Grieving the loss of my 10 mo. old kitten

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Kittyzee 10 months ago.

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  • #850629

    Johnny
    Participant

    In my grief, I was inspired by a TDK 2008 story written by Ashby’s dad. So I thought I’d share my story in hopes of helping others look for their lost kitten, know they aren’t alone in their sorrow…and maybe help me make sense of her passing (if I can hit the key strokes through welled up eyes)

    Brief history: In late October, my girlfriend’s son’s roommate was practicing lacrosse in the rain at Santa Clara University. He goes into the bushes to pee and finds this wet little kitty meowing. So he takes the kitten home to nurse and care for (who they thought was a boy) with 8 other roommates and various female friends. She was just a few days or weeks old. They named him JB (after some athlete I think) We don’t know how old she was when found or even how she got to the bush, but nonetheless, their big hearts just took care of her. From what I heard, they took her to the vet for shots and a checkup…and the vet informed them that the kitten was female and he thought she was a Siberian Forest breed.

    During the Thanksgiving holiday, Trevor (my girlfriend’s son), had to bring her home for us to babysit because all of his roommates lived out of state and couldn’t take her. We obviously fell in love with this little girl. She was so cute and fluffy, loved to be held, and played like crazy in the living room in the evenings. But off she went after the weekend back to school with Trevor.

    Christmas vacation comes around and we got to babysit this cute little girl again…for several weeks. Needless to say we got attached to her and my girlfriend said, “I love her.” So we asked to keep her and Trevor’s roommate said yes. She loved to crawl all the way to the top of our Christmas tree when the lights were on. We renamed her “Clara” since she was found in Santa Clara.

    She was such a great kitten. She was everywhere we were. And when we were gone, she was everywhere our yellow lab Roxy was. She would always play hide and go seek with herself and act like she was hiding from a friend. She would paw us when we’d walk by. Every time we came home, she was always at the bottom stairs to greet us…unless she had been sleeping, then she would sit up where ever she was looking grouchy. When it would rain, she’d watch the raindrops for hours.

    She was always an indoor only cat, but she would meow to go outside, so I would stay in the backyard and supervise her in the evening and weekends. I would always come home midday to let Roxy out to potty, and at the same time she would run out of the house. I would carry her back in when Roxy was done.

    In June, my girlfriend’s (Annie) dad was in the hospital for 30 days and she either went in to stay with him before and/or after work and evenings. So I took care of the girls (Roxy and Clara). But late June I had to travel for work, so she would do her best to take care of the animals, but some days she had to leave the back door open for Roxy. So the kitty now had access to the outside, but Clara would be home for dinner, then the door would be shut for the night. But when I returned, we went back to the routine where the door was always closed, and I would come home to let the “girls” out.

    I had to leave again on July 18th. So Annie was left to take care of the girls (Her dad ended up unexpectedly passing away on July 6th). She did the best she could, but had to leave the door open on occasion. On Wednesday the 27th, she informed me she hadn’t seen Clara in 24 hours. But the door was left open for her all night and she had come in to eat all of her food the night before, then left. We thought she had just went on an adventure…as cats do…and would come home three days later. I got home Friday mid-day and immediately started looking for her.

    We live in a city/town (Arroyo Grande, CA), and our particular neighborhood is on a hillside, so it looks sort of rural. Clara always went to a certain of area of our fence (NW corner) and I would chase her back. The first house I knocked on was the house on the other side of that corner. I asked if I could look around her yard. The owner had some issues and gave me false information about missing cats. So obviously I wasn’t welcome there.

