time I now spend on a computer and how dependent I am on a laptop, iPhone…

love hate

8. That I can’t save all the cats

love hate

9. Slacking on my exercise because….

love hate

10. Not getting to my blog as often as I would like because of 3 and 4

love hate challenge

Yoga For Cats

A no-kill pet facility in Illinois, Homeward Bound Pet Shelter, has teamed up with a studio Yoga at Connie’s for special classes featuring adoptable adult cats that are allowed to walk around freely during the sessions. I wish my yoga studio had cats, I think I would have gone to class more often!

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All Images from Homeward Bound Pet Shelter on Facebook

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A total of six cats roamed, stretched, snuggled and distracted during the class in which human participants raised over $500 for the shelter. The innovative adoption event also resulted in at least one of the cats finding a forever home.

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Shelter volunteers who put together the event tell The Dodo that giving people the chance to interact with the cats makes a huge difference and that they plan on having more yoga cat classes. They also hope that other cities will explore this unique way to place shelter cats into permanent homes.

If you want to give yoga a try at home with your own cat check out Feline Yogi, one of the vendors I saw at CatConLA. They sell kitty sized yoga mats so your cat can “practice” yoga right alongside you.

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There’s Some Big Movie Opening Today

One of my favorite movies, Marvel’s Avengers, comes out today and this is the perfect homage to the franchise. Happy Feline Friday!

If the YouTube Link to Iron CAT isn’t working below be sure to check it out HERE!

Cute Overload

It’s just the first of May and it’s already time for the big smash-bang-crash movies. HULK SMASH! (The summer movie season will soon start in, oh, FEBRUARY if the movie studios have their way.) While I like characters like Iron Man and Black Widow and Captain America- this movie would be better with……..KITTENS.


Wait- did I say “Iron Man?” I meant Iron CAT.

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Japans Cat Man

Japan is well-known for its love of cats and cat culture. They were the first to pioneer cat cafes, which have since popped up all over the world, and they even have their very own island where cats dominate and outnumber people 6 to 1.

Japan also has Masahiko Suga, a 53-year-old retired electronics company worker who has become the countries first official cat man.

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Masahiko can been seen walking his nine cats around Kitakyushu’s central shopping district area in south-west Japan. His daily walks have earned him the name of ‘Cat Man of Kyushu”, or Cat Uncle.

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Image – The Happy Lab

Masahiko rescued his first stray cat in 1999 and he said that they relieved his work stress but started taking them outside when they began to damage his furniture. Masahiko tells The Asahi Shimbun that he is happy if he “can give an opportunity for cat lovers unable to have one as a pet to feel comforted by playing with his cats.

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His little pride of well groomed cats includes Himalayan and Chinchilla Golden who are known for their laid back nature.

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Image – Rocket News 24

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Image – Rocket News 24

Normally taking cats outside without being safely supervised is not something I would suggest, however from all accounts and comments by people who have actually met him the cats seems to be cozy and content.

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Image – Rocket News 24

So what exactly motivates Masahiko to walk his cats? Besides not being something you would see everyday, he says “I hope society will eventually give cats the status it gives to dogs” and, in a world where our feline friends often seem to get the short end of the stick, asking for cat equality sounds pretty good to me.

You can check out a short video of Masahiko on his walks or friend him on Facebook where he posts more pictures of his cats.

What do you think cat equality or cat-ploitation?

Betrayal

I have always admired veterinarians, for their compassion towards animals as well as their ability and instincts to care for patients that could never tell them what was wrong or were it hurt.

Veterinarians take an oath to promote animal health and welfare and to also work to relieve animal suffering. However veterinarian Kristen Lindsey from Texas seemed to miss that part when last week she posted a picture of herself posing with the body of a dead cat. She had shot the orange tabby cat with a bow and arrow and was boasting about the kill on Facebook where she can be seen smiling with the body. The image besides inciting a great deal of anger, reminded me of how trophy hunters pose with their kills.

