Saying Goodbye to One of Our Furry Family Members

Spending time with animals and developing life-long bonds with them is one of life’s greatest pleasures. We took our two kitties with us to our land in Idaho to start a new life and they couldn’t have been happier. But back in October the time abruptly came to say goodbye to one of them… our dear, sweet Malek.

Both of our kitties (Malek and Nikolai… or commonly referred to as “Bugaboo”) really brought our property to life.

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When we were out working, they were often right there beside us getting into trouble, and then would race off chasing one another where they would both end up 10′ high in the same pine tree. It was quite the sight.

I’ve had them both since they were kittens… cute little buggers they were! They finally grew into their ears, but over the years I’ve built a bond with them that I can’t describe in words… but I’m sure you other pet owners can relate to the bond with a pet… not just any pet, but likely the best pet(s) you’d ever have.

You know, those ones that are really extra special because they have a personality that is so unique and could never be replicated.

Gosh... look at those ears and their little button noses!
Gosh… look at those ears and their little button noses!

Malek’s Appetite Started Dwindling

Weeks before we had to say goodbye to Malek, I noticed that his appetite wasn’t very strong. Quite a few days went by where he really wasn’t interested in food and I would have thought he may have been getting food elsewhere, but his backbone seemed more defined than usual.

Other than a small appetite, he was acting like his normal self. He was hunting, playing, hanging out with us, and even being extremely affectionate.

Malek wasn't feeling his best in this photo, but it was one of the last times he cuddled with me outside.
Malek wasn’t feeling his best in this photo, but it was one of the last times he cuddled with me outside.

Decided to Keep an Eye on Him

Since we don’t like to rush to the doctor or vet for our every need, nor do we always feel such things are necessary, we decided to just keep an eye on him.

During that time, I tried feeding him a variety of meats (I’ve made my own cat food since they were kittens) and even bought him some cat crack… you know, commercial canned food. He would pick at each new food for a while and was even enjoying the commercial cat food for a while, but he even lost interest in that.

Not only that, but he was getting progressively less and less interested in going outside. He would sit in the trailer all day crouched up, staring at a wall or corner which is unusual for him.

He slept with me under the covers for nights in a row, all night long, which is also uncharacteristic of him.

My little sweat pea.
My little sweat pea.

After my desperate attempts to try to get him to eat an actual meal, and after him losing quite a bit of weight in a short time, and after seeing his spirits dwindling, I decided it was time to take him to the vet.

Sometimes, we as humans just have gut feelings about things, and the night before I took him to the vet I cried myself to sleep because things just didn’t feel right.

To top it off, Jesse was in Oregon while I ran the homestead solo so I felt I might be faced with a tough decision on my own.

Vet Time: A Blockage in His Stomach

When I took Malek to the vet, he had no fever (I didn’t think he did since I tried to take his temperature and it seemed normal) but the vet felt a huge lump in his stomach so he ordered X-rays immediately.

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The X-rays revealed an abnormal amount of mass in his stomach so the vet gave him some barium. He wanted to see if anything was able to get through his digestive system, and this would be visible on an xray.

When they did a second xray, a huge mass was visible in his stomach. The vet said that this was likely either an object or more realistically just a really large hairball.

He said that sometimes cats might swallow a piece of string and it can get hair all tangled up into a ball that they can’t get out on their own, but it seemed odd to me that it would be a hairball even though that was my hope. He did throw up A LOT of hair a week prior, so it seemed feasible.

The white is the tumor that was in his stomach.

He said there was no way he’d be able to pass it on his own and the only option was to go in and remove it, but that he would heal just fine and go on to live a normal life.

More unlikely, he said it could also be a tumor in which case based on its location, it would be inoperable based on its location, but since Malek was only 5 years old and healthy, he said this was a pretty slim chance.

Surgery First Thing in The Morning

Because Malek was just so dear to my heart and to our tiny family, I decided to go through with surgery to remove the mass, even though it was going to cost around $800 in addition to the other fees associated with the visit.

I decided to leave him at the vet overnight since he wasn’t allowed to eat or drink before surgery, and I didn’t want to withhold food or water from Bugaboo, and I wanted them to be able to operate on him as soon as they could. I also thought it might be less stress for him than taking two more car rides.

It was a long, sleepless night for me and all I hoped was that I would have my Malek back by noon the next day as they said I probably would. I knew it would be a rough couple weeks of recovery for him, but I was prepared to do what I needed to do to help him heal.

The vet said they would call me if anything came up or if they found anything during surgery.

"Stop taking photos of me, Mom, I'm busy hunting."
“Stop taking photos of me, Mom, I’m busy hunting.”

The Dreaded Phone Call

I was talking on the phone with Jesse at around 10:30am the next morning when I saw that the vet was calling. I immediately felt a lump in my throat and a feeling of sorrow wash over me. I answered the phone.

The vet said that they were in the middle of surgery and that the mass was indeed a tumor the size of his entire stomach.