    But I immediately went into beast mode to find Clara. With all of the online research I did and tips from friends who had gone through the same thing: I went for a walk at midnight calling her name, I posted on facebook and joined lost animal facebook groups in my area, I posted on craigslist, I made a report with our county animal services, I posted on our “Nextdoor” app/community, I contacted the Feline Network which is a local feral rescue/spay and release volunteer group. I created color flyers that went on every telephone pole and at every house in our vicinity (though I know cats don’t go far). Then I created a facebook ad “Missing Kitten” that would display to people living within 1 mile of my home (it ran for a week). I would also drive 30 minutes daily to the only animal shelter in our area/county, and call their evening hotline to see if Clara had been found. I knocked on doors and talked to neighbors. I would walk/run around the neighborhood looking for her every evening. My next door neighbor allowed me to look under his structures. The door would always be open for her to come home. First thing I’d do when I got home was enter through the backyard to see if she’d eaten her dry food (Her kitty bowl was sitting on our kitchen counter because the first day we had her Roxy tried to eat her food that was on the floor). I’d sit on my rooftop in the evening to see if I could see her playing in a neighbor’s yard. Oh and I created her own missing kitten facebook page. We live in a noisy neighborhood along the freeway, so I even practiced being alert to little sounds like birds and the crunching of leaves under my feet to try to be more alert to her meows if I were to walk past her.

    The strangest thing is starting around Monday, I was getting 2-3 calls per day, and they would all start like this, “Hi, my name is so and so. I got your flyer. I haven’t seen your cat. But I want to make you aware that there are coyotes in the neighborhood…” I appreciated their concern, so I always said, “I wasn’t aware, but thank you for your consideration. I will keep that in mind.” Her getting attacked just wasn’t on my radar. I believed she’d return home one day.

    As soon as Clara went missing, I asked my cat friend for advice. One thing she said was she lost her kitten 7 years ago, she contacted a pet psychic who told her that her kitten was at her old house a block away. Afterwards, she found her under the patio at her old house.
    On Tuesday morning, I had an 8am appointment with the Pet Psychic after I submitted Clara’s photo and $44 for a 10-minute phone call. While waiting for the call, I calmed my mind and shut out thoughts. In that space I got a feeling that Clara had found friends…and she was playing in someone’s yard or in someone’s house. The psychic confirmed this by stating (paraphrasing) “Clara is an adventurous kitty and she is exploring. She’s at a home with another cat and a small dog. She’s free to come and go. She said she’s smart and knows how to avoid predators. If you are looking toward your backyard, she is in the 2-3 o’clock position location maybe a 5-10 minute walk away, but maybe not that far. She’ll be home in a couple of days.” One thing I couldn’t figure out is that she said there were no roads. And there are roads, but I looked and talked to the owners of the houses between the roads and nobody had seen her.

    I continued my search and truly believed that she would return home. Scouring the neighborhood, checking websites, shelters and keeping her facebook page active and top of mind. The facebook ad was reaching over 1000 people per day.

    Multiple times per day I looked over my two neighbor’s yards for her. I looked for Clara, but didn’t look over the fence too long out of respect to my neighbors. I looked on Thursday night, and nothing. Friday night…it’s all such a blur. I didn’t look over the fences that night, because I think I had taken Roxy for a walk looking for her and/or spend time on the roof looking for her until it got dark…or maybe I was looking over another neighbor’s yard that had granted me access. That night, I put some cat tuna in the corner of our yard for her in case she was hungry. On Saturday morning the food was gone. I didn’t know who ate it, but some creature ate it. I was hoping it was her.

    My girlfriend went out of town Saturday, so I drove up to Big Sur along Hwy 1 just to get away and clear my head. (In the morning, I walked and ran around the neighborhood as usual with no sign of her). I left the door open for her. I returned at 3pm. Around 6 or 7, I went back to that corner of the fence and looked both ways. This time I seen some patches of fluffy and white. This was in the yard of the first neighbor that wouldn’t let me search her yard. She wasn’t home, so I immediately went out the front of our house to access her driveway to get back there. What I saw were tufts of hair. It was one of the most devastating realizations I have ever had. She has a unique coat, so I could tell some of the fur was hers. But there wasn’t enough fur for a whole kitten. Then I could see a warn area in the landscape bark leading up the hill. Then I went around several homes and cut through a vacant lot then up a private road to get to the house that was behind this house. I knocked on the door and a lady talked to me through a screen, but I couldn’t see her. I said “I’m looking for my kitten…” and she stopped me and said “I haven’t seen your kitten.” And I said, “Well, I think she’s been attacked, may I look in the corner of your yard over there?” She softened and said, “Yes, of course, go right ahead.” I walked over her ice plant towards the corner of the other neighbor’s yard. Then I came across the same looking spot, but different, with her tufts of fur, and her silky white hair that was slightly curly. I collected all of her fur that was dark or creamy that I knew was her unique color. I bent down and I cried as I picked up every piece and put it in my bag. As I walk away, the lady said “What did you find?” I said, “I’m afraid it’s her.”

