Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

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Support The Animal Sanctuary!

September 15, 2011

If you’re ever in Cheshire and you or your loved ones are fond of animals and care about animal welfare, then I would highly recommend a visit to the Animal Sanctuary in Wilmslow.

As part of the Humane Education Society,  a charitable organisation working for a more compassionate society through education and practical work with children and animals, the Sanctuary offers permanent and temporary homes to animals in need of some loving care, including cats, horses, hens, rabbits, ferrets and pigs.

We were shown round the sanctuary by a lovely woman called Jenny (thanks, Jenny!) who is clearly devoted to all the animals and had a tale to tell about each and every one, telling us how they ended up in the sanctuary in the first place and sharing little details about each animal’s individual personality.

All the animals are extremely well cared for and well loved by the staff. Whilst I would love to work in a sanctuary like this,  I think it would break my heart to say goodbye the animals which are rehoused, even though I knew they were going to a good home.*

Not all of the animals are rehoused though, and some – like the pigs Erica and Babe, and Flea, the office cat – remain permanent residents of the sanctuary. It was wonderful to wander around and be followed by little black cats, some hens and a duck – and my partner was particularly taken with Daisy, the resident donkey!

Of course, sanctuaries like this cost money to run and as a charity, the Animal Sanctuary at Wilmslow is reliant on public support. Having spent some time in its wonderful warm and welcoming atmosphere, I can assure you that any donation you give will be money well spent. I’ve personally signed up to make a regular direct debit payment each month and plan on doing some fundraising too.

If you’d like to find out more about the Animal Sanctuary, then please check out their website here.  And do pop in if you’re ever nearby – you will always be guaranteed a warm welcome by both humans and animals alike 🙂 The Sanctuary also welcome group visits so if you run any kind of group which you feel will benefit from a visit the sanctuary, then drop them a line via the website.

*As an empath and HSP, I was bracing myself for the floods of tears I thought I would be reduced to – in the past, I’ve visited other animal rescue units and I’ve ended up sobbing the whole time and left feeling desperate to adopt all the animals. However, the vibes I picked up at the Animal Sanctuary were so loving and compassionate, and the animals were so well-cared for that I left the centre with a warm glow in my heart and a feeling of joy that there were such places in the world (although I did still want to adopt all the animals!). There was only one heartbreaking and tearful moment – we visited a little pony who hadn’t been there long and had been the victim of a cruel former owner. The terror in this little chap’s eyes, despite the gentle reassurance and kindness he was being shown by the staff, was something which will haunt me forever. I do hope that when we visit again, he is much happier and has learned that not all humans are bad.

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Visits from departed loved ones – dream or reality?

June 28, 2010

A couple of months ago I wrote here about the sad loss of my cat, Binbag. Binbag had been my cat companion for 16 years so as you can imagine, I was devastated. My other little cat friend, Pyewackett, who grew up with Binners, had died suddenly three years previously and Binbag’s demise brought memories back of this,  as well as symbolising the end of an era for me, so I found myself  grieving for both of them and for happy times, never to be revisited.

I also felt a lot of guilt and concern about the way Binbag died. I’d noticed him acting strangely over the previous week and had begun to wonder whether he was perhaps going senile. His personality began to change – he no longer seemed to be his usual laidback happy little self – and he spent a lot of time just staring at his food dish, or seemingly staring into space. When I realised that he  was also beginning to struggle with his breathing I decided it was time for a trip to the vets.

Despite his advanced age, I still hoped that the vet would offer some remedy for his problems and that our old Binners would be back with us, right as rain. We’d had a little scare six months earlier when his eye swelled up enormously and blood started to trickle from his nose, potentially the signs of a tumour. Luckily it turned out to be a simple infection and a couple of shots of antibiotics had him back to his old self in no time.

However, this time it wasn’t to be. The vet examined him and told me that he had a lot of fluid round his lungs, which was why his breathing was difficult, and also appeared to have a swollen liver. To remove the fluid would have involved a painful operation and she said that at his age, there was a good chance that the procedure in itself would kill him. The swollen liver was also a bad sign and she advised me that if it was her cat, she would probably do the kindest thing – and euthanize him. Ultimately though, the decision was mine.

I was utterly distraught and completely torn over what to do. After composing myself outside of the room (I didn’t want Binners to pick up on my distress), I went back in and after a lot of thought and soul-searching, sadly gave her the nod.

