Sassy cats – The burning candle

Gracie at this week’s vet visit.

Gracie was at the veterinarian for her annual shots this week. My vet has a system. When the candle on the counter is burning, someone is saying goodbye to their beloved pet. This was the first time I encountered a burning candle.

I got a big lump in the throat. I checked Gracie in and sat down in the waiting room. The lump wasn’t going anywhere. I was fighting it because…well, just because.

We were placed in the examining room next to the room where goodbyes were happening. There was uncontrollable weeping. It was heard throughout the building. The sobs were deep and long and loud. The kind where you can’t catch your breath. I started crying too.

I cried for Jake and Lacy and Magic and every beloved pet I had to take on that last trip. We had our exam and the weeping in the next room continued. I left and there was still weeping. My heart hurt. I felt compelled to barge in the room and console the inconsolable. No owner should make that last trip alone. But I didn’t. Grieving needs privacy.

While that cat was beloved and cherished, other people dump their old cats out. The cat they adopted as a kitten. The one that slept with them. They desert them. Dump them on the streets. An old indoor cat who has never hunted for survival doesn’t live long. Kibble doesn’t grow on trees. Starving and scared is a bad way to go.

Excuses…soiled carpets, no interest in finding solutions (there are solutions), no time, better to get new pet, young one. A cute one. Friendly. These same folks think they are pet people.

When an animal gets adopted, it’s a crap shoot. Will they be loved until the end or just as long as it’s convenient? My heart hurt for those pets too.

88 thoughts on “Sassy cats – The burning candle

  1. What a beautiful way for the Vet to alert the sensitivity of others. I share your thoughts about what it means to bring a pet into your home. It’s our obligation, or I would say privilege, to give our love to an animal and that often means sacrificing quite a bit. If you can “give back” or desert an animal because they no longer fit your lifestyle, you reveal a weakness I have difficulty understanding. I can imagine this was a very hard time to witness!

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  2. A beautiful tribute, Kate, to all those pets who have left us and the consideration, sensitivity and humanity a person needs before they are allowed to even think they have the right to be responsible for a pet.
    The lit candle is heartbreaking but I love that they do it.

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  3. A thoughtful and considerate post for any pet owner, Kate. We ourselves recently had to have our toy poodle of 17 years put to sleep. Everyone one of us, our kids, and grandkids said tearful goodbyes to her as our oldest son and I took her to the vet for the last time. Every pet should be so loved, and yet you’re so right when you pointed out how sad it is that that is not always the way many face their end. My son and I cried as she drifted away, and it’s even more painful to think of so many other pets who die scared and alone at the end.

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  4. For some reason this blog did not show up in my email. But, it did on facebook today! How very sad for those folks who lost their cat. My heart aches for them and your blog brought tears to my eyes. Tears of remembrance and tears of sadness. A very thoughtful and well written post Kate.

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  5. First off, I was touched by the “candle on the counter.” Second, your post made me tear up. Even though I’m a dog person, I, too, get enraged by anyone who would consider a pet “disposable,” and we have gone through three different passings of beloved family members over the Rainbow Bridge. There is nothing easy about it. ~ Lynn

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  6. I get this totally. That poor person. We lost a cat this year. He had a stroke – we rushed him to the vets but he died anyway – only 11 years old. We also have a cat that no one in their right mind would adopt: she was vicious and snarling. We got her from the rescue who lied to us about her personality. And yet we’ve persisted over years (about 6!) and she is finally she is coming round – she will play and come to us. She prefers life on top of the fridge.

    The candle is a brilliant idea though. It really is!

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    • Kudos to your for keeping that cat. Perhaps there was some abuse in her youth. I had one cat that was ok as long as it was on her terms. However, if you pet her when she didn’t want to be petted, there was bloodletting. Serious bloodletting. She lived to be 18. Eventually I learned to let her be unless she approached me.

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  7. I have been in your position as well as the one crying in the other room and both are tough. It is so sad to see any kitty pass away. I hope Gracie’s exam was good.

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    • I have been on both sides now and I was surprised at how the sadness stuck with me throughout the day. Gracie, on the other hand, was just fine. Still struggling with her bizarre eating habits but she’s gained close to two pounds since January. The vet said that she is fully grown and at the perfect weight. All good.

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    • I know. I can’t imagine putting my two older cats, age 12 and 13 outside. They wouldn’t survive. The thing people love about pets is the unconditional love yet they themselves cannot give it with any long term commitment. It’s also a testimonial of how people treat other people.

