kitty heaven-rainbow bridge quote
Cat Saturday,  Cats,  Holidays

Rainbow Bridge or Kitty Heaven Can Wait

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)

These posts from my defunct Cat Saturday blog (yes that got shortened to Caturday!) were exhumed from the Internet Archive circa 2008- 2010, but timely for Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day on August 28.

Siamese cat coco- rainbow bridge remembrance day

I’ve edited three posts from September 2010 for the most useful bits for anyone interested in pet loss. Over the past 13 years, I’ve experienced more than my share of pet death from my own, to clients and our extended community. May they bring a smile of recognition or purrs of insight. But first a poem I wrote, a Haiku.

Rainbow Bridge’s embrace,
Beloved cats find their place,
In our hearts, their grace.

Sadly, the internet archive did not include any of the original images. I’ve added other relevant images of Coco, Merlin and Domino.

Early September 2010

Cats are very clever at hiding symptoms, which is all the more reason for elderly cats to have more frequent checkups. We will hydrate Coco and give anti-nausea meds for the next three days, and reassess. If she doesn’t begin eating, the prognosis isn’t good.

Coco after her treatment on Friday.

She has lost three pounds. That’s huge. It’s like me losing 50 lbs. She peed the bed again last night and is sluggish. I’m doing Reiki on her and calling on my angels and animals totems for comfort during her transitional time. I am trying to stay present and enjoy our last days together. Easier said than done.

merlin and coco Siamese cats-rainbow bridge remembrance day
Big bro Merlin checking up on Coco

For months, Coco has grown more remote and distant from her cuddle buddy and bro Merlin, but this week he stepped up to the plate and slept with her. He knows what’s up. Merlin ironically has never felt or looked better. This summer was his second kittenhood and he enjoyed it immensely.

Rainbow bridge remembrance day

It’s amazing how littermates can have divergent destinies, but then again, look at our own human siblings. The question is; what will happen after Coco leaves. Will feral boy Domino decide to come inside? We made a little more progress this week. Adopting a new cat is not on the agenda but maybe fostering?

Domino feral cat wisdom 101
Everything in good time.

Who knows? Adopting another pet is the last thing anyone about to lose a beloved pet should think about.

Our vet, Rich Goldstein at Mobile Vet Squad had to euthanize his beloved cat two weeks ago after a long battle with cancer. I asked him how he knew when was the right time.

vet 101-exam-dr. goldstein-merlin-kitty-kuddly-mobile vet












He said, “You just know.” I chatted with some friends about the same thing and everyone said, “You just know.” I’m going to trust that when the time comes, I too will just know.

My intuitive communication with Coco revealed she’s ready to go to the rainbow bridge soon.

But something that I haven’t seen discussed is the role of spouses or significant others and sick pets. I feel adamant about monitoring the quality of a pet’s life and not prolonging it needlessly.

Nothing drives me crazier than seeing a loved one suffering. But what happens when one spouse wants euthanasia and the other doesn’t?

A very ill or dying pet can drive a wedge between couples and I’d suggest talking about a contingency plan, long before the stress of a real illness.

quarantining with cats at home #cat2vet
Couples and families have much to consider before a pet dies.

I’d also suggest pre-planning euthanasia and post dying details. Burial or cremation? Any ritual or funeral? The time to figure out if Fluffy will fit inside a shoebox is best planned in advance. Ditto where in the garden to bury them and whether your shovel can dig through frozen ground. Been there done that with stressful results. If possible have a plan and a Plan B.

Cat burial grave digging

My way of making peace with death is to plan and prepare, but everyone faces illness and the possibility of death differently. I was ready to send Coco to the rainbow bridge today, but I changed my mind. Who wants to play God and put down their pet on 9/11? Not me. My husband was so triggered by Coco’s rapid decline he’ll do anything to keep her around. With the vet’s advice we’ve reached a comfortable compromise.

Meanwhile the grieving process has begun in earnest and I’m grateful for the long reprieve from the last time, fifteen years ago when my dad died. The “walking in underwater” heaviness feels the same. I’d forgotten how utterly exhausting grieving is. It seeps into the waterlogged bones. Stay tuned…Your prayers are welcome.


Rest In Peace Coco

Coco cat memoriam-rainbow bridge memorial day

Edited for National Pet Memorial Day 9/11/11.

Thank-you to everyone who said I would know when it was time to put Coco to sleep. It happened in a flash and an enormous weight has lifted. She made it clear on Monday night, it’s time and the vet came to our house yesterday at noon.

Mobile clinic-Dr. Goldstein-westchester county-NY

You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day, a kinder vet or a more meaningful ritual/burial. I will blog about it with some last photos at this week’s Cat Saturday.

Thank-you also for the support on every level: from calls, messages, long distance healing, Reiki and prayers. I hold you all in my heart, which by some miracle feels a thousand times bigger.

Coco got her Wings!