It was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced. It all felt faintly surreal and the moment when the needle went in was truly horrible – I knew at that point he was going to die and that there was no way back from then. What made the experience even more traumatic was that his circulation was so bad, the vet had to inject him in his stomach which was clearly very uncomfortable for him as he squirmed in a desperate bid to free himself. The vet then had to hold his head up due to his breathing difficulties, so as he died he was looking straight into my eyes. As I stroked his paws and told him what a great little cat he’d been and how much I loved him, I saw the light finally go out of his eyes for good, but because of his illness and where he had the injection, he still continued breathing despite apparently being brain dead. The actual end – which in reality probably took a couple of minutes – seemed to take forever to arrive. I was heartbroken.

Over the next couple of weeks I found myself constantly in tears, unable to sleep and feeling desperately guilty about whether I’d done the right thing. Maybe if I’d allowed the operation, he might have stood a chance? He’d always been a fighter, after all. I also felt terribly traumatised by the manner of his death –   I’d always imagined euthanasia would be quick and peaceful but this wasn’t the case at all with poor Binners. My father, who was with me during all of this, assured me that I’d done the best thing for him and my friends and family all told me that he’d been a very lucky cat who had had a wonderful life, but none of this could console me.

I spent a lot of time over this fortnight pacing around and wandering  about aimlessly, unable to settle or concentrate on anything. Then one day during yet another aimless wander around my garden,  a bee began to follow me. Everywhere I went, there was the bee, buzzing around my head despite my attempts to flap it away.  I suddenly recalled that I’d heard of people being visited by deceased loved ones in the form of a non-human creature, and I began to wonder if the bee was Binners, particularly as it was a bumble bee (BB standing for Bumble Bee and Bin-Bag). So I said to the bee – ‘’Ok, if you are Binners and you’ve come back to let me know that you’re ok, then please give me another bee sign in the next 24 hours.’

The following day, exhausted through my lack of sleep, I decided to go for an afternoon nap. I always dream a lot when I have a sleep during the day, and this time was no exception. In my dream, I was in a strange house with my parents and daughter which was apparently our home. Despite the unfamiliarity of the house, I accepted that this was home and believed this to be real, until I suddenly spotted Binners curled up asleep on the floor. ‘ Hang on a minute,’ I said ‘this can’t be real! Binners is over there and I know for a fact he died. I’m dreaming this! I need to wake up!’

And I promptly did wake up – only to feel the familiar sensation of a cat jumping onto the bed. I sat up, eyes still closed, and was elated to feel fur rubbing against my skin. Binners was here! I was too afraid to open my eyes as I seemed to sense that if I did, he would disappear, so I contented myself with stroking him and was delighted to feel by the sleek texture of his fur that he was young and healthy again. He nuzzled against my face, and somehow wordlessly communicated to me that he was happy and at peace, and that he loved me and that I should no longer feel sad or guilty about him. And then he jumped off the bed, and finally I had the courage to open my eyes – just in time to see the tip of a black tail disappearing out of the door.

I lay in bed for a while after, feeling stunned and excited. Was that really him? Did that really just happen or was I still dreaming? I had heard about people being visited by deceased loved ones whilst they lay in their beds, so maybe this was what had happened here. When I eventually got up, I decided to do what I always do when wondering about something, and went on the internet to google it.

I typed in ‘dreams of deceased loved ones’ and came up with over a quarter of a million results. The first entry I looked at was a discussion forum which I felt would offer a number of different experiences, one of which may be similar to my own – and on the first page I viewed, under a comment which particularly resonated with me, was this ‘signature’:

 

It was the bee! And as you can see, not only is it a bee, it’s a bee who appears to be jumping up and down and waving at me, as if to say ‘Well, you wanted your sign and here I am! NOW do you believe it was me?’

