Saturday, May 14, 2016

Letter to CJ

Dearest CJ,

I hope you are running free and enjoying health and happiness in paradise! Helping you to the Rainbow Bridge was the hardest thing I have ever done. I have loved you since the day you reached out your paw to me at Petsmart.

December 26, 2001 I went with the Pottingers and Prices to Petsmart to pick out a new kitty. It was their Christmas present to me. You are and always will be the best Christmas present I have ever received! I walked through the kennels looking at all the kitties. You were near the end of the row. As I approached your kennel you reached out your paw to me. Although Jennifer was hoping I would choose the black kitty because he reminded us of a kitty we shared in college, I knew you were the kitty that would become part of my family. You had chosen me. 

I thought you were the sweetest thing. When we got home, the sweet little kitty went shooting out of the carrier and ran crazy throughout the apartment. I was so surprised I called you crackerjack. You know, as in the surprise you find in the box. CJ would become your name. 

Little did I know how much joy you would provide me. You became pals with brofur Cosmo and you two would spend many years watching bird tv, chasing each other through the home, grooming each other and fighting for nap time on my lap. You both were great lap kitties!

And then disaster struck... February 23, 2012 a devastating fire ripped through our home. I wasn't there to get you and Cosmo safely out. Brofur Cosmo never made it out but miraculously you did. I have no idea how you made it out but I do know that a neighbor found you and she lovingly cared for you until I arrived home. She and her husband provided life saving CPR and oxygen to you until you were stable enough to go to the emergency vet. They gave me a carrier to put you in since ours was lost in the fire. I drove as fast as I could to the emergency vet where they asked me the hardest question I would ever face... Did I want to save you? My answer was yes! It was the best decision of my life and I hope you agree. You were so courageous during your recovery. You were burned badly but yet were so sweet to the vet staff who nursed you back to health. You purred for me every time I came to visit, reassuring me you would be okay. When I took you to our new home I couldn't be happier that someone cared enough to save your life and you would be there for me during such a difficult time.

I struggled after the fire. I struggled with losing Cosmo, with losing everything I owned, with losing the feeling of safety. But I had you. Your loving purrs and head butts helped me heal. 

When you became sick earlier this year I cried. I couldn't stand the thought of you hurting. You had already been through so much. You weren't a young kitty anymore and I feared I would lose you. When I learned it was your thyroid I was a bit relieved because that was something we could treat. I got help from a lot of your pals so I could get you I-131 treatment for your thyroid. It was the gold standard of treatment for the thyroid. It was rare for the treatment to not work but for some reason it didn't work for you. And then you developed a sneeze. A sneeze isn't that big of a deal but yours wouldn't go away and that worried me. We tried several different medications. Each one helped for a few days and gave me hope you would recover.  But the sneeze would return until eventually it became a serious infection. You became feverish and no longer wanted to eat. I was so scared I would lose you and I didn't want you to feel so bad. You looked miserable but yet you still purred, still spent time socializing with me. I wasn't ready to give up on you if there was a chance you could get better. I began syringe feeding and providing fluids for you at home so I didn't have to take you to the vet for that.  To my shock and surprise you started eating again on your own. I was so happy. I thought that meant you were turning the corner and were on your way to recovery!

But then your eye started bothering you. The third eyelid became protruded. I knew that wasn't a good sign. We started you on meds for the eye but it didn't get better. Your sneeze that had mercifully disappeared for a few days was back with a vengeance. Although you were eating, I knew you weren't feeling good. I looked in your eyes and saw the pain. You laid your head down in my lap and sighed. I knew it was time to let you go. I pulled you up to sit on my chest so I could look in your eyes. I made a promise to you that if there was nothing else I could do to help you recover and it was time to go to the Rainbow Bridge I would help you. You stayed in bed with me for most of the night rather than go sleep in your favorite bed. I appreciated that because I knew it would be the last night we'd spend together.

When morning came you didn't care for any food although you did eat a few bites. I think you did that for me. You didn't need to sweet boy, but you did. Then you went to the deck door so I let you out. You spent time out on the deck enjoying the nice weather and watching the birds. When it was time to go to the vet you didn't want to go in to the carrier. I think you knew it was the last time you would go in to it and it broke my heart to put you in it.

Off we went to the vet. You meowed as you usually did in the car. You never liked car rides. But then you laid down and rested your head the remainder of the trip. I began to cry because I knew we were about to say goodbye. When we arrived at the vet we learned what I had feared. Your eye was dead, the infection had damaged it and was ravaging your body. You had lost so much weight and were very weak. The vet asked me what I wanted to do. I cried and said it was time to end your pain. He agreed and said it was the compassionate thing to do. It was obvious the infection wasn't going away despite our efforts. 

You meowed a few times but then climbed on to my arm. As the sedative began to take effect you wrapped your paws around my arm and laid your head down against my side. I couldn't stop crying but I fulfilled my promise to end your pain and told you it was okay to let go. I'm glad I got to say goodbye and that you hugged me as you took your last breath. When I last looked at you I no longer saw a sick kitty. I saw a beautiful boy. You gave me so much joy for so many years! Your courageous story of surviving that horrible fire touched so many lives. You were such a symbol of strength and courage! RIP sweet boy! Run free CJ! 



