Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Memorium: Finn (updated July 22nd, 2007)

Finn

The world's greatest companion and sweetest soul.
August 6, 2004 - July 18, 2007

Finn had a big heart, but it couldn't continue beating for him ...
it just gave out.

He died in the afternoon - July 18th, 2007 of congenital heart problems. * (see update at bottom of this post)
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No one expected this to happen, not even his veterinarian. He was such a young cat, not even 3 years old. By all appearances and habits he was just fine, perfectly normal, but apparently he was born with a heart problem that, perhaps, we didn't detect soon enough. We are all in shock.
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I'm afraid that I'm not sure if I can continue blogging as Finn was, for me, so much a part of this blog (and a lot of my art). I am very sad right now. I will keep the blog up as a memorium to Finn.
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Sacha, Finn & I have enjoyed our readers company and we thank you all for the visits to this blog and the lovely comments that some of you have left and the laughs we all had, but this is too difficult to even look at right now ... perhaps in the future, but I don't know.
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In just almost 3 short years I became so attached to a beautiful, funny, sweet companion who I will miss more than I can possibly tell you. Some may thnk that's silly of me, but those of you who are animal lovers and have beloved pets (especially artists with constant studio companions) will understand.
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Regards and good-bye for now,
Judith Nijholt-Strong
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---------------------------------------------------
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A last farewell to Finn from his human "dad" -
Een laatste afscheid van Finn - van Finn’s mensen "papa"
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In english:
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Unlike Judy, I had little experience owning cats. In fact, I was not especially fond of cats. Before Judy came along, I did have a cat that I kind of inherited, but it never felt like having a real relationship to the animal.

At one point, after my cat had passed-on for some time at the blessed age of 16 years old, Judy and I decided it was time to be on the lookout for a new cat.

Through an acquaintance, Judy found Finn and Sacha ready for adoption. When she told me she wanted the both of them (after all Finn and Sacha were siblings from the same nest) , I was reluctant to go along with the idea. Of course, Judy persuaded me.

Initially it was a disaster - at least in my opinion. The fist couple of months, Finn and Sacha did quite a bit of damage. But as time went on, the cats got used to their new living situation and I at the same time, got used to, and found pleasure in, taking care of two naughty cats.

Finn turned out to be the more loving one of the two. Where Sacha was (and still is) quite independent and being always on the hunt- Finn would stick around more. He would simply follow you begging for attention to the point you had to shut doors for it would be impossible to do the bookkeeping with him stepping through papers, jumping on the computer monitor and changing figures stepping on the keyboard.

Finn gave us a lot of joy, always being on our laps, ‘making biscuits’ and giving kisses until the very last day of his life. I had never realized that you can really get attached to a cat to this extent.

Especially Judy thought there might be something wrong with him. Nevertheless, Finn died unexpectedly, only an hour or so after we came home from the veterinarian. We never realized that the situation he was in was so life threatening, or else we certainly would constantly have watched him.

I am convinced that, though too short, Finn had a good life; he was loved and always treated like a prince.

Though it hurts right now, in time the good memories we have of him will take over the feelings of loss we are currently experiencing. The loss of a cat you really feel attached to is painful enough and absolutely not silly, however it does make you realize how devastating the loss of a child or partner must be.

Finn was Finn; in time most probably there will be a new cat, but Finn will never be forgotten.

Luckily, Sacha is still around!
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Regards,
Auke Nijholt
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In nederlands:
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In tegenstelling tot Judy, had ik weinig ervaring als kattenbezitter. Eigenlijk was ik niet eens zo dol op katten. Toen Judy bij me kwam wonen had ik een kat die ik geërfd had maar van een emotionele binding met het beestje was eigenlijk geen sprake. Ik zorgde voor haar en dat was het wel zo’n beetje.

Op een gegeven moment, enige tijd nadat mijn kat het tijdelijke voor het eeuwige verwisseld had in de gezegende leeftijd van 16, besloten Judy en ik dat het tijd werd voor een nieuwe kat.

Toevallig bood een kennis van Judy Finn en Sacha aan voor adoptie. Toen Judy te kennen gaf ze allebei te willen (ten slotte waren Finn en Sacha broer en zus uit hetzelfde nest) was ik in eerste instantie terughoudend. Maar natuurlijk haalde Judy me over.

