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Pet Loss while grieving spouse/partner


SDC

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I had to euthanize my almost 17 year old cat yesterday. It was suddenly time and a kind vet helped him have a peaceful, quick death at home. I'm gutted. As anyone who has pets knows, losing them is brutal. I'm grateful he didn't die last year (my spouse died suddenly April 2020). But I'm overlaying deaths and grief.  I rationally know my cat's death has nothing to do with B's death, but they feel connected. I'm having super unhelpful thoughts like "B will never know my next pet," etc.  It feels so self-destructive. Now I'm here in my place alone without either of them and I feel like I can't bear it. It hasn't been 24 hours and I feel like I can't bear another 24. Has anyone else lost a pet while grieving their person? I feel insane. 

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Oh no...it's so cruel SDC! I have no words...i have a female cat...i can't think of a life without her! 

I understand your feelings, i am near you i'm hugging you :sad:

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Oh yes!  I lost several in my early grief of George.  It was brutal.  We depend all the more on our pets emotionally when we're grieving and to lose them too, well there are no words...

I am so sorry for your loss.  I was a family of four (three pets and me) and now they're all gone.  My son brought me a puppy and I don't know what I'd do without him.  It didn't alleviate my grief, but it did give me company and this little wiggly ball of fluff won my heart over, undaunted by my immense grief.  I don't see how I'd have made it this last year of isolation without him.  

I lost 25 year old Kitty 4 1/2 months after losing my heart dog,Arlie, I used to call him my "soulmate in a dog" because he was the perfect dog for me, just as George had been the perfect spouse for me.  

I send you so much caring and hugs your way!  Cry, sob, scream, everything you're feeling is "normal" for grief.  Ad yes, one loss can definitely bring up immense feelings of loss for another. :wub2:

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/10/a-bill-of-rights-for-grieving-animal.html
http://www.griefhealing.com/comfort-grieving-animal-lovers.htm

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/05/pet-loss-is-it-different-kind-of-grief.html

 

I hope this short video brings you some comfort and peace.

 

 

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 SDC, 

I am sure you will get several responses on this.  You are not alone in feeling this way. 

My dog died last year at 15 years old and it impacted me much more  than any  previous pet death.  A part of the increased feeling of loss is that Boomer was our dog.  The last dog my husband and I had together.  There was also such a strong feeling that Boomer was the only one who really saw me at my most broken moments.  He was a great listener. And finally, Boomer's passing left me truly alone. There was no other living being in my home. Just me. Alone.  

All of these things magnified the sense of loss. Of course I don't mourn the loss of my dog on a par with the loss of my husband. But the death of the dog triggered a huge emotional response because the dog's death is all intertwined with the grief I have for my husband.  And he was a really good dog.

I miss that wonderful silly beagle.

Gail

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Thank you all for replying.  I appreciate your time and kindness. I knew his end was coming--Enzo (cat) was diagnosed with a liver tumor 2 years ago and remained himself until he suddenly wasn't--so I thought I was prepared. Last year I pleaded with the universe to not let Enzo decline and die the same year B died. So, again, I'm so grateful he was with me the last 11 months as I grieved B--especially during the pandemic when it was just me and the cat at home. But I've been hysterical. I cried so hard earlier I hyperventilated. I can't bear to be here without another living creature--now there is no energy here other than my grief/sadness. I wasn't prepared for all that. I didn't sleep last night and I know I need to get some rest. But thank you all again for responding and supporting me. 

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I'm so sorry to hear this.  I know how hard it was when I lost my beloved dog a few years ago, the first pet Rhonda and I had together.  I can't imagine what you're going through right now after losing your partner so recently and now facing another horrible loss.  Pets are truly part of the family, and I'm not sure I'd make it through losing my wife without the two dogs right now.  I'm thinking of you.

 

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3 hours ago, Gail 8588 said:

Of course I don't mourn the loss of my dog on a par with the loss of my husband.

