Tuesday, February 02, 2021

2nd year since our Xin Xin left us

This is the 2nd year you have left us but we still speak about you as if you are still with us.

Come visit us when you have the time. We will love to know if you are doing well so far.

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Friday, January 08, 2021

Our little boy, Chang Chang

Fight on!

While everyone was celebrating the turn of a new year with hopes that 2021 will be the year when everything will return to normal, our little boy was spending the last days of 2020 fighting for his life. Admitted to hospital for pancreatitis and liver test results which were out of scale, he was critically in need of IV drip and medical care. This would be the second time Chang Chang had to be hospitalised and sadly his last. Having given us a glimpse of hope on 27 December,  he deteriorated in the days after. He was getting annoyed and stressed out at the vet so we decided to bring him home on 30 December.  I was full of anxiety the night before and couldn't wait to bring him back. Told myself I need to sleep so tomorrow would come and we could have him home.

Chang Chang seemed happy to be back home. Protesting gently (probably because he was weak) when we syringe fed him and gave him his medication,  he also had to deal with blocked nasal passage from sinusitis caught during his stay at the vet. Seeing him struggling with his every breath broke our hearts.

Despite all these, our little boy remembered he should always go to the litter box 10m away to do his business. He didn't like the box we placed next to his bed. Every step he took was a mammoth effort and he had to take a few breaks before reaching the box. He also had to muster enough strength just to sit up to pee.

But it was all too much for him and he lost his fight. On 2 January 2021, Chang Chang took his last breath at home with his beloved daddy and mummy by his side. He was 16 years 9 months and 1 day old.

Our little boy

Chang Chang was named for his long tail.  I found him and his sister as neonatal kittens on 1 April 2004 at the top of a book shelf outside my office. Abandoned. Some heartless person had left them there to die. Chang Chang and his sister were mewing loudly which caught my attention.  Their eyes were shut tight and their umbilical cords still attached.  They were probably born on 31 March or wee hours of 1 April. 

We were greenhorns at hand raising kittens. There was little information on the internet since this was in 2004. We did what we thought was best but unfortunately, Duan Duan (named for her short tail) passed away after 10 days. 

We tripled our efforts to keep Chang Chang alive. H and I took turns to feed him - H taking the 3am and lunchtime while I, the breakfast,  dinner and midnight feed.  We started a log to track his food intake, bowel movements, weight and overall condition.  He had fits in the middle of the nights,  requiring desperate calls to the vet for advice.

He was so tiny he fitted into a small paper bag, with room to spare, which I would use to bring him to the vet. As he got stronger, he tried peeking out of the bag on our bus ride to the vet, meowing and causing bus passengers to look around suspiciously for a cat.

Our efforts paid off and the last record on his log was 16 May 2004. Chang Chang was well enough to eat on his own, use the litter box and had gained substantial weight. He was now too big and strong for the plastic box and graduated to the pet carrier.

Do you remember in your schooling days where you might have a classmate whom everyone avoids? He turns up late in class a little scruffy and smelly, his school uniform a little unkempt? He is a loner in school, avoiding everyone. And everyone avoiding him because he might occasionally have a tantrum and probably smack you in the head for starring at him.

That's our Chang Chang. Our little boy.

Late Nov 2020, lounging with Mei Mei

He would lounge and sleep all day. He would drool when he slept (probably because his mouth couldn't close tight after using oversized nipples when he was bottled fed as a kitten). He would play a little before he quickly got disinterested in the games. He would break into a run only when chasing the other cats. He was fast and strong in his fights, only second to Kim Kim. He would remind us of the male lion in a pride who gets fed by the lioness and walks majestically only to survey his territory.

But he was never any trouble. He was our little boy.

Chang Chang loved us. He saw us as his parents. Demanding for naps on our chests almost daily, he was the only cat who would look straight and deep into our eyes for minutes as if telling us he loves us. Staring back into those big black eyes is enough reward for us for the trouble we had to deal with his itchy skin, ear polyps and anal sac ruptures. The heat from his body warmed our hearts.  His purrs resonated in our chests. His complete trust in us and his love for us continued till his last breath.

Chang Chang will always remain our best little boy in the world.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Our little ginger furball, our little pocket torpedo

Yuan Yuan
November 2004 to 10 October 2019
14 years & 11 months old

We read stories about people who had been inseparable all their lives and when one party dies, the surviving one gets so heartbroken he/she will also soon move on.

We never thought this would happen to us.

Our Yuan Yuan moved on last week, 8 months after her beloved adopted mummy, Xin Xin, left us.

