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An ode to Coco

Posted in - photography on February 26th 2013 9 Comments

Coco the Siamese cat

It’s rare that we get everything that we want at the same time. Sometimes, happy occasions are counteracted with sad ones. I handed in the manuscript for my book this past Saturday. That same day, I got a text from my mom saying that my beloved Siamese cat, Coco, had to be put to sleep. I had known this was coming since Christmas, but knowledge and distance didn’t make the news completely easy to take.

Coco and I had been through a lot together. Some of you may remember me posting photos on here when I first got her. I adopted Coco from the Southern California Siamese Rescue in May 2009. I was in my post-college-trying-to-figure-out-my-life phase and was going through a bit of depression and loneliness. I decided I wanted to adopt a cat, and so started looking online for those available in my general area. Then I saw Coco’s picture on the SoCal Siamese website, and was immediately won over by her beauty and obvious diva-ish attitude. Also, come on, Coco? Coco Bean? It was destiny.

I drove two hours to Burbank where she was being fostered by a British couple. They told me that she was very timid, had been abandoned, had some dental work done, and had been in a few foster homes previously because she didn’t get along with other cats and had a tendency to hide a lot. I went into the bathroom and found her huddled behind the toilet. She had nowhere to run but she let me pet her and I took her home with me. It took her a few days to start warming up to her new surroundings, but from then on, we were pals.

Then, about five months in, she stopped eating, began sleeping all day, and was drooling quite a bit. A trip to the vet revealed that she had an unfortunately common problem with Oriental cats: stomatitis. Her gums became so infected that within a few months, I was faced with the option of giving her back to the shelter and having her put down, or paying for a very expensive surgery to have all of her teeth removed. The stress of the situation was overwhelming. I didn’t have enough money to pay the vet bills – I wasn’t expecting a sick cat right off the bat – but I had promised to be her “forever home.” So, I turned to tumblr and twitter for help, and amazingly, total strangers reached out to chip in. Within a week, I’d raised enough money to pay for her surgery. Talk about tears of gratitude on this end. After a bit of a rough recovery, Coco was like a completely new cat – still skittish and only let me pet her, but definitely not as reclusive as she had been.

When I got accepted to grad school and moved to London, I took Coco up north to live with my parents and she ended up taking to my dad. Not surprising, considering he’s basically an animal whisperer. But she still remembered me when I came home for visits, and every weekend when I Skyped with my parents, I’d ask for a Coco report.

A few months ago, my dad said she had started limping. She was older so we thought maybe she had arthritis. The limp didn’t go away and when I was home for the holidays, an x-ray revealed she had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her arm. I was devastated by the diagnosis. I’d only adopted her four years ago and she’d had a rough life. It wasn’t fair that this should happen to this poor little creature. We decided that, given the circumstances and cost, we would forego amputation and let life take its course. I’d been home for three weeks and although she let me pet her when she was sleeping it was only on the very last night I was home that she came and curled up next to me on my bed like she used to.

My heart aches, but I think my mom was right when she said that I’d given Coco the best four years of her life, and I’m so glad I got to say goodbye. We’re lucky we found each other.

So, RIP, pretty Cocobean. May your sassiness reign in the next life.

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As of now (9) people have had something to say...

  • Katy - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 12:55 am

    I just teared up reading this. I always enjoyed your posts and photos of Coco because she reminds me of my cat, Cleopatra. I will be devastated when her time comes, so I know this must be hard. But I think your mom is right. Without you, Coco probably wouldn’t have even made it as long as she did. You saved her, really.

  • Lisa - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 1:03 am

    What a lovely tribute to a beautiful feline. We have all been through this kind of sadness and time will eventually help, but it never stops the beautiful memories.
    My heart goes out to you and your family.

  • Angela D - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Kendra, This is a beautiful post and made me cry. You were very brave to help your cat out time and again. I remember when I first found your site and friended you on FB, I too was in grad school and feeling those pressures as well as the “what am I going to do with my life questions” and you were desperately seeking financial assistance for your cat. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Riikka - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Totally just teared up reading your beautiful tribute to your lovely cat. I remember the whole stomatitis saga well and just how lovingly you always spoke of her later on in London. RIP Cocobean. <3

  • Rohit - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I just cried a little, Kendra. It’s been great knowing (albeit a little) Coco through you and I’m so sorry this has happened. I agree with your mother that you gave her the last four years of her life. Perhaps the whole karma thing *is* true…all your hard work is finally coming true, including everything you put in to pay for her surgery.

    Stay awesome.

  • Vivienne - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    It is so hard to lose a pet. There’s no doubt you were a fantastic Kitty Mommy, Kendra. I know you brought her as much joy as she brought you. :)

  • Sylvia Kodis - Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Dear Kendra,
    I’m in tears, totally devestated hearing of Coco’s passing. Your mom is right, you gave her the best four years of her life.I have put down 2 of my cats, and believe me it doesn’t get any easier.Keep all the good memories in your heart of her, that’s what gave me comfort as time goes by.Coco is in a much better place, she will be missed.

  • Nancy - Reply

    February 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Kendra. It’s always hard to lose one that has been a part of your heart. May you always remember the best of times and good memories replace the sorrow quickly…

  • sylvia kodis - Reply

    February 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I meant to say “had” to put down 2 of my cats.

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