When a Client’s Cat Dies: A Tribute to Belle

Belle

As a Reiki Practitioner, I rarely work with young, healthy animals. Most of my feline (and canine) clients suffer from degenerative diseases. Some are terminally ill. Reiki can help bring healing and balance to these animals by reducing stress, providing pain relief, alleviating side effects of conventional treatments, and strengthening the immune system.

Unfortunately, working with older animals also makes it inevitable that eventually, I’m going to lose these clients. The experience of losing an animal client is unique. It’s different from losing my own cats, but it hurts nevertheless.

Today, Belle, a beautiful 15-year-old dilute tortie and one of my long term Reiki clients, died suddenly. She had a normal morning. After finishing her second breakfast (Belle loved her food!), she had settled for a nap in the bedroom. When her guardian walked in a few moments later, she was gone.

I had been working with Belle for over five years. Initially, I went to see her because she had mild asthma. After regular Reiki sessions (usually, about once every three weeks,) her guardians were able to stop her medications. Last December, she had a series of seizures, the cause of which was never found. We started doing weekly Reiki sessions, and Belle had been doing well. Belle was also treated by homeopathic veterinarian Andrea Tasi of Just Cats Naturally. The combination of Reiki and homeopathy seemed to provide perfect synergy for her. She had not had any seizures for a long time.

Belle was unique among my cat clients. This beautiful girl was my poster child for the ideal feline Reiki session. A few minutes into each session, she was usually purring, and shortly after that, she always drifted off to sleep. She moved houses three times in the years I worked with her, so the places where we did her session varied. In one house, we did sessions on the screened in porch during the summer months (mostly because once Belle had settled on her favorite chaise on the porch, there wasn’t much that would get her to move) and in front of the fireplace in the winter.

Belle

In her most recent home, all of our sessions took place on her guardians’ bed. But not just on the bed: Belle had an addiction to shopping bags. Just laying on the soft comforter wasn’t good enough. She had to have a paper shopping bag to rest on. She wasn’t crazy about brand new bags, either. Most of her bags were “well loved” and shredded just so to make the purrfect bed.

A few weeks ago, Belle started spending more time in a second home her guardians purchased, which was located far outside my usual radius for in home treatments, so we started doing remote treatments. I missed actually being with Belle physically, but her lovely energy was just as palpable during a remote session.

The plan was that Belle would still spend some time in the home closer to me before moving away permanently, and I had planned on visiting her in her new home at some point, even though I couldn’t get out there for regular sessions. I certainly never thought that I’d never see her again.

Belle

Losing a cat client is a unique experience. It’s different from losing one of my own  cats, but it hurts nevertheless. In Belle’s case, it’s hitting me hard.

Since I work one-on-one with my clients, often over a long period of time, a bond forms very quickly. Of course it’s not the same bond I have with my own cats, but it’s a strong attachment nevertheless. I get to know these cats, and their guardians, and I grow to love them. I celebrate when they feel better, and I worry when they get worse. A Reiki session is a pretty personal experience, and in the process of working with these cats in their homes, in such an intimate setting, I don’t just bond with the cat, I also get to know and like the cat’s guardian. When the cat dies, it’s not just the connection with the cat that’s severed for me; the connection with the client also ends, or, at the very least, changes.

This is part of this work I’ve chosen to do. I try to support the cat’s guardian in their grief, and I cry a few tears myself. I’m comforted by the knowledge that even though I wasn’t able to delay or prevent death, my Reiki sessions contributed to better health and quality of life for my feline client.

And I tuck the memory of Belle, and all the others, into a special corner of my heart.

22 Comments on When a Client’s Cat Dies: A Tribute to Belle

  1. Suellen
    November 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm (3 years ago)

    Being in rescue I hear of a cat or kitten passing over almost every day. This is something I will never get used to. I have been told to harden myself against these losses..after all these are not my cats! It doesn’t matter if I’ve never held a cat or have been its caretaker for 20 years , it is still devastating to me. I always cry, light incense and say prayers.

    Reply
  2. Betsy Murphy
    November 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm (3 years ago)

    What a beautiful tribute to a sweet little girl. <3 Sending purrs & headbutts from my crew to you and Belle's mom.

    Reply
  3. Ingrid
    November 18, 2014 at 9:55 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you all for your kind words, they mean so much.

    Reply
  4. Sf
    November 18, 2014 at 6:12 am (3 years ago)

    Lovely cat. So sorry for you and her owners.

