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The Cats Guide To Grief

Chief The Fire Cat

I lost my Chief and now there is a hole in my heart where a cold wind blows.

Chief and his brother Sparkey were fire department rescues from a house fire in September of 1990. Their mother saved them from the fire, she went into the burning house and brought the two kittens out to the fire crew. Chief and his brother Sparky were less than 6 weeks old. Sparky had all of his claw sheaths burned off and the tops of his ears. His fur was crusty from the heat. Chief had third degree burns on his face, legs and belly. All of his claws and sheaths were burned off. We thought we needed to euthanasia him - but from the very beginning he showed an incredible will to live - so we gave him a chance. Under veterinarian guidance, I cared for Chief and Sparky and they survived. They were/are the most precious creatures on the face of this earth.

Sparky is still living, but I am sorry to say Chief left this earth on April 13th, 2002. He took my heart with him.

Please place this as a tribute to Chief on your website. It is a letter I wrote to the clinic that helped Chief and I when Chief became ill with Feline Diabetes:

To Oak Hills Cat Clinic:

I want to take this time again to thank you for all of the tender loving care that you gave to Chief and I. I would not have survived his death without the compassionate care and understanding that you provided to us during the dark time of his passing.

I think about him all the time and although my grief is subsiding, I sometimes cannot bear the thought that he is gone. I often see his shadow and hear his voice in the house. Sometimes I forget he is gone when I awaken suddenly in the night and then...after awhile...it slowly comes to me and I am sad again. At that time a great feeling of sadness and aloneness flows over me. Chief and I were so connected that he was a part of me and I cannot let go.

Sparky, Chief's brother has taken to sleeping with me and sitting on the back of my recliner when I am sitting in it so he can nestle his head in my hair and sleep. Since these are the things Chief used to do, I think Sparky wants to take Chief's place in my life. I am amused and touched at Sparky's attempts to console me. I know Sparky is grieving for Chief too. They were close, sleeping together, and wrestling with one another. About a week before Chief died they wrestled for the last time. As sick as Chief was, he rallied for a few minutes to give his brother one last wrestle before he left this earth. I know Sparky misses him and comes to me for comfort.

I will always miss Chief's presence in my life. I miss his keen intuition, his comforting paw and meow whenever I was upset. He was always at the door when I left my house and he was always there to meet me when I came home. I will miss the way he use to dive into my suitcase when I was packing for a business trip and my mother calling me when I was away to have me talk to Chief because "he was blue". I was comforted by his sweet little sleep sounds he made in me ear at night. I miss his whimsical nature, playing "hide-go-seek", hiding his "berry", and running from window to window looking for our neighbor "Archie". I miss his devotion to me, he hardly left the bed when I was sick and he loved my grandson from the very first time we brought him home. Chief loved to have his picture taken. You can find him in many family photos, sometimes peering around a corner or from under a table. Most of all I will miss his head on attitude towards life. He wasn't afraid...even though he had disabilities that made him harmless towards other animals, he had all the cats and dogs fooled - he ruled the house. Chief had the brave heart of a lion yet he was gentle as a lamb. How he roared through my life and commanded my heart.

Some people tell me that my life must be pretty empty to put so much stock in just a cat. I say to them Chief added grace and dignity to my life and I am a better person for it. My life is fuller than most for knowing such a sweet creature sent to me straight from heaven......

So I thank you all again for all the kindness you showed Chief and I. I am forever in your debt.....

Sincerely,
Ginger Greer

   


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