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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Adrina Renee Swanson... I Will Miss and Love You Forever!!


Hello lovelies!  It is with great sadness that I officially report the death of my beloved cat, Adrina Renee Swanson.  I have tried to write this post several times, but every time I start to write, I can’t, I feel like if I actually say it, it would be true.  I still feel like she’s just at sleep away camp or something and will be home any day now.  But that’s not true.  She won’t be coming home.

I didn’t think I’d ever actually get this post written…  Everyday seemed like the wrong day to do it…  I have been hosting so many book tours and events and I didn’t want to put a dark cloud over their happy day…   When I woke up this morning, I had some clarity and it just felt right…  I knew today was the day to share this post…

I don’t have much experience with loss.  Yes, that is technically a good thing.  I never thought I could feel this much pain.  This much hurt.

Tim and I adopted Adrina when we were living in Medford.  We had spent the day playing with several cats at the shelter, but when I saw Adrina, I knew she was the one.  She was only a few months old and was so tiny she fit in my hand.

I remember this one time, I had brought her with me to work (I managed a Hilton hotel and often had to sleep on site so I had a hotel room) and she got stuck in the hide-a-bed couch.  I was so scared, I made Tim lift the hide-a-bed up and I went under trying to pull her out.  It took some work, but we were finally able to get her out safely.  I put pillows all along the side of the hide-a-bed so she wouldn’t get back under, but she certainly tried lol.

And I’ll never forget that long car ride we had when we moved up to Portland.  Three hours of her crying and then thankfully an hour of silence.  It was our longest car ride together – she was not a fan of the open road lol.  Even though Tim and I didn’t work out, I got full custody of Adrina.  Many towns and apartments later, it was still just the two of us.  Adrina was a very independent cat.  Everything was on her terms.  She would cuddle, but only when she wanted, and only in the position she wanted.  I admired how strong and brave she was.

Adrina was mostly an indoor kitty.  She lived indoors, but had balcony privileges.  She loved lying on the balcony, watching the neighborhood, and sun tanning.  I remember this one time when I bought her a cat harness and leash and took her for a walk.  She was so smart she figured how to get out of it within seconds of being outside.  No matter how tight the harness was she always figured how to get out of it.  I have no idea how she did it.  She was Houdini!

Unfortunately, when Adrina was five, I had taken a job that at the time required me to live within minutes of it as I had to work 12-18 hour days.  This meant I had to live downtown Portland on the Waterfront.  I ended up in this beautiful three-story condo, where many cast members from Grimm (TV Show) lived – even lived across from Aunt Marie’s famous trailer lol.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to have Adrina there, as my roommate had a puppy.  So I left Adrina with my mom.  Adrina and my mom had always been close, so both seemed happy to be together.  After my work days let up and I was able to move to a more affordable area, I got my own apartment and made sure pets were allowed there.  However, Adrina and my mom had grown to be best friends and were inseparable.  It felt wrong to break them up.  But I was lonely in my apartment so I decided to adopt another kitten.  That’s when Dolce came into my life.  A little while down the road, my mom’s cancer got worse, and I had to move in with her to take care of her.  That meant moving Dolce into the apartment as well.  The apartment that Adrina ruled.  At first, Adrina scared Dolce and it took a while for them to get along.  I’ve never had more than one cat in the household before.  Having two complete opposites definitely takes some work.  But I’d like to think the cats were happy and understood the situation.

Not long after Adrina turned eight in June of last year she started getting sick.  She was having a hard time processing food and kept vomiting.  We immediately took her to the vet and saw Dr. Katie Krage at Willamette Valley Animal Hospital in Keizer.  She was very nice and Adrina seemed to really like her. She performed many tests and gave Adrina several meds.  We actually spent four days of visits in just one week.  All the tests came back negative or inconclusive.  Dr. Krage diagnosed Adrina with IBD – Irritable Bowel Disorder.  She put Adrina on a very strict diet and daily meds.


