by Carmel on July 29, 2013 · 21 comments

A lot of bloggers have written really beautiful and touching posts about leaving their furry friends behind to travel. Of course I felt the need to add to this and always intended to write my girls a goodbye on our blog before we left. Even a year ago, I was thinking about how to write to them and tell them how much we’d miss waking up to their furry little faces and the evenings and weekend mornings spent on the couch watching TV together. I especially wanted them to know how they’ve made every place I’ve lived, since I was 20 and I first got them, more of a home than just an apartment or a house.


Belle and Adeline in our old apartment, back when they were still friends in 2002

But instead, just before launching this blog, we had to say goodbye to one of them. Even now, over 3 months later, it still chokes me up.

Last summer, Adeline (pictured below) very suddenly stopped eating. For a cat that weighed 13 lbs, it was an obvious sign she didn’t feel well. After a lot of tests, we came up with nothing. The vet assumed she had cancer, given her symptoms, but without a couple more thousand dollars, there was nothing definitive.


Addy sitting on the back of a chair, as you do

The idea of another year in our home without her felt too painful to handle. I had already had a lot of heartbreak last year, I couldn’t bear another blow. I needed my kitty. I didn’t realize how much until faced with her illness. We did what we could – giving her steroid injections to calm the massive trembling she was having with increasing frequency, fluids to help stimulate her appetite, and hoping for the best.

With some luck and great care from our vet, Adeline survived and thrived another 8 months.


She was, and always will be, the Queen of Cozy

Suddenly, in mid-April of this year, she started acting funny again. Earlier in the week I had a strange feeling in my gut, one I’ve had before, that something wasn’t right. I’ve learned through some experience to not dismiss these feelings, but to pay close attention to what is going on in my life. That was on a Sunday. Wednesday, she stopped eating.

I took her to the vet as soon as I could – a little more difficult these days without a car. We gave her some fluid, but had stopped the steroid shots awhile back because not only had her shaking stopped, but her blood tests came back completely normal just a couple months prior. I took her home to see if she’d start eating, but I could tell, it was the beginning of the end.

She went quickly. After a lot of heart-wrenching conversation, Shawn and I made the very difficult decision to put her to sleep. As much as we didn’t want it to happen, we knew it was the only fair thing to do.


Our last picture with her – I was only smiling because despite being sick, she wouldn’t sit still for a picture

When Adeline first got sick last summer and I sat there with her crying, I begged God – “Please, just give me more time. At least until before we leave.” It became my mantra every time she started to feel unwell. When it was time to put her down and I knew it was really the end this time, I couldn’t be too upset. I had gotten exactly what I wanted and, more importantly, exactly what I needed.


Belle now sits in “Adeline’s spot”

Honestly, that whole experience hasn’t made it any easier to say goodbye to Belle. She has no idea what changes are coming – moving into my mom’s house with her 2 other litter mates and her birth mom, her humans leaving her… But everyday, she just looks up at me, wanting love and affection, and all I can do is enjoy the time we have left with her. That’s true as we get ready to leave Belle while we travel, as well as the time we had left with Addy. It’ll never be enough, but right now, it’s really good.


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Ana July 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Oh sweetie – I will make sure she gets lots of attention although she will miss you very much. I just hope Belle & Issa get along – Maggie well she will ignore her and Ashes still rules her girls….LOL What you wrote brought tears to my eyes for I know how difficult it was for you and Shawn to let Addy go back to her creator. Love you forever and ever Mijita.


Carmel July 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

I know you will. She just has no idea what’s in store for her. She’s been extra cuddly lately and following me around almost everywhere I go. I think she’s starting to sense something’s up. Love you too, mami.


Hannah July 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Oh Carmel, this is just so beautiful and moving. I struggled to leave our Indian kittens after having them for just five months, so I can only imagine how hard it will be for you to say goodbye to Addy. Sending you lots of love xxx


Carmel July 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

It’s amazing how quickly we get attached to our pets. They are just so innocent and loving. They ask very little in return for unconditional love. We miss our girl and everything about her that made her unique. I know she’ll be well looked after and that brings me a little peace.


