In loving memory of
July 13, 1988
October 14, 2003
My heart is aching.
Cinnabar cougar is at peace now. He had stopped
eating last Wednesday. Thursday I administered some
fluids I had on hand and Friday called the vets to
discover that three out of three vets we use were
not working that day and Dr. Adney was not scheduled
to return until Tuesday. We drove to town and
purchased more fluids and administered them with
medicines and B-complex shot in hopes it would
reactivate his appetite.
Saturday morning he showed momentary interest in
breakfast then dropped it and later buried it. I
knew in my heart he was very ill, though his eyes
were bright and his spirit strong. I spent a lot of
time with Cinni that weekend, sitting beside him;
his head lay on my lap, stroking his fur and telling
him how much he was loved. He purred and
talked to me. Monday I scheduled an appointment with
Dr. Adney for first thing Tuesday morning and we
loaded him into the transport cage that evening. We
told him we would get him help. And I blocked out
the thought that we might not.
Tuesday morning we awoke to a beautiful fall morning
after a light rain the night before. The 70 miles
drive to Hot Springs revealed that fall colors are
finally peaking out. The morning sky was beautiful
blue and the clouds had silver linings. It was a
beautiful day to be alive.
Cinnabar's examination revealed that his abdomen was
filled with fluid and initial slide examination
indicated it was not infectious in nature. Many of
the cells however, were abnormal. His plasma was
yellow; a sure sign of Biliruben and the BUN was
also above normal. Prognosis was not hopeful and
considering his age, and his previous back injury,
we made the decision to forgo further tests and
I had spent the past
week day and night crying while I tried to plan for
this moment, and wondered if there was some way to
have him at home in his woods for this. But I did
not want him to wake up to experience more pain just so we could be home in our
beautiful woods. And I was not sure I could do it,
or when I could get a local vet over.
Cinnabar was in his
transport cage in the back of our truck and of all
things while we were deliberating our options a
yardman was running his leaf blower. I could not
believe his last moments on earth were surrounded
with such horrible noise and so we waited until he
was finished. Cinnabar was under the influence of
ketamine and not really alert to the noise, but I
was. It was in such contrast to the peace and quiet
of his life with us. I crawled into his cage
with him and sat beside him, and stroked him,
telling him how much we loved him and we spent a
long time like that.
Then Dr. Adney came back with the sleep away and all
the racket of before was gone and it was time. He
injected the pink liquid into a vein in his forearm.
The life forces left my dear sweet son, and it was
all over so quickly.
We covered him in the blanket and drove home in
teary silence. I was thinking about where to
bury him. Our graveyard is getting full. It will not
hold 9 more cougars; we are going to have to choose
another spot. And I thought about his brothers,
Arjan and Sharu and how they needed to know about
We stopped at a garden
shop on the way home and the lady asked what was in
the cage. I picked out some pansies and some
beautiful bright mums for his grave and the garden
shop owner hugged me and told me her animals were
her children and she understood, and then she added
another pot of mums to our collection. Finally, we
talked about where to bury Cinni and agreed we would
lay him in his woods.
Bart dug his grave in their exercise yard, and we
lay Cinni next the enclosure wall for his brothers
to see. Arjan spent a long time sitting next
to Cinni and looked at him. Sharu would not come
near for the longest time. Then he walked over to
Cinni and spoke to him and then turned to Arjan and
spoke to him. We had to clean the cages of cow
bones and feed the living cats their dinner. We were
too tired to bury him that day, and I was not ready
to see him go.
After the day's chores were done, I took a blanket
over to Cinni and lay down beside him and hugged him
and stoked his fur for a long time. He looked so
old, and his belly was so big. With all the weight
he lost, he still weighed over 200 pounds. I covered
him with a blanket for the night.
Wednesday morning we
removed Cinni from his woods for burial preparation.
I wanted to remove the fluids from his stomach and
reduce the pressure and swelling and look for a possible cause for his illness.
I carefully removed his completely empty stomach and
intestines and allowed the fluid to pour out of his
abdomen. I noticed he still had a significant layer
of fat, yet much of his leg muscles were
wasted away and his
backbone was visible. We began to
examine his organs and discovered Cinnabar's liver
was completely covered in hideous cancerous tumors.
And when we saw it I felt a wave of relief that we
had made the right decision and then we both wept
uncontrollably and I kissed his beautiful face and
stroked him. He didn't want to leave us.
When Dr. Adney injected the sleep-away into his arm,
Cinni still had a very faint heartbeat and an
occasional breath. Dr. Adney apologized to me, and
stated that he had tried to avoid this, but he would
have to get more sleep-away and inject directly into
Cinni's heart. Then he said "He has such a strong
will to live". That stuck in my mind and I
panicked inside - what are we doing? Can we turn
this around, who am I to end his life?
But now I understood, and I also know that Cinni
knew and he did have a strong will to live here with
his brothers and us in his beautiful woods amongst
complete serenity and love. Cinnabar's whole life he
had freedom from want and freedom from fear. He was
loved deeply and he returned it freely.
I removed that cancerous liver from his perfect body
and stroked him. He looked much better, with the
swelling gone his body looked massive and strong
again. Bart had positioned him in a comfortable
repose for his everlasting rest. We carried him over
to the burial site and covered his body in earth.
Then I planted the mums and pansies above him and
surrounded his grave with quartz rocks. It sits in
the sun, just a few feet from where Cinni lounged so
Cinnabar Cougar, born July 13, 1988, died October
14, 2003. He is survived by his cougar parents,
Mercury and Tara, his littermates Arjan and Sharu,
his younger brother Sammy, his two nieces Atika and
Sheila and his great nephew, Caesar.
Cinnabar was a most remarkable and loving and gentle
cougar. He enjoyed a full life. He was co-raised by
his cougar mother Tara and us. He and his brothers
spent most of their lives roaming their five-acre
fenced-in woods. Cinni and his brothers were
the subjects of my early behavior research,
documented in two videos, "Cougar Development, Birth
to 29 months" and "The Endless Summer", video
footage of these three as youngsters playing on the
islands of Lake Ouachita taken during numerous trips
on our boat that summer.
We love you deeply Cinni. We hope to see you again
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Feline Conservation Center
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