No, of course not.  They are different, but then all losses are.  It certainly doesn't make the loss of your beloved dog any less meaningful or painful.

I'm so sorry for each of you to have a companion animal loss piled on top of losing your soulmates.  John and I were between pets when he was diagnosed and I simply don't have the wherewithal to give a furry friend the love he or she would deserve full time.  But I am sitting here right now with my "loaner" doggie friend.  A 12 lb bundle of energy and love who visits me 3 or 4 times a week.  Actually, this week almost every day because her dad went back to his part-time outdoor work for our parks department and her mom lost another friend (2 dear friends in less than a year) a few days ago and needed time to help the family without worrying about getting home to feed, walk, and play with the dog.  I sure don't mind the extra time and they know she's well taken care of so they don't have to worry.

 

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I am very much an animal lover and losing pets is a terrible thing. I am sorry to hear about your cat, SDC. These animals can really be family members.

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I am surprised at the number of people that said they lost pets while grieving their spouse.  That happened to me.  My husband died April 3, 2020.  His death was crushing. 

In September 2020 my daschund Ollie had to be put down.  Ollie was good company when my husband died.  Losing Ollie left me totally alone in my house.  Although I wasn't scared to be alone.  I was uneasy when I bathed  and slept so I got a mixed breed rescue dog.  Lucy is 50 pounds of muscle and sweetness.  

I needed a pet to do for  - and to be a companion. 

I am sure that a cat fills the same need, to have some living thing to speak to when your mind is flooded with pain and longing.

I too wondered how it was going to be to add a living thing to my household without Richard's buy in.  It felt strange for a day or two but then.....it was okay.

Also Ollie knew he was my good boy and his job was to alert me if someone came to the door; he would not mind that Lucy was doing alert duty now.

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On 3/13/2021 at 2:52 PM, SDC said:

Thank you all for replying.  I appreciate your time and kindness. I knew his end was coming--Enzo (cat) was diagnosed with a liver tumor 2 years ago and remained himself until he suddenly wasn't--so I thought I was prepared. Last year I pleaded with the universe to not let Enzo decline and die the same year B died. So, again, I'm so grateful he was with me the last 11 months as I grieved B--especially during the pandemic when it was just me and the cat at home. But I've been hysterical. I cried so hard earlier I hyperventilated. I can't bear to be here without another living creature--now there is no energy here other than my grief/sadness. I wasn't prepared for all that. I didn't sleep last night and I know I need to get some rest. But thank you all again for responding and supporting me. 

I hate the name of this article as we never "replace" an animal, they are unique and so are our bonds with them!  But in spite of that, it is a good article and I hope on down the road when the time is right, it will present.  Even though Arlie could never be replaced, he was my soulmate in a dog as he was the perfect dog for me and my companion all these years since losing my husband and my dog, Kodie has provided me much comfort and company, I never anticipated this year of social isolation and he was a godsend.

Getting another Pet

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I have a little Shipoo and she will be 14 in August. I can tell she is on the decline, as her hearing is pretty bad, she only hears me whistle to call her. She is blind in one eye, and a lot of her teeth have fallen out.

She's still pretty energetic though and does keep me company, although she loves to sleep a lot. If she goes, it will be devastating, and I'll decide then if I want to get another similar dog.

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15 hours ago, JohnB said:

I'm so sorry to hear this.  I know how hard it was when I lost my beloved dog a few years ago, the first pet Rhonda and I had together.  I can't imagine what you're going through right now after losing your partner so recently and now facing another horrible loss.  Pets are truly part of the family, and I'm not sure I'd make it through losing my wife without the two dogs right now.  I'm thinking of you.

 

Thank you John. I appreciate your kind words. It's been a brutal couple of days. 

14 hours ago, Perro J said:

I am very much an animal lover and losing pets is a terrible thing. I am sorry to hear about your cat, SDC. These animals can really be family members.

