A True Gem

18.6.2016 | 15:27


It is with a heavy heart that I write this today.

We knew it was coming, sooner or later, but so close on the heels of saying good-bye to Finn, we had to let go of Opal yesterday morning.

We’d only had her for not quite a year, but she won us over from the beginning – the day I met her, she came right to me, purring steadily, and let me pick her up and walk around her previous owner’s house with her in my arms.

She had a sweet disposition with everyone, and her fair share of “kitty quirks.”

(When she used the litter box, she would then race through the house on a tear, as if trying to get away from her own … business.  It was hilarious – and a bit unsettling at times.  But it was distinctly Opal.)

We are so very grateful that she was a part of our lives, even for such a brief stretch.

We knew we probably wouldn’t have her for a long time, as she was 14 or 15 when we got her.  So we were prepared – even though we didn’t think she’d get a diagnosis like IBD within a few months of joining our household.


Opal was the third of our eight cats (over a period of 25 years) to be diagnosed with IBD.

And apparently we’re not the only ones.

Our vets have said they’re seeing more and more of it, especially in cats.

What the hell is going on here???

Yes, we feed our cats “commercial” pet food – because that’s what they’ll eat.  We’ve tried some of those fancy raw diets, and they won’t touch the food.

We feed them the highest quality organic, grain-free, etc. etc. etc. food.

For years we had to feed them Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness diet because that was the only brand of food Finn could tolerate without vomiting.  (Yes, really.  We weren’t thrilled about it, but we were less thrilled with cleaning up cat puke on a nearly daily basis.)

I’m not the only one who’s noticed this either – someone else brought it up on a call with Steph Jackson, in her Functional Probiotics course.

For all I know, if we hadn’t lost our sweet Isis to a congenital heart condition at the far too young age of just 7, she might have eventually been diagnosed with IBD too.

So out of six cats, one had a heart issue, one had kidney failure, and one (we think) had a neurological problem – her symptoms presented like a feline version of Parkinson’s disease.

Three have had IBD.


Murphy’s only a few years old, and healthy as they come.  And Osiris is still only 10, with no signs of the heart condition that affected his sister Isis.

Our vet in Asheville thought she was giving us good news when she diagnosed Opal with IBD (instead of cancer).

But we’d already seen this movie – twice!! – and knew how it would eventually end.

Flare-ups, remissions, getting the symptoms under control … until you run out of options and nothing helps.

We need to figure out what’s going on with this:

Is it the food?  Is it some other sort of environmental toxin?  Is it a still-unknown pathogen?

I don’t know.  But I want to find out.

I don’t want to lose another jewel like Opal (or Clayton or Scott) to this devastating condition.

I love my “fur kids,” and I’m tired of seeing them suffer with something that has seemingly become epidemic in our society.


I fell in love with Opal the first time I saw her, and her last moments were peaceful – she was so sweet and gentle, it helped calm me as well.

Coming so soon after losing Finn, Debra and I needed that.  It was Opal’s final gift to us.

We will miss her sweet, affectionate presence.


Thanks for reading.  Take care of your fur kids – and your 2-legged ones too.


  1. Jace
    June 18, 2016 | 8:29 pm

    Rest in peace Opal. Hugs

    • daletchworth
      June 18, 2016 | 11:48 pm

      Thank you, Jace. Hugs back.

  2. Michele
    June 18, 2016 | 9:10 pm

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved Opal.

    • daletchworth
      June 18, 2016 | 11:48 pm

      Thank you so much, Michele.

  3. Karen
    June 18, 2016 | 10:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this kind tribute to sweet Opal. She was a sweet, affectionate soul. I forgot about her quirks.

    She was 14 actually this year. I may have miscalculated when I told you last year :-).

    • daletchworth
      June 18, 2016 | 11:50 pm

      You’re welcome, Karen. Thank YOU for allowing us to have her — she was truly a special cat and had some delightful quirks. No worries with her exact age — she was every inch the lady. 🙂

  4. Gloria Zabala
    June 21, 2016 | 4:50 pm

    So sorry for your loss. I can feel her love for you by your description of her. You were blessed for having her as was she for having you in her life. May she rest in peace.

    • daletchworth
      June 22, 2016 | 12:16 am

      Much appreciated, Gloria. She was a special cat, and we were glad to have her in our lives, no matter how briefly.

  5. Brad
    June 21, 2016 | 8:26 pm

    Sorry for your loss. May Opal be in a better place playing with Finn and purring peacefully!

    • daletchworth
      June 22, 2016 | 12:17 am

      Thank you, Brad. Yes, Opal and Finn are having a great time at the Rainbow Bridge right now! 🙂

  6. Andrea Caprio
    June 23, 2016 | 10:38 pm

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is. I had good experience with HILL Science food with my cats. Not sure if I would use it today as when I used it, I did not know what I know today. But I just love cats and really feel for you.

    • daletchworth
      June 23, 2016 | 11:17 pm

      Thank you so much for the support, Andrea. No, we wouldn’t use Hill’s Science these days — we’re currently sticking with grain-free, high-protein for them. We’ll see how the two younger cats do.

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