The Loss of a Pet – Ruminations

I am awakened with “Koko died, Koko died, Koko died.” My husband is saying this to me with tears in his eyes. Our beloved and handsome 10 year old Maine Coon, Kokopelli, has died… way too young. Kokopelli, Koko Pop, Koko Lo-mo-po, Popster, Big Dude and Koko Smelly (when he was a baby he often had diarrhea). I’m assuming he died of cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart defect that is often found in Maine Coons. As a woman of a certain age, I’ve lost many pets in my life time. I can still name most of them… Corkie, our first dog, then we had a series of Siamese cats, then along came a chihuahua named Putsem, a derivation of Czech words which means come here. Then I had Fat Cat, Weenie, Scaredy Cat, Frisky and Maggie, and of course, Koko. I still have Bocce, a Main Coon and Koko’s brother and Bella Blue, a Siamese mix. Even into my twilight years, I will have pets but I will have a plan in place for them. I certainly don’t want them ending up in a shelter. So, here are just some thoughts:

The cycle of life… As you can see, I have a long history of having pets. So, one would think that after a while one would become a little “tougher” in handling the death of a pet. But, for me, it has gotten harder. Maybe it’s because I no longer have all of the other stuff that one goes through in life taking up space in my emotions. No crying children, no demanding bosses, no lingering money issues. Or is it because I see myself now, as a woman of a certain age, perhaps one cat life away from my own trip to heaven? A friend of mine is a bereavement counselor. When I asked him about why, as we get older, it gets harder to lose a pet. He gave two reasons. The first was that as we age, we just become more emotional. And secondly, as we go through the work world and/or raising children, we go from spending 2-3 hours of divided time with our pets and to then, when we retire, to being 24/7 with our pets.

Guilt… There is one instance in my life, regarding my pets, that I still feel very badly about. It has to do with my two cats Fat Cat and Weenie. I was divorcing my first husband and I had taken a new job in another city. I was moving from a house into an apartment. I didn’t have two nickles to rub together. In my new job I would be doing a ton of traveling. So, what did this mean for me and my cats? I didn’t have the deposit to pay the apartment complex for the cats nor did I have anyone who could take care of them when I was traveling. So, I talked my soon to be ex husband into taking them. I never saw them again and I didn’t ask him about them. I was too busy with my new life. I have a feeling he… never mind.

I’ve learned CPR for animals… Yes, there is such a thing. My husband tried to resuscitate Koko but he apparently died sometime during the night. I found this video on on how to perform CPR on your cat. It’s basically the same thing for you dog lovers out there. It’s only a minute and 17 seconds long: It may help you save your pet’s life.

This post is probably a downer for you. It is for me. But it’s just another step in my grieving process. I’ve ordered his cremation urn and had a stepping stone made celebrating his life. Koko had a beautiful life and gave us so much joy and love. The loss of my big boy will leave a gap in my life for a long time…

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