Thank you for taking the time to write. I'm so grateful my cat didn't die last year--the same year I lost B--but still . . . it is another loss. Ugh. It's hard to keep perspective when life feels hard all of the time. I appreciate your kind thoughts. 

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6 hours ago, Sparky1 said:

I have a little Shipoo and she will be 14 in August. I can tell she is on the decline, as her hearing is pretty bad, she only hears me whistle to call her. She is blind in one eye, and a lot of her teeth have fallen out.

She's still pretty energetic though and does keep me company, although she loves to sleep a lot. If she goes, it will be devastating, and I'll decide then if I want to get another similar dog.

It's hard when you know they're declining and you find yourself anticipating when their decline will sharpen. You're never ready even when you know it's coming. I knew Enzo dying would be harder after B died (the cat was diagnosed with a liver tumor 2 years ago so I knew his end was coming sooner than later), but I didn't anticipate how heavy the overlay of griefs feel. My rational mind knows the cat dying has nothing to do with B's sudden death, but they feel connected because they were connected. Pardon my French, but it is a mind ****. Enjoy your little Shipoo as long as she's still enjoying her life. 

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1 hour ago, SDC said:

Enjoy your little Shipoo as long as she's still enjoying her life. 

Thanks SDC, I'm sorry for the loss of your cat.

Before this dog, we had another Shitzu sort of dog, and the poor thing got cancer. She had a big mass down her belly and had chewed off one of her nipples. My wife had to put her down and it was very devastating. After a while, these animals become part of the family and their passing hurts as well.

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16 hours ago, jmmosley53 said:

I am surprised at the number of people that said they lost pets while grieving their spouse.  That happened to me.  My husband died April 3, 2020.  His death was crushing. 

In September 2020 my daschund Ollie had to be put down.  Ollie was good company when my husband died.  Losing Ollie left me totally alone in my house.  Although I wasn't scared to be alone.  I was uneasy when I bathed  and slept so I got a mixed breed rescue dog.  Lucy is 50 pounds of muscle and sweetness.  

I needed a pet to do for  - and to be a companion. 

I am sure that a cat fills the same need, to have some living thing to speak to when your mind is flooded with pain and longing.

I too wondered how it was going to be to add a living thing to my household without Richard's buy in.  It felt strange for a day or two but then.....it was okay.

Also Ollie knew he was my good boy and his job was to alert me if someone came to the door; he would not mind that Lucy was doing alert duty now.

I'm sorry you lost Ollie, but it's great you opened your heart to Lucy! It's very strange to be the only living creature now in my place. My old cat was deaf the last year of his life, but I still talked to him a lot like a nutter. Haha Especially during the bizarre isolation of the pandemic (I'm in Chicago & we had serious lockdowns). I'll get another pet, but I'm surprised by how much I overlapped my grief from B dying with Enzo (my cat) dying. It's just another lost connection to him beyond missing the critter itself. Grieving makes every other loss or bad thing worse. 

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On 3/13/2021 at 3:19 PM, Gail 8588 said:

 SDC, 

I am sure you will get several responses on this.  You are not alone in feeling this way. 

My dog died last year at 15 years old and it impacted me much more  than any  previous pet death.  A part of the increased feeling of loss is that Boomer was our dog.  The last dog my husband and I had together.  There was also such a strong feeling that Boomer was the only one who really saw me at my most broken moments.  He was a great listener. And finally, Boomer's passing left me truly alone. There was no other living being in my home. Just me. Alone.  

All of these things magnified the sense of loss. Of course I don't mourn the loss of my dog on a par with the loss of my husband. But the death of the dog triggered a huge emotional response because the dog's death is all intertwined with the grief I have for my husband.  And he was a really good dog.

I miss that wonderful silly beagle.

Gail

SDC, all of you who have suffered such a loss, I'm so sorry. 

