Author’s Life

A Tribute to Amber from Conversations with Eva

Guest Post by Eva Cat

EVA:  Sad week.

R:  Yes.  A very sad week.

EVA:  Sad bunny.  Sad cow.  Sad Amber.

R:  Yes, many sad things this week.  And Amber’s Mom is very sad, too.

EVA:  I love Amber.

R:  Yes, all of us love Amber.

EVA:  Up.

R:  Up.

EVA:  Hugs, please.  Snuggles, please.                  Sad.

R:   Yes.  Very, very sad.           

In Memory of Our Friend, Amber

Eva is the newest addition to a home already full of very needy, special-needs cats that pretty much run the place.  Her human, “R”, does the best she can to try to keep up with Eva and maybe, if she’s lucky, stay one-half step ahead of her.  

A Tribute to Amber from The Daily Tail

Guest Post by Daniela Caride

It’s so easy to become friends with someone whom I admire and who shares with me at least two interests. Hiking, writing, dogs, cats, blogging, community work — I think of my friends and see a huge list of commonalities. 

I’ve never seen cat blogger Ingrid King, though. We live 500 miles apart. I’ve never heard her voice, either. Not even by phone. I “met” Ingrid on the Internet because we both blog about pets and love them unconditionally.

But thanks to our frequent e-mail exchange, I learned how generous she is with her knowledge and love of animals. And maybe because, as bloggers, we reveal so much about ourselves, I can picture Ingrid’s life quite vividly from a distance. 

I can see her working long hours at her desk at home, doing Reiki on her patients, standing by the window beside her kitten, Allegra, drinking tea while watching the snow fall during a cold morning. 

Somehow, I feel very close to Ingrid — like friends who have always lived far away from each other. 

Yesterday, Ingrid’s 12-year-old Tortie cat Amber succumbed to an aggressive virus that weakened her suddenly and inadvertently. I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I read Ingrid’s e-mail. It was sudden and unexpected. 

“I’m still in shock,” she said in the e-mail. “I keep hoping I’ll wake up and find that these last ten days were just a bad dream.”

Now I picture Ingrid watching with her peripheral vision a cat approaching from another room. A second later, her heart skips a beat. She realizes it’s Allegra, not Amber, as she previously thought. I see Ingrid following her routine, reaching for two dishes for the cats’ afternoon meal. Then she feels a lump in her throat. She only needs one dish this time. 

From afar, I feel hopeless sitting at my desk and writing about Amber, not able to ring Ingrid’s bell, give her a hug, offer my sympathies as any other friend. 

But maybe I’ll be lucky enough to make Ingrid understand, through this mournful letter, that the distance doesn’t mean that much. That, from afar, I am holding her hand.

Daniela Caride is the publisher of The Daily Tail (http://www.TheDailyTail.com), a participatory blog about pets with stories, tips, and reviews. She lives with three cats, Crosby, Gaijin and Phoenix, three dogs, Frieda, Geppetto and Lola, and her husband, Martin, in Cambridge, MA.

This Week on The Conscious Cat: A Tribute to Amber

After losing my beautiful girl so unexpectedly and suddenly last Thursday, I’ve been struggling.  I’ve experienced loss before.  I lost my first cat, Feebee, after a lengthy battle with lymphoma in April of 2000.  I lost my office cat Virginia two years later after a brief decline, caused by her FIV positive status.  And I lost Buckley Thanksgiving weekend of 2008 after receiving a dire prognosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy a few months earlier.  All of these losses were difficult.  I coped as best I could.  I survived.  And I thought that, as a result of getting through these past losses, I would be better prepared to deal with this most recent one.  After all, I’m the person others turn to when they need help coping with losing a pet.

But when I had to let Amber go after a brief, severe illness, I was completely blind-sided by the depth and intensity of my grief.  I had never lost a cat without having lots of time to prepare.  Anticipatory grief, like all grief, is painful, but by its very nature, it is, for lack of a better word, a bit more gentle.  This sudden, unexpected grief has been simply devastating.  I’m still unable to really put this experience into words, and I’m still struggling.

