Then years ago, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I had to let my beloved Buckley go. Ever since then, Thanksgiving has always been associated with Buckley for me. And it’s not just because Thanksgiving Day 2008 was the last full day I spent with her. It’s also because when I count my blessings, the many gifts this gimpy little cat who captured my heart from the moment I first saw her brought into my life are always at the top of the list.Continue Reading
It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight years since Buckley passed away. Thanksgiving will always be associated with Buckley for me, and not just because Thanksgiving Day 2008 was the last full day I spent with her. It’s also because I am so thankful for the many gifts this gimpy little cat who captured my heart from the moment I first saw her brought into my life. Continue Reading
Six years ago, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Buckley passed away after a long illness. For all those years, I’ve always commemorated her anniversary on the Friday after Thanksgiving, regardless of the actual date. This year, the anniversary falls on the actual date, November 28, and somehow, even though it’s been six years, this confluence makes this anniversary more poignant for me.
Thanksgiving will always be associated with Buckley for meContinue Reading
It has been four years since Buckley’s passing. She died on November 28, 2008, which was the Friday after Thanksgiving that year. Rather than observing her anniversary on the actual date, I will always mark this event on Thanksgiving weekend. Even though I still miss her every day, after four years, the sadness is tempered by appreciation and gratitude for the amazing changes she has brought to my life, and, through her book, to the lives of so many others.
Without her, I might not have become a writer. Without her, The Conscious Cat might not exist. Even though Amber inspired this site, its original purpose, in addition to sharing my passion for and knowledge about cat health, was to build a following prior to publishing Buckley’s Story. Most importantly, without her, my heart might not have been opened to the many wonderful lessons she taught me during her brief time with me.
Those of you who have read Buckley’s Story already know Continue Reading
I have always believed that cats come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love. But they also teach us to stretch and grow, to reach beyond our self-imposed limits, and to expand our consciousness.
I’ve been blessed that I got to share my life with the original feline master teacher, Buckley, and the original conscious cat, Amber. Both of these cats changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.
And both inspired books. Many of you have already read Buckley’s Story. I’m currently working on a new book which will feature Amber, and will be both a prequel and sequel to Buckley’s Story. You’ll be hearing more about it very soon!
Buckley’s and Amber’s lessons ranged fromContinue Reading
Allegra has a very special toy. It’s not fancy; in fact, it’s an ancient toy that actually belonged to Feebee, who has been gone for twelve years now. She dug it out of the toy basket one day, and apparently decided that it was going to be her “baby.” It’s a soft, plush little stuffed mitten with a tail that has a pompon at the end. She never actually plays with it, but yet, it’s clearly very special to her.
She picks it up and carries it around the house, chirping and singing and sometimes yowling. It sounds a bit plaintive, a sad little cry, as if she had lost something. The first time I heard it, I thought she’d hurt herself! As soon as I look for her when she does this, she drops the toy and stops, which is why I haven’t been able to get a video of her with the toy.
Amber had her own version of this special toy: a green and tan fuzzy mouse that I got for her when she first came to live with me. For the entire ten years that she was with me, that mouse was her special “baby.” Like Allegra, she’d pick it up, carry it around the house, crying and yowling. Amber would often sleep with her “baby,” something I’ve not seen Allegra do. Continue Reading
Allegra, Ruby and I are excited to introduce the 2012 Conscious Cat Wall Calendar!
After getting comments throughout the year about how much you enjoy seeing photos of Allegra and Ruby, we decided to bring you a collection of some of the best ones in a gorgeous, full color wall calendar. The calendar also features Amber and Buckley.
Tortie lovers, to my knowledge, this is the only calendar on the market that exclusively features tortoiseshell cats!Continue Reading
Five years ago today, a small tortoiseshell cat came into my home, and my heart, and changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.
