We are coming up on one year since Penny crossed the Bridge. Has it really been a whole year? It feels like yesterday, yet it feels like a lifetime ago.
I’ve been “meaning to” write this post for a long time. Since before Penny passed. I felt now was the best time to finally get this out to the world.
Who Was the Mommy Kitten?
We once used an animal communicator to help us figure out what to do with Mischief’s behavioral issues (more on that in another post). There was a little time left after we covered everything I wanted to cover, so I asked the communicator to check in on Penny to see how she was feeling with her kidney disease. I wanted to make sure everything we were doing was helping her.
I was still on the fence about this whole animal communicator thing. And either this lady was REALLY in tune with cat breeds and behavior, or she really could communicate with them.
What she said at the end of our talk blew my mind.
“Penny feels that you are her pet and she is your master.”
Yeah, no shit?
She described Penny as strong (physically and mentally), extremely intelligent, patient, and very charismatic.
That she was. All of the above.
The animal communicator even told me that Penny felt she was VERY patient with The Kits since I rescued them and she wanted to make sure I acknowledged that!
In Tune with Penny
I often describe Penny not just as my “soul cat”, but my “soul mate” in general.
We finished each other’s sentences (if she could speak “human”) from the get-go. I understood her and she clearly understood me.
When she was still at Petsmart with the rescue and I brought the folks up to meet her and Weeny, I knew before I left that we understood each other. She used the communal litter box the volunteers set up in the cat room while they cleaned their cages. It was a hooded litter box and one of the male cats was on top of the box bullying her while she was trying to poop.
When she jumped out, she had blood and diarrhea all over her bum. I told the volunteer and helped her clean Penny up.
Before I left, Penny looked up at me. I read her eyes. “I blew it, didn’t I?”
And I told her, “No, Penny, not at all! You’re still coming home with me on Adoption Night! We will get you all fixed up!”
I knew it was stress related. She didn’t want to be there. She just arrived at Petsmart for her “big chance” a couple of weeks before I met her. Linda, the director, told me that Penny strongly protested being there every chance she got!
That day, I KNEW she was something really special.
Her first night home, she came out into the kitchen to talk to us. My dad looked in her eyes and said, “There’s SOMEBODY in there.”
Boy, was he was right.
I think our bond had something to do with the fact that Penny and I are both Leos. My birthday is August 7th and Penny’s was August 8th.
lesson #1 – nothing is impossible
Penny taught me, my family, her vets and the world this lesson over and over and over again.
Many of you know Penny was a diabetic cat. She was in remission, meaning she was diet controlled, when she passed away. But the road to get her there was long and difficult.
After she lost her first remission, she spent ten LONG months in insulin resistance and I couldn’t even get her “regulated”, much less back into remission.
I posted this post on Facebook just about three years ago when Penny and I were having a “pajama party”. Basically, that means that I got up in the middle of the night to test her blood glucose since her numbers were suddenly running lower than usual. What I didn’t know then was that Penny was starting to head back into remission at full speed.
At this point, she was on a high dose of Levemir because of the insulin resistance. When a diabetic cat’s numbers go into the “danger zone”, you have to feed high carb wet food, re-test in 15 minutes, and keep repeating until their numbers are in the “safe zone” and steadily rising.
We had PLENTY of these parties at 2am!! I was convinced Penny was doing it on purpose so she could enjoy her beloved Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers food, which was the high-carb wet food I used to get her blood glucose to rise.
As you can see, when my friend asked me if there was a chance at a second remission, the tone of my reply was HIGHLY doubtful. That’s because I was always told by seasoned lay people that once we lost that first remission, a second one was unlikely.
But they didn’t know my Penny.
And, apparently, neither did I!
She broke ALL of the rules. Even when she made them herself!
lesson #2 – WHEN it’s important enough, we find a way
“I CANNOT pill a cat to save my life!”
“I can’t torture my cat by poking her ears for blood multiple times per day!”
“If my cat gets kidney disease, I’ll just humanely euthanize so they don’t suffer.”
I have said ALL OF THE ABOVE before meeting Penny.
When she was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes, I was saying AND thinking that we could NEVER do all of this. The insulin injections, changing her diet, home testing…
I couldn’t even brush this cat without her biting me!
The morning after she was diagnosed and already having been unsuccessful with giving her the first insulin injection the night before, I woke up feeling hopeless. Physically sick with heartbreak, I just wanted the nightmare to end.
I really thought I was going to have to euthanize her.
i just had to figure out a way!
Then I looked into her big, green, trusting eyes.
She waited so long for this forever home with her “very own” humans.
She was only 5 years old.
When my back was to the wall, and it was either treat her diabetes or put her to sleep, I realized that it literally was DO or DIE.
So I DID.
When Penny was diagnosed with feline chronic kidney disease, I had yet another wave of self-doubt.
“I can stick a cat with needles like a pin cushion but I still can’t pill them!”
“Penny will NEVER sit through daily sub q fluids!”
She was only 7 when the vet diagnosed her with end-stage CKD and she almost died. I had to TRY. I had to give her a chance at a quality life and give us a chance at more time together.
