Mr. Orbit lived large for such a small kitty. His Norwegian Forest Cat hair puffed huge in the wintertime. Yet, inside that fluff was a small 9 lb body. Our animals pick us. I have no doubt about this. For I never sought to own such a breed. Truth is, I did not know anything about his cat type until a friend told me.
(You may be reading about Mr. Orbit among my Breast Cancer Journey blogs. Fate arranged both our health challenges to intersect at a pivotal point. His transition coincided with my own transformation. Thus, his story is shared amongst my cancer blogs.)
I first saw him stare at me from the Humane Society adoption web page. When I went to adopt, the staff asked which pet I was inquiring about. I told them. They showed me all the cats leaving him last. As it was revealed, he had a very rough start. Born into a hoarders house, now 8 months, he was part of an extreme mission to rescue 120 cats of assorted ages, along with several dogs. The task was so large the humane society worked it in groups. Orbit was in treatment, a resident there for quite awhile as he had multiple issues.
He had clearly won the staff over. They all came to bid him fair-well after checking me out thoroughly, knowing my passion for pet welfare. I assured them of my commitment to continuing his meds, care and feeding routines. While the staff handled him, I did not at this point. He was placed in my carrier, where our journey began in January of 2018.
I put Orbit in a quiet room to acclimate. This was his safe zone for many months. From the get go Lunar sat at his door, anticipating meeting his new buddy. This poor sweet kitty was truly a mess. It broke my heart to see him walk so crooked, and be completely-utterly scared of the world. His tail was crooked, near the base it had broke, then healed. Perhaps caught in a slamming door, or he was stepped on. Once he found happy, he would wind his tail in circles around this stub as if he might take flight as a helicopter does.
In the safety of my untroubled home, Mr. Orbit learned what it was like to be a cat. Lunar taught him. Right off, nurse Lunar engulfed him in a bear hug and groomed his head and face, and beyond. This was a daily ritual. One Orby was comforted by. Often he would run to Lunar butting him with his head, asking for this reassurance. Lunar always embraced him with his front legs stabilizing Orbit so he could be groomed properly. Orbit finally learned to groom himself; even groomed Lunar from time to time. However, Orbit much preferred Lunar’s touch, so he got more than his fair share of cat lick massages.
As Orbit gained cat confidence he tried to play. Yet his play behavior was immature. Lunar was very playful, but often ran to me as Orbit scratched and bit him. Oh my gosh kids! Finally, I told Lunar in words, emotions and pictures to walk away when Orbit was hurting him. Just don’t engage. And that worked because behaviors teach. They reached a play agreement which was to chase each other through the house. Orbit finally learned how to regulate his claws, because Lunar walked off and that meant no more fun. Fortunately, Orby was receptive and young enough to absorb proper cat etiquette.
I let Mr. Orbit set his own pace with me, a human. I would get down on the floor and let him explore and sniff me. His courage and confidence grew, because I never trapped him. I let him come to me. After a couple months he would walk up to me. I would pet him a bit before he ran off. His panic was clear: entrapment. He did not want to be held captive. After 4 months he finally came to sit on the sofa by me and Lunar when we were chilling with movie time. Pretty soon he sidled up to my thigh, and then my lap.
After sofa time, Orbit grew bold; walked up to me. I pet him, picked him up, if he panicked, I put him back on the floor. I made it routine. Whenever Orbit advanced, I’d pick him up and put him down. All in 10 seconds. He learned to trust. And love this attention. It took a year and he was completely confident and calm within the confines of my arms and my home. He loved being caressed and held firm. He was secure within my embrace and purred huge. His progress reaffirmed that all any abused animal needs, is one human to trust, and one healthy mate to relearn and connect to the innate behaviors of their species. Plus, a safe environment to do so.
Orbit began to explore my fully enclosed backyard about the 6 month mark. He loved sitting in the raised garden beds while watching me tend the growing veggies. In fact, he was so content in the yard that he would sit or lay for hours under a couple chosen overhanging bushes. I often wondered what he was thinking about as his utter contentment was so serenely unique. I told friends that he was energizing the earth with his sweetness. Or perhaps, like ET phoning home to the heavens above, reporting the nonsensical nature of humans.