Not only that, but all of his lymph nodes were huge yet he didn’t have a fever, so there was a 99% chance he had full blown lymphoma and that the tumor was cancerous.

firewood-helper

I knew what this meant, yet I asked questions anyways to understand and confirm what he was saying. He said again that the tumor was inoperable based on its location, and that removing it would mess up his entire digestive system, so at best he could stitch him up and send him home to die over a couple of months where he would be unhappy and continue to lose weight, when he was already a frail 8.5 lbs (normally 11 lbs).

We both knew that the only humane thing to do was to euthanize him.

Days of Sadness, Hurt, Guilt & Confusion

So that was that. No final goodbye, no more watching Malek run up and down pine trees, no more being greeted by him every time we came home, I would just never see him again.

I cried my eyes out the entire morning as I slowly felt a pounding headache taking over me. Both my kitties mean / meant so much to me, and I couldn’t believe Malek was gone, just like that.

A great shot of Malek that my mom took when she was visiting.
A great shot of Malek that my mom took when she was visiting.

I went into the vet later that day to get settled up and talk to the doctor again in person. There’s something eerie about going into the vet office after your pet is put down… the looks of the office, the smells, picking up your cat’s box, everything can just get to you all too easily. Scent and memory are definitely linked.

I also asked for copies of the xray. Some people would rather just have been done, but I wanted to show Jesse what was happening in our furbaby’s belly and also, I think studying the xrays helped me to cope with what happened and help me to see further proof that he was ill.

Appreciating Life & Moving On

The days and weeks following Malek’s death were very emotional for me. I have lost pets before but none were I as close to as I was with Malek and even Bugaboo. I still feel sad when I watch videos of him such as the one below.

I think it’s normal to feel a sense of guilt even when logically you know you did everything in your power to give a pet the best life possible.

I do cherish the times we had with Malek being part of our family and I have peace in the fact that he had the best life a cat could possibly have his last year, and both of the boys absolutely loved moving to our property, although I was really hoping he would live to be sitting by the fire in our new house with us.

I do try to be accepting of the circle of life and let nature take it’s course somewhat. For example… both the cats HATED being locked indoors, so despite knowing the risks of letting them out, I let them out because they were happy outside, even if that meant that their life would be shorter and they would end up getting taken by a coyote or another animal.

But cancer… I guess it’s a little harder for me to deal with because I tried to keep them in a healthy environment and feed them the best diet possible and Malek’s fate was still out of my control… and I don’t think a cat dying of cancer at age 5 is natural.

All that said, I’m trying to be accepting and really cherish the time we have left with Bugaboo. So far, he seems to be doing okay despite losing his brother that he’s been close to since birth.

He’s been A LOT more loving, has been sleeping with me close every single night, and has been sticking around home quite a bit more.

Here’s a Bugaboo montage I put together a while back!

 

Life is Unpredictable So Make the Most of It

I guess in the end, I want to sum up this post by focusing on the idea that life is unpredictable, so make every day count.

Jesse and I are frequently so wrapped up in working and trying to make progress that it’s easy to not take time to just sit on the deck together, walk with the kitties through the forest, or take time to simply catch up with a family member.

While we can do our best to stay healthy and keep our pets healthy, life really is something to be cherished.

If you made it this far in this post, I hope you take time today to tell someone that you love them, give your pets an extra few pats on the head, call up someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or just take some time to yourself to enjoy everything you have ALREADY accomplished in your life.

That’s it for now… this is a heavier post than what we normally write but this is just part of life, and I’m sure we have a lot more of this type of stuff to deal with as our homestead grows and we eventually take on farm animals.

Life will go on… I am strong. But emotions get the best of all of us sometimes and I think that’s okay because in the end, we’re just human.

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

Comments

  1. Mal says

    One of my cats had to be euthanised several months ago due to cancer. He was a big strong cat compared to others, so I think at times, it just comes down to bad luck. And yeah, it’s better to put them down rather than allowing them to suffer for weeks or months (often on mind altering painkillers). I think it hits us hard because we get to know our pets well and there’s an innocence to them.

    On the bright side, I bet Malek experienced more freedom through your change of lifestyle than a lot of people experience throughout their lives. The videos you two create inspire others to plan their own bit of freedom or just enjoy some escapism. Keep doing what you are doing and good luck with the future.