    That night, I cried for hours. I couldn’t sleep so just laid there and cried. Trying to find some hope, I thought, “There was no blood, what if she just got into a bad cat fight?” because that’s what the scene looked like. So I looked up coyote attacks, to do some forensics, and those scenes didn’t look like what I saw. And I thought, maybe she’s hurt and hungry so I put more food out for her for the night. But I couldn’t stop thinking, “Why doesn’t she just come home?” Also, I thought, I’ve been looking over the fence for 8 days now and haven’t seen this area of fur before, maybe this is new. Maybe she was trying to come home when she got into a fight with a tomcat (Kitty didn’t have “street” skills, so she wouldn’t have come out of that fight the victor). Maybe she’s hiding and scared. Around midnight, I put the food by the fence, but where I could see it from the kitchen (hoping to talk her back home if I saw her). I wrote an updated flyer that stated: 1. She’s a Ragdoll Siamese (and not a Siberian), and that I think she has been in a catfight and still alive and may need medical attention. I was going to stay up all night watching the food, but went to sleep on the couch at 2:45am and awoke at 6:30am.

    I started passing out the flyers on Sunday morning. I got a few out before coming to the same lady’s house. I was feeling better as things had looked optimistic and my kitty was who knows where, but alive. I told her my new theory. But I said, “May I go back to that spot and just look again.” She said “Sure.” When I went back to that spot, I found a part of my kitty that was unmistakable. She had been attacked and she didn’t make it out alive. I bent down again and cried and cried and cried. I looked over her fence to another neighbors and found my poor kitty’s tail. I was able to reach through and grab it because the fence had been badly damaged from animals. The lady was nice as I walked out, but I just walked home passing the neighbors houses with my hand and shirt collar over my mouth and my head down, I just wanted to get home to cry. And I did. At the same time, a neighbor that I had asked (via Nextdoor app) a few days earlier to look in her huge lot responded to me saying “go right ahead.” I walked around it and quickly found the remaining remains of Clara. I collected all of the pieces like a science project. I don’t know why. But I’m glad I did. Not that I did anything with it yet, but one day I will.

    Annie still wasn’t home. So I came home, feeling gutted, and put all of Clara’s things away. Her litter box, food bowls, canned food, dry food, scratcher, everything that I loved so much that represented our little kitty that would never come home again. I just didn’t want Annie or her daughter to have to look at it. We love the kitty and will never forget her, but didn’t want to trigger the other girls in the house.

    I picked up Annie from a friend’s house after she returned from her trip. After telling me about her trip, and just before we got home I had to tell her about Clara. She said, “It’s all my fault for leaving the door open.” I said, “No, I’m to blame too for having to travel so much.”

    During the time she was missing, I was crying, just because I missed her. I missed spending time with her and petting her, and lifting her up to eat on the counter even though she could jump up there on her own. But now I cry because I’ll never see her again.

    Today is Wednesday night and I haven’t been able to work all week. I mean, I’ve been at work, but mostly crying in my locked office. Or taking off going for a hike and crying on the trail. I don’t know when I’ll ever feel better again. I feel like she relied on me to take care of her and I let her down. Had I not been out of town so much, I could have closed the door and checked on her. I feel so irresponsible for letting her out. She’s just a baby kitty. She didn’t have a mommy to teach her to stay away from mean animals. But she was so scared in the house whenever a guest came over, she would hide most of the time. And when she was in the back yard, it was like she played “I spy” all of the time practicing survival in the wilderness. I really thought she would take off from and hide from every crackle she heard or sense of a moving creature.