About 2 years old, Orbit came out of hiding when visitors arrived. Occasionally, he still had PTSD from his former life and sought me, or my bedroom, for comfort. I always watched for the signs and made sure to rescue and calm his angst. Eventually he fully trusted the world, and became more bold than Lunar with newcomers to our home.
He loved Lily, my horse. Whenever I let her into my backyard, Lily would come to the patio, put her nose down to meet Orbit. And he would roll on his back to show off. The boundary was clear. The patio was Orbit’s space; the grass Lily’s. Many people marveled at witnessing their relationship. I just said they knew each other from another time and place. They had an endearing reverent connection. A communication unto their own.
Mr. Orbit’s origins dictated his lifespan. I knew his life would not be one of longevity. He was strong in spirit yet frail. He did not run much, never climbed a tree or fence. He was aware of his limits. I massaged his legs, back, tail regularly; especially his tummy which had intestinal issues. He was still young when he came to live with us, so regular massages helped strengthen and straighten out his hips and gait. His tail waved more fluidly from the base. His stools became regular with wet cat food. Canned pumpkin was often mixed in for fiber along with probiotics.
I worried about his health once in a while when his delicacies showed up. He was terribly cautious, yet savvy about staying close by. He was happiest when sitting under his select bushes and watching insects crawl through the grass for hours. Orbit was quiet. He didn’t vocalize much unless he wanted to go outside. And then he insisted. He loved when the breeze blew his long fine mane around his neck. He’d sit and sniff the air soaking up fragrances. Lunar showed Orbit around my garden boxes dutifully, as I dug deep to churn the soil. The garden was our happy family spot.
Mr. Orbit’s simple life, made me evaluate the extras in mine. He was unassuming, very affectionate, and his loud purrs told me and Lunar how grateful he was for our touch and togetherness. When he was silly or excited he had a short high pitched chortle. He would trot around chirping his glee.
I built my boys a fully enclosed outdoor cage with a cat door so they could go out safely. So many nights they spent outside star gazing. Mr. Orbit was a fanatic nature lover once he discovered the great outdoors. Lunar followed him around outside to keep track of his whereabouts. Often Orbit was buried inside a bush and I didn’t know where he was. Lunar always found him. Orbit was the epitome of constant zen; a cat Buddha in his own right. I believe he just appreciated life so much after his horrific beginning.
When we moved from the fire regions of southern Oregon north he was the one to help Lunar adapt easily. Lunar, the nurse, was always concerned for Orbit. But our zen master helped Lunar to adjust in the new spots. When we finally landed onto my property and set up RV living, both cats loved it. Tiny spaces to hide. Window views right from the counters and table. My cozy bed at night. What more could a cat want? I built them a pen right off the back as there was an exit door. Orbit continued his zen sitting, as Lunar figured out every angle to climb out just to be on the other side.
I often joked my boys would probably want me to keep ‘their’ RV cat house once mine was built. While we loved living on my land, the winter was dismal. The onslaught of drenching rain non-stop. The RV inside too cold. My horses were self-care. Boarded elsewhere on a farm that I attended daily. It was not an easy place for me, physically. And I worked relentlessly on my property to prep for the build of my small house, and barn in order to return my horses home so we could all be together again.
Along the way I overtaxed my body and threw out my rib cage. I had been hard on myself doing tough work for months. My body said no more. And I found a lump growing near my ruptured ribs.
The universe stopped me dead in my tracks. It was breast cancer. And it was easy to discover because I felt it developing. It hurt, and hurt worse after each biopsy. My boys slept on each side of me every night. They stretched out full length and wedged me in as if to soak up—wick away the burden of my cancer pain from both sides. The tumor was robbing me of my life force. Occasionally, I pondered if my dis-ease stress would be too much for sensitive Orbit. Would this affect him-his health? Could he be sacrificing his life to save mine? I had deep concerns about him and started to have visions I didn’t like. He seemed quite disturbed about my condition which was natural.