This whole experience was of  enormous comfort to me and I was finally able to let go of the guilt I felt about Binners’ death. It was also a very exciting experience and over the next week I found myself sharing the story with a number of people. I live in Yorkshire where the people are very down to earth, and I expected that many would at best, humour me or at worst, look at me as if I was slightly mad. But amazingly nearly everyone I told, including those who I expected to be the most sceptical, had a similar tale to tell of being visited by a recently deceased loved one whilst lying in their bed. Each of these stories had striking similarities – no words were spoken yet there was a telepathic communication between them, the message usually being ‘I’m fine, don’t worry about me’, the loved one appeared youthful, well and happy, and there was a surreal feel to the experience, with the person being visited unsure whether they were awake or asleep. Further research on this brought up that same surreal feeling time and time again – that it didn’t feel like a dream, that it felt real yet the fact that the visit occurred during the night made them uncertain of how real it actually was.

Having considered this for some time and done a vast amount of research, my belief  now is that this experience is a genuine visitation and that for most of us, this is probably the only time when energy of a more ethereal nature can interact with us. When we are resting, our mind is relaxed and therefore much more receptive than during the day, when we are usually over-stimulated and stressed out by our daily routines. When we are lying in that limbo state – half-awake, half-asleep – we are also probably less likely to be afraid of a ‘spirit’ appearing before us. At rest and away from the harsh realities of everyday living, it seems all of us have the abilities and sensitivity of the empath…

If you have recently lost a loved one, I hope this story is of some comfort to you – and if you have experienced something similar, please leave a comment as I would love to hear your stories too.

Incidentally, when my cat Pyewackett died, it was a shock as it was unexpected – we came down one morning and he had simply died in the night – but it was nowhere near as disturbing as the experience with Binners. However, even though I was relieved that he’d died the way we’d probably all want to go – suddenly, without any prior illness, and at home (especially as he hated going to the vets more than any cat I’ve ever known) – I still felt guilty that I hadn’t been with him, particularly as I had heard him miaowing in the night and had just told him to be quiet. He was always a very talkative cat, regardless of the time of day or night, and there was nothing in his tone to suggest anything was amiss, but I still felt upset that I hadn’t been there for him in his last moments.

A few days later I was in a local supermarket waiting for a friend to finish her shopping. As was usual at this time, I was thinking about Pye and feeling upset that I hadn’t been there for him when he needed me, when I suddenly spotted this rather bizarre headline on the newspaper stand. It said simply, in huge letters  right across the front page:

“I’m happy to die at home.”

 

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For my cat, Binbag – Rainbow Bridge

April 24, 2010

This morning I sadly had to make the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. My beloved cat, Binbag, who has been my animal friend for 16 years, has recently gone into a rapid decline. A visit to the vets showed that he was suffering from a swollen liver and had excess fluid on his lungs. The light had already gone from his eyes and he no longer seemed to have any quality of life, and he was simply too old to be able to withstand treatment, so I reluctantly agreed to have him put to sleep.

These words are dedicated to him, and my other feline friend Pyewackett, who died two years ago aged 14.  It’s the end of an era for me. Goodbye my little cat buddies – see you on the other side.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

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The benefits of a stress-free life

October 28, 2009

Binbag

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful events in life and I’m now inclined to agree with them. This wasn’t always the case. I’ve moved a lot since I left my parents’ home back in 1985 and I used to find it fun and easy. Packing and unpacking never bothered me – I quite enjoy it as I find it strangely therapeutic (see ‘decluttering’ blogs) – and the admin side of things used to be really simple – fire off a few letters informing everyone of your new address and Bob’s your uncle.

When I moved three years ago, however, it was a very different story. The rise of corporate culture at the expense of customer service (i.e. profits before people) combined with the rapid increase in the use of computer systems – ironically supposed to increase efficiency – meant that tasks which should have been very simple became an absolute nightmare. It took me six months to sort everything out, over which time I spent hours either on the phone (mostly on hold or being passed round from department to department) or firing off letters.  I also became increasingly frustrated and distressed as my actions invariably failed to produce any results other than unfulfilled promises and more wasted hours for me. This kind of thing would be stressful for anyone but as a HSP, it practically sent me round the bend and made me quite ill in the process.

As I’m currently moving house again, the memories of this time have loomed horribly to the forefront of my mind, though thankfully as I’m moving in with my partner this time, I have someone to share the load with. However, it has got me thinking about stress and the effect it has on our bodies (something I wrote about in my very first blogs on here) and how our attitude to those minor irritations can make a huge difference in our wellbeing and overall quality of life.