Those of you who read Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher already know that bringing her home was not smooth sailing for us. For those of you who haven’t, I’d like to share this excerpt about the day she finally became a full time member of our family:
It finally came down to one phone call from the animal hospital about a week later. A client had inquired about adopting Buckley. That was all I had needed to hear to make up my mind. On October 9, 2006, Buckley came home for good.Continue Reading
Let go of fear, embrace change, and move toward joy. – Buckley
How do you feel about change? I have a love/hate relationship with it. I often think that one of the many reasons why I love cats is that they are creatures of habit who don’t like having their routines disrupted. I like my life, and I like my routines. At the same time, most, if not all, change in my life has always been for the better.
The reality is that, as the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. Ironically, most of us don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about change, but we sure react to it.Continue Reading
Since Ruby already has her own column, Ruby’s Reflections, here on The Conscious Cat, it was time to incorporate her into the design of the site as well. Allegra and Ruby wanted to redesign the header themselves, but having both of them on the computer at the same time did not seem like a good idea to me. It was much safer to ask our fabulous web designer Nathan Landis to help us out.
Amber, the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, remains, and always will remain, front and center. Allegra and Ruby obliged with perfect poses on Amber’s left and right. In the interest of symmetry and balance, we made the decision to take Buckley out of the header. Since she has a special place on the site, smiling at us from her book cover just below the header, I think she would approve.
Allegra and Ruby give the new header design four paws up. What do you think?
Photo credit: istockphoto
Last updated June 2019
Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things someone loving a pet will ever go through. Unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine is fortunate to be able to legally offer the option of gently ending suffering when there seems to be no hope for recovery. It is a difficult decision to make at best, and it can be nearly impossible for some pet owners. There are so many factors that play into it.
What is quality of life?
The term that is used the most in this context is “quality of life.” But what does that really mean? Are there hard and fast rules as to what constitutes good quality of life? Of course not. Quality of life means something different for every person, and for every animal.
There are some fairly obvious markers. Pain is one of them. No pet owner wants to see a beloved pet suffer. Animals, especially cats, are masters at masking pain, so this can be difficult to detect. Another marker is appetite. For most pet owners, the first indication that something is wrong is usually when a pet stops eating. A third important marker is dignity: Is the pet still able to relieve herself on her own, or does she need assistance with urination and defecation?
But even these three markers are not always helpful when trying to make a decision. Pain can be managed with medication. Some pets stop eating or eat very little but are still happy and are enjoying life. And who is to say that the dog that needs assistance with being carried outside to urinate or the cat who needs help to get into the litter box and needs to be cleaned off afterwards does not appreciate this level of care from his loving human and is otherwise happy and content?
A final gift of love
It is often said that making the decision to euthanize a pet is the final gift of love we can give our animals. I wholeheartedly believe that, but it still does not make the decision process any easier. Love and denial can be intricately linked, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate one from the other.
I’ve had to make this decision with three of my cats: with Feebee in April of 2000, when he was losing his seven-month battle with lymphoma, with Buckley in November of 2008, when her heart disease was complicated by multiple other issues, and much too soon again with Amber in May of 2010 , after she came down to a sudden, unexpected illness, which was, most likely, virulent systemic calici virus.
All three of the decisions were agonizing for me, but I also know that each time, I made the right decision – for my cat, and for me. That’s not to say that it would have been the right decision for someone else, or for someone else’s cat.
Ultimately, the only way any of us can make this decision is by listening to our animal friends with our hearts, not with our heads.
Ultimately, the only way any of us can make this decision is by listening to our animal friends with our hearts, not with our heads. It becomes a decision of love, not something to be reasoned out on an analytical and intellectual level.
No easy answer
I think it’s impossible to ever be completely comfortable with the decision to end the life of someone we love so much. We do not want our pets to suffer, and when we are really in tune with our animals, we know when they are ready to make their transition. Any remaining doubt is usually caused by our sadness and grief at the thought of having to go on without their physical presence in our lives. I also believe that sometimes, our animals also love us so much that they often stick around longer than they might want to because they know how much we will miss them when they’re gone.
There is no easy answer for the question of what quality of life means. It’s going to mean something different for each person, and for each cat. And as your cat’s guardian, you’re the only one who can answer it.
Have you had to make this decision for your cat? What does quality of life mean for you and your cat?
Portions of this post are adapted from Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.
How to cope with losing a pet
The final farewell: options after your pet dies