Two Memorials: In Memory of Izzy and Max
This has been a challenging week for all of us at Spring Farm CARES. We had two cats who passed away on the same day, just hours apart. One passing was expected as she was peacefully transitioning after 17 amazing years with us. The other was a complete shock. Normally, we would be doing two separate memorials as each of these beings was so different and brought so many different things to this farm. However, for some reason, it feels that they need to be written together so we will honor that for them.
Our beloved barn cat Izzy, age 17, peacefully left this farm and joined her littermate sister Bella in spirit. Izzy and Bella came here at just a few weeks old. They were born on a farm and it just so happened that we were looking for the right pair of barn cats for our barn. Because they already knew the ropes of barn life, we felt they were the right pair to try. However, Izzy had a severe eye infection that needed a lot of medical care and that is why the previous farm asked if we could take the two of them together. In the end, we couldn’t save Izzy’s eye and it had to be removed. But that never slowed her down a bit. Izzy and Bella were the head barn keepers for about 14 years together. We lost Bella two years ago to renal disease. Izzy insisted she’d be ok and stayed on in the barn. We had offered her a spot indoors if she wanted to retire but she was just not ready to do that. We know she missed her sister terribly. But she told Dawn that she now had to work for two of them and that is how she wanted to honor Bella most.
We watched as Izzy also started to age. She also had early signs of renal disease. Being a head barn cat is not an easy job. It’s a huge responsibility. Izzy and Bella did their jobs extraordinarily well. Many visitors to the farm hold incredibly warm memories of one or both of them as they showed visitors around the barn and made sure everyone was accounted for. Two years ago, our barn was visited by a mink who was determined to get our ducks, chickens, and goose. We had to evacuate the fowl from the barn until we could capture and relocate this mink who thought he found his free meal ticket. Izzy went inside. At first, she was not so thrilled with the idea. She’d sit in the window looking out over the farm and we could all feel how badly she wanted to get back to work. But the nights were getting cold and she ended up inside for a couple of weeks before the mink was caught and relocated. By then, Izzy decided that maybe it indeed was ok to retire and have a different life. She lived in our Library where we also hosted workshops and she still got to greet and visit with people. She loved her new life, helping in the office and sleeping in a nice soft bed in the sun.
Izzy had been slowly fading in the past couple of weeks. We knew she would be leaving us soon but she was comfortable and peaceful. Izzy passed in her favorite bed with the most amazing grace and peace and dignity. She quietly slipped away and joined Bella who we know was waiting for her. We are honored to have had Izzy with us for all these years. It was wonderful to see her enjoy every single aspect of her life. Bella was the same. They radiated joy and happiness and contentment. And what they gave to us and to so many other animals and humans over these years is more than we can even know or express.
Max left us completely unexpectedly. He was only 8 years old. While we were holding space and keeping watch over Izzy, Max was just feet away in his own area where he slept for the night. We were shocked beyond words to go over to give him his breakfast only to find that he had passed. He gave us no indication at all that anything was wrong with him. Max had many medical issues, but nothing that seemed remotely indicative that he was ill at all. Max left without explanation or any way to say good-bye. But that was so like Max. He wouldn’t have wanted his special people to be sad. Yet, sad we are. Heartbroken for our loss, even though we know he is ok. Because of Max’s medical situation, there are numerous ways his life could have gotten difficult. He had been through a lot already. But Max was filled with life and with joy.
Some of you may remember when we featured stories of Max in the past year. He came to us in 2016 after he was hit by a car and lost the use of his bowel and bladder. We spent years expressing his bladder for him until one day something stopped working in his bladder altogether and we could no longer manually express it for him. Right there would have been the end of the line for Max. But his journey continued on with him riding each wave with joy. Thanks to our own on-staff veterinarian and Max’s best friend Dr. Christine, we found alternative options to help him. Many may have considered it radical and for many cats we would have too and would have never done it. But Max was clearly all in. He was amazing. A medical apparatus was surgically installed into his bladder that emptied out through an external port in his abdomen where we could attach a syringe and empty his bladder three times a day. Max took to this port very well. And his life improved dramatically. Max was Dr. Christine’s office mate and he adored her. We have photos and videos of him, even just in his last few days, where he was lounging on his bed on her desk and purring and kneading and clearly beyond overjoyed with his life. Max was a huge spirit. He literally filled a room when he was in it. And now, there is a huge hole in his absence. It is hard to understand from our perspective why this would happen and why now. He was at the top of his game. But for Max, when we really look at Max and understand who he is and how he moved through his life, it is actually not surprising. Max lived on his terms. He beat the odds so many times out of shear will and desire to be here. Max was also impulsive at times, bolting out a door when he knew he wasn’t supposed to. Leaving people exasperatingly shouting “ugh, Max got out again!” I think he loved to watch us scrambling after him. It was the game, the joy, the challenge. It was Max simply being Max. So when he bolted out that final door, he left us all scrambling. Trying to make sense of something we can’t make sense of. Yet, knowing in our hearts, that Max was simply being Max. Grateful for all we gave him. Grateful for every second. But now it was time to go.
We want to thank Dr. Marcus Hetzner and Dr. Paul Bookbinder for not just their surgical skills but for their willingness to step outside the box for Max. What you gave him by being brave enough to do so made a whole world of difference to one cat and you have a debt of gratitude from everyone who loved that one big soul in a gorgeous cat body.
Oh, and one last thing Max…. since you bolted out another door…. We will say what we always used to say to you when you did that.
Max, you’d better get back here!