Today I would like to share a very special story. It is the story of Molly’s passing as written by Patti Walker, who had the privilege to share in her kitty’s final moments and be witness to Molly’s transition. A pet’s natural death at home is often not an option, but it is definitely an option, one to keep in mind when the time comes. I know I will. Thank you, Patti, so much for sharing your experience with us.
The Cat in the Hat Box
Although I grew up with cats and dogs, I had no experience of a pet dying naturally at home. It wasn’t until well into my adult years that I had the privilege of being invited over to my friend Sandy’s home to say goodbye to her beloved cat Picou as he lay next to her in bed. When Picou passed away peacefully later that day I made an intention that if it was possible for my sweet cat Molly to pass this way when it was her time then this is what I wished for us.
Five years later on a snowy January day when Molly was just a few months away from turning 16 it was her time. For about a year or so previously despite my best care and that of our holistic vet’s, Molly’s health began to deteriorate as she entered the geriatric stage of her life. As challenging as that year was it gave me time to grieve and prepare and to treasure each day I had left with my beautiful little Abyssinian as I came to terms with the inevitable. The final diagnosis was cancer of the kidneys and a prognosis of a few months at best which could only be achieved through daily subcutaneous hydration and administration of steroids to keep down the inflammation. Molly had been treated with homeopathic remedies throughout her life but it seemed at this point more aggressive measures were needed. However, aggressive measures were not what I wanted for her in her fragile state, nor did I want her to be poked at and prodded anymore or to make any more trips to the vet, all of which were very stressful for her.
At this point on Sandy’s recommendation I turned to the guidance of a holistic vet who was experienced in palliative care and who made house-calls to support us during this time. Because I no longer wanted to give Molly any more needles the vet gave me a prescription for an oral “chicken flavour” steroid that I could put in her food. As I walked down Broadway to the pharmacy to fill the prescription I noticed a display of beautiful hat boxes in a store window. I went in and bought one of the hat boxes along with a beautiful cozy looking satin pillow to place inside. When I arrived home with my purchases I said to Molly, “ I bought you a bed for your final resting place and some chicken flavoured medicine. I am no longer going to force any kind of treatment on you, so if you take the medicine in your food we may have a couple more months together, if you don’t take it than I will be brave and let go of you sooner. It is your choice.”
Molly did not take the medicine. Not only did she not take the medicine but she no longer had any interest in food altogether. And I even bought her all her favourites out of desperation to try to get her to eat anything… ice cream, cheese, pepperoni pizza, and when she wouldn’t even eat her most favourite food in the world; barbeque roasted chicken I knew without a doubt that her time was near.
I spoke to the vet and he told me what to expect next, that first she would stop eating and then she would stop drinking water. And that once this happened and because she was just a petite little 5 pound Aby that she would most likely die within a day or so. He knew of my intention of allowing her to die naturally at home and he supported me in this decision and also assured me that although she felt crumby, she was not in pain.
So now it was time for me to prepare myself. I felt like I went into a period of grace over the next few days and that the universe provided Molly and I with all the love and support we needed to be guided through this transition.
On the day before her transition I started sinking in to a state of resistance and depression, I didn’t want my precious ‘little Baba’ to die. And just then my spiritual teacher at the time came over and snapped me out of this state of mind. She said, if you are interested in enlightenment you need to be present right now for this beautiful being and accept death. She added that Molly was okay with dying and that is was me who needed to be okay with it. Her words brought me in to a place of presence and acceptance. And since she had also been a nurse she told me the type of breathing that would happen about an hour before Molly’s passing. I was instructed to allow Molly to take the lead and if she didn’t come to me to be held or touched than to give her space as she left her body.
The last day of Molly’s life was a beautiful snowy January day. The city was quiet and I was able to take the time off work that I needed. There was an aura of peace in the air. I called the vet to let him know that Molly had stopped drinking the night before. He said he was just a phone call away if we ran into any trouble or needed any assistance in helping her pass. Molly spent most of that day curled up in one of her favourite spots in the spare room by the heater. She did want to be left alone which was a bit of a challenge for me since we had always been so close – she used to hold on to me like a little monkey and even liked giving kisses right on the lips. She had always been my little shadow.
My friend Padma, who is a gifted psychic, came over early that day to offer us some support and energy healing. She told me that Molly was already about two-thirds out of her body and because her focus was now on the formless dimension she needed her space. She advised me to allow her this space so she would not feel pulled back into her body. After my friend left I sat in the living room in prayer and meditation but would go into the spare room occasionally to check on Molly. Late in the afternoon when I went in I saw she was lying on her side in the middle of the room and I could see and hear that she had gone into her final ‘step’ breathing. So at that point I lay on my side next to her and began giving her Reiki, my hands just above her. I am not a person who has had many mystical experiences in my life but as we lay there I felt that we were being held in the loving embrace of angel wings.
Then came Molly’s last breath. With one huge inhalation she puffed up, fur fully erect the way cats do when they’re trying to look big. And with this inhalation her body expanded to reach my hands and then next a full surrendered release of her life force on her final exhalation…. and then silence…..
I picked her up and curled her in my arms and hugged and kissed her good-bye. I was surprised that I didn’t feel grief but only love in my heart and tears of gratitude to have been able to share with her this most sacred and profound experience of being present as she transitioned in to formlessness. My sweet little 5 pound Abyssinian turned out to be one of the greatest spiritual teachers of my life.
I placed her curled up body in to the hat box on top of the satin pillow. She looked beautiful as she lay there like she was just taking a peaceful little cat nap. I called the vet to let him know and he told me that if I wanted it was okay to keep the body for a couple of days and that this can sometime help with closure. Yes, this is what I wanted and I could call him when I was ready for him to pick up Molly’s body for cremation.
The blessings continued. My friend Sandy was the first to come over, then my eldest sister Debbie who is the embodiment of loving-kindness dropped everything and came and stayed with me for a couple of days. My dear sister Teresa came by with red roses, one of which we added to the hat box as well as anointing her with frankincense. We set up the spare room as a shrine to honour and celebrate Molly – pictures, flowers, candles, peaceful music and of course Molly in the centre of the room in her hat box. More friends came by to pay their respects. We had a wake for Molly with friends and family and we ate her favourite meal – roasted barbeque chicken.
Dr. C. came by in a couple of days to pick up Molly’s body. He was running a bit late because of the snow and while Sandy and I waited for him I read the letter that I had written to Molly for my final goodbye. We sat with Molly between us and I told her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her.
When Dr. C. arrived and saw Molly he said, “Well, I’ve heard of the Cat in the Hat but never the Cat in the Hat Box!” He said it in such a spontaneous and open-hearted way that we all broke out into laughter. We chatted for awhile and when I was ready I placed Molly into his capable hands. As he carried her out into the snowy evening I felt grateful that I had this time for gentle and peaceful closure knowing that my sweet little Baba would always be with me, tucked in all cozy right in my heart.
So this has been a long story but one I have been meaning to write for some time now and when Marta asked me if I would, I finally felt inspired to do so. I wanted to write about it to let people know of the possibility, when the circumstances allow for it, for our beloved pet companions to transition naturally at home. Of course every situation is unique and many times assistance is needed to help an animal pass. It’s just good to know that there are options.
Patti Walker CCH, RSHom(NA)
Thank you Marta for encouraging me to write about Molly. And thank you for your healing hands and for all your help with my current beloved 90 pound German Shepard companion Rocky. Love comes in many forms!