I’ve shared most of my adult life with two cats, Pyewackett and Binbag. Pyewackett (see pic below) was extremely highly strung – for him, just being alive was stressful. He constantly had hissy fits and was extremely possessive of me – wherever I sat, you could guarantee Pyewackett would be there too. This also meant that he was jealous of Binbag and would attack him at any given opportunity – until Binbag started to lash out when he came anywhere near him, at which point he started giving him a very wide berth.

I always used to joke that if Pyewackett was a human, he would probably be sitting in group therapy, clutching his forehead whilst bemoaning his terrible existance and all the minor stresses he had to deal with on a daily basis. He had problems with his digestive system all his life and when he caught cat flu aged 2, he became very ill, prompting two hasty visits to the vet in a week. No surprise, then, that he died suddenly having just turned 14 – I assume his heart just gave out in the night, as we came downstairs one morning and found him lying dead in the hallway. That was two and a half years ago and I still miss him now.

Binbag (see pic above) was a rescue cat who I got from the RSPCA. I should have known what he was like as he had to be woken up in his cage for me to get a proper look at him. He was so sweet and affectionate that I knew he was the one immediately. As for his bizarre moniker, it was his laidback nature that earned him that as well. I was struggling to settle on a name for him – I tried a few out but nothing seemed to fit. One day some friends were round and as we were discussing how my new black cat barely moved and had done nothing but sleep in the same armchair since I got him, one of them commented ‘I don’t know why you bothered getting a cat at all – you might as well have got a binbag and put that on the chair instead.’ Cue laughter all round plus years of embarrassment for me,  standing at the back door apparently shouting for a ‘Binbag’.

Binbag has continued to be a laidback sleepyhead throughout his life. If he had been human, he’d have been the friendly old bloke propping up the bar who doesn’t really contribute much, but who everyone likes as he always has a kind word and a smile for everyone. He had the same flu as Pyewackett and shook it off with a couple of sneezes and overall, has been in fine health for most of his life (barring his barrel of a belly). Recently we had a bit of a scare when he started sneezing blood and his eye became really swollen. In view of his age, I thought he might have a tumour, but it was just an infection and once again, with the aid of a few eye drops and an injection of antibiotics, he shook it off. Even the vet commented on what good shape he was in for a cat of his age. He’s now over 16 years old and still going strong.

I think you can probably see what the moral of the story is but I’ll spell it out anyway. If you too would like to live a long, peaceful and healthy life, don’t cry and sigh like the Pye  – life is too short to spend your days making yourself ill through fretting and getting wound up over trivialities.  Let’s all follow the wise example of the Binners – and let it be. 🙂

Pyewackett

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The Zen of Cat

June 12, 2009

cat

My final choice of article this week is this thought-provoking and emotive little tale which I first discovered here, following the sudden and unexpected death of my much-loved cat Pyewackett (he was a grumpy old sod but I still really miss him, and always look forward to seeing him again when he decides to pop into my dreams).  Obviously the story is not just applicable to animl lovers, but if you do love animals and care about their wellbeing as fellow sentient creatures, you’ll find some great quotes on the author’s site here.

The Zen of Cat

by Jim Willis

The Man was very sad. He knew that the Cat’s days were numbered. The doctor had said there wasn’t anything more that could be done, that he should take the Cat home and make him as comfortable as possible.

 

The man stroked the Cat on his lap and sighed. The Cat opened his eyes, purred and looked up at the Man. A tear rolled down the Man’s cheek and landed on the Cat’s forehead. The Cat gave him a slightly annoyed look.

 

“Why do you cry, Man?” the Cat asked. “Because you can’t bear the thought of losing me? Because you think you can never replace me?”

 

The Man nodded “yes.”

 

“And where do you think I’ll be when I leave you?” the Cat asked.

 

The Man shrugged helplessly.

 

“Close your eyes, Man,” the Cat said. The Man gave him a questioning look, but did as he was told.

 

“What colour are my eyes and fur?” the Cat asked.

 

“Your eyes are gold and your fur is a rich, warm brown,” the Man replied.

 

“And where is my fur the darkest?” the Cat asked.

 

“It is darkest along your back, your tail, your legs, nose and ears,” the Man said.

 

“And where is it that you most often see me?” asked the Cat.

 

“I see you…on the kitchen windowsill watching the birds…on my favorite chair…on my desk lying on the papers I need…on the pillow next to my head at night.”

 

The cat nodded.