In het begin was het een ramp, tenminste volgens mij. De eerste maanden richtten Finn en Sacha flink was schade aan. Maar gaandeweg raakten de katten gewend aan hun nieuwe leefomgeving en tegelijkertijd begon ik echt plezier te krijgen in het verzorgen van die twee wildebrassen.

Finn ontwikkelde zich tot de meest aanhankelijke van de twee. Waar Sacha zich bezig hield met jagen en zich veel onafhankelijker opstelde, was Finn altijd in de buurt. Hij kon achter je aanlopen als een schoothondje smekend om aandacht. Soms moest je Finn wel buitensluiten om bijvoorbeeld de administratie te doen. Anders liep hij constant over je papieren heen, sprong op de computer monitor of wijzigde hij bedragen door over het toetsenbord te lopen.

Finn gaf ons enorm veel plezier, altijd op schoot, ‘making biscuits’ (ik weet niet of hier een Nederlandse uitdrukking voor bestaat: terwijl de kat op schoot zit tilt hij beurtelings de voorpootjes op en slaat daar fijn de klauwtjes bij uit, niet zo lekker als je alleen een t-shirt aan hebt) en kusjes geven tot het einde toe. Ik had geen idee dat je zo aan een kat gehecht kon raken.

Speciaal Judy dacht dat er mogelijk iets aan de hand was met hem. Niettemin, Finn stierf totaal onverwacht, niet langer dan een uurtje of zo nadat we met hem naar de dierenarts waren geweest. We hadden werkelijk geen idee dat zijn situatie zo levensbedreigend was anders hadden we hem wel constant in de gaten gehouden.

Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat Finn, hoewel te kort, een goed leven bij ons heeft gehad. We gaven hem veel liefde en hij werd behandeld als een prins.

Het doet nu pijn, maar uiteindelijk zullen de goede herinneringen het winnen van het gevoel van verlies dat we nu ervaren. Het verlies van een kat waar je aan gehecht bent is pijnlijk genoeg en dat is absoluut niet gek, je realiseert je wel hoe verwoestend het moet zijn om je kind of partner te verliezen.

Finn was Finn, uiteindelijk zal er wel weer een nieuwe kat komen, maar we zullen Finn niet vergeten.

Gelukkig hebben we Sacha nog!
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Groeten,
Auke Nijholt
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-----------------------------------------------------
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* Update (please read if you are a cat owner):
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The congenital heart condition that took our Finn, is called Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle) - HCM type.
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This hereditary heart condition is also common among humans and is often the cause of sudden death from heart attacks in what, from all outward appearances, seem to be healthy atheletes.
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Maine Coon cats are particularly prone to this heart affliction, but it can occur in any type of cat. Finn wasn't a Maine Coon cat though, just an extremely lovable, black, European shorthair.
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It is advised to get echocardiograms of any cats in a litter where this condition has caused the death of a cat/kitten - or any of the parent cats. It's a 50/50 sort of problem - some may have it, some may not.
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Unless the cat is displaying any odd symptoms in their breathing, walking or eating habits, this condition is often missed in the normal veterinarian yearly check-up exam (Finn was diagnosed too late to be saved - although we did try). However, it can be detected through an echocardiogram or ultra-sound exams. (Note: The advice to seek out an echocardiogram also applies to humans in families where this heart conditon has caused the death of any family member.) The condition can/may be passed to the offspring via either the father or the mother (in both humans or cats). It is a treatable condition, although there is no cure - ultimately it will take the life of your cat, but you can prolong their lives through various medications (as with any heart patient) if the disease is caught in its early stages. Some cats can live fairly long happy lives if the condition is caught early enough and through proper care and medications.
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There are many sites, in various languages, on the internet with much more information about Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (known as HCM) - just Google for it.
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I found this Norwegian site to be very helpful in understanding this disease (unfortunately, I found it too late). Cats and Heart Disease (in english)
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And another good site written by Jody A. Chinitz; Marcia J. Munro; and Mark D. Kittleson, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology) :
Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (includes a downloadable pdf file HCM info sheet)
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I sincerely hope that the above information will be useful to other cat owners.
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Judy
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15 comments:

Katherine said...

