The Transition of Smokie the Cat

September 28, 2012 Christine McDonald Animal ConnectionsAnimals in transition

Smokie came to live with us when the children were young and wanting and needing to care for a cat. My husband brought her home. A coworker had rescued her from two Rottweiler dogs playing with a black kitten in the back of a pickup truck. He actually rescued her from the jaws of one of the dogs. Brave man! She stayed in the office for a few days while they decided what to do with her.

Smokie the catWe all fell in love with this little black kitten with a touch of orange fur on her chest, hence the name Smokie. She became part of the family along with a hamster, another cat Mittens, Maggie the dog and a horse. The kids loved her and carried her around, played with her and slept with her. She was an inside outside cat and enjoyed hanging out in the garden. Amazingly enough she learned to live with the dog. She was a survivor and meant to be in our care.

The family grew and changed. New cats, new dogs, kids grew up and graduated. Smokie remained loyal. She was pretty malnourished when we got her and never grew to be very big cat-staying around 5 pounds. One of the most amazing things she could do was just relax and melt in your arms. She would just become a part of you, like relaxed animal Velcro. I can’t ever remember her using her claws or becoming aggressive. I guess she learned to trust despite the fear and trauma of an unusual rescue.

As she became older and kids left the house she became very attached to my husband. If he was relaxed on the couch or chair she was right there in Bob’s lap. She liked the company and warmth and Bob enjoyed her company too. She became Bob’s cat—stuck to his lap or chest like Velcro.

Up until a few months ago Smokie remained healthy and rarely had vet visits. We started to notice her become less steady on her feet but she was getting older. Shortly after Christmas we noticed swelling around her jaw. A round of antibiotics did not make a difference and we suspected cancer. She had difficulty eating dry food and she would often look very uncomfortable and not putting any pressure on her right jaw. She was in pain. It became apparent Smokie would be transitioning soon.

I don’t like to use the word die or death because in my belief animals have souls and the soul does not go anywhere, it just leaves the body or transitions into the invisible realms. Bob and I discussed her transition, it was not easy and we had different opinions. Surgery or cancer treatment was not an option. We both knew it was her time to go. But when we discussed the how and when it was more complicated. We talked about euthanizing Smokie and also putting her on pain medication.

As often times happen these things never occur at convenient times. I was headed to New Mexico for an extended period and would not be around to care for her. Even though I was gifted in being able to communicate with animals, it was difficult for me to connect with Smokie at this time. I was to close to her and felt blocked in really knowing what she wanted.

A vet visit was scheduled for the next day and the possibility of Smokie not coming home was becoming a reality. My philosophy is to let the natural process of death unfold. There is so much fear around death that this rarely happens. Our fear of suffering and pain are projected onto the animal and we think that by putting them out of their pain and suffering, it will ease ours. In my own experience with many animals it may help to numb the pain but afterward there is guilt, loss, anguish, grief, remorse, or inadequacy about our decision. The loss of an animal often brings up all of the other unresolved losses in our lives compounding the issue even more. And it is uncomfortable watching our beloved animal companions leave their bodies.

I connected with Smokie the day before the vet visit and let her know she needed to be prepared for her transition. I told her there was a possibility the vet would euthanize her. I wanted her to know.

As I looked at her sleeping on her favorite blanket I asked her to give me a sign that she was ready to transition and that she would like help. I told her if she would like to stay longer I would talk to Bob about pain medication. I got up to put food in her dish, and called her. She was deep in sleep and did not come. It was simple gesture but she always came to the food dish. My intuition told me this was the sign of Smokie wanting help.

My understanding is the body processes need time to disengage and if this is not in process the transition can be more difficult. Our attachment to them also adds another level of complexity. For any animal, death is the ultimate surrender at a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional level. Guides from the invisible realms assist with the process. If it happens too suddenly the preparation is incomplete and the transition through the death portals are more prolonged or complicated.

I have been shown that the birth and death portals are the same. Just as we enter this earthly realm from our mothers by cutting the birth cord, invisible cords that keep the soul attached to the body need to be severed at death. Cords to the gut, heart and brain and others need to dissolve for the transition to happen with ease. Animals have soul and spirit guides that assist with the process. Because of the density of the body it takes time for this process.

Bob and I spent the evening with Smokie, remembering all of the ways she had been a wonderful companion. She was the longest lived cat we had ever had and so there were many memories. Our emotional attachment to the animal can also hold them in a body.

There are several things you can do to let go of emotions and support yourself and the animal as they prepare for transition out of a body:

  • Acceptance, Acknowledgement and Appreciation.
  • Accept that death is a natural process. Because animals have shorter lives it gives us a wonderful opportunity to face death and let go of our attachment to them and the misunderstandings around the loss of loved ones.
  • Acknowledging emotions as this process unfolds. Simply naming them as they come up and sending them off with a prayer. Overwhelm, grief, loss, sadness, anxiety, emptiness etc.
  • Appreciating them for all of the ways animals have loved us can enrich the experience and open our hearts.
  • I chose to support Smokie through her transition by staying in meditation at our home. Of course we did not know the outcome of the vet visit and I was trusting Bob. I sensed I would not see her in a body as Bob put her favorite blanket in the cat carrier. As I sat in meditation I could feel her leave the body. She was on her way back to the oneness.

It has been several weeks since her transition and I wanted to check in with her. Animals in spirit are often very willing to communicate with us.

Smokie was very easy to connect to. I think she really wanted her story told. I asked her how her journey was out of her body. She told me she could feel my presence in meditation and it helped her let go of her body and she was very happy to be out of a cancer ridden body.

I had an image of her rubbing up against my pant legs, purring away and felt a mix of grief in not being able to pick her and tell her how much I loved and joy in seeing how happy she was. Oddly I found myself asking for her forgiveness in all the times I did not pick her up and cuddle her because I was in a hurry or irritable or whatever. I could feel how she wanted me to slow down and be in the moment with her and I felt comforted by her as I let the tears and sobs come. The sadness seemed to be rooted in all the times I chose a busy life over stopping and being, just being even if it was just for two minutes with a loving cat companion. I felt my heart soften and open to her love and my appreciation for her presence in our lives grew. I thanked her and said goodbye knowing I could call on her again.

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