Yuan Yuan had always been a cat-cat, only close to Xin Xin. Ever since we picked her off the street as a 3- month old kitten, she had stuck close to Xin Xin, following her mummy around whenever she can.

Xin Xin never showed much maternal actions towards Yuan Yuan but deep down, we think she really cared for her adopted daughter. Whenever Yuan Yuan hollered during her bath time, Xin Xin would be pacing and meowing outside the bathroom to make sure Yuan Yuan is okay.

Since Xin Xin left us, Yuan Yuan could not find a new emotional support to lean on. She left heartbroken and depressed, her tiny body further wrecked by failing kidneys.

Our little pocket torpedo

Yuan Yuan was our little pocket torpedo. She had never liked to be held or cuddled and would find the earliest opportunity to struggle out from our embrace.

Just 3 weeks earlier, she would still meow out loud her protests when we grab her for her daily sub-cut. If she find that we were taking too long with the sub-cut, she would burst away from our grasps violently, sometimes taking the whole drip along with her. Sometimes, she might even turn back and give us a little hiss, telling us how much she disliked it.

Yuan Yuan was the only one in the household who would never come voluntarily to us for a scratch or a pet. We always had to approach her, sitting silently beside her and gently touching her. She would tolerate it for a minute or two before she walked away.

No matter what, we had always loved her, an important member of our family.

Catching the breeze

Yuan Yuan liked the outdoors. Below the row of plants, she would rest in the balcony where she would catch the breeze. This was her sanctuary where she would rest, sleep and lounge.

When she was younger, she would seek the rays of sunlight which shone on parts of the balcony, sometimes moving together with the rays as the sun raced across the sky. She would roll on her back happily, sleeping with her belly exposed.

Whenever she could, she would spend her whole day there, coming in only when the sun set.

Xin Xin, her adopted mummy

When we found Yuan Yuan as a 3-month old, she was alone in a Simei estate void deck. We walked past a small drain and she was hiding in there. We would not have noticed her if she had not hissed at us for allegedly encroaching into her space.

Over the next few days, we would seek her out as often as we could. She was always alone though there were several other older community cats living in the same void deck. But she was a loner and would never come to us like other kittens.

Her playmate was this domesticated young male cat from a household in the same block. We remembered her play-chasing after him, sprinting across grass patches. As she hurdled over the shrubs, her 4 short legs would spread wide open like a flying squirrel.

Her antics, cute face and short kinked tail won us over and we took her home one of those nights.
We named her 圆圆 to pay homage to her rotund figure.

For some magical reasons, she latched onto Xin Xin as her adopted mummy even though Xin Xin never paid her much attention. She would follow her mummy around the house, sometimes trying to get her attention by meowing loudly. If she was lucky, Xin Xin might groom her a little and I think Yuan Yuan must have been so happy with that.

It was very much a one-sided love affair most of the time. And it had a devastating impact on Yuan Yuan after Xin Xin left us unexpectedly earlier this year. She became moodier and spent more time alone. She tried seeking another mummy figure in Kim Kim, calling out to her whenever she walked past but Kim Kim is old and did not respond.

Her last stretch

We detected she had diabetes mid 2017 and chronic renal failure mid 2018. We managed to sustain her condition for many months with daily insulin injections and sub-cut. She continued to be fairly active with a healthy appetite till she started to deteriorate quickly beginning of Oct.

We decided that she should not suffer anymore and with a heavy heart, we let her go.

Goodbye our little pocket torpedo. We hope that you had a good life with us though we had never asked if you would like to be part of our household. We are glad you had Xin Xin as your mummy.

Go find Xin Xin and Bon Bon at the Rainbow Bridge. You had brought us so many happy moments. When we look at the balcony, we will forever find you there. You will always be in our hearts.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

3 years since you left us

We had fried chicken tonight, just like what we had for the last 2 years on 14 March.

We remember how you loved fried chicken, especially KFC. But we never did give you much because it is not the appropriate food for you. But you are always such a nice girl, patiently waiting by our legs, hoping we will relent.

Having fried chicken tonight is our way to remember you. That you still occupy a big space in our hearts.

The pain has passed, at least for me. But we still remember and miss you fondly.

Your Xin Xin jie jie just joined you over there. So show her how that place works. I am sure you two will be running around and playing in no time. My little grey girl, do take care of each other.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Xin Xin, our best little girl in the world

1 January 2002 to 2 February 2019
17 years & 1 month of wonderful memories

This took me a while to write. The action of penning it down means that our Xin Xin has really left us for good.

There is no good way to reconcile it when the bright sparkle that came into our lives 2 days before CNY in 2002 will leave us 17 years later 2 days before the 2019 CNY.