It took a few months, but it really seemed like Adrina was doing better.  So much better that we actually started lowering her meds dosage.  Adrina was still super active, running around the house, playing in the tub, and laying out on the balcony.  Adrina was a big eater – she would have given Garfield a run for his food lol!!  And even with her illness, she was always ever so hungry.  And with the steroids she became aggressive when we were eating and would try everything she could to get ahold of food.  It got so bad, that we couldn’t leave any food on the counters even if they were wrapped in plastic or in a box – she would find a way to get into it lol.

Around Thanksgiving Adrina stopped eating again.  This wasn’t the first time she stopped eating her wet food.  Adrina was very picky and hated her special prescription diet food.  I figured it was just the same thing again and she would eventually realize she wasn’t going to get anything else and would just eat it.  However, after three days of pretty much no eating, and with her drastic weight loss I thought it was best to take Adrina back to the vet.  In less than six months Adrina had gone from weighing 16.9 pounds to only 8.9 pounds!!!  That’s more than a pound a month loss!!!  And for a cat that is a serious and significant amount of weight loss!!!  I knew she was getting tiny, but her diet had changed so drastically I knew that had some impact, but I thought she would be okay.

When I took Adrina in on Thursday, December 1st, Dr. Krage informed me that Adrina was super sick and needed to be hospitalized.  She said this is very serious and there’s a strong chance Adrina could actually die.  I was so shocked and I couldn’t believe it.  I figured she was just saying that as like one of those general talks doctors tell you – like when you go in for a routine surgery or such – you could die.  They have to say that.  It’s unlikely to happen, but there’s a small chance it could actually happen.  So even though Dr. Krage was saying such horrible things, I thought she didn’t really mean it.  Unfortunately, Dr. Krage had to leave for vacation and would be gone for a week.  So she passed our case on to another doctor there.

It was so weird returning home without Adrina.  I can’t imagine what Dolce was thinking, even though I tried to explain it to her.

The next morning, Friday, I went to the clinic right as they opened.  They brought Adrina out and she looked so much better!  She was alert and seemed so happy to see me!  I spent an hour with her just holding her, giving her tummy rubs, and kisses.  I left her so they could run more tests and so she could also get some rest. 

I went back to the clinic later that night before they closed and spent some more time with her.  Sadly, she didn’t look so good this time.  I found out that they hadn’t given her her evening meds yet and that she still hadn’t eaten.  They were supposed to force fed her, but hadn’t even tried.  I was crying so hard, because I didn’t think they were taking very good care of her.  It seemed more like it was on this new doctor, but she would only have the case for that one day as she was also going out of town. 

On Saturday Adrina’s case was then assigned to Dr. Hill, who is Dolce’s doctor.  Adrina was back in good hands.  Dr. Hill continued running tests and monitoring her.  Dr. Hill agreed that although Adrina’s test results were not great, she thought Adrina looked so alert and active.  We really thought she had a chance of bouncing back from this.  Unfortunately, Adrina still wasn’t eating and we decided to try one more time before we were going to have to administer a feeding tube.  In the past I’ve had to give Dolce shots and for the past six months I’ve been administering Adrina’s meds so I asked if I could try feeding her with a syringe filled with wet food.  Thankfully they said yes!  Dr. Hill and I were successful in getting Adrina to eat and keep the food down.  This was such great news!

My mom had been staying in The Dalles for treatment (this is a whole another post lol) and so she’s been away from Adrina since the beginning of October.  Since this might be the end it was important that my mom have some time with Adrina.  Sadly my mom can’t drive in her condition and The Dalles is three hour drive each way!!  Thankfully, my grandmother was able to drive my mom out to Clackamas which cut the drive in half.  So I quickly drove up to Clackamas, picked my mom up, and drove us down to Keizer.  My mom was able to hold Adrina for a whole hour and just spend some quality time cuddling.  During this time Dr. Hill gave me another syringe of food and I was able to get about half it in Adrina.  Then I drove my mom and I back up to Clackamas, dropped her off, and drove back to Keizer.  I was on a serious time crunch because the clinic was closing at 4pm.  Dr. Hill brought me another food syringe and I was able to get about half of it in Adrina.  All the food I had fed her stayed down.  This was even more great news!  She seemed to be doing better.  Unfortunately, this clinic doesn’t have overnight care – the animals are just left in the cages and no one is watching them.  So if Adrina pulled out her IV or the feeding tube we were going to have put in or died – no one would be there to help her until they re-opened at 11am.  That is 19 hours Adrina would be left unattended!!!  There was no way I could do that to her.  So I had her discharged and took her to the Salem Veterinary Emergency Clinic that is open all night.  I’ll never forget that look on her face when they brought in her to-go carrier – she lit up!!  She looked so happy to be going home!!  It broke my heart telling her we weren’t actually going home!!