Gail, I can't tell you how much your reply in particular hit home, as I put down her/my/our dog 2 yrs ago. He was kind of "our kid." And yes, he saw me at my lowest, including the night I came home after she passed and bawled like a newborn the entire night. And in those bleak days/months/years after, he was mostly all I had. Frankly if not for him (and my parents) still being around, I might not be here typing this now. But at least I had him. I knew no matter what I could count on him being there when I woke up, when I came home (always SO happy to see me!), and when I went to bed...which I dreaded as it was, but he made it so much more bearable as he slept with me. 

Just when after years, I felt like I was finally starting to regroup, I put him down...and suffered a major regression. I think part of it was as you say being truly alone then, as well as losing my best friend (again), but also he was my last really tangible link to her, as I wasn't close to her family and our so-called "friends" disappeared.

PS I had a Jack Russell...which is kind of the anti-beagle :) but we had a beagle growing up and they are great dogs (that bark cracked me up). 

Frankly I pity people who don't get and can't have that kind of connection with animals. So while losing them is so much harder because of that, I think we're lucky to have had that connection in the first place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, widower2 said:

Frankly I pity people who don't get and can't have that kind of connection with animals. So while losing them is so much harder because of that, I think we're lucky to have had that connection in the first place. 

Agreed.  It's such a pure, true love.  They don't judge us if we didn't shower today or if we've gained weight or if we aren't up to doing much.  They just love us and all they ask is to be loved and protected in return.  You're right that some people simply cannot understand it and never have that connection.

When I was growing up, we couldn't have dogs or cats or birds (not that I, personally, would have wanted a bird) because my dad was highly allergic.  But I was allowed to have pet domesticated rats (also called "fancy rats").  Now, before everyone says, "Oh ick," these aren't regular rats.  They weigh about 1 lb and are adorable, loving, and fun.  They had their own big kennel in the heated, enclosed patio that my dad had built (including storm windows for winter) that functioned as a gathering place in the summer and the room where we kids could make messes.  I was also allowed to bring them into the house because they had so little dander.  They only live about 3 years, so that was hard every time.  It's funny, when I was talking to one of my newer friends and the subject of childhood pets came up, I went ahead and blurted out, "I had pet rats."  She looked at me and said, "Me too!  No one ever knows what I'm talking about when I say that."  So of course we compared rat stories. 

When I moved out on my own, I got a sweet rescue tabby kitten who was the light of my life through some challenging young adult years.  John was allergic to short-haired cats, so when he asked me and then we moved in together, I had to find her a new home.  I was sooooo picky about it.  She ended up with a charmed rest of her life though.  The couple that adopted her bonded with her right away.  They lived in a huge house and had even designated a bedroom as Lightning's own.  They encouraged a visit after a few weeks so I could be sure she was happy and cared for.  Yeah, she was lounging on one of her cat beds in the sun in the high-fenced yard (10 or 12 ft) in her own little queendom, obviously very healthy and happy.  I was so relieved to see that she had adapted to her new life, but I missed her for years.

Companion animals are members of the family, no matter what anyone who doesn't understand says.

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One thing I didn't mention is.  When Ollie had to be put down I cried at the vets like a baby.  But when I got home and stood in my kitchen, I felt lonely and alone.  But it was my husband I longed for.  

I sometimes think I didn't grieve Ollie as much as he deserved.  Once that idea came into my head I started thinking. 

Is there some amount of grief a person deserves when they pass?  Like out of love and respect they need to be mourned 5, 10, 100 years?  I'd sort of like to stop mourning my husband but I know I'm not ready yet.

 

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2 hours ago, jmmosley53 said:

they need to be mourned 5, 10, 100 years?  I

Jmmo i think that  mourning our loved ones never ends...

What have to finish or at least become bearable is the hard sufference...

Our loved ones deserves to be remember for the special person he was, who enlightened our life with his love tenderness laughts making us  happy !

No one deserves to stay heartbroken for so long! 

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2 hours ago, Roxeanne said:

Jmmo i think that  mourning our loved ones never ends...

