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My Cat's Brother Is Grieving


peggyo

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This is my first time doing something like this. I am hoping someone's experience will help me, or direct me for guidance. It's all about my cats, brothers Sam and Max. I found and took in my Sam and Max when they were 3 weeks old. Now they are almost 12 years old; my first pets,my first committment, and my most cherished companions. Max was dx last week with an agressive cancer, and he is dying. He is not in pain. He is tired, and now not eating, and doing some drinking. I am going to have to help Max with his leaving me. I am waiting for the "you'll know" moment. Just as I thought it was time to plan a visit to the vet, I found my Sam curled up with his dying brother under the bed with his arm across Max's belly. Sam has been skittish around Max since he has been sick. But this scene warmed me, broke my heart and I realized that I am not the only one losing a loved one...In 12 years, Sam has not been without his brother for more than the time it takes to go the vet! How ever do I care for Sammy? However do I leave him to go out to work? or shop? or vacation? how can I leave Sam without his brother Max? Thank you for sharing with others.

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peggyo,

All of you have my sympathy in this sad time of change and transition. I faced the same challenge when my girl, Nissa, lost her brother, Sabin. They'd always been together, even during routine trips to the vet for one - I'd tote them both along, so one would have the company and support of the other. So the only time they'd spent alone was when Sabin got cancer and had to spend a wknd. in Emergency, then a couple more vet trips by himself after that.

I was fortunate in that when he passed, I was at home anyway, so could spend more time with Nissa. But having to go out for whatever was anxiety-producing for me, as I worried about Nissa being all alone at home. I have no magic formula, as I did try to stay home as much as I could. Only gradually, over about a year, did I start going out a bit more. Mind you, Nissa was also then suffering from anorexia and the early stages of kidney disease right after her brother passed, so I was compelled to take the best care of her as possible anyway. As she stabilized, we did go out more normally, and she'd usually just snooze for the most part until we got back. THEN she'd receive extra attention and love!

And vacations? Well, there were no vacations.....not for about 17 years! The most we ever took during all those years were day trips in the summer....but only when both of our kids were relatively healthy, so even those stopped for many years. And I know from quite a few others that we weren't alone in doing this for our kids....a good number of people do. We had no one who was capable OR willing and who we could trust to sit for Nissa, with all her health protocols, so we sacrificed our desires out of love for her. I would never have boarded her anywhere, either. Although it was tough on us in some ways, I will never regret having gone w/o for her sake. When I had to leave and visit my dying Mother (by plane), I still worried about her being w/o me, though she did fine with her daddy there with her. Now that she's gone, I would give my eye teeth to have all those other times that I'd been away, back again, to spend with her instead. :(

While she and I were grieving, she received flower essences (made up a certain way for cats) which work on an emotional level to balance an individual (I took them, too), homeopathics at times (under the guidance of her homeopathic vet(s) ), all of which helped address her grief. Under the Bach line of FE's, staples were Walnut (for change), Honeysuckle (for loss and trauma) and various other ones (you can use up to 5 at a time in a mix, given in diluted form 4x's/day for up to a couple of months) chosen according to her individual response to grief. Marty's link to Teresa Wagner's website on her Grief and Healing pages (pet loss section) is an excellent resource for perusing flower essences for use with animals, and the FES line Teresa uses in part is a great line of FE's, too. They now even have a ready-made combo called "Grief Relief", which I now have and find very effective for taking the 'edge' off grief. I believe Teresa gives the instructions for mixing and dosing cats on her website. (if not, I could tell you if you're going to use them) She also received distance Reiki (Usui) for the rest of her life, which she loved and we found very useful on many occasions.

Nissa mourned for about 3-4 months before she perked up one day when I decided I had to 'choose LIFE' for her and her health problems. While this may seem like a long time, compare that to the YEARS that I continued to grieve for my boy(in part due to a lot of guilt).....while his sister blossomed instead! She ended up preferring to be an 'only child', which was great for me, since I didn't really want to adopt another cat, though I would have had she wanted one. I was her 'cat', and Mommy, and that was all she wanted.