    • says

      Alyssa and everyone else here: I am so sorry to hear about your loss(es). We own 3 German Shepherds now and a snow shoe tabby named Mocha (at least I think that’s what tabby and Siamese mixes are referred to as). A few years ago I had a big Tabby named Sox. He was an inside cat, and by far the most loving and gentle cat i have ever seen. I actually have a photo of him snuggling up with my son’s macaw named Paradise! Sox was 14 when he disappeared form the house while I was driving over the road, and never to be seen again. We believe he knew that he was about to die so he left to be alone somewhere and die in peace. Sox weighed in at 21 pounds. We had also brought home his “little” brother and named him Rascal. Rascal passed a few months after Sox did, and he weighed in at just over 28 pounds. LOL. The little porker. I call them little but in reality they were really big cats. When he stood un on 2 legs Sox was actually taller than my 4 year old niece at the time! So you can imagine how big he was. When Sox and Rascal were about 8 years old we brought home a wonderful bundle of German Shepherd joy and named her Cheyenne. Cheyennes would chase Sox through the house like you’d expect to see, then Sox would turn and chase Cheyenne!!! I t was the most enjoyable and funny thing to see! This even took place after Cheyenne grew up. The two were incredibly close. Paradise was brought home when she was only 3 months old and she was so affectionate for a macaw! She liked to snuggle inside a hoodie and fall asleep with us holding her in our arms and Sox would come up on the couch and get inside the hoodie too just to be with her. After Paradise the macaw passed away from a rare disease that only affects parrots, Sox would oftentimes drag our hoodies down from the hanger on the bedroom door and get into it and roll around and eventually sleep in it. After a few times of doing that we figured out that he liked doing that because Paradise’s smell was in it and he wanted to be close to her. I immediately thought of Sox and his brother Rascal when I read your blog post about Malek and Bugaboo and HAD to share this with you guys. We certainly do love our animal friends! Now, Cheyenne is also gone but we still have her mate and 2 of her pups (the pups are 3 years old now), and if we could go back i time we would only change the length of Cheyenne’s life so that she could still be here today. A pet like Malek and Sox and Cheyenne is most certainly a wonderful experience.

      • says

        P.S. IF there is some way …I’d love to upload a photo of Sox and Paradise snuggling for you to enjoy. Please let me know if you’d like that and a way to do it for you. You have my email address so please feel free to notify me if you’d like. Love your videos on Youtube too, Jesse and Alyssa. They are among the channels I watch regularly. I haven’t had a regular tv or even cable tv for 21 years now and I don’t miss it. But I truly enjoy watching your progress and the information you share with us. You’re like family. LOL. Hope to hear from you soon. The Little Shepherd Farm

  2. Lynda says

    I was in Hawaii where my 94 year old mom passed away. My sister and I were pulling the family trusts and making all those beneficiary phone calls. My husband texted to tell me that he’d sent Vanna, our Maine Coon to Rainbow Bridge. She was having unstoppable seizures and the Vet said he’d never seen the like.

    Rainbow Bridge is a comfort zone for me. I know that Vanna and the rest of our pets live those here now. Gosh, they probably even talk about us .

    On another note, I love your YouTube videos. I am encouraged (65 years old now) that there are young people who are living the dream. You are both gifted in sharing your journey.

  3. says

    I love watchin Y’alls stuff. It has been our dream to do what you are doing, and so this past year we purchased 5.9 acres and looking at getting at least 3.8 more acres making total 9.7 acres.

    As Y’all have stated many times, keeping track of finances and paying off debts is a priority.
    We paid cash for our property and it came with power and septic. Our plan is solar and windmill backup, but we have a leg up with starting. We parked our camper on the property for year round accommodations, and like Y’all we are having a marvelous winter. We had to hike in to our place for one weekend when we stayed, and at last measure there is 7 feet of snow , negating our having access in the foreseeable future. The reservoir will fill this year. God Bless Y’all and I can identify with your loss, and the love our pets have for our property. They go nutz when we go out there. I will not go into detail with the number of pets we have buried, but the list is considerable. I have graduated from cigar boxes to home built receptacles to include marker stones, and because we are human, we were endowed with emotions. God stated that we were the animals care-takers, and I am grateful for all those I have been entrusted with. God Bless Y’all and your endeavors. Drive on Live Long and Prosper As Always George

  4. Nell says

    Love to you and to BOTH of your cats. I want to believe he is still around (The spirit or what ever energy you call it). Love to you and Jesse. Nell.

  5. Annie says

    So sorry for you loss. I know how important pets are, they are family. May you find peace in his memories! Best Wishes,
    Annie Gillespie

  6. Suzanne says

    A few months back, when you first made a passing reference to something sad, I had this bad feeling something happened to the cats.
    Please know you made the right decision for Malek, that just proves you are a very caring and responsible pet owner, thinking of your animal first, not you…..having to say goodbye is never easy. Doing the best for your pet while they share your life is all we can ever do.
    I know how hard making that final decision is. Over the last 22 years I’ve had to do that for eight cats. Some have lived long lives, some only a couple. Mine have always been rescues from the yard or humane society. …and yes, I still miss Darth, he was with me from two months to almost 16 years. Now I think of him with a smile, remembering all the goofy things he did!
    If ever you have multiple pets again, let the living ones say goodbye to the deceased, before burying. I have found this causes less stress to the surviving animals…..
    Thank you so much for sharing your sad story with all of us, you truly expressed, how we feel leading up to that final moment and the days (and weeks) after…

    Thank you, Suzanne

  7. Cathy says

    I had been wondering why we were only seeing one kitty in your recent videos… I am so sad for your loss – I am crying with you! You did all you could and your kitty had the best life ever possible. Keep up the good work Alyssa and Jesse – you two continue to amaze me!

  8. Larry says

    So sorry to hear about your cat. I am more a dog guy, but having to put your family animals down is a very difficult and heart wrenching thing to do. I hope that you will find a new kitty friend to fill bugaboo place and carry on the enjoyment they bring to our lives.

