I haven’t mentioned our cat much here, but I want to remember her now. Gingersnap was rescued with her second litter of gorgeous little tiger-striped kittens at the end of 2010, when she was about two years old. Homeward Bound Rescue of Minnesota took Ginger and her family in, and they all tested positive for feline leukemia. When they were weaned, the kittens were adopted into their new homes and Ginger joined our family in January of 2011.
Gingersnap was a beautiful rare orange tiger cat with four white feet, a white chest, and a Minnesota ‘M’ on her forehead. She did well in our household with three herding dogs, at least in part because she had her front claws! For most of her life, Ginger was healthy and showed no signs of her disease. I tried to keep her life as stress-free as possible and provided her with good nutrition, high-quality wet food (no dry food per vet’s orders), and half of a Wei Chi Booster capsule every day.
During our recent move from Minnesota to Wisconsin, Ginger was staying with friends while we stay with family until moving into our new home in May. But at the beginning of February, the feline leukemia reared its ugly head and caught up to Ginger. She developed a cough and the leukemia’s effects on her lungs put her in danger of severe respiratory distress, which would be frightening and very painful, if not fatal. The vet indicated that this was inevitable and said that, at about 7 ½ years old, Ginger had enjoyed life for much longer than most cats with leukemia. At the vet’s recommendation, I made the tough decision to let Ginger go in a painless and peaceful way instead of letting her experience a traumatizing bout of respiratory distress.
I miss Ginger a lot and am so sad that she won’t be joining us in our new home. I’m sure the move put stress on her as it stressed all of us. I tried to explain to Chase and Cay what had happened to Gingersnap and that she won’t be reunited with us in May. But still, what Chase did in March surprised me.
We had a vet appointment with a vet Chase and Cay hadn’t met yet. The vet did a rectal and anal gland exam on Chase, which we have done regularly since he was treated for colon cancer in 2013. So far, so good. When the vet bent over Chase to trim his toenails, I told her that he has back pain and doesn’t like having his legs pulled on or pulled to the side. The nail trim was going ok, but I could tell something was up with Chase. At one point, after the vet was done trimming the nails on a front foot, Chase lunged up and roared at her face. Scary! He didn’t bite and the vet wasn’t hurt, but he clearly gave a warning and seemed to be frightened. This was not like him at all! It was my fault since I was supposed to be holding him and didn’t expect him to do that. Previously, he hadn’t responded like that to anyone trimming his nails.
A few days later I asked an animal communicator friend to check in with Chase. I told her I had a theory about why he had lunged at the vet, but didn’t tell her what it was. She came back with something completely different. She said that Chase did not want the vet to touch him. He didn’t trust her; she had a bad smell and he didn’t want to have any part of it. He seemed to be quite expressive about it. Wow! This was not what I’d expected. So I asked her more about the smell. Chase indicated that it was the smell of death, but didn’t say more. Whoa! I then told my friend that this was the vet who had put Ginger down six weeks before (which she hadn’t known). I asked if that’s what bothered Chase and she said that, amazingly, Chase did seem to know that this was the vet who had put Ginger down. Could it be that, when she leaned over him that day, he was afraid he was going to die? My poor little dog who’d survived cancer!
Ginger’s health had gone downhill rather suddenly, at least by outward signs. I think Chase understood that Ginger was very ill. But he had never met this vet before. How did he know she had put Ginger down? I do think that animals know and communicate things that we miss all the time, and we often have no idea. I recently read Bernie Siegel1 describing a quantum physics term called ‘nonlocality’, in which a quantum particle can influence another quantum particle instantaneously over any distance, despite there being no exchange of force or energy. Quantum particles that have had any form of contact retain a connection even when separated, so that the actions of one will always influence the other, no matter how far they get separated. Could this have somehow been true for Chase and Ginger as well? Is it possible that when Chase met this vet he was scared for his life, thinking that she was going to put him down too, and I had no idea at the time?
Our next appointment involves a blood draw. I’m not going to take Chase back to the same vet, not because she did anything wrong, but because he’s afraid of her. I’m going to explain to him carefully what we’re doing and take him to another vet who he knows and likes. Even if I’m wrong, I’d rather be wrong and not scare him. When we move into our new home in May, about 30 miles from where we’ve been staying, we’ll be looking for a new vet anyway.
Since Chase’s response to the vet was so out of character, I realized it wasn’t just a behavioral problem, but that something more was bothering him. I’m happy to have insight into his strange behavior so I don’t scare him (or the vet) that way again. And I do wonder what he knew about Ginger’s passing and how he got the information.
1 in The Art of Healing, by Bernie S. Siegel, MD
Remembering Charlotte Bass Lilly, founder of Animal Rescue New Orleans, who passed away on November 15th