Amber was my heart.  She was the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and it just doesn’t feel right to return to “business as usual” when I’m still in deep mourning.

The one bright spot during these dark days have been my friends – both real life and online.  The outpouring of support from my online friends has been overwhelming, and incredibly comforting.   For the most part, these are people I’ve never met in person.  We’ve connected through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.  Most of us have never even spoken on the phone.  And yet, they’ve all been there for me in various ways – offering cyber hugs, expressing their sadness and support in comments on this site and on Facebook, sending private messages and e-mails.  Their love and support feels no less real than the love and support of my real life friends.  I’m blessed to have every single one of them in my life.

Several of my online friends also ran tributes to Amber on their blogs.  So, instead of our regular fare of cat health information, feline lifestyle and book reviews, this week, I’ll be honoring Amber’s memory and celebrating her life by running some of these tributes here on The Conscious Cat.

Thank you, all of you, for your outpouring of support – each and every one of your comments, e-mails and private messages means so much.

Amber

Amber
July 29, 1998 – May 13, 2010
Be at Peace, Beautiful Girl

My beautiful girl died peacefully at home in my arms late yesterday afternoon, with the loving and gentle assistance of my dear friend and Amber’s vet, Fern.

As some of you already know, she had been sick for ten days and at the Hope Center for Advance Veterinary Medicine in intensive care for the last three and a half days. We just received confirmation today that what we had suspected was true – a calici virus had ravaged her system, causing multiple problems ranging from laryngitis to pancreatitis, complicated by an underlying heart problem we didn’t even know she had, which made it impossible to find the right balance between providing supportive care and not pushing her heart too far. Yesterday it looked like she was getting better, but yesterday morning, she took a turn for the worse, and her prognosis was so poor that I decided against further treatment. I took her home and spent the afternoon with her. The final good-bye was very peaceful.

Amber was a wise old soul in a feline body. Her gentle, loving presence brought so much happiness and joy to my life these past ten years. She was the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and even had her own column here, titled Amber’s Mewsings. You can read her entire story here.

I’m still in shock – I keep hoping I’ll wake up and find that these last ten days were just a bad dream. I’m going to miss my beautiful girl terribly. Her little sister Allegra only got to know her for a little over a month, and it breaks my heart that the two of them never got a chance to become close.

Amber taught me to slow down, to appreciate the gentleness in each moment, and to listen with and to my heart. Every cat we loose takes another little piece of our hearts. Amber took a big piece of mine tonight.

Happy Mother’s Day 2010

Happy Mother’s Day from Ingrid, Amber and Allegra

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom in your life, be sure to tell her that you love her today, and every day.  My mother passed away 16 years ago, and I still miss her.  Even after all these years, I still feel a pang when I see Mother’s Day cards appear in stores.

But I also celebrate Mother’s Day as Amber’s and Allegra’s Mom.  Some of you have gotten to know Amber here on The Conscious Cat through her Mewsings.  She was a mother herself when I first met her, so I thought I’d share her story here with you again today.

In the spring of 2000, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she began to  relax a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Amber

 

New Family Member: Meet Allegra

The Conscious Cat has a new family member!  Amber and I are excited to welcome Allegra into our hearts and into our home.  Well, right now I might be a little more excited than Amber, but so far, things have been going really well.  Amber is watching the newcomer from a cautious distance, and if she comes too close for comfort, she lets Allegra know who’s in charge.

I found Allegra on Facebook on the page of a local veterinary hospital. When I contacted the page administrator for more information, I was told that she was seven months old and “very very sweet, loves cats, loves dogs, loves people, loves life!”    I knew I had to meet this little girl.  The first time I met her, I spent about an hour in an exam room with her.  She was your typical ADHD kitten – discovering and exploring everything, whether it was a stethoscope hanging from a hook on the wall or a syringe cap on the floor.  She didn’t pay all that much attention to me, but I started to fall in love with her anyway.  However, I didn’t want to make a hasty decision.  I had only just begun to even think about bringing another cat into our lives.  I didn’t know whether I wanted a kitten or an adult cat.  So I went home, slept on it, thought about it – and I just couldn’t get Allegra out of my mind.  I went back to see her again the next morning.  And that’s when I just knew.   She was meant to come home with us.

