Mar 11 2017

Ornji’s Lessons, Deed A Day and Letter to Vet

Published by

My dear Ornji cat, who recently passed but only after showing me  that ‘if you got to go, do it right’ and the last four months of his inspired LIVING have encouraged me to continue living that inspired life as I had been doing with Ornji – squeezing every drop out of each day while enjoying Ornji’s company. And, in so doing, I’ve looked for some kind of a project to keep that ‘thought’ alive. We will call it ‘Ornji’s Deed A Day’ and will amount to doing or noting at least one extra special positive thing every day, whether it be noting the squirrel and bird who  visited me only feet away the day after Ornji left or maybe it’s making a special donation in Ornji’s name. These ‘Ornji’s Daily Deeds’  will be noted below.


Ornji SHOWED REAL APPRECIATION throughout the time he was with me , never complaining or even letting his illness be a problem. (I wouldn't have minded). He had a will to live and outlived doctors expectations by several months. I like to think I made things as comfortable as possible for him and he seemed to really appreciate.
Ornji taught me that ILLNESS IS NOT TO BE SAD ABOUT about but to work through it and continue to live with as much quality as possible until the last day. I'm afraid I'm still working on this lesson among these many 'teachings' of Ornji .
'SUPPOSED BAD DAYS CAN BE GOOD DAYS' - Ornji didn't let his illness get him down and, In so doing, Ornji bonded with me, especially in the last 'bonus' four months. I had determined to savor these last months, as much as possible; as I tried to give Ornji the best, he seemed to appreciate and gave it right back. These were probably the most satisfying for me - and maybe Ornji, despite what was coming. We took one day at a time - and sometimes I thought he was doing so well I almost fooled myself into believing Ornji was going to make a miracle full recovery. As it was, we got an extra year with him including the initial surgery.
Ornji brought out the caregiver in me - and ORNJI GAVE AS MUCH OR MORE than I gave . I've never had it so good; pets seem to give back unlike some people - at least Ornji did, despite his tough past and illness - not in material but in love and appreciation.
Unlike with some people, it was true with Ornji, if not all cats, the THE MORE I GAVE THE MORE HE GAVE BACK. (I think pets are largely a product of their human. They have an inate, inherant abililty to give back and develop wonderful personalities if their masters give them that opportunity.
Ornji taught me 'EARLY TO BED , EARLY TO RISE' and it was especially nice to be able to get up early to be there with Ornji, sharing in his morning breakfasts while adding more hours to the day. I'd been on the lazy side before ,easily sleeping in, but by going to bed when Ornji seemed to, we got on the same schedule which bennefited both of us. I've noted now I don't need as much sleep and have better eating habits, not eating late.
ORNJI the ORGANIZER - Ornji has his schedule and agenda and taught me to stay on schedule and GET MORE DONE, to be more efficient. It was fun to see Ornji go through his daily routines including eating well sessions, going outside,cleaning, etc. He had his favorite spots for different times of the day, including using the many new cat peds and places I put out for him - in windows or otherwise. He even had some favorite hiding places those few times he wanted to really 'get away.'
ORNJI the COMMUNICATOR- Ornji was a great communicator, even without speaking a word. He would direct me to different places, including eating time, play time, brush time or going outside time (in his favorite 'indoor-outdoor extension.') Ornji knew instantly if he liked a certain new food - he wouldn't even have to smell it. Just a quick look and I knew not to try too many new , weird foods on him. I tried to spoil Ornji with new 'gravies' from time to time - some he enjoyed better than others.
SERIOUS but AFFECTIONATE - Unlike his playful brother Zack, Ornji went about his life in a meticulous way. Sometimes I worried that he wasn't happy, but Ornji never was the smiling type -yes cats can smile - but he loved to be petted and brushed and would often come to be for that. He never slept on the bed with me - but then Zack doesn't either - but Ornji was affectionate in his way, never hiding and always accepting of his medicine and shots - amazingingly so. Ornji even seemed to like to travel in the car, never complaining about the long rides to and from the vet.; wish I could get Zack to do that. Ornji never played much with toys, perhaps having to do with his condition, but had so many other good qualities.
SMART - Ornji showed his smarts, from the first day he came to me, directing me to the basement door, behind which he asked to live - and did nights for the first three years. Ornji KNEW EXACTLY what he wanted and was able to communicate most of that to me, I believe. First an indoor-outdoor cat, he made the most of the back yard in his favorite places, then the same when inside. . This from a cat who was left on the streets before coming to me; I'm just glad I could share his last years as , hopefully, happy ones to go out on... In Summary, Ornji SHOWED ME HOW TO LIVE EACH DAY WELL AS IF THERE WAS NO TOMORROW. Perhaps, he KNEW, too, that his days were numbered and appeared to make the most of his situation. I have enough trouble sometimes getting myself going each day, being organized and efficient, but ORNJI WAS and showed me this; I am now trying to follow in his footsteps. When I have a little less grief, I will try to stick around the house more so as to clean up his room and better arrange the house. As for now, Ornji's room remains untouched. Zack still likes to use Ornji's litter box and may one day take advantage of the cat tree and window perch, as Ornji did.