Sarah Somewhere July 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss, honestly this is why I don’t have pets because its just so sad to say goodbye, for either a little while or forever (I know, I’m a wuss!). I know you wouldn’t trade your time with them for anything, and can be proud of the fact you provided such a nurturing home for your furry babies xx
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Carmel July 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

I know what you mean. After we had to put our cat down when I was 18 and the other one had just plain disappeared only months before that, my mom said she just couldn’t bear having another one for awhile. It was hard. I didn’t realize how hard until I had to make the decision to let Adeline go. I really felt for what parents have to go through being the “bad guy” and making those types of decisions. I miss her, but I’m glad we could provide her with so many good years.


Peter Korchnak July 30, 2013 at 2:22 am

I don’t have pets so I cannot even remotely relate to leaving them behind. From where I sit (a friend’s house in Bratislava, Slovakia, almost 1.5 months into my RTW trip), it boils down to what you want more. You could easily stay home with the cat but you chose to travel. Economists call it opportunity cost: the price of your trip is not being with Bella. Hang in there, you’ll be back in no time – just imagine the happy reunion!
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Carmel July 30, 2013 at 10:02 am

We actually had that discussion – would we honestly put off fulfilling a dream for a pet?? It seems insane, but I’m sure some people really do consider it. I realized that she would be fine without us and as hard as saying goodbye will be, we’ll be ok. Belle is kind of a little stinker, though, so if she remembers us after a year, I have no doubt she’ll be pretty pissed off for awhile. She was when I returned from a 10-week backpacking trip after college.


Kim July 30, 2013 at 7:00 am

What beautiful eyes Adeline had! I know how heartbroken you were (and still are) to lose her but I am glad that you at least had those extra precious months with her.
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Carmel July 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

Ugh, I know! So pretty. She was such a little poser, too.

I really am grateful for those extra months. It sucks that it takes such a huge scare before we truly cherish the time we have, but last summer’s experience really did increase my appreciation for the time we had. She was so happy then, too.


Carol July 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

We understand the sadness for sure. We had to make the same decision to put down our cat of 16 years in 2011. It was heartbreaking and we still question whether the timing was right but doing fluids and medications at home without much improvement just couldn’t justify the stress and pain we were putting her through – there were no happy moments for her any more. We still miss her and yet we are relieved to have said our final goodbye to her before our travels. We feel for you in having to leave Belle behind – but know that she will always remember you and she’ll be happy to see you when you’re reunited, no matter how long it’s been!
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Carmel July 30, 2013 at 10:06 am

When Shawn and I had the serious discussion over what to do and he asked if I was ready to put her to sleep that day, I just looked at her and how painful her breaths looked and realized, I couldn’t let my selfishness trump her suffering. Those last days were really awful for her. When we saw her get the injection that sedated her and how quickly she fell asleep just from pure exhaustion and pain, I knew we had made the right choice…as awful as it was for us. Doesn’t make it much easier, though, huh?


Rob - Hungry Escapades July 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I’m sorry to hear that Carmel, I really feel your pain. We were looking after a dog recently for just ten days and Kellie cried when he left…

It’s the very reason we haven’t got pets before travelling, it would be just so hard saying goodbye. But, I always think remember the good years to help with the sad times…
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Carmel July 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Definitely. I had almost 13 great years with her. Who knew when I was 20 that I’d be doing this at 33 and they’d still be alive and healthy? Can’t plan these things. I’m just glad I got to say goodbye.