The image was blurred on some media but the original can be seen here

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Along with the disgusting image, the caption on the photo is telling of her callous nature and actions that mirror the behavior of a sociopath. In my eyes this is a not only a crime committed against an innocent animal, but also a betrayal to the veterinarian oath she took.

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She had no fear of repercussions apparently which was reflected in the comment section of her post where she wrote “no I did not lose my job. Lol. Psshh. Like someone would get rid of me. I’m awesome!”. The poison apple doesn’t fall far from the tree either, as the legitimacy of the image was called into question and Kristen’s supportive mother writes that it was indeed real and that she took the picture.

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The backlash on Facebook was furious and Kristen’s page came down pretty quick but not before people grabbed screenshots. Washington Animal Clinic where she worked immediately issued a statement and proceeded to fire her. Pictures of the crime made the rounds and surprisingly, or maybe not, people defended her actions. Veterinarians who looked at the photo determined that the orange tabby, who had been shot through the head, was STILL ALIVE when she took this picture.

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Image – Justice for Tiger Facebook page

I have a lot of words to describe Kristen Lindsey, none of them good. I do not think she deserves forgiveness nor sympathy, and she should be shown no mercy for her actions. The orange cat was later identified as Tiger, he was known as a sweet cat who would join his owner as she drove through the farm, and from this video you can see Tiger was well-loved.

Tigers owners are now in the process of filing charges against Kristen Lindsey and have asked the public refrain from harassing her and her family, even though the murder of their beloved cat is a horrendous crime, as it may affect the case.

Over the past few days more disturbing news has come out about Kristen, including a blog she maintained where she wrote “...about finding the meaning of happiness, killing things or trying to kill things (animals, a full glass of whiskey, hangovers, etc), my friends… hunting with my dad and better yet…learning from my dad as we hunt.”

The case is far from over as the investigation gets underway but there are several petitions to sign, including this one by Change.org, to revoke her vet license and help ensure she is prosecuted to the fullest extent that the law allows. Alley Cat Allies is also offering a $7,500 reward for hard evidence that can be used to get a conviction.

On Facebook two pages in support of Tiger now exist where you can get regular updates about the case Justice for Tiger and Justice for Tiger The cat murdered by Kristen Lindsey.

Animal abuse and cruelty is wrong and should never be considered acceptable in our society whether the act is committed by an average person or by those we put in high regard, like veterinarians. Sadly we still have a long way to go but must continue to advocate for better laws and for ways to prevent it from happening. For Tiger and all the animals like him, we must ensure their deaths were not in vain.

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The link between animal abuse and cruelty to humans has been well documented and recently the FBI has made animal cruelty a felony with its own category — the same way crimes like homicide, arson and assault are listed. While these are important steps it will take the actions of individuals everywhere to make change.

Learn how to recognize animal cruelty, report it, advocate for better laws and lead by example where you live.

In the US please check out the  ASPCA and, in Canada Stop Animal Abuse, both offer resources for ways to help make a difference.

 **********UPDATE********

On April  21, 2015 as reported by the Associate Press:

“A Texas sheriff has asked for an animal cruelty charge against a veterinarian who bragged on social media about killing a cat with an arrow. Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes said Tuesday that results of his department’s investigation have been submitted to District Attorney Travis Koehn. Koehn says his office “will carefully review this matter.”

Cat Telepathy

I was inspired to write this post after seeing Cats at the Bar Sunday Cleanup where Tsuki the cat had obviously had a very busy morning cleaning up around the house and was enjoying quality earned nap time. Astonishingly at the very same time hundreds of kilometers away, my cat Spinner was doing the exact same thing the result of assisting me with chores – only his nap was a post laundry induced coma a phenomenon also known as P.L.I.C.

What are the chances that two cats from completely different cities are doing the exact same thing at the same time? Maybe it’s not so strange however as cats I believe possess telepathic capabilities which they use to communicate with others of their kind, and in this case it was obviously used to coordinate sleep across a great distance. Here is the proof.

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