Judy - I'm going to miss Finn too. It's really sad.

You know that all us who have cats and have lost cats really understand what you're experiencing right now and there's not much we can say which can possibly make you feel his loss any the less.

In your shoes I'd get all the photos out and have a good cry. Boys do make one blubber so........

René said...

How sad, how immensely sad you must be, ..... I can't find any words.

Sterkte Judith, heel veel sterkte.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Judy - my heart goes out to you. My cat Moose is about the same age as Finn was and he is my constant studio companion and model.

Please don't despair - he brought joy to your life and that's what you should remember. Not the years that you didn't get with him, but the years that you DID. Most people had to go their whole lives without ever meeting Finn.

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Thank you Katherine, René & Maggie for the kind words.
I just can't stop crying and wondering if I/we could have acted earlier to help him (maybe that doubt hurts the most right now)... it just came out of the blue for us.

Judy

Katherine said...

Judy - if your vet didn't know about it how could you? And you'd be missing him just the same if he'd been unfortunately knocked down.

I had the same thing happen to a kitten - these things just happen.

It's not the manner of his passing which is important - it's the manner of his living with you and the memories he's left with you forever which really matter.

Wendy said...

Oh Judy, it's so hard and you have to know there was nothing you could have done because there was no sign. Cat's are so like that, just go about their daily routine without ever letting on anythings wrong.

You couldn't possibly have known and even if you did, it may not have made a difference.

You loved him so and gave him such a wonderful life, that's what matters, not how long it was. We all get our allotted time in this life and if it's 3 years or 90, it still is never enough for those that love us. Quality matters as much as quantity, and Finn certainly had that.

My heart is with you right now.

Charne said...

I am more sorry than I can express in words, Judy. I will miss this blog and reading about all your family adventures. May the memories soon overcome your sorrow.

Big hugs,

Mel said...

I'm so sorry to read this very sad news. It will take time to heal from your loss, but Finn will always be a delightful memory for you and the rest of us who visited but never spoke until now.

Mel in the UK.

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Thank you Charne and Mel.

Judy

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Thank you again Katherine
and
Thanks Wendy.

Judy

Chuck Law said...

Dear Judy
I am shocked and saddened to hear of Finn passing. My heart goes out to you and to Dear Sacha who perhaps may be missing her friend most of all. I cherish the time I have with my cats ( and Dog ) knowing full well how their lives move so much faster than ours. We are so lucky to have the time with them that we do. Finn has been immortalized by Kats-in-Klompen and I'm glad to hear that you will keep the blog going. I think Finn would want that! And gee... this is the only blog that Owen and Edie have ever cared two flicks of a tail for!
My sincerest sympathies
...chuck

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Thank you Chuck and Owen & Edie.
Yeah, Sacha has been a wee bit depressed since Finn's passing... but she's our little hunter so she keeps herself busy.

I, on the otherhand, am still crying and miss him.

If anyone is reading these comments and missed my update to the post - do have a look at this website to get a better understanding of heart disease in cats : Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

http://home.online.no/~colmar/hcm_eng.html

Any cat, any age can be struck by this condition.

I was reading the guestbook pages of that site - it's a pretty sad read, yet very eye-opening. I now understand more about this affliction.

Thanks again Chuck.

Judy

Robyn said...

Dear Judy, I was totally unprepared for such sadness this morning. Dear little Fin, I felt I knew him. I am so sorry.

Windsong said...

Oh my gosh! I am crying so hard! I am so sorry. I am a devout cat lover and know how much this hurts, hurts, hurts.

Remember the good times, though - and more especially remember that love never dies. It lives on and on and on, and because of that he is still with you and always will be.

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Thank you for the sentiments, Robyn & Windsong.

It's still difficult for me to look at this blog. I just had Sacha on my lap and it's hard not to want to see her brother Finn beside her. I know it will pass..slowly.

Good news is that Sacha is fine and passed a physical exam a few days ago. We hope she's around for a good long time (although I watch her constantly now...)

Thanks again.

Judy

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