Feb 24, 2017: ORNJI PASSES but only after putting up the greatest fight and communicating all the way in a positive way to make those last days not so difficult but even of a quality nature - despite Ornji's serious illness. After never showing any real signs of discomforting - bouncing back from other non-eating spells in the past- Ornji this time, alert but listless , unable to move much, kindly alerted us through his eyes that it was 'time.' This non-verbal communication was special and only Ornji could do it , so much so that I now try to pay closer attention to that of other pets and animals. Even on Ornji's last night he was teaching and inspirting
Feb 25: Started GRATITUDE APPs a couple days earlier. Noting appreciation for each new sunrise, and sunset, sitting outside now without Ornji - now without but trying my best to enjoy with Ornji's inspiration and occasional Zack visits as well as squirrels and birds. Grateful for all the animals and pets for their unconditional love
Feb. 26: Tried taking Zack in CAR RIDE in attempt to get him to travel with me - Usual disappointment but could have been worse. At least we tried
Feb 27: Finally went to UKELE CLUB : I'd held off going for months but with Ornji's inspiration to get out and 'do it' while meeting some new people I did it. Turned out good, too, and I'll continue
Feb 28 Thinking about Ornji and how grateful for all he gave including the 10 ways he improved my life (see list elsewhere
MAR 1 Squirrel and a bird came to visit me on deck, coming within a couple feet, which is unusual. Stayed a long while. I enjoyed their company
Mar 2 Enjoyed special bike ride in Napa thru St Helena back woods, Cliffs vinery and bruchettera -sitting out in beautiful garden prior to bike ride
Mar 3 : 'Travel again without fear'. It's been about 7 years since I have left the Bay Area and probably 10 years since I've traveled without fear. After losing my entire family-brother and sister at early ages- four of my first five cats within seven months including one to 'sudden death syndrome' while away on vacation, and three other friends , prematurely, I developed a serious fear of traveling; it had always been hard, especially since acquiring pets including sister Joan's older dogs but now it became unbearable with the cumulative losses and fear of losing the last pet
Mar 4 : As part of 8 above , stopped by Waiterock kennels to consider this option on new push to travel.
Mar 5: Jogged Lafayette Rez hills for first time in nearly a year. Felt good and nice change of pace I needed
Mar 6: Made it to 2nd Uke Club meeting despite getting off sick bed.. I normally wouldn't have gone but Ornji pushed me.
Mar 7: Studied Kabalah purpose of Life 'bread of shame' showing how people are now brought up as 'reactive' (indulgent -what is there for me?) vs proactive ( to go out of comfort zone to achieve more purpose, fulfillment in life.
Mar 8: Went to new favorite place, Velo Winery and bruchetteria for comforting time , while happening upon excellent radio show dealing with loss, featuring philosopher Kahlil Gibron (sp) (Savage)
Mar 9:
Updated Ornji tribute 'One Last Hurrah -Goes Out with Class,' leaving a legacy behind in during his four short years with me. Added 'pet tricks blog featuring Ornji walking on rocks.'
Mar 10: Saw the SHACK inspirational movie that had a lot of overtones of my life with Ornji
Mar 11: Received great card from Vet Dr H-E, which made me feel good and responded with a reply published in
Mar 12 - Biked favorite SunolPreserve, 1st time in over a year, another real adventure when I got lost on a washed out trail, ending in marsh; only a single hiker far above got me back on track.
MAR 13
Mar 14
Mar 15 -Took care of business..put on a happy face and went to implant dentist and CPA to turn in books-turned out CPA had lost his cat too and we had much in common along with Kathy, ofc manager, very nice people
Mar 16
Mar 17 Spent all morn from 6 am playing with Zack. Never have we played so long together... Then read from death dying book, Then listened to Prager's Happiness Hour: Religious people are more happy as they realize that we are born into a life we didn't choose. It chose us, pluys other events. But, at least we have the knowledge to understand why we might not be happy. OK to feel as you like but try to ACT HAPPY in public - good project.
Mar 18 -Smokey Joes Cafe nice temporary break from reality-great show at Laf Town Hall
Mar 19
Mar 20- Rainbow Bridge candlelight ceremony for Ornji
Mar 21
Mar 22 - During therapeautic bike ride up Howell Mtn in Napa got good news call from vet re Zack's labs
Mar 23 -This time good news for myself at annual 'c' medical followup. , followed by bike ride in SF and 'celebtration ' dinner in honor of Zack and my good health while honoring Ornji in so doing.
Mar 24 - Zack started using Ornji's room for the first time, sitting atop cat bird perch in bay window
Mar 25 -First real social outing since Ornji, dinner with Sharon and Min got me out a bit
Mar 26 Viewed tulip display at Mtn View Cem while visitng Dad, Mom and Don at gravesites
Mar 27 Rainbow bridge candle light for Ornj and uke club
Mar 28 Zack passed 1st real test Waiterock Kennel, 3 hours with no problems, in prep for my first vaca in almost 10 years Friday
Mar 29
Mar 30 - Zack 2nd test at kennel, survived 6 hours, tomorrow big day
Mr 31 First getaway in almost 10 years, 8 to see Kelleys in Red Bluff,. dropped Zack at Waiterock 2:30 and arrived Red Bluff 5:45 pm -Enjoyed Antsy McClain and Trailer Park Troubadours
Apr 1 Back home after long night drive, picked up Zack 11 am to complete first vacation in almost 10 years! Ornji indirectly made it possible.