  9. Laura says

    Im so sorry your loss, I know how important our pets can be in our lives. Take solace in the fact that you did everything that you could do, and that Malek knows he was loved.

  10. Dan Tina Luma says

    We are sorry about your cat cats and dogs Are Angel they are best friends we love them like family IM 56 and Tina s52 we got 1 male cat named fuzzbie and 13 Jack Russells and we love them all crazy right

  11. Mechelle says

    I am heartbroken for you, Jesse and Nikolai. We had to put down our 5 year old kitty November ’15 over kidney issues. She was a rescue and was probably born with kidney problems. I still cry for her.
    I will tell you what my sister told me. Malek was truely blessed to have you and Jesse as her people. And blessed again for the big beautiful kitty playground that she spent her the last part of her life in. What a lucky kitty. She lived more in her short time than most cats get to in 15 years.
    Bless you guys. Gotta go find my tissues!

  12. Tammy says

    Hi, Jesse and Alyssa! So sorry about Malek. It’s always hard to tell a loved pet goodbye. I’d like to see your houseplan you’ve been working on. It looks like you don’t have any problem with the winter blues. I’ve been wondering how you keep your chin up on the gray days?

  13. says

    I’m so sorry for you guys’ loss. This is such sad news. I think we have all been following the kitties as much as we have been following you guys! I’m so happy that Malek had a chance to be a part of your homestead journey.

  14. Angie says

    Thank you Alyssa for sharing your story, of course I’m in a ball of tears and a real sucker when it comes to animals. We have three cats and a chihuahua, two cats are brothers we’ve had since they were kittens also like Malek and Bugaboo, I can’t imagine having to go through what you went through. All life is precious and you help remind me not to take so many things in my life for granted, I agree that cats have unique personalities and they have made me laugh and created so much joy. Just tonight I had to bring in my grandson’s booster seat and set it on the floor, it was no more than two minutes and one of the cat’s was on it facing front looking ready to go for car ride. They are special and provide so much love and happiness even though one day we must part with them, thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. Plinker says

    I love you Guys!!! Its never easy losing a cat or dog as they become family members……. Well we all share life and should share love as well…..

  16. jay angel says

    dr becker has a website and she is a natural vet and might have some idea of why. i have a friend who lives the woods and has had 2 mostly out door cats for about 22 years before they passed.
    he let them eat a little cat crack but mostly small animals. fyi

  17. says

    So sorry you your loss. It’s never easy to make the decision to put a pet down. Not even when they are old and have lived a good long life. I remember when our dog had to be put down at age 13 (we’d had her since she as a puppy), I sat on the bed bawling after I got off the phone with the vet because I had just made the decision to kill my dog, even though it was the most humane thing to do. Still brings tears to my eyes, three and a half years later. I’m glad you shared the story with us. We were wondering what had happened to the other kitty. Kinda thought a predator might have gotten to him. This seems so much harder. But as so many others have said, you all gave him the best life.
    Much love to you and Jesse. We are faithful subscribers to your YouTube channel. You guys are great. We also are living off grid in a camping trailer (with two kids!) on our property while we prepare to build our house. My husband is learning a lot through Jesse’s adventures with the batteries. :-) Keep up the good work!

  18. Rudy says

    Alyssa, Jesse, I’m so sorry to hear of Malek’s departure. Both Malek & Bugaboo are such gorgeous kitties, and must have thought they entered the gates of heaven the day they arrived at your homestead, I wish Malek could have had more time with the family to enjoy it.
    I too had to say goodbye, on October 12th, to my Rottweiler/Bestest Pal ever. I truly feel the same crushing blow, even now. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your journey, even the saddest of moments, with us avid followers. Hopefully it allows us out here in cyberspace, to somehow absorb and dispel little of your sadness. Much peace & love to you both.

  19. Dianne says

    Dear Alyssa and Jesse, My heart goes out to you in the loss of your dear Malek. We have two dogs that we love very much. They are our family. I’ve had to make the decision to put down a pet and it is so hard, but you love them and don’t want them to suffer. I believe Malek is in Heaven with God, running free and happy and getting lots of God’s attention until he sees you again one day when you’ll love him up. You loved him, took good care of him, (and his buddy) and did the most loving thing by taking away his pain. Blessings to you both.

  20. Karl Micheal Kimbrel says

    My Dear UnMet Friends…Any pet owner has felt the loss that you describe at one time or another. Know that you did the only thing for your friend/family member/your fur baby that you could do. He is not suffering any longer. He is running and playing on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge awaiting the time when he will be reunited with his brother and also his Mom (that is you) and his Dad (Your Husband). And when the time comes, he will be waiting to greet you each as you cross over. May God be with you and your Husband during your time of grief. You will always have your beautiful remembrances of Malek!! God bless you and your Husband Dear UnMet Friend!!