Another good method from animal communicators that you could use is to get centered and send a mental picture when you're going out about when you'll be back, focusing mostly on the happy reunion upon your return (with the implication that you WILL be returning!). This works wonders for animals. You can also, of course, tell Sam your plans verbally in addition to this. I did this all the time with both of my kids and know they understood me. It helps them to stay calmer. You can visualize this in any creative way you like. For example, using the approximate position of the sun, or level of brightness (since animals don't normally relate to the clocks we use), or how soon away from a meal, or whatever you can come up with. Although, having said that, I used to tell Nissa how many HOURS I'd be gone, and darned if she wasn't a bit upset whenever I'd underestimated that time, yet fine if my estimate was pretty close! :rolleyes::)

Some extra playtime and attention, as well as sharing your thoughts and feelings with Sam will also probably help, as well as an admonition to him about NOT taking on YOUR emotional baggage, as cats in particular will often do this to make us aware of what needs attention in us. They often act as mirrors to us...both a blessing and sometimes a curse!

I think he'll do fine if you give him credit for being the feeling, cognizant and self-aware individual that he is, and treat him according to the Golden Rule....the same of course for Max. You can not only help make Sam's grief bearable, but you can both teach each other many wondrous things during and beyond this time of upheaval in your lives. Come back anytime to share how things are going and if you have any problems with this....and of course, for anything related to your dear Max. I wish you strength for this journey, and blessings for a peaceful transition for Max, whenever that it to be. (I would also ask about pain management for Max, when needed, even before your final gift of love to him) Your love for each other will see you through.

Edited by Maylissa
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Peggyo,

My thoughts are with you at this very difficult time. I recently went through a similar experience with my dogs. My beloved, Gypsy, was fighting a neurological disease and she too was tired and weak. I adopted Gypsy five years ago - she was a 8 year old senior from the Humane Society with no history. One year later, we welcomed Gerite another senior dog into our home and created a family. While they were only together for four years, during that time they created a normal sibling relationship...loving each other while competing for attention and treats. Gertie was the playful little sister whose entire purpose in life was to "bother" Gypsy. When I dished out treats, Gertie would nearly bite my fingers off so that she could gobble up her treat and then move on to trying to steal Gypsy's. During meal time, Gertie would inhale her food and then run over to Gypsy's bowl for a second meal. It became so bad that I had to feed them in seperate rooms so that Gypsy actually got to eat. When I would pet Gypsy, Gertie would come over and walk under my arm so that I would move my arm from Gypsy to her. It was all part of the great dynamic of their relationship and I loved how their totally opposite personalities played off of each other.

When the end was coming for Gypsy, I believe that Gertie knew. During her final days, Gypsy spent the majority of her time laying on her beds with me by her side. Gertie normally playful and alouf was now more quiet and gentle. Several times she joined Gypsy on her bed laying directly next to her or facing her with her paws on her bed. It broke my heart but also warmed it. I will never forget it.

Gyspy was euthanized at home - my vet is amazing and offers a home service. For Gypsy, this was the right choice. She (like her mommy - me) was a very private, quiet being. Her favorite place to be was home with Gertie and I. I let Gertie be there for the procedure hoping that it would help her to understand. I think she knows that Gypsy was sick and tired. But I know that she misses her and I struggle with how to help her.

The night of Gypsy's death, I fed Gertie as normal except that I did not close the door to keep her in the room as I normally would as Gypsy ate. She gobbled up her food as normal and then ran out directly to Gypsy's bowl (I had not put any of her belongings away yet) and started licking it for crumbs. It broke my heart and sent me into tears again. She has now gotten accustomed to eating in the kitchen and no longer looks for Gypsy's food. She does not look for Gypsy around the house. For that reason, I believe she understands that Gypsy is gone and why but I think she misses her tremendously. Treat time is not nearly as fun now. She does not have to work for extra attention or "fight" for the best spot under my desk while I work. Gypsy was her big sister...she no longer has anyone to imitate or compete with. Gertie is very social and I want to get her out to play with other dogs. We walk every morning and evening and she has taken to one of my elderly neighbors - it makes her day to see Gertie, but I think it also makes Gertie's day. It is difficult living in Arizona during the summer to provide a lot of socialization for her. I have thought about training her to become a dog that visits the elderly or sick in hospitals or nursing homes.

I am not sure my post is very helpful, but I wanted you to know that there are others out there that are experiencing the same concerns. Hopefully, you and Sam can create new routines and memories while honoring Max.

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