I believe in omens. I also believe the many pets I’ve had entered and exited at pivotal junctures in my life. Two weeks ago today I broke my baby toe. I took it as a painful wake-up call and (being the intuitive that I am) knew that pain of a different sort loomed.

If you are a regular visitor here, you’ve heard that my dear Coco died this past Tuesday. The memorial photo was posted on Wednesday. So much has transpired in the past week, on every level, I feel compelled to write down as much as I can before the nuances fade. Today’s post, long as it is, is a mere “just the facts” version.

Coco’s favorite spot in the garden and why not the portal to the Rainbow Bridge?

Last week at Cat Saturday it was all about waiting, nursing, hoping and praying, but ultimately surrendering. You can only keep death at bay for so long. The question on my mind 24/7 was: When?

When is the right time to end a pet’s life humanely? On Sunday, it looked grim. Coco ate no more than a morsel, drank water, peed in bed, unable to walk even to a kitty litter in the bedroom. We emailed the vet who agreed to come on Monday to perform the at-home euthanasia.

Then, she rallied as palliative care patients often do. The last hurrah. We canceled the appointment and chewed our nails. She managed miraculously to climb to the guestroom on the third floor and use the kitty litter!

Her every wish became our pleasure. On Monday, she napped in the warm sun next to the herb garden. She happily lapped water, ate a fresh catnip leaf and enjoyed (as she always did) a gentle brushing in the sunshine.

The one thing she refused to do was pose for the camera. The rare time she opened her eyes, she’d move her head, and after a few blurry attempts, I respected her wishes. I was thrilled to accidentally get all three cats in one shot, one last time ( Domino in the distance).

Marg, one of my cat blogger friends said, “Look in the eyes. She’ll tell you when it’s time to go.” Easier said than done when she rarely opened her eyes anymore. I kept looking and asking. “Are you ready to go tomorrow?”

After a shamanic journey with both Merlin and Coco nestled in my arms, she looked at me with her foggy blue eyes and nodded her head, yes. Our dear vet, Rich, agreed to visit at noon on Tuesday.

Since the original appointment was for Monday, we’d prepped everything on Sunday. A pine cognac crate was the perfect size for a coffin. I found some luxurious fabric suitable for a kitty queen. Hubby dug a grave by the old barn. I gathered candles and incense, wrote an eulogy of sorts.

There was nothing more to do but make Coco as comfortable as possible and squeeze in as much love and not sadness.

Merlin, her devoted brother and best friend for almost sixteen years, said his final goodbye here. We thought it best that Merlin not see the vet arriving or leaving. Merlin is due for a check-up soon and we didn’t want any negative association.

Rainbow bridge remembrance day
Merlin probably said his goodbyes long before me. Cats don’t fear death and stay in the moment until the end.

Tuesday was a perfect late summer day, warm and sunny. I decided to take Coco outside one last time to feel the sun on her face and smell the grassy earth she loved so much. She basked in the sun, absolutely serene and dignified as any empress. I’d prepared a makeshift altar on the picnic table and smudged her with sage and frankincense.

Since she was already so comfortable, we thought why move her into the mobile clinic? Everything unfolded with divine clockwork. The mobile clinic arrived. The vet walked over to see Coco and we agreed that it was the perfect spot. Most pets are euthanized in a cold clinic after a stressful car ride. What a relief to spare Coco (and us) that trauma.

My husband went inside the clinic to take care of the paperwork. Coco kindly gave me one last look and I thanked her for fifteen wonderful years.

The assistant gave Coco a sedative and Dr. Goldstein, with the utmost compassion, talked about what was going to happen and what to expect. They left us alone for a few minutes while the sedative took effect and we said our final good-byes. The final shot was administered, and a few seconds later at officially 12:47 Coco exited peacefully.

We cried of course, but the beauty and grace of the moment transcended the pain. Dying where one most enjoyed living is as good as it gets.

After a brief chat, the vet quietly left, and we brought Merlin out to say his good-byes. I believe the opportunity for a pet to see and smell their dead companion helps with grieving. Merlin walked straight over, sniffed her and promptly walked away. No fanfare. He just knew the furry form lying there was no longer Coco.

A simple but meaningful ceremony preceded the burial by the barn. The exact spot is where (for over a year) I’ve photographed the beautiful wabi sabi progression of decay of this old chair. Wabi Sabi, the Japanese aesthetic, values the beauty of impermanence.

Pablo neruda-poem-quote-snow-cat grave

Merlin showed no interest in the burial or visiting the grave site since then. At least not so far. It’s as if he knows her spirit is long gone.

For almost sixteen years, it was always Merlin and Coco, Coco and Merlin. Inseparable. The Siamese twins.

In more ways than I can say, it marks the end of an era.

Much to my relief, he has yet to search inside the house for her. I half expected him to be wailing into the night for her as he had on many nights, but no more.