  21. Randy Swingle says

    I’ve had animals my entire life and loved them all for their individual gifts to my life. They were all unique in personality and contributions to my daily routine. I’ve always used their quality of life as my guide to when I should let them go. If they’re eating, moving, pooping, and generally enjoying life I will go to almost any amount of inconvenience to keep them. I feel they’ve earned that by giving to me their whole life. However, if they’ve lost their quality of life and can no longer do the things they enjoy or are in any pain I won’t let it continue just because I know how much it will hurt to let them go. That’s just the price of sharing life with an animal. it’s always hard but so worth it.
    Thanks for sharing your story about Malek and enjoy Bugaboo.

  22. Carla says

    I’ve noticed what seems to be an emerging pattern when pets are fed raw food diets: an increase in death at a younger age. I’m not sure why, and I certainly haven’t conducted any formal research, but the pattern is undeniable among the people I’ve known who only feed raw. Everything seems to say raw, when done safely, is better. So I’ve tried looking the other way. But of the 25 or so people I’ve known over the years who feed raw, I’d say easily 15 to 20 of them have had unexpected tumors develop and a beloved pet die.

    • says

      Hmm interesting… based on what is in commercial pet food, I would think that it would likely increase rates of cancer, UTIs (Malek couldn’t eat dry cat food or he’d get a UTI almost immediately), as well as increase the rates of diabetes and obesity. I feel confident in the decision to feed raw but I’m sure much research hasn’t been done either way…. I personally feel better in feeding a diet that is more closely related to what they’d eat in the wild than something made in factory. I didn’t share this in the blog, but before we moved to our property, a neighbor emptied a bottle of bear spray on Malek (I’m surprised he lived… him coming home covered in it and suffocating was the worst thing either of us ever had to witness). I did some research and based on one study, there was a correlation between pepper spray and cancer… but that’s also a long shot and would be hard to prove. Either way, I suppose we all have to do our own research and feed a diet we are most comfortable with, and hope our pets have the best life possible <3

      • Carla says

        I’m not criticizing you at all. For one of your readers to call me a naysayer and an idiot was really unwarranted. Raw makes sense, but the pattern I’m seeing concerns me.

      • Lara says

        I have had cats for all my life, I have found that the happiest and healthiest cats get a combo of some high quality grain-free cat food combined with hunting outdoors. I can see why a completely raw food diet could cause issues especially with some of the things that can be found in meats unless you raised them yourself and know what went into them. Of course there is always the issues with other things as well when dealing with completely raw diets. Even when I give my kitty some raw chicken I half cook it in the microwave as he seems to prefer that anyway after much trial and error. This has also been the case with the last three cats I’ve had. None of which have died of cancer, all rescues from poor environments. The first, an orphan and had to be bottle fed for a few weeks before I could take him home. The second found emaciated, full of distemper, mites and what not, died of kidney failure at 12 young but not so young considering her terrible start to life. the orphan that I had for 19 years I ended up euthanizing because of a few massive strokes in a row that left him alive but with so little balance I worried if he would drown in his own water dish or worse. As well as the fact that he was the Great Black and White Hunter here for so many years, he didn’t seem happy either.

        I have had so many animals that I have had die, get hit or have had to put down unexpectedly that I can say that even the farm animals where you know they will be dinner, they all get loved and become pets. So when butcher day comes things won’t be any easier. I learned early on as a child watching butchering that it is a cycle of life, it has to happen and as long as it is humane and quick it is something that can be lived with.

        I still firmly believe that all children need to spend time learning about this. Where their food comes from, what life and death is about. I have seen so many adults that have never had pets or farm animals become devastated by the loss of the animal or be unable to butcher when it comes time because they didn’t expect to become so attached.

        So sorry for your loss, but he’ll be waiting for you by the Rainbow Bridge with all of my pets..

  23. JD Krebs says

    Hey Guys,

    My condolences to you and the loss of your furry kid. Over the years we have had to put down 3 miniature schnauzers. I bawled for my furry kids more than I did with my Momma’s passing. They will always be in my heart and memories. Look forward to the time when it is my time to go and will play and love them once again. Currently have our 2nd rescue miniature schnauzer named Hiede2. The original Hiedi was our first dog together, then Gretel, then Hansel. Looking at her right now sitting in the chair next to me taking another nap. May your beautiful, little kitty rest in peace. Until next time, thanks so much for all that you share! Peace.

  24. Lisa Pinneo says

    So very sorry t read this. I have LOVED watching your videos AND reading this blog. I so admire you two for living your dream. I and my husband are in our 50’s but healthy and active. I still work as a nurse but my husband and I are looking for property out of town a bit, but still within driving distance (25 miles or less)for work where we can become more self sufficient, even at our age.
    As I read this, I was remembering having to put our 14 year old Cocker/ Golden retriever/ lab mix,”Buddy” down this past November. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do (even having been an ER and ICU/ Burn ICU nurse for over 30 years).
    I am thankful that I could be with him during the time he crossed over to Heaven. It was SOOOO HARD! My “Buddy” was my baby! The vet and his staff were SO precious and that helped so much. YOU did the absolutely right thing and Malek is now playing, hunting and having a blast in Heaven. We still have a 2 and a half year old girl dogger, “Missy” who is a Heeler/Terrier mix and she has helped us through this time.
    Blessings and peace to you both! Praying for you.

