25 February 2009

the story of Jack the Yogi Cat

Seventeen years ago I saved him from running down a rain sewer in Texas. We were living outside of Dallas and a neighbor knocked on the door and asked if the gray and white mackerel tabby frolicking in the grass was our cat. We stepped outside and he was running around like crazy the way kittens do and I saw him head toward the long opening of the rain sewer in the gutter. I had seen adult cats jump in and out of that spot but I knew a little kitten probably couldn't jump back out, so just when he was about to dive in I grabbed his tail and put him in my arms.

We already had Sam-Dog, a big black Lab, and Sox (named after the Chicago White Sox), another rescued Texas street cat who lived in a pile of bricks -- a "marmalade" tabby with white socks and orange swirls on his sides. I rescued Jack in July and Sox walked into the house in March, estimated age was 6 months. I could tell you how Sox came into our lives, but this is Jackson Theodore Kat's story.

Not knowing yet if Jack had any diseases that would infect Sox, I put him in the yard with food and water. I knew then he was a cat who was happy just "being." At night he would crawl up on a window ledge and sleep and during the day he would hang out in the yard, he never wanted to leave. I took him to the vet and found out he was loaded the fleas and tapeworms. The vet gave him a shot for the tapeworms and I gave him a fleabath when I got home. I let him stay in the house after he got his shots. The Hubs wanted to name him Smokey but I said everyone names gray cats Smokey, that's boring, besides, he looks like a Jack.

Jack was smaller than Sam-Dog's head and when Sam went up to sniff him, the two pound kitten hissed and the 80 pound Lab turned around and walked away. I knew then he was a fighter, and that fighting spirit helped him through all his physical afflictions.

Sam-Dog, Sox, and Jack all got along and we eventually moved back to Chicago, us and the old Lab and the two rescued street cats. Sox and Jack would always sleep together, they were street brothers.

Jack grew into a big cat, almost 20 pounds. But fat cats are prone to diabetes and fatty liver disease. He developed FLD before he was 10 years old. Just like the link says, he had stopped eating and was losing weight. The vet treated him and when I got him home he still wasn't eating so I had to force-feed him with special food. I'd put him inside a pillow case with just his head sticking out and put a syringe full of special food down his throat. After a few days of this, I think Jack said "enough of this shit" and he started eating on his own. He regained some weight, but was never a fat cat again. He was just happy to be.

I can't remember exactly how he was diagnosed with diabetes but I gave him daily insulin shots for about 10 years. I can't tell you how many all-day glucose tests he's had over the years, and he had been on three different brands of insulin. Just like a human diabetic, he had crashes and I had to rush him to the vet. Once he was being boarded at the vet while we were on vacation and he crashed. To this day I think the vet tech made a mistake and gave him too much insulin because there was another diabetic cat there also named Jack -- I think they almost killed him. In any event, the vet called us and we flew home from New Mexico that day.

When we got to the vet, he told us Jack was recovered but blind. Oh well, I thought, we'll have a blind cat, no big deal. As soon as we got him home, Jack started jumping up on the counters begging for food! I moved my fingers in front of his eyes and watched how his eyes reacted -- he wasn't blind! But at the vet he just stared, unblinking. We're convinced that he faked being blind just to come home! When we got him home it was like he had never been sick at the vet. As it turned out, we could never board him again because he would stop eating, he would go on a hunger strike, and we eventually found someone to come over and take care of the cats if we went away. The reality was that our long vacations dwindled down to none because of Jack. In the last few years, however, I finally found someone who would come and give him his shot, I taught her how to do that.

In the last year, he's needed two insulin shots a day and I saw how diabetes ravaged his body, just like it does a human. He was also arthritic and I gave him shots once a month for that. The Hubs sawed off one side of a litter box so Jack could walk right in, so he did not have to lift his arthritic back legs. We did all that we could and as long as he wasn't showing pain, as long as I could see that he was happy just to be, I let him live his life of eating -- he loved avocados and peas and fresh meat, of course -- and sleeping on his chair. He could not get around too much anymore, his world was the kitchen and the basement. Jackson Theodore Kat was already skin and bones and yesterday he stopped eating, I saw a stagger in his walk. I knew it was time. I think he knew it too because he did not fight getting into his travel case. And he was always a fighter.

The vet sedated him and I kept my hand on his heart. Even with all his ills his heart always pumped strong. As she gave him the death needle I chanted OM MANI PADME HUM. I saw the suffering leave his gray and white face and he looked like a kitten again. Even the vet said she saw his eyes get wide and then he was at peace.