Domino remained conspicuously absent all day on Tuesday. Perhaps he hid in the bushes observing from a distance. When he finally appeared in the evening, he gave me a knowing look.

Of course I know what’s going on. I don’t want that vet man going anywhere near me.

Since then, Domino has tried to play with Merlin, but Merlin is in deep mourning. He’s eating well, but won’t leave the darkness of the duvet unless I carry him outside twice a day. Once outside in the sunshine he perks up and we talk. He likes the sun warmed heat of the picnic table near Coco’s transition spot.

Yes, cats do grieve especially those with close bonds.

On Wednesday, while we sat on the table, I asked for a sign from the beyond.

A few seconds later, a female cardinal appeared on a branch nearby.

I asked out loud, “Are you Coco? If so, can you come a little closer?”

The bird flew closer and perched on a branch about ten feet away.

I dared to ask again, “If you are Coco, can you come a little closer?”

The bird instantly flew past my face, not three feet away and disappeared north of the garden.

Merlin and I looked at each other and I smiled.

rainbow bridge remembrance day

Here we are almost 13 years later and Coco still visits me as do all my OTRB cats at different times, places and forms.

It’s a comfort to know pet death is inevitable but their loving presence is always saying, I’m still here.

Like more Rainbow Bridge Wisdom? We have lots like. Shamanic Feline Messages or Purrs From The Rainbow Bridge


  • Meezer'sMews&TerrieristicalWoofs

    Such a poignant post, Layla.

    Yes, those eyes…the windows to their souls…they speak the words we might not want to hear, but we have to respect them, don’t we. Otherwise is selfish…and not fair to them at all. Though when they leave it seems we begin to second guess ourselves.
    Sometimes reality is hard to accept, but though it hurts, the pleasant memories we made over the time we were allowed to be the human parent of our furchild take over…at least most of the time. I broke down many times after the fact of losing a few of my cats, they were still young at age seven, (Simba and Toki)…and eleven,(Suki). When the cats that were elderly left, it hurt, too, but in a different sort of way. With Minko, who was chronically ill for three years, suddenly I had nothing to do anymore, as it were, and that really was a strange feeling…

    And with both Pipo and the dog, MJF, yes, their eyes spoke volumes of please let me leave this sad body, so I can be released of it to fly free. (Both were almost 16, and had become dependant on me for ‘hospice care’.)

  • Deb Barnes

    As I learned from my angel cat Jazz when writing Purr Prints of the Heart, and the inspiration for Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, it’s trying to find the gift and beauty of letting go. It’s certainly not easy to say goodbye to a pet. It never is. But they do tell us with their eyes when it’s time to go, and giving them that dignity is the greatest sacrifice we can make, despite knowing how deeply it will break our hearts. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories, written with such eloquence and insight.

    Love and purrs from Deb, the Zee/Zoey gang, and Purr Prints of the Heart.

    • Layla Wilde

      Deb, thanks so much for stopping by. This RBRD was special this year with the passage of time. We’ve endured so many losses xo

  • Zoolatry

    Thank you, Layla, for this, this presentation of many older writings, most I had personally never seen. Though your stories do tear open one’s heart, they are also very helpful … guiding us each through what are always such horribly difficult times. Words that stood out to me “surrrender” … and I remembered the time I could not do so, selfishly, waiting far too long, now vowing that shall not happen ever again. And the words to remember now, “look into their eyes”, for yes, we will see the answer there, for they will tell us if we will only look and listen. Gentle purrs to you and yours and again, my thanks. Ann Adamus

  • Skeeter and IZZY

    the rawness can still be felt even years later. Remembering can bring such pain but also such joy in knowing that a life was well lived.
    Hugs and Kitty Kisses
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang and the Angels >^..^> ~>^..^<~

  • Andrea

    Beautiful post and graphics Layla, I’m glad you were able to recover so many pieces. Coco was such a beautiful girl, I wish I’d known her. I love Siameezers. I think my Gooseberry has a little Siamese in him. Please think of him today.

  • meowmeowmans

    What a special post, Layla. I’m glad you were able to access it and share it here. Our cats who have passed from this realm sometimes visit us, too. Their love lives on, and they are still around us.

  • Memories of Eric and Flynn

    I am glad you were able to access your old posts. This was a beautiful post and brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me so much of when Eric passed and how Flynn grieved for his litter mate. I am sure that was the start of Flynn’s illnesses, and of course the locum vet giving him a Convenia injection without telling me. I would never have agreed to it.

  • Erin the Cat

    How wonderful that you are back, though less so if you have pain as a lasting memory. Your true home seems to be Finland, though anywhere with felines is a place deserving to be.
    Coming to terms with death means we can move on to our new coat, our new life/rebirth. That was so well put. Works just as well for humans as all other sentient beings.
    How wonderful you recovered your lost posts. All too often, prized memories are lost to the electronic void.

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