Meanwhile nurse Lunar was lavishly giving comforts to both of us. Lunar was grooming Mr. Orbit so much he was hacking up hairballs regularly. I was in pain. So much was happening it made me dizzy. I was prepping and organizing the house contractors. Getting a trust finally in place, just in case. Cancer motivates you to organize your life. The barrage of doctor visits and surgery prep and too much information was overloading me. I was exhausted. The cats had a smorgasbord of foods to chose from. They both ate well. But I noticed Orbit drinking far more water than usual.
Surgery was a day procedure. But it still kicked my ass. I was fatigued and the ongoing pain never seemed to end. I stayed over night at an onsite facility while my neighbor attended my boys. When I returned I stayed confined to the RV with my feline family to heal. Nurse Lunar took up his duty of attending me. Sleeping each night near the surgical site, resting his head on my near arm or placing his paw on my breast. Orbit slept on the counter or table feet away. Something was amiss, he was too quiet. Being in pain prevented my full awareness. But I kept a watchful eye.
That first week post-op, Orbit was drinking water incessantly, peeing constantly. Not a good sign. He picked at food and then ate little the second week. I was recovering and started back to some sense of normalcy as Mr. Orbit declined. 12 days after surgery, I was able to get an appointment for him. All the area vets would only see established patients. That is how it works here. Mr. Obit’s weight had dropped to under 7 lbs. Not good for a 9 pound cat. They took him back to take blood samples for labs and gave him a subcutaneous fluids to keep him hydrated. I spoke at length to the vet about Orbit’s origins and spilled my concerns for his future well being. Without lab results, Orby’s issues were unknown. I knew one thing for certain. He had kidney failure that was advancing fast.
The Vet assured me several times they would call the next day with the results. This was a large 24 hour hospital. You would think they would have an onsite lab. No. They sent labs out. When he was brought back to me he purred and went and hid in his cozy pet crate. My worry kept me awake every night. How could the universe be so damn cruel. It had been one tough, cold winter with many setbacks. My body was a mess for the first time in my life. In 2 days I had an oncology appointment to learn the fate of my treatment plan and learn more about my tumor, which thank the good Lord, I caught at stage 2 of 3.
Each day I was coming a tad more out of the surgery stupor. I was attending phone calls and too much. I called the next day and asked about the labs. At 1pm they were not in. A front desk gal said the vet would call when they got in that day. After 6pm that night I called again. This new gal tells me labs can take up to 10 days. WTF!? I politely told her in 10 days my cat would be probably dead. Why was I not told this truth earlier? She didn’t know what to say.
The next day I had post surgery appointments and met my oncologist. Lots of information and scrutinizing and my savvy oncologist endorsed no chemotherapy. Along with the tumor, the surgeon caught and extracted the scant trace of cancer cells that had not pierced the lymph node yet. Thank YOU JESUS. However, a couple months of radiation is ahead, plus a lifetime of pills. I was grateful, so grateful. I didn’t believe my body would withstand chemo.
I had bought and cooked chicken the day before and Orbit had liked it. I had resumed my massaging him which I had not done during these difficult months. His frame was diminished, frail, but he enjoyed the caressing. It seemed to stimulate his appetite that night. And this next day he ate quite a bit of chicken and broth. I knew it would take far more to get the fat on him needed to survive. He revived enough to explore the new house foundation that was poured 3 days after surgery. I was so tired of healing pain. My body was stressed about much, mostly Orbit. I was beginning to understand my constant visions of walking sadly to the top of my hill carrying something odd.
Mr. Orbit was quiet this evening. Too quiet. Lunar stayed with him to care take. I crashed early and went into a coma sleep. At 2am I was summoned awake abruptly. Orbit’s angel said he was now actively dying. I got up. Orby’s breathing was elevated, more labored. He had fluid droplets from his nose and sneezed away the congestion. I held him and he purred. I told him—gave my permission for him to go back home. I talked to him a long time and held him until my pain set in and I had to go lay down for a tad.