    It’s all still a mystery. Who came home to eat her food the first night? Why didn’t she just stay home like she always does? Was she deceased the whole time or was she coming home or near home when she was attacked. Oh God…and the attack. Was she just a ragdoll as the predator approached, or was she chasing bugs in the air and got caught off guard or was it an aggressive attack? It will always be a mystery.

    I think the last time I cried this much was in 1997 when my mother died of cancer. But then it’s easier isn’t it? People understand, grief is expected (And you’re weird or heartless if you don’t cry). But most people don’t know that my little kitty died. And those that do, are empathetic but don’t see it as debilitating as it has been. I loved my little kitty so much. I can’t believe she died that quick. There was no warning. No close calls. No scaring Clara so that she wouldn’t go over the fence again. No warnings so everyone in the neighborhood knew to lock up their animals. She was the most innocent little playful kitten. She had so much more life to live and so much more love to give and receive. She was never out to hurt anyone. She just wanted to play.

    Our home isn’t the same. It was tough enough with Annie’s dad passing, but now adding the loss of our kitten. Clara had a spark about her, and bit of excitement and entertainment. She was always doing crazy, silly things. And now there’s none of that. I keep looking out the backyard window, hoping to see her running and jumping, but then a second later the daydream ends and I know she’s never coming back. I feel that she died because of my negligence. I’ve made errors before, but this time it cost my kitty her life. Had I not traveled, had I made a secure area for her to stay in so Roxy can go outside when we weren’t home. She was such an adventurous kitten; I don’t know that she would have enjoyed staying in the house. But then, she would still be alive right now, sitting on this table as I type or walking across this keyboard and stepping on all of the wrong buttons.
    Now I’m downstairs in the kitchen and it’s just so quiet, so stale. I don’t know why I cry so much for her. I’ve cried before overs things, but soon after the emotions diminish, then I’m good. But like now, I can be fine one second, and then balling the next.

    I’ve tried to see the positives of this…like maybe she’s in a better place, but I think she had it really good here with us. I’m trying to think of all the positives to get me through, or something revealing or anything to take away the emptiness I feel because of this unnecessary death. Or if she had to leave for me to learn an important lesson. A lot of the stories I’ve read on TDK, the little kitties are now in a better place because of their illness or another occurrence.

    Well I think I’ll end it here. Nothing is going to bring back my little kitten and this really hurts. It hurts knowing that I’ll never see my kitten again. I miss her so much.

    Post thoughts….
    Since we found her alone in the bushes, maybe she had a wandering spirit. Maybe her nature is to be a wanderer. Maybe she wandered away from her mommy to go out and play on that first day. Maybe she was always going to be a little naughty that way. I’ll never know. I don’t know, I just love life myself, and think she did too, and just can’t imagine how her short lived life can be justified.

    Reflection: (I was so desperate, that I wanted to do anything in my power and ability to use all of the resources to find Clara. The only thing I wouldn’t have done again is contacted the pet psychic.
    Also, I could have pleaded with the first neighbor to look around her yard. But at the time I was uncertain as to where Clara might be and thought that she would come home eventually
    )
    Here is her “missing” page with some photos. https://www.facebook.com/Missing-Kitten-Help-Clara-come-home-1570397759921941/photos

    #850651

    CatWScotia
    Participant

    I’m so sorry to read of your loss, and the awful pain you are going through now. Most of us here at TDK have lost dear friends, some being the gentle end to a long and happy life, others sudden and shocking and wrenching your heart into pieces.

    It hurts, it always hurts, even when you know the end is coming. Nobody can take the pain away from you right now. In some ways you need it. You need to express your feelings, awful as they are. But it is a stage along the way to healing, however long that will take.

    I don’t mean that you will be healed of your love for Clara. That will never leave you – you will always have a Clara-shaped place in your heart, and she will live on with you into the future. In time the good memories will come to the surface again, and you will be able to remember her and smile. You have so many happy memories of her time with you. Those are precious, and they will ease your pain a little as they return to you.