This comment reminds me of a quote I read in a book recently, a suspense thriller of all genre:

"Moving through grief doesn't come by forgetting, you get through it by remembering."  Missing, Lisa Harris

While the time that passes may help heal the wound, the mourning comes from remembering all of the good times and missing the ones that were lost.

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11 hours ago, widower2 said:

Frankly I pity people who don't get and can't have that kind of connection with animals. So while losing them is so much harder because of that, I think we're lucky to have had that connection in the first place. 

I totally agree!  I've lost five cats and two dogs, plus another cat and dog I tried to adopt and it didn't work out, since George died and had to weather them alone, it's very hard, especially on top of already missing our spouse and no one to share in it with.  But I wouldn't have missed having any of them.

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13 hours ago, widower2 said:

SDC, all of you who have suffered such a loss, I'm so sorry. 

Gail, I can't tell you how much your reply in particular hit home, as I put down her/my/our dog 2 yrs ago. He was kind of "our kid." And yes, he saw me at my lowest, including the night I came home after she passed and bawled like a newborn the entire night. And in those bleak days/months/years after, he was mostly all I had. Frankly if not for him (and my parents) still being around, I might not be here typing this now. But at least I had him. I knew no matter what I could count on him being there when I woke up, when I came home (always SO happy to see me!), and when I went to bed...which I dreaded as it was, but he made it so much more bearable as he slept with me. 

Just when after years, I felt like I was finally starting to regroup, I put him down...and suffered a major regression. I think part of it was as you say being truly alone then, as well as losing my best friend (again), but also he was my last really tangible link to her, as I wasn't close to her family and our so-called "friends" disappeared.

PS I had a Jack Russell...which is kind of the anti-beagle :) but we had a beagle growing up and they are great dogs (that bark cracked me up). 

Frankly I pity people who don't get and can't have that kind of connection with animals. So while losing them is so much harder because of that, I think we're lucky to have had that connection in the first place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Frankly I pity people who don't get and can't have that kind of connection with animals. So while losing them is so much harder because of that, I think we're lucky to have had that connection in the first place." I feel exactly the same! I'm grateful my parents are animals lovers and because of that I experienced the unique beauty of connecting to animals as a child. The inter-species connection and love is incredible and I feel bad for people who don't open their hearts to it. Losing them is absolutely gutting, on some level we know every time we get a new pet that the benefits of having them in our lives will outweigh the inevitable brutality of losing them. Of course losing an animal while mourning a loved one--and losing one during the bizarre isolation of pandemic--is even harder. But still . . . I feel sick that he's gone, but I wouldn't trade my years with him to avoid how awful I feel now. Thanks for sharing and supporting. 

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On 3/14/2021 at 11:59 PM, jmmosley53 said:

But when I got home and stood in my kitchen, I felt lonely and alone.  But it was my husband I longed for.  

That makes perfect sense to me for a number of reasons, but the main one is that in the past, you would have come home from the vet's office with your husband.  You would have leaned on each other, comforted each other, and grieved together.  Coming home alone was just one more painful, stabbing reminder that the one person in the world you could always count on to be there for you was taken from you.  That Ollie was a link to your life with your love was yet another thing to further break your heart.

I'm glad you were able to take in a new companion animal to love and care for, and to love and care for you in return.  Nothing will or can replace what you have lost, but opening your heart to Lucy is a really big deal, IMO.

And as far as how long or in what way a person or animal deserves to be mourned:  I do not believe that there is an answer to that question.  I'm learning that grief evolves, becomes more tolerable and manageable, easier to bear and carry as all that was loving, happy, funny, and even boring has mixed right in with the horrors of his cancer journey and the unbearable pain of losing him.  I do not believe I will ever stop grieving for John, but I am trying to learn to honor him as well, especially by telling his and our stories to keep his memory alive. 

