Violet, 1997-2011

Ingrid and I have some sad news. Our cat Violet died today, of cancer in her lungs and her thoracic cavity.

This both was and was not sudden. Violet was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, so we always knew that a recurrence was a possibility. But the treatment went well, and she was in good health for a long time. In the last few months, her energy has declined somewhat, and in the last few weeks her appetite was somewhat off, but nothing that indicated that anything was seriously wrong. But Wednesday night when Ingrid got home, she hadn’t eaten anything all day, and her breathing was labored. We took her to the vet, and the X-rays found fluid in her lungs and a mass in her chest. They were able to stabilize her long enough for her oncologist to see her Thursday morning, but it was clear that there was no hope for treatment or even palliative care. We had her euthanized Thursday afternoon. We had hoped to bring her home first, but her breathing and general condition were not strong enough for that to make sense for her, so we stayed with her while she was euthanized in the hospital. She went very peacefully and very quickly.

Ingrid and I are obviously extremely sad about this. Violet has been with us for fourteen years, and the house seems very empty without her. It also comes at a bad time for many reasons (not that there’s ever a good time for this). But knowing that we have the support and understanding of our friends, family, colleagues and community means a great deal. I may not be my usual self for a little while: I may not be able to blog on my usual schedule; I may not be able to respond as quickly to emails and comments and tech issues as I normally am; and I’m likely to be less cheerful and more short-tempered than usual. I hope you all will understand and will be patient with me. I’ll be posting photos and a proper obituary later on; right now, I just don’t have it in me.

And finally: It pains me that I have to say this, but past experience has taught me that I do.

If there are any religious or spiritual believers reading this blog: Please, please, please, do not say that you’re praying for us. Do not say that Violet is looking down on us. Do not say that we’ll see her again someday. Do not say that this is part of God’s plan. Please do not offer any “comfort” of a religious, spiritual, or supernatural nature. I do not find these ideas comforting. I find these ideas profoundly upsetting. If you wouldn’t tell someone who’s Jewish that their dead loved one is in the arms of Jesus Christ their personal lord and savior, please don’t tell an atheist that they’ll see their dead loved one in the afterlife. I am happy to discuss and debate religion at another time and place, but I do not want to do it in my cat’s obituary. Any comments of this nature will be disemvoweled, and the commenters will be banned. (And to the rest of you: If anyone ignores this request, please do not engage with them. Please ignore them, and let me handle it with comment moderation.) Thanks.

Violet, 1997-2011
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73 thoughts on “Violet, 1997-2011

  1. 2

    Oh no, I’m so sorry. Losing my cat was horrible, I’m sorry you have to go through this. But she must have had such a great life! She must have been very happy. Hope you and Ingrid heal well.

  2. 5

    Condolences to you and Ingrid. What helped me heal when my beloved animals died (I’ve lost too many) were the lovely memories I had of sharing my life with them. I hope your memories help you both heal.

  3. 7

    I’m so sorry. You were lucky to have had her, and she was lucky to have had the both of you. A loving home is all a cat really wants, and she had one.


  4. Jim

    My wife Amy and I have not been reading here very long, but wanted to say that we’re very sorry to hear this news. We’ve been there a few times (and will again at least 3 more times), and it’s never easy.

  5. 10

    I’m so very sorry for you and Ingrid. I’m sorry it came up so quickly and you didn’t have time to emotionally prepare. If there’s anything us readers can do, don’t hesitate to let us know.

    p.s. I share her name, in real life, so I loved it when you posted about Violet

  6. Ian

    This post stirred some unpleasant memories… my own beloved dog died suddenly 6 months ago. I understand the brutal blow this represents, and I wish you two the best.

  7. 12

    That’s so sad for you both. Our pets come with quirks and ways that endear them to us in often profound ways. And then it’s the simple things; their little routine as the curl up, the way they stare into the distance from a windowsill, or how they rub against your leg and send you flying when you’re trying to feed them.

