Houdini, 2011-2015

I have some very sad, very sudden bad news. Our cat Houdini died early Wednesday morning, completely unexpectedly, from heart failure. It happened very fast: she seemed totally fine on Monday; Tuesday morning she wasn’t eating and we took her to the vet; she seemed ill but stable Tuesday evening; and early Wednesday morning she went into a rapid decline and died within an hour. The vet thinks she may have had some sort of congenital heart problem: apparently this can happen with cats, they can have heart problems that don’t show any symptoms until they suddenly give out.

Ingrid and I are pretty wrecked. Houdini was a very young cat, just three years old, and this came out of nowhere. We do feel fortunate that we were able to give her a good life, even though it was a short one, and we feel fortunate that she didn’t suffer for very long. But we are having a very hard time with this. We’ve lost cats before, but it’s been a long time since either of us has lost a cat this suddenly or this young.

I know the usual thing in these situations is to post pictures. But I can’t face that right now. I’ll do it when I can. If you want to see pictures of her, you can do a search for “Houdini” on this blog. (Houdini was the tortoiseshell.) If you feel so inspired, donations in her name can be made to the San Francisco SPCA. Thanks.

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Houdini, 2011-2015
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17 thoughts on “Houdini, 2011-2015

  1. 4

    Obviously, I’ve never met Houdini, or Comet/Talisker. So I’ll risk guessing that you and Ingrid had a trans-species bond of the sort that I have with Mabel. And did have with the late Olive and Abigail.

    There is an extra twinge when an animal’s mortality is brought home like that.

    She couldn’t tell you, but you did recognize trouble. You didn’t have to decide when it was time, though someday you may be in that spot.

    So sorry. Hoping you can carry on without pretending away the hurt, or depriving the living.

  2. 9

    The deaths of non-human animals (especially pets) always hits me harder than the deaths of people, given the same circumstances, because we have the power to understand, rationalize, and put our deaths into context but they don’t. For animals, death must be this scary, painful, bewildering sequence of events being imposed on you by an outside force like… huh, like a god, actually. (I can see where animist religions like Shinto got their start.)

    My heart goes out to you. I hope she died knowing how much you loved her and wanted to keep her safe. I’m glad you, Ingrid, Comet, and Talisker have each other to lean on.

  3. 12

    I am so sorry to hear about Houdini. She probably had cardiomyopathy; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common heart disorder in cats. It’s one of my greatest fears, because there are often no discernible symptoms before a fatal crisis. Those with the most severe form often die at around three years old; cats with milder cases may not run into trouble until later in life. (I’ve had eight cats diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, and the youngest one I have lost to it was only 2 1/2 years old.) It can only be reliably diagnosed with ultrasound, which is expensive and normally not performed unless they show clinical signs that give advance warning, which many of them never do.

    There is very little comfort to be found when you lose one so young. You gave her a good, happy, secure life for the time that she had, and that’s the best that anyone can do. My deepest sympathies to you and Ingrid.

  4. 15

    Wow, that’s really sad to lose a cat that young. It’s hard enough when they’re old and you know the end is coming soon. At least you know you gave her a happy life.

    And don’t bother with the pics unless and until you feel like it. We already have them, as you say, and you have more important things on your plate.

  5. 16

    Greta, I’m so sorry this happened. My heart is with you and it tells me it hurts for your loss. I’ve given to SF SPCA in Houdini’s memory. It’s heartbreaking. Personally, the profound cruelty of this is further evidence of either the nonexistence of a god or the evilness of a god.

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