A small number of you already know of my loss this week. There are so many members I thought I would share the following with you, at the risk of being repetitious. Magi, my kitty cat was 16 years old. While I have been caregiving to him since February, he had been quite stable.

At times he required a lot of care. I had worked with the traditional vets as well as holistic vets to find the balance to keep him in balance and to keep the quality of his life to an optimum.

At the beginning of last week, all his doctors said that his condition while severe on some levels, he was not critical. Magi was very strong from the natural diet I had given to him all his life. His will to live and the lessons we learned from each other were remarkable.

At about four weeks old, Magi’s brother Precious, suddenly became very ill one evening. Precious was wheezing and fluid was coming from his nose and mouth. I was about to rush him to the emergency room in the middle of the night. Magi went over to him and brought another one of the littermates. He began to lick Precious’s eyes, nose, mouth and lung areas. He laid down beside him.

Shortly, another member of the litter came over and laid down in the back of Precious. He too, began licking Precious as Magi was doing. This went on for about 45 minutes. Then Magi and the other kitty got up and left Precious’s to breathe freely on his own.

What an incredible lesson in unconditional love, and instinctive nurturing. There were times when I suffered from asthma and was acutely sensitive to Magi. His brother Precious did not affect my allergies. When I would be under attack, Magi would never let me hold him. If I tried to, he would push off me with such a great force, knowing that it was hard on me. He would not sleep in the bedroom with me during these times. On his own accord he would sleep in the living room and when I was no longer attack, he would show up on the bed in his favorite spot.

Throughout all the nurturing and prodding and treatments these past months, Magi was one of the most incredible patients (be it a human or animal) that I have ever been gifted the opportunity to serve. We are blessed that while he might have been uncomfortable, he was not in pain until the last twelve hours.

On Tuesday I had given him a new herbal immune system tincture. He looked wonderful and was peaceful. His fur was healthy and he even began to eat more. Around midnight, I gave him some more of the tincture. In an instant he began to choke and wheeze. I thought he was having an allergic reaction. He laid down with some catnip and everything subsided, though his breathing was still a little strained.

In the morning he was still having some difficulty breathing. He was scheduled to see the acupuncturist so we made a two hour drive by car. Once there he was given the treatment but nothing seemed to change. The doctor was treating him for the anemia which showed up a few days prior to the visit. An x ray taken five days earlier, revealed nothing. His breathing had worsened and the vet gave him an anti histamine and a vitamin b shot for his energy and suggested that he be x-rayed by Magi’s traditional vet who was closer to where I lived. I told him I had already made the appointment.

I wanted to drive to the park by the Long Island Sound, through the wooded rural area like we had done last week after the treatment. Magi, being a true predator from living in the wilderness in Sedona for several years, loved rolling in the grass breathing in the air by the water. I started to drive in the direction of the sound. A voice inside me said get into the city immediately and I turned the car around.

His breathing began to calm. He was resting. I believed the anti histamine had kicked in along with the vit b shot. As we neared the tunnel into Manhattan, his labored breathing started again. He was wheezing. He hurt where ever I touched him. He eased his way into my lap across the bucket seat, climbing to my shoulders with his front paws, across my heart, with his hind legs on my thigh. The traffic into the tunnel was backed up. While it was less then a mile to the vet, it took almost 45 minutes.

I told him the places we were passing, to hold on that we would get him help. I double parked the car and rushed him into the vet. They immediately took him in for an x-ray while I parked the car.

Upon my return the doctor’s face said it all as he looked at me and pointed to the x-ray. Within one week, a mass had filled his lungs with fluid making it impossible to breathe. His pressure dropped very quickly.

I asked if he would walk to my apartment with me to put Magi to sleep in his own environment. He didn’t think Magi could make it.

Magi was never one to give his blood up easy. He had chicken veins that rolled over just like me. The vet couldn’t get the vein to give him the injection, so he sedated him. He told me Magi would be fast asleep with two minutes. After five Magi still clung to me.

I reflected out loud to Magi how special and beautiful he was. I recalled the daily two mile hikes we took in Sedona, the snake and tarantula’s he had pounced on and so many other wonderful events. He finally began to leave his body.

As the vet finally gave him the injection that would free his soul, I made a promise to him. I promised that I would take the trip I was planning to take with him, that I would begin to develop a new social life once again. I told him that I would work extra hard on the vision for Empowering Caregivers and most of all that I would begin living my own life more fully. I promised to sprinkle his ashes in a favorite spot of his when I returned to Sedona as I had for Precious a few years ago.

As he slowly took his last breath I felt such a release come over me. He was free…But somehow I went emotionally hysterical, which didn’t quite sit right with what I was truly feeling inside. I went home and booked my flight, called the other vets, my mom, and sent an email to a few people online to tell them that Magi had transitioned.

I lit a candle in front of two wonderful photos with his collar and leash. I couldn’t sleep. On Thursday morning, I knew I needed to do something and I went to see my acupuncturist. My appointment was at the exact time Magi had made his transition the day before. I was hysterical and couldn’t even talk. Richard, the acupuncturist helped me to turn over on to my stomach. He said, ” I am going to treat your heart connection, your soul, your sadness and your loss. This will clear your soul.”

With that, he began placing two needles into my upper shoulder area. The crying ceased in an instant and I felt so clear and focused. I was able to tell him that Magi had passed.

You may wonder why I am sharing this with you. First, my fear of the unknown and how it would be for Magi as I thought for my husband, father and other pets in the past. While I thought Magi was suffering symptoms from an allergic reaction, it was actually his body closing down.

I am still very sad, but I had immediately done what I had to do for me in the moment to get centered. As I work at the computer, I find myself wanting to go into the bedroom to check on him every fifteen minutes or so. My eyes well up, but I know he is at peace. I feel no guilt as I did the very best that I could.

I am moving on to the next chapter of my life, living it as I promised dear Magi I would. Within the next few months, in memory of Magi, I will begin incoporating an area at the site for caregivers of pets as well. In the chat last week, so many of you indicated your own personal need for it.

Magi and I are both grateful to all of you who have sent loving prayers and thoughts our way in our time of need. Your support and prayers have meant more than you can imagine. I have always said a soul is a soul be it a human or an animal. Blessings to you all.

Copyrighted Gail R. Mitchell 7/22/99


  • Ms. Mitchell began her full-time caregiving experience in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dad’s passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

    Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

    Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: www.care-givers.com in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

    She has presented at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

    Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

    For a list of clients and/or her resume, please contact info@care-givers.com

    Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada. Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

    Gail has discovered that there is life after caregiving: She has become a successful ceramic artist and installation artist. She created Crystal Illumination Art to bring the transformative quality of illumination, light and color to the human experience and celebrate its ability to inspire, heal and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.