Xin Xin brightened our lives the first time we laid eyes on her. She jumped straight out of the cage into my lap, took a look at me and immediately scurried around the pet shop, exploring. My heart was immediately captured by that furry little thing.

She was a playful little girl with unlimited energy. Always playing, sprinting, jumping, exploring. She spent almost all her waking hours active whenever we were home, even when she became a senior cat.

And despite not asking for the attention, she was the most popular cat in the household. Every single cat which came into the household after her, except for Chang Chang, idolised her, mesmerized by what she does.

Bon Bon loved her big sister immensely. She followed Xin Xin every single waking minute.

Yuan Yuan called out to her like her long lost mummy, seeking her affection and attention every day.

Mei Mei followed Xin Xin and Bon Bon around, knowing that these 2 mischievous girls are always up to something fun. And after Bon Bon left us, Mei Mei remained her loyal sidekick.

Our Xin Xin had 2 BIG loves.

She loved us. Whenever possible, she will be beside one of us – sleeping, snuggling, resting, playing, seeking affection. She will always be the first one to greet us at the door almost every single day. And when we open the bedroom door every morning, she will sprint from wherever she is and come immediately to us.

Xin Xin LOVED her wet food. She would always be the first one at our feet during meal times. She would be the first to finish, then waiting patiently for the rest to perhaps leave some in their dish and straightaway, devour it whole. But she was a nice girl with manners. She would never nudge them away when they eat. After all this, she would still follow us around, hopeful that we might still have a last spoonful of wet food for her. Begging us with her large round eyes, cute little pink button nose and that silent meow.

Xin Xin trusted us with her life. When she was diagnosed with HCM and kidney failure in 2007, she took all the medical treatment without complain. The vets and vet techs told us she was cooperative with all the needles and such. She did not hiss or scratch. And she never run away from us for the twice daily pilling. If anything, she would come to us voluntarily for the pilling, because she knew she would get another mouthful of her wet food after that.

She was gutsy with the tenacity to live. She fought back from the brink of death in 2007 to live another 12 years. It much exceeded the vet’s expectation because she actually thrived after that episode. Her eyes sparkled. Her coat was shiny. She gained back muscles and lost weight. She continued sprinting and playing. It is as if she was never sick before.

We always thought we would finally lose her to heart or kidney failure. And perhaps only when she gets to beyond 20 years old. She was that healthy.

But it was mouth cancer (Gingival Squamous Cell Carcinoma) which took her away from us. We detected a lump under her chin mid December 18 and brought her to the vet immediately.

Biopsy showed that it was malignant. The vet could operate to remove the tumour. We read up and the chances of getting well from that is dismal. She might survive the operation and we know she will. But her mouth would be sore and in pain and that takes away one joy from her. The road to recovery will be long and painful with a high chance of the cancer cells spreading to her other organs quickly, before painfully killing her a second time perhaps just months after the surgery.

We made the painful decision not to go ahead with the surgery on the morning of the surgery. We did not want her to suffer unnecessary pain with no guaranteed chance of success.

She was strong and fit one day and by the 4th week, the tumor grew exponentially it sapped her energy and life away. Despite the pain and the big tumour in her mouth, she still sought us for attention. For love. For food. 

But we saw how painful it was for her. We let her go on 2 Feb 2019.

We cried so much during that one month. It was so painful. It still is.

With Xin Xin gone, the energy in the household is lost. The house is a lot quieter now, especially when all but one of them are above 14 years old.

We are still grieving. After 3 weeks, her adopted daughter Yuan Yuan, seems to have finally come to the conclusion that her mommy has left. Xin Xin’s scent around the house is fading. Yuan Yuan has been calling out loud to her mommy the last few days.

I don’t think we will ever have another cat like Xin Xin. She is very much unique. Who would have known this little kitten adopted from the street would have so much character and gave us so much love that after she left, there is this big hole in our hearts.

Goodbye, our best little girl in the world. Go find Bon Bon at the Rainbow Bridge. May you be free from all pains from this point onwards. You will always be in our hearts.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2nd anniversary - Bon Bon

Our dearest Bon Bon,

Today marks the day you have left us for 2 years.

The pain is still there but it has diminished much.

But we still miss you lots.

Grandma Kim Kim has got much older this past year. She has diabetes and CRF but she is coping well like a grand old lady. She'll be 18 soon, you know. 

Your Xin Xin big sister is going strong. She's still mad you know. I think she misses you running after her when she goes crazy daily. Mei Mei does not do as good a job as you.

Your little nephew Chang Chang has got rid of his itchy skin problem. Yay!