  25. Colleen Dunn says

    Not having your beloved pet around can leave an unbelievably large hole in the heart. I had a similar situation 3 1/2 years ago with my first cat, Samantha. It was such a shock! A few months later someone asked me to take in a cat who had been living on the streets, and I did. I love Skibb dearly, but I do miss Samantha. I would like to think the people and pets which leave us are actually still with us.

  26. Beth Dodson says

    I am sorry for your loss. About 5 years ago we had a orange tabby that had a rough start in life end up with my husband an I. He was a sweetheart to everyone he met. He was about 9 months old and started losing weight but acted normal at first. When we took him to the vet for surgery he ended up with cancer in his intestines. Making the decision to end his life was the hardest thing but I know he is happier and in a better place now. We now have another tabby but the only one he is nice to is me. I love how each pet has there own personality. Even farm animals. We have cows, chickens and pigs also.

  27. Thomas says

    I feel for you. It brings back memory of my Doobie and his progressive downturn after kidney failure. He was 4 years old, rescued from a discarded box with his dead siblings. No treatment worked so on his last day I let him walk around to enjoy the backyard. He had a shaky walk as he stepped onto a log to sharpen his claws – a kitty to the end. After the vet I buried him at a national wildlife refuge and planted a live oak tree on his grave. Every time I am in the area I stop by to say hi. A year later I adopted Doobie 2 from someone who found him on the refuge.

    Thank you for the post
    Thomas

  28. Fred says

    Hi Alyssa& Jesse

    Like many of your respondents I’ve known the pain of loss of a pet dying many years short of a natural life span. It is a unique and deep pain that many who are net pet owners have difficulty understanding.

    I completely understand the time it takes before one can freely speak about it let alone heal.

    I hope this celebratory blog eases things and over time that all memories put a smile on your face.

    As usual another well placed blog post. You have honored Malek well.

  29. Joe Comunale says

    Alyssa & Jesse,

    Malek:
    So sorry to hear about your loss of Malek. I had wondered why all of a sudden there was only one kitty in the videos, and was afraid to ask. Our pets become members of our family. Truth be told I love and trust my dogs more than I love and trust most people. Love bug-a-boo as much as you can. And never rule out the option of adopting another kitty to fill the void.

    Solar Power:
    I have been watching in earnest all of your videos and especially your solar videos. I am planning on retiring into a self-sufficient lifestyle, but not off-grid. I did want to supplement my electrical usage with solar power. I am realizing that it is definitely not “Plug-and-Play”. Jesse- you’re doing a great job of explaining things in the videos! Please keep up the good work!

    NaySayers:
    Please ignore the naysayers and the idiots that like to feel superior by insulting people. They are truly the idiots and the reasons I hold my dogs and my guns closer. You guys ROCK! Love your videos. Love hearing what you are up to. I watch a lot of homesteading videos on the internet – and most of them are not worth listening to. You guys make it interesting and informative. Don’t let the idiots get to you! Please.

    Sincerely,

    Joe
    From Romeo Michigan (but in the future – out in the boonies of Luther Michigan)

  30. Angelia says

    I had noticed only one kitty in your recent videos and hoped you had not suffered a loss. I too let my fur babies outside because I believe in quality of life vs mere length of life. I wouldn’t think it humane to lock children inside just to keep them safe, so I can’t imagine why it be humane to do the same for a less domesticated animal. Oops, I’m preaching…anyway, I’m glad he lived his short life with loving “parents”.

  31. Quita Holliday says

    Dear Alyssa and Jesse, Thank you for sharing your heart breaking story about your beloved kitty, Bugaboo. Although it left me in tears, it reminded me that if we chose to love our precious pets and take good care of them (almost as if they were our children)…..we must be willing to give them up ….if and when that time comes….always with the hope that we will be reunited with them someday at the Rainbow Bridge. God knows how much we loved our fur babies and I believe that He will surely give us the chance to hug them once more.
    I am 85 years old and have been fortunate to love and care for many dear pets since I was a little girl; but I also had to say goodbye many times…and it never gets easier….some of them manage to wrap themselves around your heart (like your dear Bugaboo) so that you never ever can forget them…..; but you did your best to give him the very best life a feline could wish for……
    running free in the wilds…. chasing critters instead of being cooped up all day in the house…staring out the window. You saved his claws (I’m sure) so he would be able to protect himself. And you fed him the healthiest and best homemade cat food instead of that toxin laden stuff from overseas. Yes…..he definitely had 100% of “pure ;iving”. You could even say he enjoyed “heaven on earth”. So be strong and of good courage….knowing that you did everything possible to protect and nurture your dearly loved Bugaboo. Peace be with you.

  32. Pam says

    So sorry to hear about your fur baby. I know the feeling :( I have 10 cats which should have been 11. I lost my Whimpy four years ago. Took me along time to get over his death. Now I’m a happy crazy cat mom with the rest of my zoo :-) I love all of them unconditionally!