  1. Oh dearest Kathi....I do not cry much...ever...but I am in tears reading your tribute story to your amazing precious brave boycat Crackerjack...CJ. We all have special cats in our lives that come and go...each leaves a paw print that will last for all enduring time. Bless your heart for reaching for the outstretched paw that one day in the pet shop. I care so Karla

  2. Reading this has truly broken my heart! Such a beautiful, wonderful tribute to a very brave kitty and I can see why he was so special to you! He chose you because he saw your kind spirit! Gentle hugs to you Kathi, Caro xx

  3. Oh, I can't see through my tears. What a loving tribute to your special boy. He was so brave. I wish he could have stayed with you longer, but you did the best thing for him. Big hugs to you...I know your heart is hurting. ~Island Cat Mom

  4. Thank you so much for sharing CJ with us all after that tragic fire. It was truly a gift to us, and it was a gift to him that you knew when it was time for him. My heart broke for you, and for us too, because he was such a source of inspiration. Purrs.

  5. Dear Kathi - what a lovely tribute to your boy CJ. We didn't know him for long but his story was so inspiring - what you both went through with the fire and CJ's determination to stay with you after losing everything else was amazing. You gave him a second life after that and he returned the favor with tons of love. He was struggling and you gave him freedom - the hardest thing we have to do is let them go when it's their time. He is in your heart for ALL time...and the impact of his story will stay with me always as a story of PURE love. Sending you warm hugs of comfort.............thank you for sharing CJ with us.

    Love, Pam and Sammy

  6. Kathi,

    I remember reading about the fire, the drama, and then you finding CJ, and I thought it was such a miracle you had him, in spite of losing sweet Cosmo. I am sat here in tears at your heartbreak at losing CJ known - rightly - by so many as Legend Kitty.

    Yes CJ is gone but OOOH YES he touched many MANY hearts. I learned about him here, far away in New Zealand, and recently YES we gave willingly and without hesitation to help his fight to stay with you. Your loving tribute here has moved us, and I hope CJ will be happy to hear it too.

    Heck I am going to miss that boy CJ more than I can say.

    and the Dash Kitten Crew

  7. I read each word with tears flowing. As I said before, I, as do all of us gathered here, know that exquisite pain. We just don't know how we can keep on with our best most loving friend gone from us. I love you CJ, brave dear and deeply loved boy. I wish your mom comfort and solace.

  8. We are typing this through our own tears. What a beautiful tribute to sweet CJ. We always wondered what the CJ stood for. How cute! (((hugs)))

  9. Kathi, this is an awesome tribute to CJ; we never knew what the initials stood for or how his name came about. thanx for sharing his story, it is both heart wrenching and happy with his Christmas gotcha day tale. I hope you know if CJ spoke ...human....he would not only say, thanx mom, for are and always will be the best, I know you did your very very best for me.....always, and CJ would also say, I love you too mom and I always will. Cosmo and CJ aren't ...visible....but they are and shall remain right by your side until you see them again one day. May God grant you and Mia too, strength, and give you peace in your hearts♥️♥️♥️

  10. You did the hardest most loving act that a person does for a fur baby. You knew it was time and though you wanted him to stay with longer,you did what was best for CJ.When we grieve, I believe we aren't grieving because they have crossed the Bridge, but for ourselves and the big hole in our soul.But one day we realize that there isn't a hole because we are Heart to Heart, Soul to Soul, Forever

  11. I am so sorry. I have only been reading your blog for a short time, but CJ's passing broke my heart. He was a special soul and I know he will always be with you in spirit.

  12. Thank you for sharing CJ with all of us ! Many years ago a vet.friend told me that as long as they don't have as many years as we do, there will come times like this. But as somebody else wrote, I would rather have known and loved you and gone through this pain than not known you at all !

  13. Thank you for sharing your beautiful CJ and his story with us. Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of such a beloved family member. We strive to give them our best and all of our love. You are truly admired by many. We fell in love with CJ from a far. He will be missed by many. He will live forever in our hearts and memories. One day we will all join our loved ones over the rainbow bridge. With hugs and love, Jacinda and the Purrjamm cats

  14. Saying good-bye is so hard! You two had quite a life together and CJ has left you some wonderful memories. Hugs, purrs and paw taps.

  15. Reading this brought tears to our human's eyes. We're so sorry.
    We (and our human) thank you for visiting us and your warm kind words on the sudden passing of our 19-year-old Tanya. It is comforting to know that you care and love animals just as much.
    Sending lots and lots of purrs, headbutts and hugs.

  16. What an absolutely beautiful and loving letter this is. CJ is up in Heaven now, running and playing in the vast nip fields, chasing butterflies. I know that he and Nissy were friends. Perhaps they will chase some butterflies, together. Purrs, Seville.

  17. Pawing respects, godspeed kitteh,

    Nuk & Family