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) July 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Carmel, I am so sorry for your loss & I know just how badly you must be grieving right now—my parents had to put my childhood dog to sleep back in 2008, right after I had been home to visit for the Christmas holidays and it just tore me up. I wasn’t living at home any more and only got to see her maybe twice a year so I was used to her not being a part of my daily life, but I bawled like a baby and refused to get out of bed for two days. Truth be told, I still have moments when I cry from missing her so much five years later… which, is not to make you paranoid that you will forever be a waking ball of tears from here on out, but just to reassure you that I understand how hard this is. Addy will always be special to you and you will never ever ever forget her, but I promise that it will one day stop hurting as acutely as it does now.

As for Belle, I worried so much about how Emmy & Rory would acclimate to a new home and new “owners” when we moved in with my parents, especially Emmy because I have a special sweet spot for her and know she’s very sensitive: she was abandoned by her original owners when she was a puppy and had been abused and was left to wander the streets, so she has huge abandonment issues. Thankfully we had about 3 weeks in Toronto before we left, which was enough for the dogs to settle and get into a routine. Now when we video chat with my folks, I can see how content they all are and my big worry now is that when we come home, the dogs aren’t going to want to give up the sweet life they’ve gotten accustomed to! It will be hard to hand Belle over, but animals are resilient and she knows you love her, so just get in as much cuddle time as she’ll tolerate now because you will surely miss both of your girls like crazy while on the road.
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Carmel July 31, 2013 at 7:40 am

When my first cat disappeared right before I graduated from high school, I used to have dreams that she came home. It wasn’t until I got these cats that the dreams finally stopped. It was awful, though. I grieved that cat for so long. I’m sure I’ll grieve Adeline for quite some time and there are still times when I look over and swear I see her…but we realize that we go into these relationships with a pet knowing we’ll have to say goodbye someday sooner than we’re ready.

Belle will be well taken care of, I have no doubt. She won’t be happy, but like I said to Shawn last night, I think she finds some comfort in her misery. She’s just a little crabby and likes being a solo cat – she grieved Adeline for about, oh, 5 seconds and then relished the fact that she could now take over the whole house. She won’t like living with my mom’s cats, but she’s used to confining herself to one room and sleeping all day. Hell, she’s 13 years old. She’d do that anyway.

I’m the one who’s going to miss her furry little pants (that makes more sense if you have seen her…).


Charlie August 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this, so sad! Adeline looked like a lovely cat. I fully understand your pain. It was so hard for me to leave my three cats behind when I left the UK, but they were super happy at my parents’ house. But earlier this year, Jezzie, the eldest and the cat I’d had for over 17 years since I was 11, had to be put down. I bawled my eyes out over Skype (unfortunately at work in an open plan office!) when my mum told me. It was so hard not to have had the chance to say goodbye.

It must seem crazy to people who have never owned pets but the attachment you grow to them is so strong. All the cats I’ve owned have been, or still are, so full of character and personality, they feel like part of the family. Although it’ll be hard leaving Belle behind when you leave on your trip, at least you’ll know she’ll be looked after when you’re away 🙂
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Carmel August 2, 2013 at 7:03 am

It’s so hard to not be there. Even harder to receive bad news at work! I completely empathize with that one.

I told Shawn that I felt kind of dumb being so distraught over a cat because sometimes people think the connection between an owner and a cat can’t be as strong as like a dog, let’s say. But he, being a wonderful husband, reminded me that it didn’t matter – the fact was that I was so attached to her and people can form a connection with whatever pet they choose to! Those cats have been through a lot with me, I think it was just another reminder of how fast time can go. I am really happy she’ll be staying with my mom, though. That means we get a few extra weeks with her before we go.


Ali August 13, 2013 at 3:49 am

I’m so sorry about your cat! I remember having to say good-bye to my cat a few years ago, though by then it was really my mom’s cat. So sad 🙁 I’m glad you got a little extra time with her though, and I’m sure the other cat will adjust to her new home.
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Carmel August 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Belle seems to be doing well so far. She’s starting to get used to things around the house…and then we go and leave for 2 weeks away. Oops. Well, she seemed well adjusted before we left anyway.


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