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Remembering Krishna

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 12/13/09

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It has been six months since my best friend and cat, Krishna, passed away. I wrote about him in a diary, and there was a huge response from both friends and strangers; it was, in fact, my most popular writing at the time. Many people wrote me about their cats being incredibly responsible family members. I also learned about animal euthanasia issues, maybe these experiences can help you.

Krishna was bigger than life, certainly the most thinking, emotional, and communicating cat I have ever seen. I rescued him, and probably would have found new owners for him, but he was so damn smart. He would sit with guests and try to talk. He lived with me through the Internet revolution, but I had to give him to my parents during the 2000's when conditions, including 9/11, forced me to leave NYC. They took care of him, but they are very unemotional, and that was not good for him--he often got depressed.

Two weeks before he died

About a year ago, his kidneys started to fail, and yesterday morning he passed on. It was an old mouth injury from abuse that hurt him the most in the end, it had been aggravated by my parent's use of very hard treats to control him through Skinner-type behavior. A week ago he could no longer eat normal food, but they kept feeding him the hard treats making him bleed from the mouth. I had to take him. I did manage to stop the problem in his mouth, but it was too late--he was too weak from not eating for a week, and his kidneys failed completely. He understood he was dying, and I struggled internally with the idea of euthanizing him, but I could see his desire to live life as best he could to the very end, so we kept him close for his final days.

His last day

I read all I could find about the issues of dying cats and ending their lives early, but nowhere could did I see any consideration of what the animal wants, animal rights not withstanding. That I thought was amazing; all these people with expert opinions, including animal rights activists, did not even consider the possibility that dying animal might have desires, one way or the other.

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Looking out the window on his last day, he was still interested in the world

He did start eating his last few days, but it was of course too late. His will to live was strong.

His body was still warm when I woke up to find he had passed on. I quickly put him in the box I had made for him, and expoxied it shut. I then took the box downstairs and put it in the early morning Sun. Our new cat, Missy, came over and investigated the box--she was wondering what had happened to Krishna.

Mystery wonders "where is Krishna?"

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"Where is he?"

We took him in his box to a river bank along the Housatonic, where he had played as a kitten (before the lyme tick infestation), and I buried him in the sandy loam. I partly chose the spot because I don't think it will ever be bulldozed, and it will be easy to visit even if it changes hands.

Finding a spot for him along the river

I learned a lot about cat kidney disease over the past week, and also various kinds of feeding. What amazed me is that therapies for humans with kidney disease have nearly nothing in common with therapies for cats with this disease--cats and humans are not THAT different. One might think the vets are treating reptiles instead of cats. I realize it is a long stretch to memorialize a cat, but Krishna's life was significant, and if circumstances had been better, I think his life could have had even more meaning--and been longer. So I think I will create a research wiki where my empathy model is, Wikiveristy, about treating cats in their final stages, especially with kidney disease, which is their most common old-age disorder. I also think there needs to be a discussion about the morals of euthanasia from the perspective of the cats' desires: real animal rights.

I was very glad that got to know many people, and that he recovered emotionally from the abuse that he got when he was younger.

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I am finding that my photography is with me to help me share, and to make more meaning from my efforts by being able to record them. Krishna does have a very nice box, and a very nice resting place. I refinished a wine box for him, and decorated the lid with two playing polar bears taken from a vodka box. I could not find the right cloth for the lid, so I used a shirt--I had to build his box on short notice, and he needed it the morning after I finished it.

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I am a worker, photographer, and writer. I am now working on a counseling masters degree focusing on youth and community, neurology and medication, and underlying genetics. My photography is my greatest accomplishment. The style is the art of (more...)

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