Actually, I kind of lost it a few days ago while I was having an afternoon with my doggie friend.  It suddenly occurred to me how much John would have loved her, how he would have cuddled and played and been silly with her, and how much she would have loved him.  That he is missing this hit me hard that particular day.  Without knowing I'd had a really hard time that day, my friend (her mom) sent me two funny dog images.  I laughed and then emailed back telling her how I'd been feeling and why her sending those helped just then.

For all dog lovers, here they are:

 

Dog treat.jpg

Dog wolf pix.jpg

Edit: And for cat lovers who also know old cartoons...

 

French cat.jpg

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On 3/15/2021 at 2:38 AM, foreverhis said:

Agreed.  It's such a pure, true love.  They don't judge us if we didn't shower today or if we've gained weight or if we aren't up to doing much.  They just love us and all they ask is to be loved and protected in return. 

Companion animals are members of the family, no matter what anyone who doesn't understand says.

Exactly. And they're so innocent. There are no games or BS with them. You know exactly where they're coming from. 

Your family comment hit me, as I remember when I put my/her/our dog down, it hit me so hard...much harder then when I lost my sister, who was a good person and it's not that we didn't get along, we just weren't close (kind of how my family is in general). Still I was confused and disgusted at myself: how could I mourn the loss of any pet, regardless of how close we were, more than my own sister?? Then a friend pointed out that we tend to mourn more a loss that impacts our life more; it's human nature. And I hardly ever saw or even talked to my sister (who lived on the opposite end of the country) but my dog was a HUGE par of my life in so many ways. I'm still somewhat disgusted that I didn't mourn her more, but at least I get why now.

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@SDC I am so sorry you are going through this! I can totally relate as I almost lost my cat a couple of weeks ago, I cried and thought I was going insane seeing the extreme sorrow in his eyes that I saw in my husband's eyes before he passed. Tux is only 11 so I thought it was too early for him to go. Also he is the only living connection with my husband around me, the two of them were inseparable, my two Cats. Luckily, with lots of TLC he is scrambling back to life and not thanks to the vets who saw him. But the thought of losing this loving soul so soon after my soulmate and in the middle of absolute isolation was so heavy on me! I've had cats before, the first one lived 19 years and she went through some serious health issues but died of old age. The second one was killed by a neighbor, my dad found her in our backyard with her head smashed by a large stone. She was the smartest kitty ever, opening doors by jumping on the handle. I didn't grieve as much back then, I guess I was young and all over the place with future. But this one is the most special, I hope he stays some more time around to carry my B's spirit along at least till I have somewhat gotten used to living on memories.

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2 hours ago, Maria_PI said:

@SDC I am so sorry you are going through this! I can totally relate as I almost lost my cat a couple of weeks ago, I cried and thought I was going insane seeing the extreme sorrow in his eyes that I saw in my husband's eyes before he passed. Tux is only 11 so I thought it was too early for him to go. Also he is the only living connection with my husband around me, the two of them were inseparable, my two Cats. Luckily, with lots of TLC he is scrambling back to life and not thanks to the vets who saw him. But the thought of losing this loving soul so soon after my soulmate and in the middle of absolute isolation was so heavy on me! I've had cats before, the first one lived 19 years and she went through some serious health issues but died of old age. The second one was killed by a neighbor, my dad found her in our backyard with her head smashed by a large stone. She was the smartest kitty ever, opening doors by jumping on the handle. I didn't grieve as much back then, I guess I was young and all over the place with future. But this one is the most special, I hope he stays some more time around to carry my B's spirit along at least till I have somewhat gotten used to living on memories.

Thank you for taking the time to respond and share your empathy. I appreciate it. Hooray to your Tux pulling through! I hope his heath maintains and you get a lot more time with him. 

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@Maria_PI  That is horrible that a neighbor would kill your cat that way!  I am sorry for your loss.  I am glad Tux made it, my Kitty died 14 months ago, she was 25, I didn't get her until she was 12.

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