    I wish you both well. My wife and I are going to introduce my 10 and 7 year old daughters to a kitten shortly, and I’m hoping that it’s the start of a lifelong appreciation of Cats, which let’s face it rule the world and always have.

    Big love xxxx

  8. 17

    I’m so sorry for your loss. We’ve had these cats for less than a year and it’s hard to think how I’d bear losing them; I can’t imagine what it would be like after sharing their company for more than a decade.

  9. 18

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your very loved animal friend.

    It sounds like you did everything you could for her and gave her a great life.

    *Hugs*to both of you.

  10. 19

    My condolences to both you and Ingrid on the loss of your beloved Violet. It’s amazing how important these furballs become in our lives. I hope you honor her with remembering all the good times you had with her.

  11. 20

    *huge hug*

    I’ve been through this process with 5 of our cats , Cancer, Kidney disease, accidents , and it never gets any easier , we loved them all , despite the fact that they came as a package deal with our house, (long story!) .

    We remember that we gave them a warm secure and loving home , looked after them as well as we could , and when the end came , made the decision to let them go to avoid prolonging their suffering, which is all that a loving owner can do.

    My father loved animals , being born on a farm, but he never owned a pet, I asked him once why , “They break your heart when they go” he said , that’s true I suppose , but the joy they bring is worth some pain

    I’m sorry for your loss , but it will get easier, and all that will remain is the joy

  12. 21

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss. Our pets are family and it is only fitting that we grieve for them and draw strength from those who love us while we do. I hope that you may find some comfort in knowing that just as Violet brought such love and comfort into your life, so too did you both to hers. When those we love are gone it is that knowledge that permits us to open our hearts once more. Heal well and love again with happy memories in your hearts.

  13. 22

    My deepest condolences on losing your beloved Violet. I know it’s a profound loss to you both.

    Until I lost my cat, Tisha (12 years old) I thought I would be pragmatic about the entire event. However, even though 4 years has gone I still miss that damned cat! Her absence left a much larger hole in my life than I ever expected.

    It just sucks that these events make up the building blocks of our lives. As with most things, time does make the loss more bearable. Still, there are moments, like now, when the grief can still feel really raw. Again, I am very sorry for your loss!!

  14. 24

    I remember when I had to put my own Beast to sleep a few years back, and every time I hear about someone else’s cat dying, I tear up a little. I have two new cats now, Xander and Willow, and I love them, but the Beast will always be special. You have my sympathies.

  15. 27

    Very, very long time lurker, first time poster.

    You have my condolences. I know how it feels, 2 years ago my cat was run over by a car and his spine was broken. It survived but had to be euthanized. Poor guy.

    At least you’ve given her the best life a cat could wish for.

  16. 29

    I am so sorry for your loss. We lost our eldest cat over three years ago, and I still miss her every day. There will never be another one like her.

    Four-footed children do break your heart when they go, but ’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have purred at all. Excuse me; I have something in my eye…

  17. 30

    I’m sorry for your loss. The only possible consolation is that you can know that your Violet was well-loved for as long as possible, and then you eased her pain at the end.

    I’m going to go give my cat kids some extra love and treats in memory of Violet.

  18. 32

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My wife and I have lost a couple of cats in the last few years (one was somewhat expected, but both were rather sudden). It is never easy. We still miss them, but it is more with fondness rather than pain these days.

  19. 33

    I am so, so, so sorry for your loss. Somehow it’s almost harder when our furchildren and furfriends go than when it happens to people… I know there are no words that can help, but please know that you are all in my heart and thoughts.

  20. 34

    I’m so sorry! I’m a big cat lover myself.
    I wish all the best to you and Ingrid. I sincerely hope the support from your family and friends will help you through this ordeal. My condolences.

  21. 36

    You have my deepest sympathies – a pet is indeed a part of one’s family, and just as beloved as any son or daughter. I hope your memories of her help to comfort you at this time.

