“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” –A. A. Milne “Winnie the Pooh”
I have many different emotions stirring in my soul with this post. There is the pure joy and happiness with introducing a new, special member in our family, Violet, and the lingering feelings of pain and sadness with losing Cleo. (You can see my tribute to Cleo in this post). Ian and I still have moments during the day where we tear up when something reminds us of Cleo. I don’t think that will ever go away, and, frankly, I don’t want it to. I know that my memories of her stay alive. And, I was genuinely concerned about adopting another kitten because I was fearful the same thing would happen. I was not sure if my heart could go through that pain and loss, again. But, I know myself. I have an enormous amount of love in my heart to give, and my soul knew, even if the same pain had to be endured twice, it was worth the experience just to give that deep amount of love to someone else.
Violet. She is a true gem, and a one-of-a-kind cat. I’m pretty certain Cleo had a hand in how Violet came into our lives because so many pieces fell into place so perfectly.
My parents are still in Texas, and my mom took their Yorkie for her usual check-up at the vet clinic we have used for years. This was a few days after we lost Cleo. My mom mentioned to one of the staff members about Cleo and her battle with FIP, and the staff member told my mom that they have some kittens up for adoption, but there was one in particular that they wanted to go to a special home because she was a special cat.
My mom gave me the contact info, and I emailed, Beth, who heads up the adoptions at the clinic, and she sent me photos and information about this kitten named, Violet. It just so perfectly worked out that Ian and I could meet her in person when we went to my brother’s and his, then fiancé’s, wedding.
When we stepped into the room and the foster who cared for Violet brought her in, it was love at first sight. She was a doll, and the most curious little thing I have ever seen. Ian and I could tell she loved to play, wanted to be involved in everything, and, the best thing of all, she instantly purred when you pet her. Ian and I looked at each other and we didn’t have to say anything. We knew this kitten was meant to be in our lives and us in her life.
Violet is about 4 months old now, and we brought her home when she was around 11 weeks. It has been bittersweet watching Violet grow and realizing how sick Cleo was and how hard she was fighting. But, I am overjoyed knowing we have a kitten that is extremely happy, healthy, full of life, and full of love.
I hear many people say that after they lose a pet, they don’t want to get another one because the pain was so deep. I have a new understanding of that, now. Everyone grieves differently, and everyone needs different amounts of time to process their grief. And, it is easy to become so overwhelmed by the pain that we forget how much joy there was in the love and bond that was shared with our pets. But, that love is worth remembering despite the pain. And, I think when we focus on the pain, then there is a potential of missing out on new relationships that can enrich our lives even more and in different ways. So, here are my:
4 Lessons I have Learned Through Opening My Heart to Love a New Pet, Again:
- We never truly know our capacity for love, until we experience love and loss.
- Loss is horrible. It is painful, and there is not any way around it except going through the grieving process. Pain and sadness are often seen as negative, but there is so much positive than can come through it. I was not sure if I could open my heart up again for another fur baby because I realized just how painful it was to lose one. I started thinking about how I will have to go through the same thing when we lose our 3 dogs, and it was soul crushing. But, I started thinking about how my life was so much more enriched and wonderful because of the love and bonds I have with all our fur babies past and present. I don’t want to miss out on that in the future, even if it means experiencing more loss. My capacity for love has grown as I have gotten older.
- We never forget those we love.
- I mentioned in my tribute to Cleo how I was terrified of forgetting her. I realize, now, she is unforgettable because a part of my soul went with her. I still have my memories of her, and Ian and I reminisce about her often. Forgetting her is impossible with the mark she left on our hearts and in our lives.
- It’s ok to feel scared.
- My heart was shattered with the way we lost Cleo, and I was terrified. I was worried that getting another kitten would be too soon, and I was concerned that I would not be able to love, Violet, the way I loved Cleo. I was scared I would be in a constant state of comparing them all the time. But, I have not found this to be true for me. Violet has her similarities, but she is all her own. My love for Violet is a little different because she is different and unique, but that does not make it any less deep than the love I had for Cleo. It’s apples and oranges, and my bond with Violet is unique. Which leads me to…
- Every relationship we have is unique.
- I think our dogs are the best example of this. I have a different relationship with each of our dogs because they are all so different in personality, and Ian and I adopted them at different stages of our lives. I would be constantly frustrated if I expected all 3 of them to be the same. This also goes for people. If we go in expecting everyone to be the same or all our relationships to be the same, we are going to be extremely disappointed and probably resentful. People and animals are all unique with their own personalities. Placing everyone in a box is detrimental to them and you.
- I think the biggest piece of advice I can give to someone who lost a pet and is thinking about adopting or getting a new one is this: your heart has to be in a place where it is open to a new, unique relationship. If you go in expecting the same relationship you had with your previous pet, you will be extremely disappointed and the bond will be extremely difficult to form, if at all. When you go in knowing that you won’t find an exact replica, you can have a new relationship with a new pet that is just as deep and fulfilling in new ways, and your capacity for love will grow more than you imagined possible.
It’s safe to say, Ian and I absolutely adore, Violet. We both went in knowing that we were going to get to know Violet as Violet. We were intentional about making sure we were in the right head space before adopting her and ensuring that we were not expecting her to be the exact same as Cleo or trying to replace her.
Fun facts about Violet:
- She is the most loving cat you will ever meet!
- She loves to hang out on our shoulders like a parrot. I will pretty much walk around the house with her hanging out on my shoulder.
- Violet loves to hunt, and she is constantly finding things around the house to play with.
- She adores playing hide and seek with her 3 older sisters Maggie, Lady, and Bell.
- Maggie is Violet’s favorite to chill with, cuddle with, and play with.
- She is a cuddle monster! Violet loves nothing more than to curl up in your lap for a nap.
- She is extremely inquisitive and curious. Violet always wants to know what is happening, going on, and if she doesn’t she will go try to figure it out.
- She is extremely fast! Her favorite exercise activity is to run laps in our tub, and it is crazy adorable to watch.
- Violet is high energy, and she plays non-stop most of the day.
- She is also not afraid to let her opinions be known, but she does it in the most loving way.
- Violet is an incredibly sweet and loving cat, and our lives are much better with her in it.
**If you are in the Houston area and looking to adopt, I highly recommend checking out ABC Animal and Bird Clinic in Sugar Land. The veterinarians and staff are unmatched in quality, customer service, and care, and they are the most caring and compassionate people I have had the pleasure of knowing. I truly cannot sing enough high praises about them. They love and care for your pets just as much as you do, and if Ian and I ever move back to Houston, all our animals will be treated by them.**
I want to give a special thank you to Beth for telling us about Violet and showing Ian and I so much love and compassion with our loss and always being so kind anytime I have come into the clinic, and an extra special thank you to Jessica, Violet’s foster, for caring for Violet so well and allowing her to be the newest member of our family. After meeting her, I can only imagine how extremely difficult it was to let her go. Violet will always have a special place in her heart for you.