    Try not to blame yourself for what happened. We can’t see ahead and know what to do to protect our pets in all situations – I know that only too well myself. However Clara met her end, she is not suffering now. All pain and distress have left her, and she is at peace. While she was with you she knew she was loved and cared for. You gave her that blessing.

    Don’t ever be afraid to cry when you are hurting. Take good care of yourself, and know that you have sympathetic friends here at TDK when you need us.

    #850657

    Kittyzee
    Participant

    Johnny, my heart is broken for you. I too, know the loss, pain and heartbreak of losing a kitten and to attacks. I live in the country and was ignorant to knowing that when kittens are tame and comfortable with dogs, they can become perfect prey for a predator. But none of that matters now, the way she died, and I hope you can put that away from your heart and mind eventually. CWS is right, there is a perfect place made in your heart where Clara will always live. You can recall the wonderful times with her and will eventually be able to think of her with a smile instead of this heart wrenching sadness. I am here to tell you that you are not alone in your grief. If I can reach across the miles and send healing white light to you, then that’s what I am doing. Remember, she was not just a pet, she was a beloved family member. There are lots of people who do not understand, but many who do. Please feel free to come here and express your grief, sadness, and memories.

    #850668

    Kittyzee
    Participant

    I just wanted to let you know I am still sending healing light to you, and I also looked at the pictures of precious Clara. What a beautiful sweet little cat! Please don’t torture yourself with things that you think you could have done. No one knows why these things happen the way they do. God knows I too am one who always wants answers as to ‘why’. Some things just don’t make sense, which makes it harder I think. The mind cannot justify what happened which makes it so hard for the heart to stop aching. Know that you are in my prayers tonight.

    #850669

    Moonshadow_NZ
    Moderator

    Johnny I am so sorry you lost your beautiful Clara in such terrible circumstances. She was certainly a beautiful cat and I can understand how she stole your heart. You must have so many wonderful memories of Clara playing and cuddling with you.
    We have had TDK members in the past who have lost their precious kits in similar circumstances and yes it is hard to bear at first but when they were ready they got new kits, not replacements for their lost ones but a new furkit to help heal the loss.
    Sending you Healing Light and please do not feel you were at fault at all because you weren’t.

    #850729

    Johnny
    Participant

    Thank you all for the replies. I knew when I found TDK that it was a kind and loving community. I’ve taken all of your words to heart. I’m still saddened, but getting through it. Your words certainly have helped.

    #853578

    laura
    Participant

    I am so sorry for your loss,be thankful for all the beautiful memories you had.

    #854378

    Johnny
    Participant

    A little over 3 months later. It still hasn’t gotten any easier. I still miss her. The sad thing is our 14.5 year old lab (Roxy) got violently ill and we had to put her down just a few weeks after we lost Clara. Now we have an empty house. I try to stay upbeat and focus on the beautiful things I remember about her (and Roxy), but I just miss everything about her. I’ve been wanting to console others on this site, but it just makes me cry when I read stories of others losing their kitten. I was going through my YouTube channel and came across this video I did that she ended up being in. Just thought I’d share: https://youtu.be/-Dni2pCWF2w

    #854379

    katzenjammer
    Participant

    Sorry for your losing Roxy so soon after losing Clara. 🙁 I do hope that eventually your grief lessens. But sadly there is no timeline.

    For sure I get how it tears you up reading of other’s losses. Please, no guilt over not feeling able to console others. You need to take care of yourself. And it might be too soon to say this, but perhaps when the time is right, and only you’ll know when/if this comes, you might consider welcoming another furry into your home. KJ

    #854384

    Kittyzee
    Participant

    Johnny, I just watched your video and Clara with her sweet little self drinking your water, biting your arm as you are shaking your shake. *sigh* I’m so sorry for everything and the way that it happened. She really is a beautiful, curious, sweet natured cat. She reminds me of my Leona who is always in the kitchen sniffing out what I am doing. I hope you can find some relief from your grief soon, but we are here if you need us. ((hugs))

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