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    • Awww…I love to hear stories about people who have money helping in any way they can whether it’s with animals, kids, homeless, etc. So many big paid athletes, entertainers, etc. do nothing but spend their money on themselves but there are a lot who do.

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    • The tech who was handling me seemed to be oblivious. It’s not insensitivity but you have to learn to cope or you can’t do your job. Another time when I was waiting an older couple came in with a big gift food basket for the staff. It was in appreciation for all they had done for their pet who was gone. They deserved it. There has to be some level of roller coaster for them too. They all knew Jake well because he was there often and I had to board him because of injections if I was away. I asked how many deaths they do a week and although I don’t remember the number, it was more than I expected.

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  8. I love your vet! Yes, I’ve said goodbye to my loved ones – Tory first (golden) – Henry last (another golden). The vet has a special room where the pet is comfortable and surrounded by his/her loved ones. I’ve held their paws as I said goodbye, speaking soothingly and telling each one how much she/he is loved, and what a great dog she/he was. Sobbed for days after, of course.

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  9. I’ve said good-bye way too many times. My last time was at home… it was not unexpected, but she went fast and I couldn’t arrange for an in-home vet visit soon enough. As sad as I was, I was comforted that she took her last breath on “her” bed, surrounded by things that were familiar to her.

    What a kind, thoughtful way your vet has for signaling the need for quiet and respect.

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    • This was my first experience (that I know of) where it wasn’t my pet. Argh! It was just as painful. The wailing was almost unbearable. You could hear the loss in the voice. My vet knows me all too well too. They know where to find me if I walk out without paying.

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  10. Well, I cried along with those people in the next room as I read this. You made me want to burst in that room with you and console the inconsolable. This is one of the biggest heartbreaks I’ve ever faced.

    I fostered two dogs and had to find forever homes. I was so adamant about those dogs care when people inquired about adopting them. I think I scared some people off. Heh.

    Having said all this, a little prayer for my Max would be appreciated. Something is up with him, and he’s going to the vet tomorrow to find out. Thanks, Kate, and have a great weekend.

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  11. No one around here does candles because of earthquakes and the potential fire hazards, but what a thoughtful system.

    Losing a pet is so hard. Crying there will you guys.

    My only comfort is to remember that when a good pet person loses a pet, it — hopefully — creates room for another pet to be saved and loved. Like Gracie.

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  12. Thanks for a lovely, empathetic post. That’s how it is if you love your pet. If you have had the time to really communicate and know them, the wrench of losing them, for me, is no less than the loss of a human. I lost my cat 3 months ago and your post brought back those tears…which never really left me anyway. Jx

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  13. My kitty was abused and abandoned early in life. When we got her, she was starving and had nearly died from dehydration She’s an older kitty now, but she still is terrified of the outdoors (and of people who look like those who abused her.) Pets are definitely domesticated. They aren’t wild creatures anymore, and we owe them a forever home.

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    • We have a saying in our house. If they come in the door they don’t leave. Ever. Once a young cat (around 3 months old) wandered into my yard. He was very friendly. I took him in and had the vet check him. None of the neighbors owned up to him so I found him a loving home. Although he was only here 3 days, I missed him so much. Even the other cats missed him.

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  14. Now my eyes are welling up too 😪

    I was having this exact same conversation with a friend earlier this week. There are people who just don’t recognize animals as sentient being. Hell, there are people who are insensitive to other humans, let alone animals.

    But then there are the ‘angels’ of the world who care for animals with love and compassion. They are the ones that give me hope.

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  15. Totally agree with you Kate. There ought to be an aptitude test, and a financial means test, before any animal could be sold/bought/adopted but, until they implement a similar test for people planning children, I guess it is not likely to happen.

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  16. Nice system at your vet’s office to let folks know to be respectful of what’s happening for someone. And a pox on those folks who dump their old or sick cats, and also the young or middle aged ones because they’re moving, and all the other excuses we hear in our program for dumping a poor cat to fend for themselves.

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    • It’s a great system. My vet’s office is small and it’s cats only. Pet owners are a different breed. I have never been in there without admiring another critter and asking about them and swapping stories. Sometimes it gets loud and everyone is laughing. I think that prompted the candle. Having been there I wish there was a back door to get out but at this point, I don’t care if people see me all weepy. My vet does all the “business” part before and if it’s a sudden decision will mail a bill so there is no need to stand at the counter afterward. BTW I have endless admiration for what you do.

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