Received a very nice card from  my ‘regular’ vet – not the one involved in Ornji’s oncology in later days – and it made me feel so good I wrote this back; writing is often therapy for me and  this made me feel even better, expressing my love for Ornji and how we bonded and got through a wonderful four ‘bonus’ months with NO REAL PAIN. The pain would come for me later, and hasn’t gone away yet two weeks later


Dr H E , staff,

Your card I received in mail today meant a lot to me.

The more the joy, the more the sorrow’

    I just came upon words to that effect as I worked thru my grief following the loss of Ornji. I guess that describes me. The more one loves the more potential for hurt…  as told in sources like Tao and Kahlil Gibran.  I’m no scholar but it makes Sense to me.

This has been a real hard one, even with the ‘bonus’ four + months

Ornji and I had together. I’m so glad we did have the extra days with   the chemotherapy and all yet in some ways it made it harder because we really bonded more than ever, trying

to squeeze each extra drop of life out of each day and minute caring for each other (yes, Ornji took care of me, too, really showing his appreciation, never complaining, still enjoying a surprisingly good quality of life to the end. He had a real will to live and  

responded positively   time and again every time we thought it might

be over. ) I tried to help keep his life quality great with lots of scratchers,  cat beds and window places  for him , favorite  quality foods and treats – and Ornji tried hard to enjoy every day, even sick (you wouldn’t have known it most of the time) still enjoyed

going outside in his ‘extension ‘ to the very last morning. Only that last night did he really show any sign of ‘maybe this is it’ by coming out -not hiding as some cats will do- 

then lying listlessly while telling us with his eyes that it was probably  his ‘time’ for us to let him go. (Ornji had ‘come back’ so many times but even only a day after a very positive doctor visit that showed weight gain and higher blood results, that darn liver just wasn’t cooperating.  After finding an unexpected helpful

Dr LaFarge ( ASPCA) on  hotline who encouraged us not to wait too long we brought Ornji right in and Encina night doc  Dr. Lew (?) confirmed that Ornji probably wasn’t going to bounce back this time, and who was helpful with Ornji’s final moments.  

Though it’s  hard now, my four + years with Ornji were wonderful (it’s own story ) and just one more pet experience that makes me appreciate pets and especially Ornji more than ever – from the time Ornji first walked up to me in the yard, then directed me to the basement

door where he wanted to stay at night – and did for the first three years , until he got sick and became  indoor cat (which was another great  experience to have a second cat again for me and Zack  (only a short time after Weepy and April passed)…so even the timing was great.

I enjoyed getting up early every day – 5 am, then 7am to  see Ornji happily eating well – even if we had to sometimes go through 2-3-4 different cans, at usual eating times  and  throughout the day, then going to enjoy the outside for awhile before coming in for a brushing   at my feet or occasionally jump on on the desk next to me ,a s I worked… There was no real  gradual deterioration or noticeable ain like I’ve seen in previous pet s.  

We were very lucky to have had Ornji with us even if only four years and I hope he felt the same way.

Sorry to go on so long, Dr H E and staff… but not everyone is as receptive and sympathetic as you

and this helps me in the grieving process.  

Soon, I would like to also share ’10 Ways Ornji Enriched My Life

Please, no need to respond to this – it is my therapy, just nice to have someone to  whom to send it  . And, I wish I could thank all those at Encina involved in Ornji’s care such as the nice young women administering the chemo.


Well, one thing for sure, Zack now is getting the attention from me he didn’t get while we were intent on Ornji. I know we owe him a teeth cleaning with you and will make every effort to get there in the next month


Thanks again for your very thoughtful card,

Burt for Zack


Comments Off on Ornji’s Lessons, Deed A Day and Letter to Vet

Comments are closed at this time.