Her background, as far as I know it, is this:  she was rescued from a county shelter in Maryland, and fostered by two different foster moms.  Her most recent foster mom described her as a “total love bug lap kitty” who loved to follow her everywhere.

I brought her home yesterday morning.   And so a new chapter in our lives begins.  Allegra spent most of yesterday exploring her new home.  She was particularly fascinated by windows – something she hadn’t been able to enjoy for the last ten days when she lived at the animal hospital.  Everything seemed to delight her – bumble bees flying by, leaves blowing in the wind, squirrels rushing by outside.  It’s so much fun watching her discover her world.

Amber is not so sure this was a good idea just yet.  I’m sure you’ll hear all about it from Amber herself soon.  And you never know, Allegra might eventually want to contribute to The Conscious Cat, too, once she adjusts to her new home and new life.

Buckley’s First Christmas

Christmas card large

In memory of Buckley’s first Christmas with Amber and me:
An excerpt from Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher

Soon, it was time to get ready for Buckley’s first holiday season with Amber and me. I traditionally put up my Christmas tree during Thanksgiving weekend. It is a small, four-foot high artificial tree that I have had for close to twenty years. While I like the idea and especially the wonderful pine scent of a real tree, I also find it too much of a hassle to deal with having someone bring the tree into the house for me and then to remove it again at the end of the season, so I have been quite content with my artificial tree over the years. And since having a fake tree has even become the environmentally conscious thing to do in recent years, rather than feeling like I should be making apologies for it, I am now politically correct. The tree sits on a small table next to the dining room cabinet. The table is draped with a red tablecloth that reaches all the way to the floor, creating a perfect little cat tent underneath. Amber always enjoyed hiding underneath the tree during Christmases past, and now Buckley got to share in the fun. It provided endless entertainment for both cats, and it was a new experience for Amber to be stalked by Buckley from underneath the tree.

In addition to playtime, the tree also provided lovely moments of quiet contemplation for all three of us. Most evenings before going to bed, I turned off all the lights in the living room except for those on the tree and put on some soft Christmas music. With both cats curled up on my lap, we simply sat by the tree and enjoyed the lights, ornaments, and the profound sense of peace these moments brought. This experience has always had a meditative quality for me that was greatly enhanced by the shared energy of the two cats.

Amber had never been all that interested in the ornaments on the tree. I decorate the tree with ornaments I have collected over the years, many of them cat-themed, which should come as no surprise. Some of the ornaments have great sentimental value, such as the silver bell that I brought home after cleaning out my father’s condominium after he passed away. As far back as I can remember, that silver bell was on the Christmas trees of my childhood. Other ornaments were gifts from friends or items I had picked up while traveling. I always hung the breakable ornaments on the side of the tree furthest from the dining room table. In the past, Amber had occasionally jumped up on the table and batted at the ornaments she could reach from there. Thankfully, she had never tried to jump up on the table the tree was sitting on. I was not sure what to expect from Buckley, but she turned out to be far more interested in the tent underneath the tree than the actual tree or ornaments. I never once even saw her on the dining room table trying to bat at ornaments she could have reached from there.

Buckley’s first Christmas was a special time for all of us. This little cat had never gotten presents before in her life. Needless to say, I completely overdid it that year, and I was not the only one. Many of my friends also showered Buckley, as well as Amber, with toys and treats that Christmas. Buckley had a difficult time deciding what was more fun—the actual toys and treats or helping me tear them out of their colorful wrappings and ribbons.  She had a wonderful time that first Christmas, playing with abandon and giving herself up to total joy.