It’s funny how what we THINK we will do changes when we are actually IN that situation, isn’t it?
Penny taught me that there is ALWAYS a solution, ALWAYS a way around what seems impossible…WHEN IT’S IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO YOU.
lesson #3 – take nothing for granted
I didn’t have enough time with both Penny AND Weeny. Weeny was only with us for 3 1/2 years when she succumbed to mast cell cancer, and Penny was only with us for 5 1/2 years.
I really thought I would grow old with Penny and Weeny!
Yet, it’s funny…I remember looking at Weeny one night, shortly before she was diagnosed with cancer, and could not picture her as a senior cat. It’s like I KNEW…
We get so busy sometimes that we forget to stop and enjoy those little moments that make Life so great. ESPECIALLY with our pets!
Not the big moments… The LITTLE moments. Those little day to day things that help us get through even the toughest times.
Like Weeny running through the house like a little maniac, squeaking at the top of her lungs, while playing.
Like Penny and her never-ending tail wag. Her tail wagged every waking hour. And didn’t stop until she was in a DEEP sleep.
Mom bringing miller moths inside for Weeny so she could hunt. And when the miller got away, Mom and me climbing all over the furniture to bring it back down into the “little hunter’s” reach.
While testing my dying father’s blood glucose, Penny came running into the bedroom and onto the bed, trampling my poor father, because she heard the meter “beep”. She associated eating raw chicken with that “beep” because that’s how I trained her to test HER blood glucose! We ALL laughed so hard. We NEEDED that laughter! It’s one of my favorite Penny Memories!
Tabby sitting half in and half out of the house to enjoy the warmth outside while still enjoying the central air conditioning inside.
These little moments make rough days bearable.
Which is why I share them each day on social media.
lesson #4 – live in the moment
This is quite possibly the most life-changing and important lesson I’ve learned IN MY LIFE.
This is one I’ve always struggled to put into practice.
how humans live
In 12-Step recovery, we learn “One Day at a Time” or “ODAT”.
And I suffer from the disease of “projection”.
Projecting the outcome of a situation before it even happens. And, of course, it’s NEVER a happy outcome! Example: The phone rings and before even looking at the caller ID, I think it’s a bill collector or work calling me in.
My mom is very guilty of this one, which is where I probably got it from. EVERY SINGLE YEAR, in August, she starts talking about how Winter is here and the days are getting shorter. Yet, sunset in NJ in August is STILL close to 8pm and it’s usually 90+ degrees when Mom starts her “Winter Talk”!
Dreading Monday when I wake up on Sunday morning.
A LOT of us do this!!
how cats live
Cats don’t don’t live in the past or future like we do! They only know the moment! Penny didn’t anticipate her death, even though it was imminent for almost two years!
The Yard Cats don’t care if the forecast is calling for rain the next seven days. They are just enjoying the nice sunny and warm weather they are experiencing RIGHT NOW.
There’s one thing to plan for the future. Of course we should! It’s necessary for a successful and happy life!
But so is LIVING IN THE MOMENT.
Since Penny came into my life, I make a conscious effort to stay in the moment more often!!
lesson #5 – the strong don’t give up – ever!
Penny is one of THE strongest souls that ever came in to my life. No understatement!
As many times as Penny’s health knocked her down…with the diabetes, spinal arthritis, dental problems, digestive issues and then kidney disease, she ALWAYS got back up swinging.
As if to say, “Is that all you got?”
She was a force to be reckoned with in every way. Ask any of the vets and vet techs that ever worked with her. Ask Linda, the director of Jersey State Animal Rescue, the rescue I adopted her from!
In her final weeks, when she really started to decline, she didn’t give up. Whenever she felt well enough, she tried to eat, tried to participate with the family, and even hunted.
Penny taught The Kits to hunt black crickets by the basement door where they got in. She taught them to catch their prey and bring it upstairs. (Penny would bring them up, howling with the live bug in her mouth, with its little legs dangling out of her mouth!) One night, about a week before she passed, Mischief caught one and proudly brought it up to the kitchen.
Penny was really sick at this point. But once she heard Mischief bring the cricket upstairs, she came out from her hiding spot and snatched the cricket right out from under Mischief’s nose and ate it alive.
The night before she passed, she hunted a flying bug in the kitchen. She was so sick and at that point, she wasn’t eating anymore. But she STILL had the desire and ability to do what cats are born to do, which is to HUNT.
she just didn’t give up!
In her final moments, in so much pain and so sick, she still managed to jump up on the windowsill to watch the squirrels outside.
She watched those squirrels during her last conscious moments.
To the very end, Penny NEVER gave up.
When Life gets gnarly, as it often does, I will remember that.
It will give me the strength to KEEP pushing forward, even when I want to give up!
I only touched on a few of the MAJOR lessons. I could, and really should, write a book on this topic. At some point, I’m sure, I WILL.
“People are put into our life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”
So are our pets. And most of the time, it’s only a “season”.
But the “reason” is evident.
And the lessons are a “lifetime”!
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All treatments, foods and supplements mentioned in this blog are based on my own research, experience and done with my vet’s knowledge and consent. Consult with your vet as necessary.