Yuan Yuan also has mild diabetes since Jul 17. She has lost some weight and muscle but overall, she is good. Do you know she is now a lot friendlier and receptive to us stroking her? Did you whisper this to her? I think you did. Thank you, BB.

And your little sidekick Mei Mei has slimmed down a bit this last 12 months. She's doing well on her new diet. She remains your little spunky niece.

We miss you. Come back from time to time to visit, ok? We are having your favorite KFC tonight. We'll leave some for you.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy birthday, my little grey girl

You would have turned 15 tomorrow if you are still with us.

Happy birthday, my little grey girl.

You still remain in our hearts.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1st year anniversary

To our little girl,

It was 12 months ago when you left us.

We still miss you very much.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 reflections

2016 has not been kind to us.

Bon Bon and Mei Mei
We started 2016 with Bon Bon diagnosed with oral cancer on 27 Dec 2015. We fought the disease valiantly together with her for 2½ months, hoping for a miracle. It was not meant to be and we had to ease her pain and let her go in mid Mar.

In that same quarter, we noticed the Mei Mei had some blood in her pee. The vet found a bladder stone and had to operate to remove the stone. Luckily for us, a combination of early detection, Mei Mei’s relatively young age and the skill of the vet meant that she bounced back to health within 2 weeks.

We grieved the passing of Bon Bon in the next few months as the remaining 5 of them re-positioned their ranking within the family. Some routines changed. Mei Mei replaced Bon Bon and started to shadow Xin Xin around the house. Yuan Yuan became slightly more vocal. And every night when we reach home from work, we will find the 3 of them right at the door, welcoming us without Bon Bon tagging behind Xin Xin.

Kim Kim, Xin Xin and Chang Chang
In the middle of the year, we sent Kim Kim, Xin Xin and Chang Chang for teeth scaling procedures. With them being more advanced in age, especially Kim Kim, we were worried, not knowing how they will react to the anesthesia given. This was especially so for Xin Xin since she has a known heart and kidney issue and has a higher risk of not waking up from the anesthesia. Luckily for us, all 3 of them came through unscathed.

Chang Chang
Right when we thought things were smooth sailing again, Chang Chang ruptured his anal sac during the night in Nov. In just 6 hours while we slept, he aggravated the injury through aggressive licking of the wound area, creating a massive 2cm wide by 1cm deep wound right beside his anus. We were horrified when we saw his wound in the morning. It was so raw and bloody. We could not imagine the pain he was experiencing.

The vet could only clean the wound area and let the body heal on its own. There was no sufficient skin and flesh to stitch the wound. So in the next 5 weeks, we had to disinfect and clean his wound twice a day. He would sometimes yowled in pain when the disinfectant stunk the wound. With an E-collar though those weeks, he was miserable as it made eating and drinking difficult and grooming impossible. Gradually, the wound did indeed healed on its own, filling up the deep hole with extra tissue growth. It would be difficult to spot the wound area on him today.

Kim Kim
Kim Kim celebrated her 16th birthday in Apr and is our oldest cat. In human years, she is already close to 80 years old.

We have been keeping a close watch on her health for many months. Her movement have slowed down much and she rests a bit more compared to a year or two ago. Recently, we noticed that she has been drinking and also peeing a lot more. Fearing that she might have contracted kidney issues, we brought her for a blood test in early Dec. Her SDMA test showed her kidneys were still alright though the results were at the high end of the normal range. However, her glucose levels were high. She was diagnosed with a diabetic condition.

But because she was not eating well due to her herpes flare up, we had to get her to eat regularly first before we can have her hospitalized to determine how much insulin to give her. We syringe fed her twice daily. The medicine given did not seem to improve her condition. She was lethargic and spent most of the time under the sofa. As she continued to pee a lot, she became dehydrated and we had to give her daily sub-cuts.

Her condition got worse just before Christmas. She became weaker and was unable to crawl into the litter box. Uncharacteristically of her, she peed outside the box for days in a row. The vet ran another blood test on her on Boxing Day. Her ALT levels were 10X the normal level – it was within the normal range mid Dec. Her liver was not functioning properly and was immediately hospitalized.

Fortunately, she responded well to the aggressive treatment over the next few days and was finally able to eat on her own on 29 Dec. When we brought her back home yesterday, we were delighted that though not as strong as before, she still had the strength to walk around the house. Her appetite returned though we still have to coax her to eat.

Today marks the date we will have to add Kim Kim’s insulin injection to our daily routine of pilling Xin Xin. As I type this entry, she is resting in her bed next to me, grooming after her evening feed.

Our family ends 2016 on an even note, with no more highs and lows. I hope 2017 will be a better year for all 5 of them.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

My cats are aging

I was watching TV lounging on the sofa last night when Kim Kim climbed up to sit with me. She gave me a silent meow again as she demanded me to pat her. 