 

“Can you see me in all of those places now, even though your eyes are shut?” the Cat asked.

 

“Yes, of course. I’ve seen you there for years,” the Man said.

 

“Then, whenever you wish to see me, all you must do is close your eyes,” said the Cat.

 

“But you won’t really be here,” the Man said sadly.

 

 

“Oh, really?” said the Cat. “Pick up that piece of string from the floor – there, my ‘toy.'”

 

The Man opened his eyes, then reached over and picked up the string. It was about two feet long and the Cat had been able to entertain himself for hours with it.

 

“What is it made of?” the Cat asked.

 

“It appears to be made of cotton,” the Man said.

 

“Which comes from a plant?” the Cat asked.

 

“Yes,” said the Man.

 

“From just one plant, or from many?”

 

“From many cotton plants,” the Man answered.

 

“And in the same soil from which grow the cotton plants, it would be possible that other plants and flowers would grow? A rose could grow alongside of the cotton, yes?” asked the Cat.

 

“Yes, I’m sure it would be possible,” the Man said.

 

“And all of the plants would feed from the same soil and drink the same rain, would they not?” the Cat asked.

 

“Yes, they would,” said the Man.

 

“Then all of the plants, rose and cotton, would be very similar on the inside, even if they appeared outwardly very different,” said the Cat.

 

The Man nodded his head in agreement, but didn’t see what that had to do with the present situation.

 

“Now, that piece of string,” said the Cat, “is that the only piece of string ever made of cotton?”

 

“No, of course it isn’t,” said the Man, “it was part of a ball of twine.”

 

“And do you know where all of the other pieces of string are now, and all of the balls of twine?” asked the Cat.

 

“No, I don’t…that would be impossible,” said the Man.

 

“But even though you do not know where they are, you believe they exist. And even though some of the string is with you, and other pieces of string are elsewhere…even though some pieces of string are short and others are long, and even though your ball of twine is not the only one in the world…you would agree that all the string is related?” the Cat asked.

 

“I’ve never thought about it, but yes, I guess they would be related,” the Man said.

 

“What would happen if a piece of cotton string fell onto the ground?” the Cat asked.

 

“Well…it would eventually be covered up and decompose into the soil,” the Man said.

 

“I see,” said the Cat. “Then perhaps more cotton would grow above it, or a rose.”

 

“Yes, it would be possible,” the Man agreed.

 

“Then the rose growing on your windowsill might be related to the string you are holding as well as to all the pieces of string you do not know about,” said the Cat.

 

The Man knit his brow in thought.

 

“Now take each end of the string in one hand,” the Cat ordered.

 

The Man did so.

 

“The end in your left hand is my birth and the end in your right hand is my death. Now bring the two ends together,” the Cat said.

 

The Man complied.

 

“You have made a continuous circle,” said the cat. “Does any point along the string appear to be different, worse or better than any other part of the string?”

 

The Man inspected the string and then shook his head “no.”

 

“Does the space inside the circle appear to be different from the space outside of the circle?” the Cat asked.

 

Again the Man shook his head “no,” but he still wasn’t sure he understood the Cat’s meaning.

 

“Close your eyes again,” the Cat said. “Now lick your hand.”

 

The Man widened his eyes in surprise.

 

“Just do it,” the Cat said. “Lick your hand, think of me in all my familiar places, think about all the pieces of string, think about the cotton and the rose, think about how the inside of the circle is not different from the outside of the circle.”

 

The Man felt foolish, licking his hand, but he did as he was told. He discovered what a cat must know, that licking a paw is very calming and allows one to think more clearly. He continued licking and the corners of his mouth turned upward into the first smile he had shown in days. He waited for the Cat to tell him to stop, and when he didn’t he opened his eyes. The Cat’s eyes were closed. The Man stroked the warm, brown fur, but the Cat was gone.

 

The Man shut his eyes hard as the tears poured down his face. He saw the Cat on the windowsill, then in his bed, then lying across his important papers. He saw him on the pillow next to his head, saw his bright gold eyes and darkest brown on his nose and ears. He opened his eyes and through his tears looked over at the rose growing in a pot on the windowsill and then to the circle of string he still held clutched in his hand.

 

One day, not long after, there was a new Cat on his lap. She was a lovely calico and white…very different from his earlier beloved Cat and very much the same.

 

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