    Diana, rikki and lucy

    Reply
  5. NB
    November 18, 2014 at 4:59 am (3 years ago)

    I’ve had 2 Reiki client cats pass away, and a cat I’ve cat sitted and done Reiki with for years. I sometimes feel I failed, especially when it’s my own cat and I’m trying to heal their illness.

    I took a photo of the cat I had cat sitted for, enlarged and printed it, and put it in nice frame for the owners. I took it over there, and they had a nice shrine/altar set up for her, so it was a good idea. Just wanted to pass that suggestion on to others.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 18, 2014 at 9:57 am (3 years ago)

      It’s hard to accept that the outcome of any healing work is out of our hands, NB. I like what you did for your cat sitting client – what a lovely thing to do.

      Reply
  6. Cats of Wildcat Woods
    November 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm (3 years ago)

    I did a pet sitting along with Reiki for pets and know all to well how attached you can get o some else’s pets. I lost a number of them as they aged and felt the loss like they were mine. Thanks for a poignant article aboutthis.

    Reply
  7. Will Hodges
    November 17, 2014 at 6:06 pm (3 years ago)

    The loss of any kitty breaks my heart, because I know that someday one of my little pals will cross that Rainbow Bridge. I can’t even imagine how I will deal with that loss. Lots of love to you and to Belle’s human family. She looks like such a sweetie! I know you will miss her.

    Reply
  8. Laura
    November 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm (3 years ago)

    The loss of our pets is devastating, and hearing of the loss of a pet that I don’t know conjures up memories of times we had with our loved ones before they left us. It sounds as if Belle had a peaceful, pain-free death, and that is what I wish for when the time comes for any of my four. My heart goes out to her family.

    Reply
  9. Bernadette
    November 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m so sorry, Ingrid. Last week when I visited your site I re-read your tribute to Cookie and cried all over again. I remember working together on her health off and on for a year. She took to it wholeheartedly as she did everything else, and she felt so wonderful after every session.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 18, 2014 at 10:01 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Bernadette. Cookie definitely was a little Reiki sponge.

      Reply
  10. Rachel Woodisse
    November 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh Ingrid, this really touched my heart. Working as a cat sitter for over 12years, I have seen many feline clients pass on and yes it hurts. I have taken cats to the vets for their final journey while their guardians have been on holiday and also been with clients, who couldn’t go alone. I always feel it is an honour to do this for my feline and human friends. I have recently made the decision to start my reiki journey and begin classes in December to help my current and future clients. This month I have lost 3 older feline clients and it would have been wonderful to have been able to offer them all reiki in their last days.
    Love your blog Ingrid, love and purrs xxxxx

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 18, 2014 at 10:00 am (3 years ago)

      I’m so excited to hear that you’re going to take Reiki classes, Rachel! I think you’ll find it a wonderful tool for your cat sitting clients. And thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  11. Kate
    November 17, 2014 at 3:08 pm (3 years ago)

    I forgot to say how sorry I am for you and your client for the loss of this special kitty.

    Reply
  12. Kate
    November 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm (3 years ago)

    It’s so sad to lose our pets, and as a cat sitter I have already lost a cat client as well. But two weeks ago I had a first – my cat client’s owner died. This was especially sad because the cat is eight years old, and had lived with this man since he was a kitten. I’m so relieved that yesterday this wonderful cat was adopted, and he’s going to a great home. I know so many times cats end up in shelters when their owners die, and it must be so traumatic and confusing for them to go from a loving home to a cage in a shelter.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 18, 2014 at 9:59 am (3 years ago)

      I’m so glad this kitty found a new home, Kate. This is why it’s so important to have an estate plan for cats.

      Reply
  13. Kahn the Cat
    November 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm (3 years ago)

    I am sorry to hear of the loss of your client. May your memories of her comfort you.

    Reply
  14. Random Felines
    November 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm (3 years ago)

    purrs to you and to Belle’s family….we are glad that you were there to help her and we hope they can find some peace

    Reply
  15. TulsiG
    November 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm (3 years ago)

    Ingrid, I’m sorry for your and your client’s loss. It was great that you could help Belle live a more comfortable life, and it’s great that her human cared enough to connect her with you. All animals should be so fortunate as to have people who care deeply for them.

    Reply
  16. Kelley
    November 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm (3 years ago)

    Lovely girl. So sorry for you and the owner’s loss. I am interested in learning to do reiki; do you know where I can do that?

    Reply
  17. Sue Brandes
    November 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm (3 years ago)

    Bless her sweet heart. What a beauty. Hugs and purrs to you Ingrid.

    Reply

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