This was my first experience with Salem Veterinary Emergency Clinic, but I had heard good things and they received great reviews.  This hospital provided full-time care and did rounds every 30 minutes checking on the patients.  I really felt like Adrina was in good hands.  While Adrina and I were in the exam room waiting for the doctor she was so sluggish, she was wrapped in warm towels, laying on the exam table, and she kept her head rested on my hands.  I was in the most uncomfortable position, but it was worth it.  She looked so sweet resting on my hands.  I felt so close to her.  Looking back I know that was her way of saying goodbye.  I didn’t see it when I was there; I just thought she was exhausted after the busy day.  I was sad leaving her, but with all the improvements and her eating I really thought she was going to beat this.  I kissed her goodbye and told her I would be back at 10:30am to pick her up.  I went home and pretty much went to bed since I had to be up early.

At 4:12am the phone rang.  I knew it wasn’t going to be good news, but I was so asleep, I hadn’t processed anything.  They told me that they just went and checked on Adrina and she had passed away in her sleep.  They said it was very peaceful.  I think they must have had to say that like five or six times, because I just didn’t comprehend what they were saying.  I told them I would be right there.  I called my mom and told her.  She was just as shocked and sad as I was.


It took a little while, but I got myself together and went down to the clinic.  I am glad that I was able to go and say goodbye and have some closure.  The only other cat I’ve lost was K.T. and I was nine-years-old.  Our next door neighbor poisoned her for “fun.”  I knew she wasn’t feeling well, but I was young and didn’t understand.  My mom took her to the vet while I was at school and they said she was in excruciating pain and was slowly dying.  So my mom let them put her down.  I was so angry at my mom for not getting a chance to say goodbye.  I was young.  That’s why I had to go see Adrina.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had to actually see it.  I have to admit she actually did look quite peaceful.  But she was just so young.  Cats don’t die at 8 anymore.  Cats live to 20.  I would have been okay with 14 or 16…  Not 8!!  She was still just a baby.  Now I’m bouncing all around the stages of grief.  I’m definitely mostly sad and angry.  And I can’t stop playing the “what if” game.  What if I took her to the vet earlier?  What if I took her to a different vet?  What if we did the feeding tube?  And I can’t stop thinking about if I had just brought her home.  She really wanted to come home.  But I probably wouldn’t forgive myself if she had died here and I wasn’t able to provide CPR or help her.  Plus I already feel guilty force feeding her that last day.  I am sure she was mad at me for that.

I’ve slowly started trying to pick up Adrina’s things.  I threw out her partially used wet food cans that were in the fridge and her meds.  Some things will go to Dolce and some things we’ll keep for her memorial area.  We decided to have her cremated with her favorite toy, an octopus that she used to carry around and leave it in our rooms or beds to show her love, and have her ashes returned to us.  I think we’ll build a little shrine for her.  I thought about taking her ashes up to the Falls maybe this summer.  Adrina loved playing in the bathtub.  We always had to keep the water dripping in the tub so she could drink and play with the drops.  It’s really pretty up there and it’s like one giant bathtub always on and dripping.  I think she would have liked it.

I know it’ll get easier in time, but right now it just hurts so much!!!  I’m trying to stay focused on the good things and remembering the happy times with Adrina.  Adrina was loved and I think for the most part she was happy.  I know the last six months were a little difficult with the food situation and all the meds, but hopefully she understood it was only because we wanted her to get better.  And I really don’t want her to be hurting and in pain, but I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  I’m trying to believe that there was a plan and a reason for this.  It’s not clear right now, but maybe one day it will be.


Adrina was such a good kitty and I know she is in Heaven.  And I know that one day I will see her again.

Have you lost a furbaby before?  Does it ever get easier?

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