  33. says

    Oh, I am so so sorry. I have lost two very near and dear furry friends to cancer at ages 5 and 6 and have to say I’ve yet to recover from Mojo’s death nearly a year later. Stanley our golden was a similar situation to your furry friend’s: operation to see what was up but never to wake up due to a large tumor surrounding his pancreas. Little did we know we were saying goodbye to our 5 yr old golden the night we left him at the vet. Mojo developed lymphoma seemingly overnight! And though we tried treating him because he was a full of life 6 yr old, in the end the best thing we could do was let him rest in peace. I am not sure if I will ever make another furry friend. I am in turmoil over how to vaccinate, how to feed, how to not grow cancer in any future fur creature. I am so sorry. Peace to you and bugaboo!

  34. Holly says

    Alyssa, I’m so sorry! Cancer at 5 years of age would’ve never crossed my mind either. He had a great life with you though.

  35. Debbie says

    I’m so sorry about your kitty – I loved watching him upstage you and Jesse in your videos. I hope your other kitty stays happy and healthy for many years.

  36. dwight says

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your cat. I’ve been in that situation several times over the decades (theres pics of cats in the crib with me ) its never easy, and it must have been extremely hard having to do it over the phone with no goodby, ive had to take ones to the vet to be put down, had one die right in front of me(bad heart, it was determined) and woke up to one that passed in the night, but never had the situation you describe. Im glad you shared it with people as youre right about not taking time for granted, with either 2 or 4 legged characters in our life.

    Some animals get cancer or other aliments that take them too soon, its just their lot in life. I dont think theres anything you could have done, on the contrary, you gave them a great life being out in the great outdoors, but with a warm place to stay, good chow and people that love them, a cat cant ask for more.

  37. Nathan says

    On my 5th birthday my mom said “pick one and you can take it home”. I had just picked my first best friend and didn’t even know it. Her name was Katy, a black lab.

    Unlike homesteading where most of us cannot always relate (but rather just learn from you two), losing a loved furbaby, we do relate.

    I buried my best friend 13 years later after a trip to the vet. She is part of my youngest memory and in every memory from that day on, through senior prom and joining the Army. 20 years later her picture hangs beside our current furbabies.

    We relate and feel for you.

  38. says

    I’m sorry for the loss of your beautiful cat. I adopted a golden doodle 10+ years ago. She is getting older now, but still a puppy at heart. I know she will be gone one of these days, but I try not to think about it. I am loving your journey so far. You guys seem like you have it under control. :)

  39. Steve says

    Life can be remarkably cruel at times. In 2010 my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She had been going to doctors for 2 years complaining, but not one of them took a simple x-ray of her lungs over those two years, knowing she was a heavy lifetime smoker. Two months later our home and all it’s contents burned up in a forest fire, takin with it our three cats and one turtle. We had to leave in a hurry and the cats were out in the woods somewhere, never to be seen again. Our two dogs came with us in our 38′ motorhome and we made do living in it until we got a new home in California near our kids. One year later my wife died and shortly after, I got a new kitten and named him Henry. Henry thought he was a dog, I guess, because he slept with his Buddy and Roxie and kept their faces clean. That’s a big deal if you’ve ever cleaned a pug’s face! Henry would play with Roxie EVERY morning playing chase and attacking her. They kept it up for at least an hour every morning. Three months after that, my 14 year old Jack Russell Buddy died. That one was the worst. Don’t ask me why, but that devastated me completely. Now it was just me, Henry, and Roxie my pug. We had a neighbor move and he asked me to keep his cat Moo Shoo for a week while he got settled. I never heard from him and he never answered my calls. Well, Henry and Roxie wouldn’t let Moo Shoo even come in the bedroom. A couple of weeks later Henry got killed by a speeding car. My heart broke and I had to call my son over to help me dig a grave. So, in less than 18 months, I lost Baxter & Molly to fire, my wife of 28 years to cancer, my dog Buddy that hadn’t left my side in 14 years, and now Henry, the most wonderful cat I ever had.
    I’m not one to give up, so I have found a new love and gotten married at age 67. Roxie is doing fine and Moo Shoo has become quite a hunter with 69 confirmed kills of gophers, voles, and rats, He loves to catch and kill varmints, but has caught a bird a few times. Those he brought in the house and turned loose alive. Hard to catch a live bird flying around your house. A few times he has let a mouse loose, but kept them cornered until I could sweep them into a bucket. The gophers, he kills and eats the heads, spitting the teeth out and leaving me the hind quarters to pick up.
    Life is what it is. Sometimes sad and sometimes happy, but always worth living. Even if once and awhile you have to spend $8,500 trying to save your old dog or you have to pay a $5,000 co-pay for a single cancer treatment for your wife.
    I have good memories of all that passed before me and hope to have Buddy and Henry there waiting for me when I show up later on. My wife Janice must have them now – I hope.