On this day, just 16 days post surgery would be Orbit’s last earth day. I am so grateful he waited for me to help him out of this life and into the next. My intuition told me a call about his labs would come that morning. The vet called about 8:30am with what I already knew. Kidney failure. Urinary tract infection. Whole body infection. Severe Anemia. Too much for his tiny body to endure. I asked the vet for the soonest appointment to put him down. It was at 4pm. I asked if they had a mobile vet as I preferred euthanizing him at home. Less stress. I tried several mobile vets, but everyone was booked up.
While I was on the phone conversing with Dr. P. my whole body flooded with an odd sensation. Like a burst of releasing sickness—buzzed through every cell in my being. I was looking on at Orbit, and still carrying on this conversation without a hitch. Right then Lunar went over to Orbit, hugged him tight and groomed his head and face for about a minute. Then let go. Got down. And never looked at him again. A tinkling sensation rushed through me, knowing that perhaps Orby’s consciousness had just departed to leave his body behind to handle the rest. In this way, Orbit was not fully present on earth anymore to suffer as much, although his body would show this side. I know this separation of consciousness as I had experienced it myself. It had long been a comfort for me to know that our bodies are capable of amazing reliefs during what appears to be awful for the recipient. Nature’s protection.
The day was sunny and warm. I put Orbit out in his pen that he loved. When he curled up in the sunshine he looked like he could sleep himself away. I wished he would. I laid him on my chest and we rested on the zero gravity chair my friend gave me for a property warming gift. Just 2 weeks earlier Lunar and Orbit laid on my lap in the same chair in the carport as it rained outside. I loved having my kids cuddle up on my lap together outside as they often did. I thought this would last forever.
Orbit relayed he wanted to be buried up on the hill with a cherry tree. I had several fruit trees I still had not planted. The only flowering tree left was a plum. I went up the hill and scouted a site near the row of fruit trees I planted long before surgery. I began to dig, but remembered I should not. I saw the builders below on break and asked them to help. They graciously dug a nice round hole, for the first of my family to be buried on my property.
4 o’clock came. The staff were all so nice and empathetic. I waited with Orby at the car until they called us in 20 minutes later. I just sat and petted him which he absorbed. I had sent him love and courage during the day, so he was prepped. If there is one thing everyone can do for their pet, it is be present for them during their transition. Put your grief away for later. Put your agendas, and poor me- or my poor pet thoughts away. Animals perceive death far different that us. To them it is like taking another coat off.
Our pets that have journeyed with us, comforted us, given us unconditional love, deserve to be honored and appreciated and told, during this time especially. Pet transitions are sacred moments. Be present. Attend their comforts and their emotional state. It is vital, so you can make choices for their well being.
From my cancer experience, I learned that it is important to have an advocate. Someone to listen and take note; ask questions when I was on information overload; and who would speak up for my welfare. I was now Orbit’s advocate. It became apparent, I was the unusual client. Calm, clear and direct. Not emotional, although I was sick inside. I had brought plenty of ginger to suck on to quell my angst and calm my stomach. It worked.
A vet tech met us at the front door and took us to room 5. We weighed Orbit, so they could exact the serum amount. In just days he had lost .7 pounds and was a scant 6 lbs now. This ‘head’ tech disappeared and another gal comes in. She says she is taking Orbit away to put the IV line in. I told her NO. Orbit was to stay with me. I didn’t want him stressed. She saw my determination. I was matter of fact. Perhaps their protocol is to minimize clients distress. Don’t know. I assured them I had been down this road many times, and my concern was for Orbit’s welfare.
