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Veterinarian Is Like 'A Pastor For Pets'

By: Kat Teraji

(Reprinted with permission.)

January 2004

Sassy

"My own feline companion named Sassy was supposedly a wild feral cat, she was just terrified of everything, now she is a purrfect companion." - Padraig


"Not a nice cat!" were the words I read when I glanced at the file in the hands of an Animal Shelter volunteer. I was there to adopt my next cat, who would become known to friends and family as "Spookey." The name fit a feral street kitten who had been caught in a trap at four months old: she was shy and afraid of everything. But how bad could she be at four months old - how sad to have such a negative label so early on in life. Of course, I had to take her home.

When I got her there, she promptly hid under the bed... for three days. I could not coax her out, no matter what I tried. Each day when I came into the room I talked to her with words of love and affection. By the fourth day, I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake in thinking I could adopt a feral cat. Maybe Iíd have to return her. As I entered the room, I began my good morning words to Spookey when suddenly I realized I was hearing a strange sound I had never heard before, emanating from under the bed. What could it be?

Thatís when it dawned on me that even though I couldnít even see her or pet her, she was purring. Just the sound of my voice was enough to make her purr. Thatís when I knew there was hope for us.

For the next 10 years this so-called "not a nice cat" became my constant companion and slept beside me on the bed, always seeming to understand my ups and downs. When I was sick in bed, she would stay sleeping there with me for the whole day. This last December when she became ill, she once again disappeared under the bed, where she refused to come out. A chronic illness she had fought all her life had finally gotten the upper hand. Even though she was dying, I knew how terrified she was of the vet, and I didnít want that to be our last memory together.

The next morning she was still breathing very shallowly. Torn about what to do, I called my vetís office. I got a Dr.Wernsing, someone I had never talked to before, a new partner at the Orchard Veterinary Hospital on First Street. She told me that unfortunately some animals hang on for as long as a week, suffering in this kind of limbo. She talked about how the spirit will want to let go, but the body just keeps going until the very last possible minute. Even though we had never met, the kindness she conveyed over the phone put me at ease. When my husband and I brought Spookey in, she was so sympathetic that you would have thought it was her own cat being put to sleep. She hugged us and talked to Spookey about how she was going to a peaceful place. She was like a pastor for pets.

As I held Spookey in my arms, Dr. Wernsing gave her the most gentle of shots, apologizing for any pain. Spookey leaned her head softly against my hand, and she went quietly to sleep.

"How will I know when she has died?" I asked the vet. "You can tell by her eyes," the vet answered. "What do you mean?" "Well," she said, "Cats rarely close their eyes when they die, and youíll see that her eyes will dilate at the moment of death."

"Why is that?" I asked. The vet answered: "Because sheís going towards the Light."

Copyright 2004 - Kat Teraji - E-mail kattoy@earthlink.net

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