  40. Mike says

    I’m so sorry to read about your loss. It’s a hard thing to deal with, Pets or at least our pets aren’t animals they have become basically our children. My wife and I are in our very late sixty’s. So we have each other and our babies.
    We just had a little guy to pass, he was 14 a Chihuahua. Anyway he had diabetes and his liver had a cancerous tumor. We miss him very much.
    Late last summer one of our cats, we have two, became sick and we immediately went to the vet. We found out that he had condition/disease called Bobcat fever or wild cat. Anyway it has a very intense condition. The vet had a total of 26 cases in that period of time, they all had not made it with the exception of our little guy. He was fairly young and strong. He was totally a feral cat. We found him when he was maybe a day or so old and raised him with a bottle. It took alot of time but he’s slowly getting back to normal. The disease comes from a tick bite. But he’s a totally an indoor cat. We have two other chihuahuas who go out to use the facilities and that is the only way, or it could have us, bringing in a tick at some point.
    Sorry for being so talkative but being 69 and 9/10 and my health is the greatest, well about all I can do is run my mouth. So says my wife.
    Anyway, I have been watching your youtubs video’s and have enjoyed them immensely. I wish I had done something similar, but when I got out of the military in 69, I found a job and went to work like everyone else. A totally different time. And people were not as they are now. Take it for what it’s worth. But I think people then were much more careing and honest.
    I recall something about back trouble, please be careful and don’t do anything to injure it any further. I have totally screwed up my back/neck/shoulders, well most joints From working mainly 30 years with the telephone company.. I started out with a Bell system company and it became Verizon when I retired. Sorry to be long winded.
    I’m sorry you lost your little guy. I enjoy watching and have learned a little watching. Take care.

    Mike Haukeness

  41. Angie says

    So sorry to hear about Malek :(

    My husband and I stumbled across your video series on Youtube yesterday and I recognized you Alyssa from your video about raw diet for Bengals! We recently got two F2 bengal girls, and you were part of my decision to feed them a raw diet. My heart broke hearing how one of your little guy’s journey got caught short, I can only imagine what a loss it must have been. It must have been quite the blow after having taken such care to give them the best diet and care possible.

    Sad news aside, I just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your blog and videos. My husband and I have dreams of off grid mountain living someday as well, and we’ll certainly be bringing our bengals along for the ride!

    Best of luck to you Jesse and Bugaboo, can’t wait to see how everything unfolds!

    Angie

  42. Dave Sutter says

    Ive enjoyed discovery ch Alaskan bush people. Spend 6 mo yearly in 28′ 85 trailer on 40 acres in north MI. Stayed in 1880s log cabin ruffing it at friends place. Ditched cable, tv. Just luv being free out w nature, big trees & lildwife. May use that.
    Now a Utuber (tooyuber) Found you 2, yea! Luv what journey youve chose. I am Hooked as so , so many are, believe me : ) Emphasize w losing Malek have Mitch Buchanon (cats) and Fatty. Two sisters bl lab/ger shrt hair dogs, at present. They all go camping together w us. Walks thru woods together day or night! This may be why we connect w you 3, now.
    Commenters r mostly great, Am doing that now. Then there just r those others, you know. Just is.
    Dont lose that love you have for ea other. Never, its not worth it. Keep ea other first. Then the journey will be the prize. You two bring that breath of fresh air, into hearts of many viewers.
    Thats your Gift. Thank you for Sharing it. But, it only works because of what you have together.
    Thats the ‘secret sauce’. I will pray that you never may forget that. Davemi & pets

  43. Robert says

    Alyssa:
    I am so sorry to read about losing your kitty.
    Animals are so precious and mean so much to us humans.
    I still suffer a little bit from losing both my boys about two years ago. They were two of the sweetest boxers you can imagine. They died about a year apart. When Dexter died, at least, I still had Duke (I called him Dukey). I didn’t think it was possible, but Duke and I got even closer after Dex passed.
    Your post made me a little teary-eye. Although, I’m a little melancholy anyway today. It would have been my Dad’s 89th birthday, if he hadn’t died from cancer seven years ago. He too was the best.
    But, as you say, life goes on, and we must go on.
    I’m sure you gave your kitty the best life he could want.
    I love your advice:
    “… I hope you take time today to tell someone that you love them, give your pets an extra few pats on the head, call up someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or just take some time to yourself to enjoy everything you have ALREADY accomplished in your life.”
    Good advice. I had done them all before I read your post.
    Thank you, Alyssa.
    Take care,
    Robert

  44. Allan says

    We recently lost a Greyhound to bone cancer. Frank was 11 years old, and like you, we had to euthanize Frank. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Like you said, it’s a circle of life thing. But when something like cancer, instead of old age, takes a pet you feel robbed. Frank was special and one of a kind. Tall, long, lanky and quirky. He hated walking on floors that weren’t carpeted. Whenever he came inside, which forced him to walk across a tile floor, he would turn around and walk backwards until he made it to a rug on the floor. He was one of those once in a lifetime pets.

  45. Bob says

    Right there with you, Alyssa. My wife and I lost both of our 16+ year old furballs to cancer within a month and a half of each other. Bubble snot cried for the both of them. Then we adopted the two oldest cats we could find at the shelter (14+ years) and both of them died from cancer within two years. They sure leave a big emptiness when they go.

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