The gal said okay, said she’d be right back. And back she came with another young tech. They told me they would handle Orbit, I said I was fine. But they insisted, so the young tech took my place, as I stood at the head of the table. The primary tech shaved Orbit’s scant arm. The vein was tiny. I could see she was studying the small vein. She inserted a needle and Orby was good, but she missed. Then she inserted it again and Orbit with little left, fought back. She pursued- and I said please don’t and she backed off. She then shaved the other leg. And went to insert the needle and Orbit was upset and distressed and resisted, but could not. He was too weak. I immediately told her calmly, directly to STOP. I told her I didn’t want him stressed during his transition time. Or me–At ALL. He didn’t deserve this in his final moments. To go get something oral, or other to relax him. She listened as I was adamant, firm, and resolute. I was Mr. Orbit’s advocate. She said she would see what would be suggested. And they both left.
I rubbed Orby’s ears and made Fibonacci swirls in his fur to calm him and he relaxed. I stuffed the last of my ginger into my mouth to calm me. Time again passed. Orbit was content in my hands. The door opens and Dr. P walks in. She seemed to be in a trance. She stared oddly at me, as if confused. I said, “Hello. Do you remember me?” Bewildered she said, “I am in the wrong room. I have no idea why I came in here.” I silently smiled. This was divine intervention working. And Yes, she said she knew who I was. She fixated on Orbit, and me soothing him. Finally, she relayed she was seeing that Orbit and I were unified. We had complete agreement, as we were both at ease, peace filled. I acknowledged her observation, and said yes, we are one. That I was deeply connected to him, and all animals. I had put a card in my pocket earlier, and handed it to her, and said she might enjoy my website.
I then told her that I was upset at the tech’s attempts to put the IV into Orbit. I told her what happened. I said I am not blaming the tech, his veins are dehydrated, but we needed an experienced practitioner. I relayed that I told the tech to find another option. Dr. P understood completely. She told me she agreed with my choices. I thanked her for supporting us, as she turned around and left the room in thought.
I returned to comforting Orbit. Inordinate time passed between this swinging door of revolving techs. It was disconcerting that a 10 minute job now turned into an hour. I suppose this time also gave me—both of us time to settle. I was not use to this environment of commotion. All my previous pet passings had been fully attended by one qualified Vet, start to finish; completed within reason. This was a big facility, but I made an appointment time that should have been respectfully honored. Maybe it was the way they did things. Their method was so not in my comfort range. But I was grateful to have their help in helping Orby to heaven. Awkward as it had gone thus far. I did not want Orbit to die on his own, as surely he would have panicked drowning in the fluids building in his lungs.
The door opened another 15 minutes later. I believe Dr. P gave directives for a NEW tech who walked in with a syringe. She said it was a sedative that would completely knock Orbit out and for me to be prepared. It was to go in his back end. Immediately Orbit stood up and actually arched his back-end up to meet the shot. He was so ready. She was rather surprised. And injected him. She said it would take about 10 minutes and he started to relax into my supporting arms. Within a minute he succumbed. I was relieved he was finally out of pain and minutes from freedom.
I bent over to see his open eyes comatose. He was not in pain, my spirit guide told me. I continued to just stroke his beautiful bright orange coat. And thank him for gracing my life for as long as he did. I relaxed with him and soon another new tech came in and inserted the new IV right into place. I sat down as they did it. The stone floor was hard, exhaustion, no sleep, the surgery pain, caught up to me. I had been standing in that room over an hour. Ridiculously unacceptable really. They left.
I got up and softly stroked Orbit again. He knew I was there. He had nothing left in him but his soul. Then a man vet came in and said he would inject another serum for relaxing, and the next would stop his heart. The vets only job was simply administering a narcotic, as he held the license to do so. Orbit’s heart stopped immediately. He left me in the room and said he’d return. Dear Lord. Too many revolving doors; probably 11 total that day. I just wanted to escape with Orbit. My spirit guide told me his soul would not leave his body until we got back home.
Next the original vet tech from the first day came in with a white coffin box. They had taped a fresh flower on top. That was sweet. She took the IV catheter out. The apparatus was larger than his leg. All this seemed to much for what could have been done with a needle injection. We took off his collar and she placed him in the box. I gathered his collar, leash and towel I had brought in with him. She handed me the box and over an hour and a half later we walked out the front door with the staff sending their condolences along the way. Their compassion and caring was appreciated, but the chaos too much.
