Four days ago, with the help of one of the most amazing and compassionate human beings I’ve ever known — our vet — I faced the wrenching, but loving, task of easing my most beloved Duke out of his failing body. Aside from being one of the biggest loves of my life, it was Duke’s struggle with Inflammatory Bowel Disease over a decade ago that set me on the path to discovering the wisdom and curative powers of home-prepared raw food for cats. The raw diet cured Duke’s IBD and was the catalyst for the website and my own passion for feline nutrition.
Without Duke, catnutrition.org would never have come to pass.
Duke was doing so beautifully until a few weeks ago. He suddenly began dropping weight and losing his notoriously strong appetite. The diagnostics were inconclusive (healthy kidneys, clean bloodwork, clean urinalysis) but the best guess is that that he had some kind of cancer, perhaps of the liver.
Until last Monday morning, he remained as lively and engaged as an underweight, sick cat could be – still seeking out lap time, sitting with me watching the snow fall, and making regular short Cat Patrol trips around the house. He was the essence of fearlessness and peace. He had no appetite, but he was clearly not uncomfortable or in pain. Love and the homeopathic remedy he had over a week ago helped Duke glide through the transition of his last weeks. I was a mess, but Duke was still Duke. Absolutely undiminished in spirit.
His exit was smooth. I felt his spirit growing and expanding, then flying, big and free.
He left this earth space much better loved – and its cats much better fed — than he found it. He was my most important teacher on cat nutrition but he was also my daily morning meditation lap buddy, a tremendously loyal friend for nearly 16 years, and a gentle spirit. He was the easiest imaginable cat to live with, and still his presence loomed large. It feels like a lot more than one orange-marmalade cat is missing from our home.
The Duke abides.
We miss that beautiful furry marmalade-orange body gracing our home so much that it’s staggering. His adopted sister, Nettie, is keeping a close eye on us; like me, she keeps being caught off guard and looking around the house expecting to see that handsome fellow with the amber eyes come around the corner.
Love, however, is an ongoing event; Duke was such a conspicuous expression of love while he was in a body and now, without the confines of form to hold him back, he’s good to go. I sure as heck wish I’d have had lots more years with that form, but I’m profoundly grateful for the gifts he gave me.
Godspeed, Dukie-boy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you all the time.