    My own cat, Sumomo, is preying for her. Being a cat, she’s preying on birds. Being an indoor cat, she’s having trouble with these things called “windows”, which keep her from getting her claws on the birds she’s preying upon (which is a GOOD thing, as all of these birds outweigh her). But she’s making the effort.

  22. 37

    I’m so sorry. It seems to me that there’s something particularly profound about loving a cat (or dog or other short-living animal) because as humans we know that loss is an inevitable part of the deal – and we choose to love anyway. Because love is worth it.

  23. 38

    It’s amazing how much emotion we pour into our non human companions and how much that teaches us. Glad that you, Ingrid and your support network recognizes the depth of your loss.

  24. 39

    As an avid kitty lover, you have my condolences. I have an elderly kitty that likely has no long to go, and am not looking forward to that.

  25. 43

    Please accept my most heartfelt condolences. I know it is not easy to say goodbye. Thank you for making her life safe & happy, & her death, peaceful.
    My last kitty died in the spring, and I am now catless for the first time in 36 years. When the first one died (she was 16.5), I kept “seeing” her out of the corner of my eye, but of course, she was never really there. A tad odd, but only a bit of wistful thinking on my part. I have noticed this to one degree or another with each passing (5 in all). Funny how the mind works, eh?

  26. 46

    I was thinking about this issue myself just last night, and so I’d like to offer one way of looking at this, purely from a non-religious perspective. Take a quote from Albert Einstein, upon hearing of the death of a longtime friend: “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

    Time is just another direction, albeit one where we have little control over our trajectories. Your past with Violet is a fact, and it will always be there. Her death does mean that you will no longer have her in the present, but her impact on the world, and on your life, remains. Because she once was part of your life, she will always be part of your life.

    I hope this helps, even a little. I really am sorry for your loss.

  27. 47

    My sympathies to both of you. I’ve lost many pets, and I’m working on putting a photo album together so that I’ll always have a little piece of all of them.

    All of these thoughtful comments have given me an idea for your next column: a list of things that you SHOULD say to a grieving atheist.

    Take all the time you need, of course.

  28. 48

    Deepest sympathies. Losing a pet is never easy, and losing a long-time companion is that much harder. I’ve always taken solace in the happiness my family and I gave our kitties in their time with us, and I hope you can do the same.

  29. 49

    Thanks to everyone for your kind words. They really do mean a lot to us. And yes, we are very sad, but we are also so grateful for the 14 wonderful years that we had with Violet. Wouldn’t have missed them for the world.

    Virtual hugs back to all of you.

  30. 50

    Big Hugs to both of you ladies. Sounds like that was one loved and lucky cat. Makes me miss my own little kitty Virginia Dustmop, who walked the lonesome road 6 years last month. And Winston, who hocked up his last hairball 3 years ago…

    Try and dream of purrs tonight…

  31. 51

    New poster at your blog, Greta, but I wanted to extend my condolences. Violet was really a pretty lucky cat, to have you and Ingrid provide such a loving home. A belated welcome to freethoughtblogs from a new reader, and I hope many happier days to come.

  32. 52

    You have my sympathy. A pet is a member of the family and losing a family member is never easy. As I keep telling our last cat, Hammerstein, “You are still a loved cat.” And she is. She’s 18 and I’ll miss her terribly when she finally goes, just as I’ve missed each of the other seven cats we’ve had.

  33. 53

    So sorry to hear about your Violet. I know how awful it feels to lose a pet, a member of the family … Hopefully it’s a tiny bit comforting, at least, that she didn’t have to suffer and that she died with those she loved around her.

  34. 54

    My deepest condolences.

    I dread the day when any of our three little dogs go the way of all flesh. They’re still rather young and each has its own little personality. I marvel at how human they can sometimes seem. Their joys and sorrows are so much like little children. Their intelligence and awareness is astounding.

