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On Friday, I had to have my beautiful Maine Coon, Feather, put to sleep. She was almost 18 years old, so I can't complain that I didn't get enough time with her, but it is still hard to let a family member go. And she was almost as beautiful when she left us as she was on the day she arrived in our household.

Poor Feather had been sick off and on for quite a while. She had irritable bowel syndrome, and had been on Prednisone for a number of years. Several years ago, her left hip collapsed. Hip dysplasia is fairly common among Maine Coons. I thought that would be the end of her, but my vet sent us for acupuncture and it worked miracles.

We were fortunate that the University of Florida Vet School has one of the world’s foremost animal acupuncturists in Dr. Huisheng Xie. Dr. Xie started Feather on monthly acupuncture treatments for her arthritis. The acupuncture helped with the pain and Feather was able to get around fairly pain-free, although she did walk on the whole foot of her left back leg (like walking on your arm up to the elbow). She limped around for more than two years. As an aging cat, Feather also was developing aging kidneys and Dr. Xie gave her acupuncture treatment for her kidneys too. Her kidney failure was stabilized at the time of her death.

Feather was such a good acupuncture patient that she was featured on the Vet School's Small Animal Clinic brochure and when PBS came to do a documentary on animal acupuncture, Feather was Dr. Xie's choice for the cat to be filmed. She was a real star. She loved acupuncture. She never complained as they stuck needles in her, wired her up, turned on the electrotherapy and "charged her up" for 20 minutes. She would come home and chill out for the rest of the day. Feather highly recommends acupuncture for any cat that has arthritis.

Sadly, Feather developed acute pancreatitis and did not respond to treatment for that. She pretty much quit eating, only nibbling a bite now and then. She would come up for food saying she was hungry, but after a couple of nibbles, she would turn away. Our vet said that eating with pancreatitis is very painful, so the pain over comes the hunger. Feather had lost 8 ounces in a week and was continuing to lose weight.

So on Friday our vet came to our house and gave Feather the injections and she passed away peacefully in my arms.  She is now buried in our garden with three other of our beloved cats--Zoe who was 22 when he died, Magic who died at 15, and Sophie who died last summer from cancer much too young at seven years old.

The joy of having cats is tempered by the sadness of losing them. But the memories of loving and being loved far outweigh the sadness in the long run.

Rest in Peace, Feather.

Originally posted to lynneinfla on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by PWB Peeps.

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