It is a law of physics that energy can neither be created nor destroyed so it follows that what is never born can never die. As a practicing Buddhist, I know this, that is why I do not fear death. My body will die but "I" will never die. I know that Jack the Yogi Cat has already been reborn as a higher life form.

And if Buddhist cosmology is all wrong, there is still that little bit of Christian left inside me who likes to believe that when we die all our pets will come running over the Rainbow Bridge to greet us.

Either way, we will see each other again, me and Sam-Dog and Jack the Yogi Cat.


  1. Linda
    That was touching! I had to do that and any way you look at it , it is not easy. You did it right! It is funny you say that about life and death! I have a lot to do when I die. That is just the start!

  2. I feel just this way about every animal I've ever been lucky enough to share a life with.

  3. I'm sorry you lost your pet. They truly are gifts in our lives. Hari Om Tat Sat!!

  4. I let a tear of happiness fall from my eye near the end of the story. How absolutely blessed you were to have Jack in your life, he too was more than lucky to have you part of his journey. Thanks you for sharing.

  5. I thought I commented on this post but I don't see it here so here I go again. Maybe I got the word you type up wrong or something.

    Anyway, my heart goes out to you Linda-Sama. I lost my kitty recently, as you know, and every morning I get up and look for her for a minute until I remember she has passed on. Energy is-it goes from one form to another but is never destroyed. What a comforting thought.

  6. So sorry you had to let Jack go but now he is at peace. I too like to think that he will live on, along with all the pets I've had as well. He certainly had a good life with you and you took such great care of him.

  7. That was too much for me. I am so sorry but happy that you had him in your life and you were in his.

    Peace and Blessings

  8. Saw your post over at Utah's and thought I'd come over!
    What a beautiful entry. We rescued our cat as well. Mysterio was wandering around the neighbourhood a few years ago. One of the neighbours was threatening to take him "out to the middle of nowhere and dump him"..so I had to take serious action.
    We'd never had a cat before but now I don't know how we lived without one. Great pets!
    Loved the story of Jack faking blindness just to come home. That is pretty friggin cute. :)
    Take care,

  9. Your post brought a tear to my eye because I can totally relate. I had to put one of my dogs down back in Aug 2009. She was my faithful companion for 14.5 years. At 12 she was diagnosed with a heart condition that kills most dogs in a matter of months. But not her. I put her on a raw food diet and she stayed with me for a couple more years. During the last year or so of her life she would eat for me but then go on hunger strikes whenever I'd leave for vacation. I think that with the last trip I took she decided that she was just done. I know that, that little one came into my life for a reason. I will always be connected to her. Thank you for sharing your story here.

  10. Linda, I am so sorry to hear about Jack. One can only know the pain when one has been thru the same. I have...with my little Dachshund, Maggie. I got her when she was 3 weeks old. She would always sleep with me on my bed, have her own code language to communicate, know just how to melt anyone's heart...she was totally my baby.

    One day, when she was seven, she hurt her back , as as Dachshunds have long spines, the damage was severe. Her hind legs got paralyzed and we tried everything possible to get her to walk again. Went to every possible vet in Delhi (India), but nothing was working on her.

    I took off from work and sat by her side for days, along with Zorba, our German Shepard (also my baby), who was the love of her life. And she of his. They were inseparable. Despite their size difference they could just not be parted. They would eat out of the same bowl, and she would bully him and eat all the chunks of meat...he never seemed to mind. she would just grab on to his tail every time she wanted to go down the stairs ...made he job easier.every time they sat, or slept during the day, she would curl up and sleep with her head on him...it was just amazing love.

    And then suddenly, there she was, this frisky little angel, lying immobile in a basket. She could not eat (was mostly on drip), and as a result , he would not either.

    Few nights later, I woke up hearing the most excruciating cries. As though two, even three dogs were crying simultaneously. It was eerie. I went running to her, and the entire family was up by then. Each of those cries and sounds was coming only from her. Like her soul was being brutally shredded. She has eaten her own hind leg completely...we never could really know why. perhaps there was no sensation and she wanted to feel something!

    Zorba sat right next to her whimpering...desperate...looking at us for help...pleading...that we do something. I wished we were not human...that we were God, whoever that is.

    We rushed her to the vet, the only one who was willing to see her at that time of the night. There was nothing we could do. Her time had come. We had to put her to sleep.

    Three days later, Zorba died. Whoever said "nobody died of a broken heart" !

  11. namaste, Bindiya, thank you for visiting here! please come back!

    such a story you have, it touched my heart.

    yes, people who say animals are "just animals" without feelings are just wrong, they have no idea!

    shanti to you, sister.



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