I walked to my car as arriving clients looked on. I was stoic like Mr. Orbit. I placed the coffin box in the passenger seat next to me and opened the lid. He was not dead to me because his soul was still within his body. I could see him breathing; the doubling of his body as I have seen-perceived this in my others, many times before. I drove out of the parking lot down the highway and bawled like a baby while talking to Mr. Orbit. It was a half hour drive home. By time I got there I had no cry left.
Lunar had not come back to the RV by time I left earlier. It was the first time ever I left him out. He had groomed his friend goodbye just 9 hours earlier. Now Lunar came out of the trees into the one lane road as I drove up. And followed me carrying Orby in his coffin box into the RV. I sat next to him and lifted his warm limp body out of his box. I put him on my chest, leaned back and held him. Exhausted, I closed my eyes. I don’t know how much time passed. I did not feel his essence slip out. I was told his soul transitioned. I opened my eyes and looked at Orbit now truly gone. His whole demeanor was one of a dead carcass. I put him back into his box. Left the top open to see if Lunar want one last look. He did. He put his head inside the box briefly then walked away. I told Lunar he could come up the hill with us. But he did not.
I now knew what I was carrying in the visions I had seen from the last weeks. I trekked through the pasture that was chest high. I put the box down and realized it would not fit in the round grave hole. I liked the box. It protected Orby’s body from getting dirty. All of it would decompose except his pink heart metal tag with both our names on it, and my phone number. I picked up the shovel I had left there, and chopped into the dirt sidewalls to square it up. Shouldn’t have with my tender stitches, but I did. I used my right hand and foot to dig it out. It took awhile, but I finally got the box to fit right. And then I placed the root ball of the plum tree right next to the box and filled Orbits resting spot with dirt.
I sat on the bank for awhile. Evening was creeping in. I gazed upon the serenity view my property gifted me. “Vista Bonita” was a perfect place for Orbit to rest. I then looked at another tree close by Orbit’s grave. It was a cheery tree I had planted over 2 months ago. Orbit got his wish of being by a cherry tree after all.
Lunar met me at the bottom of the hill and we went inside to eat some sort of dinner. Lunar had now lost 3 best buddies in his 8 years. His brother Sox. Our beloved Toby. And now Mr. Orbit. Lunar said he would miss Orbit, but he too was relieved. I think Lunar needs a break from playing nurse kitty. We both need to enjoy life for awhile. We are alone once again. Orbit’s vacancy creates a huge hole. It is only time that heals this. We will be fine.
The last 2 years had been wicked really. Physically-mentally-emotionally-spiritually. I held much gratitude in my heart, but have been challenged with much for too long. My spirit guides have relayed the Equinox, June 21 will begin anew for me. A switch. Nicer weather; my house, barn, and fencing getting done fast. Plus the summer will bring fun… whatever that means because I cannot imagine it at this point.
Time will heal my aches for missing Mr. Orbit. My guides tell me he is home with them now. That he absolutely and dearly LOVED-APPRECIATED the life he lived with Lunar and I. We so cherished him. I know we will see him sitting in his brilliant orange coat alongside Lunar on my new house deck one day soon. This was a vision given to me over a week ago. That is why I thought there was hope. I never know when these visions will be complete until it is. I do have inklings, but have too many to keep track of. So now I don’t.
I cannot count all the blessings Mr. Orbit bestowed. He was a quiet soul with a huge heart. Mr. Orbit’s name came from his helicopter tail, but also it means what goes around comes around. He was the reincarnation of my Bella kitty lost in 2014. All of my animals have returned to me two, or more times now. As is typical on the heels of Orby’s demise, the vision of our next family member is on it’s way. I really cannot deal with putting another pet down. It is just so difficult to love so deep, and then lose my family. But, I also know a life without their love is no life for me. It sucks to be clairvoyant. However, in my darkest of times it has shimmered hope by giving me glimpses, of a happier future ahead. And, this is what keeps me in this game we call life.
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No reprints or copying without permission of the author, Patty Ann.