I cannot remember for how long this has been happening on a daily basis. It seems like a long time. She will meow. I will pat her, then maybe stop a while and she will meow louder again as she thinks that it is not long enough. Once she has enough, she will sit with her hind legs in front while she suckles her tummy for a few minutes. And then she will fall asleep on the sofa beside me. Occasionally, she might wake up and give another silent meow before she drifts off to sleep again.

She will be 16 and a half this coming Sep. In this past year, we have noticed that her mobility has slowed down and she is sleeping more. Her aging process has accelerated a little more though she remains bright and alert. 

With Bon Bon's death in Mar, we have become more aware that the rest of the gang are also getting on in years. Kim Kim and Xin Xin  are more than 15 years old which is the average age of a house cat. If all goes smoothly, they might have at most another 5 years with us. By then, Chang Chang and Yuan Yuan would also be around 15 to 16 years old. 

My wife and I have talked about their death candidly on many occasions. We have always known this will happen, that we will mourn each of them when they leave us. But we just cannot estimate the impact it will have on us. 

Bon Bon's passing hit us really hard. We continued on with our daily lives but there is so often this huge hole in our hearts. Time heals but it is such a long process.

I can't imagine them leaving us one by one in the next few years. The house will be so empty then, perhaps only left with May May who is 7 this year.

Till then, we will all follow our daily routines. They will bugger us for food and for pats. We'll continue to love them and care for them. If only this continues indefinitely.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy 14th birthday

You would have been 14 years old today if you are still with us.

Happy 14th birthday, my little grey girl. We still miss you lots.


Monday, May 23, 2016

We still miss you a lot, little grey girl

It's been 2 months plus since oyu left us but we still miss you lots. The searing pain has since been replaced by this dull ache which does not go away and we do not want it to go away.

Come visit us at night. We'll love to hear you meowing loudly in the living room again as we sleep or hear the sounds of your little paws running around as you chase Xin Xin for your favorite game of tag. Come snuggle between us. We'll like to find your grey fur on our blankets once again.

Mummy was so happy one morning as she recounted you visiting in her dreams.

Come again, Bon Bon.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bon Bon's fight to the end

Bon Bon
20 June 2002 – 14 March 2016
13 years & 9 months old

We sent our precious little grey girl across to the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon.

From Nov last year, she had been having some trouble eating and what we thought would be a routine dental job for her in Dec became a nightmare for both her and us. The vet diagnosed her as having stomatitis, a life threatening oral inflammation caused by the over reaction of her autoimmune system to plaque. A biopsy also revealed that she had oral cancer on the left side of her mouth.

There was no cure in Singapore for her. From early Jan 2016 onwards, she lost the ability to eat and drink on her own as the ulcers and tumors in her mouth and throat started spreading. The monthly steroid injection could only reduce the inflammation and hopefully make her more comfortable.

We were totally helpless. We could only ensure that she does not starve to death by syringe feeding her twice daily. It was hard seeing her in pain she tried to swallow the blended liquefied food. But she persevered and we did the same for her. It did not really matter we spend more than 2 hours daily huddled in the kitchen feeding her. Sometimes she will be cooperative but on some days, it becomes a challenge as she splattered food all over. It was painful seeing her trying to stay alive, especially in the last few days.

Other than the inability to eat and drink, she lost none of her lovable personality. She spent a bit more time resting but she continued to be curious and mobile. She moved around the house, poking her nose into anything which pique her curiosity. She continued greeting us at the door every evening when we get home but hides under the sofa once she knows we are preparing her food.

We knew the end was near when she started losing her zest these few days. This morning, she cried out in pain when we carried her into the kitchen. Her first time in the last few months. We know our Bon Bon. She is one of those dainty cats who cannot really stand pain. She drooled quite a copious amount of blood from her mouth when we syringed her food a couple of times. There would be occasional blood when we feed her but never in this quantity.

It is time. We said our goodbyes. She moved on peacefully and without pain at the vet.

Thank you Bon Bon for the last 13 plus years with us.

You are the gentlest little girl we have ever met with not a single bone of malice in your lithe furry body. You would wriggle your way out of tight situations, rather than hiss and scratch like most other cats. You are Xin Xin’s most loyal sidekick, following her almost throughout the day. We love the way you play with the water dish. That is so uniquely you.

Our hearts are so pained when you finally left us. But we know this is the best option for you. You'll be free from the pain. Run well. Play well. Rest well. If what they say of the rainbow bridge is true, we'll see you again some day over the other side.

We’ll always remember you, our little grey girl.