Remembering Benita

It’s hard to believe it was only 4 months ago that we picked up a flea infested, eye balls infected 4 week old tiny calico kitty. Jon and I poured our hearts into nursing the little fluff ball back to health. We enjoyed watching her grow and start to eat food on her own. We were shocked about her potty training skills, before she was big enough to get up and down the companion way, she would use the cockpit scuppers as a litter box! I mean it doesn’t get better than that! Her love of fresh fish, and her growls of ferocity when eating chicken always made us laugh. I remember the first time she made it up the stairs to the cockpit by herself, I was on the midnight watch, and she damn near scared me to death when I felt something climb onto my lap. I think that is what she was going for. Seems like we had her for years.

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It breaks my heart to write about this. Last Friday we took Benita to the local vet in Quepos to have her spade and get hers vaccinations done. The vet recommended that because Benita’s breathing has not improved since the last time she saw her, that we take her to the vet in Herradura who has a X-Ray machine. So the following day Josh was kind enough to drive us the hour and half up to the little town. P2250160-1

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When the vet saw us, she did not seem too worried about Benita, saying that her breathing sounded good and she had good oxygen in her gums. But she wanted to do the x-Ray to see why little Benita was breathing using more of her stomach than her lungs.
The x-Ray confirmed the worst. The vet was shocked that Benita had been able to live this long with such an injury. She had a Herniated Diaphragm. Because of the pressure difference between the two areas the diaphragm separates, Benita had to work very hard for each breath, which is why her breathing looking labored.

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The vet showed us the difference between Benita and a healthy cat, we were saddened to see that the area where her lungs are heart are located had been invaded by the organs normally kept back by the diaphragm. The unwelcome do organs were taking up the space her lungs needed to breath.

Benita's X-Ray

Benita’s X-Ray

Healthy Cat X-ray

Healthy Cat X-ray (The defined line in the center is the Diaphragm.)

Even though we noticed no signs of pain or change in her kitten attitude, the vet informed us that, first off, Benita should have died hours after the injury that caused the herniated diaphragm, and second she would not live much longer with this condition. The more she moved and played, the more the invasive organs would have pressed on her heart and lungs causing her pain then death.

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So we opted for the vet to operate. She had warned us that the survival rate was about 50/50, because Benita was so young, she had very high hopes. We said our good byes and good luck, I cried a lot and kissed Benita 1500 times before they took her into the back, leaving me speechless and my eyes filled with tears. About an hour into the surgery we got the call from the vet that Benita did not react well to the surgery.

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Because of the type of surgery, when the vet opened Benita up the pressure would change and she needed to lungs up to the machine to breath for her. Once she started moved the organs back into place Benita’s lungs collapsed and would not refill with the machine.
We are beyond heart-broken. We brought Benita back to the boat, said our heart filled goodbyes and had a quiet sea burial under a star filled sky.

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The boat is not the same with out her, and Jon and I are doing our best to stay strong.
She may have been a Mexican street cat, but boy did she have high-class tastes. Her favorite blanket was made of cashmere, which she would spend hours kneaded and purring as loud as a kitten could, then would proceed to attack our hand or ankles. She always seemed to lay down or stand right under my feet, I don’t know if she was trying to kill me, or just wanted to see me trip over her. As much as I hate to admit it, she was such a daddy’s girl, she loved to be as close to Jon as possible while he was working on any kind of project. Gez that kitten was a good one.

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Having a kitten on board made the stresses of cruising a little less stressful, we are heart broken now and will never forget her, but I cannot stop looking down every road to maybe see another kitten in need of saving.

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RIP Benita we love you

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20 thoughts on “Remembering Benita

  1. I know this will not take the pain away but know you gave her a chance at life and you gave her a short but a good life with a lot of love. With that thought she brought you a lot of joy. Would you please consider adopting another kitty here are so many animals that need a chance at a good life that you can give them. I have found that rescued animals are so appreciated.I’m look forward to seeing a new pet on your travels . Wishing you love and safe travels my husband and I love watching your stories .
    Mary Mcghee Phoenix Az PS we are sailing our home and getting in our RV 5 th wheel and hitting the road soon. We have one rescue macaw blue gold bird and 1 rescue 1/2 Airedale and ? and 1 full Airedale check us out on facebook

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  2. Shannon and Jon, you gave this cat the most incredible life and most importantly she experienced love. You guys gave her will and purpose and you did the hardest and most humane thing you could. There will never be another like her but she has opened your hearts to rescue another and that is the best way to honor her memory and the depth in which she touched your hearts. Rest well little girl.. love and light to you both.

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  3. So sorry! Your care and grieving is touching. We watch a lot of sailing videos. Yours are far and away the most well balanced and mature and heartfelt, in addition to being technically pleasing. Thanks for what you do! We Love your stories!

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  4. I’m so sorry to hear of Bonita’s passing. I can’t imagine a more incredible life for that little kitten than the one you gave her. You did a wonderful job of caring for her and I’m sure she must have known how loved she was.

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  5. Dear Shannon and Jon,
    As a cat lover, a sailor and a professional radiographer I understand too well what happened and I feel your grief and loss. She was a beautiful creature who completed life too soon.

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  6. Shannon and Jon,
    As a sailor, a cat lover and an x-ray tech I feel your loss and grieve with you. The images told the whole story and I believe it was your love that kept her alive so long. When the sails luff you will hear her purr, when a shrimp drops from your plate you can be sure her spirit will snatch it right up. She completed life.

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  7. So sorry. Been looking forward to meeting her in the vids since we seen her on instagram. She was lucky to have you before pirate kitty heaven.
    7th heaven hc33

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    • Thanks guys, it has been sad with out her, but once we catch up with the videos, you will get to see her then! And we have not giving up on keeping out eyes out for the next kitten that needs love. Cheers

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  8. So sorry about Benita, she was such a cutie. You gave her a great life, full of adventure and so much love ❤ Love you guys, hang in there. Be safe…Elly

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  9. Shannon & Jon

    I, too, have been in your shoes regarding the loss of special pet/friend, knowing the joy and happiness it brings into one’s life, then suddenly gone. I remember the blog(s) you wrote, with pics, making her a part of your journey into our lives. Thank you for for sharing her memories with us so we may never forget Benita. Peace.

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  10. Now that we have internet I’m finally catching up on your blog! Such a touching tribute to a sweet kitty. She was lucky to have you two, and we were fortunate to know her.

    When you make it to Cartagena, Colombia, there are lots of kittens in Club de Pesca for someone to adopt!

    Miss you guys!
    Shawna & Chris
    S/V Sirena

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