    A little while ago, I brought them their night-time treat of cut up Busy Bonz. They expectantly wait for them just like a child waiting for a treat when their parents return from shopping or a trip. They even know what “BB” means.

  35. 55

    I’m sorry, Greta and Ingrid. My condolences and virtual hugs to both of you.

    I’ve lost feline companions, too (including one whose body I found after she was hit by a car), and it hurts just as much each time. But we adopt them anyway. It must be that the love and companionship we get from them is worth the pain of separation in the end.

  36. 57

    Greta and Ingrid, I am so sorry for your loss. My eldest cat, Samantha, is in her last few weeks — the “nothing we can do but keep her comfortable” phase — and I’m having to remind myself frequently that wonderful things come with a price and that her loss wouldn’t hurt so much if I hadn’t taken so very much joy in her while she was alive. I’m glad you and Violet gave each other so much, and I hope that the joyful memories help assuage the current pain.

  37. 59

    So sorry.
    There’s a little hole in reality where Violet used to be. If that’s true for all of us, my reality must look like swiss cheese.
    It’s a terrible loss.

  38. MSH

    My heart goes out to you guys. It’s especially rough with the little critters that they can’t tell you in so many words what’s wrong, or whether they feel at peace with dying, or how much they love you. May the next days and weeks go gently.

  39. 63

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve had several of my cats pass away, and I know how tough it is. I’m sure Violet knew how loved she was.

  40. 65

    To paraphrase a very wise man, “nobody is truly gone until they are forgotten by those they left behind.” – Albus Dumbledore

  41. 66

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a beloved pet can be so incredibly hard. I think there’s something so delightfully uncomplicated and unforced about our closeness with our pets- they see an openness to us that can be hard to share with other humans. Violet sounds like having been an incredibly lucky cat, who had a life filled with love. I hope you can find peace knowing that you did everything you could for her until the very end, and that it isn’t long before you can take some comfort in the memories you have of her.

  42. 68

    I’m so sorry to see this. I lost my elderly cat a week ago, so I feel right along with you. You gave Violet as good a life as any cat could ask for, and more.

  43. 69

    A few months ago my cat, Dr. Baron Von Evil-Satan (we called him Baron or Bear for short) suddenly started to get real thin, he was always a fat cat so I had hoped that his diet was finally working. Until he kept getting thinner. I brought him to the vet to have him looked at, and given my rough financial situation couldn’t afford anything more than a few labs. They took him into the back to draw blood and get a urine sample and came back reporting they couldn’t find anything.

    When the doctor put him down suddenly his front leg gave out, he couldn’t walk. Within minutes I could see his decline. It was absolutely terrifying to watch him just… die… in front of me. We quickly decided to put him down because he was clearly in distress and fading fast. They gave us a free x-ray out of sympathy and found a mass in his chest that was pinching off nerves, causing his organs to be pushed aside and had likely been there for some time, he just never showed symptoms till the end.

    He was a mean bastard. I rescued him from a shelter and he was already fairly oldish (they think about nine). He was big, fat, bit you if you didn’t pet him, bit you if you did pet him. He was mean to the other cats but would sometimes cuddle with them and had this absolutely horrid meow that made me laugh. When he slept he snored so loud I could hear him in the other room. Despite all his flaws I loved him and I’m happy that I gave him a good home. A mean old fat bastard like that would have likely been put down in the shelter if I hadn’t picked him up.

    My condolences for your loss, they’re with us all too briefly but make our lives so much better for having been in it.

  44. 71

    to you and Ingrid. I’m sorry I did not know about Violet’s death when I saw you today. She sounds like she had a wonderful life. Our beloved dog died 4 years ago at 14 (he also had cancer, but was old too),Victor and I bawled like babies. We have 2 other dogs now, but the best way to make us cry (like I am now) is to bring up Rocky. Please know we are grieving with you. 🙁 <3Condolences<3.

    Listen to George Hrab's song Small Comfort, about losing his beloved dog.

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